Stop blaming the selectors. Give Ricky Ponting and Michael Clark a break. Leave the coach alone. It was the La Nina that beat us. And it has taken a Pommy meteorologist to tell us the truth.

Dr Steve Woolnough of the University of Reading in the UK explained to London’s Daily Telegraph that meteorologists, who have studied more than a 100 years of Test Matches, have discovered that England are much more likely to win Down Under during mild and humid summers.

And while the weather may have looked as barmy as the fans from snowbound Britain, by Australian standards it has been remarkably wet and cool.

The floods in Queensland and unseasonal downpours across the country have all been part of climate pattern known as La Nina that has literally played into England’s hands.

“It is clear the conditions for the Test matches were much more favourable than they usually are in Australia…” .

“It has been a phenomenally wet all over Australia this year. The weather has been on England’s side.”

Researchers believe that “close” conditions suit England’s bowlers who, brought up on mild and wet summers, tend to rely on “swinging” the ball in the air.

The Aussies’ traditionally have a faster attack which prefers more arid weather which aids bounce and ball speed.

The latest victory follows a remarkable pattern first discovered by Dr Woolnough’s colleague Dr Manoj Joshi.

He discovered that when playing Down Under, England’s chances are affected by a climate pattern known as the El-Nino southern Oscillation.

The cycle, which lasts from two to seven years, alternates between El Nino years, when the Eastern Pacific is unusually warm – and La Nina years when the Eastern Pacific is cool.

Dr Joshi found that during the El Nino years, which made Australian weather warm and dry, the home team won 76 per cent of the series (13 out of 17) between 1882 and 2007.

England has only won one Ashes series in Australia in the last 100 years during El Nino – the infamous “Bodyline” series in 1932/33 when the bowlers deliberately bowled at the ribs and heads of the Australian batsman.

On the other hand, during the La Nina years which brought milder, humid weather, Australia only won 38 per cent – five out of the 13 – of the series. The rest were either won by England or drawn.

And if you are wondering how we managed to win that solitary test match in Perth, it fits in with the theory as well. La Nina helps keep Perth hot and dry while the rest of the country is cooler and moist.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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