Australian cricketers perform better in Ashes series played on their home turf when the El Nino weather system dominates, and worse when its opposite prevails, a British study published Friday said.
The findings could help England when the Ashes are next contested Down Under, in 2010/11, said the authors of the study by Reading University in southern England, and the Royal Meteorological Society.
Risking the charge of "whingeing poms" looking for excuses for English defeats against their oldest rivals, researchers noted a striking correlation between the Pacific Ocean climate phenomenon and Australian Ashes victories.
In Ashes series played in Australia from 1882-2007, the Aussies won 13 out of 17, or 76 per cent. When the opposite, La Nina system was prevalent, they won only five out of 13 series, or 38 per cent.
El Nino tends to make Australian weather hotter and drier, favouring for example fast bowlers, while La Nina triggers rain and cold, which England cricketers are more used to, and suiting swing bowlers.
"This study shows it may be possible to tell by next winter whether England has a better chance of success in the following Ashes series than previous tours," said Dr. Manoj Joshi of Reading University.
"The study could even influence whether the England touring team should include more fast bowlers or more 'swing' bowlers," he added.
England has only won one Ashes series in Australia in the last 100 years following an El Nino event.
That was the infamous "Bodyline" series in 1932/33 when England captain Douglas Jardine instructed his fast bowlers to pitch the ball short to a packed leg-side field in a bid primarily to curb the phenomenal run-scoring of Australia great Donald Bradman.
Philip Eden, vice-president of the Royal Meteorological Society, said: "It is rare to find a piece of meteorological research directly related to professional sport ... there should be more work like this.
"As a long-standing cricket supporter and England fan I believe that the England management should read this paper carefully and inwardly digest. "It could help us win in Australia next time."
England haven't won an Ashes series in Australia since 1986/87 and were thrashed 5-0 there when they last toured in 2006/07.
The latest edition of the Ashes is due to start in Cardiff - the first time the Welsh capital has staged a Test match - on July 8.