Every two years, England and Australia’s top cricketers take each other on in one of the most famous events in the sport’s history, but how much do you know about the Ashes? Here are our top ten facts about this renowned Test cricket series.
1. The Origins of the Series Date Back to the 1800s
England and Australia began playing each other in Test matches in 1877 but, in 1882, following England’s loss to Australia at the Oval, London, “The Sporting Times”, a British sporting newspaper, published a satirical obituary to English cricket. The writer stated that the “body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia” and, when England set off for Australia for the 1882/3 series, their captain, Ivo Bligh, announced that he was going to reclaim them.
2. Australia and England Take Turns to Host the Series
When hosting the event, each country usually uses a different venue for each match. English grounds used have included Old Trafford, The Oval, Lord’s, Trent Bridge, Headingley and Edgbaston. Australia usually uses grounds such as The Gabba, the MCG, the Adelaide Oval, the SCG and Perth’s WACA.
3. The Famous Urn is always England’s
Well, not exactly – the Aussies certainly wouldn’t agree! However, the historic urn is too fragile to travel, so it’s usually kept on display at the MCC Museum at Lord’s. It has only been taken to Australia twice since 1929 – firstly for the 1988 Australian Bicentenary celebrations and then as part of an MCC-organised touring exhibition, which took place from October 2006 to January 2007.
4. The Urn Was Never an Official Trophy
The other reason that the urn has stayed in the UK is that, although it’s generally thought of as one of the world’s most famous cricket trophies, it has never been presented to the winners. In fact, the tiny terracotta urn was believed to have been a personal gift to Ivo Bligh from his future wife, Florence Morphy, and some other Melbourne ladies. There wasn’t an official trophy until 1998-99, when an urn-shaped award crafted from Waterford Crystal was introduced.
5. Nobody Knows What’s Inside The Ashes Urn
According to legend, its contents could be the charred remains of a bail, stumps or a ball’s outer case, although there are also theories that the urn at the MCC isn’t the original. One of Ivo Bligh’s descendants, the Dowager Countess of Darnley, even claimed that it contains the remnants of Florence Morphy’s veil.
6. England Has Never Completed a ‘Whitewash’
Australia has embarrassed England by winning every Test match in a series on three occasions: 1920-21, 2006-07 and 2013-14. England has never been able to achieve the same feat, achieving their most decisive result in 1978-79, when they defeated their opponents by 5 – 1.
7. In Terms of Series Wins, The Teams are Currently Tied
Of the 69 series played to date, the teams have won 32 each, with the remaining five ending in draws. However, Australia has won 130 Tests, whilst England has only been victorious on 106 occasions.
8. When a Draw Occurs, the Previous Winners Retain the Title
This has happened in 1938, 1962-63, 1965-66, 1968 and 1972. On the first four occasions, Australia was the team to hold onto the title, whilst England benefited in 1972.
9. The Record for the Most Runs By an Individual Player Has Stood Since 1948
Nobody’s even got close to breaking Sir Don Bradman’s record of 5028 runs and his name is likely to remain at the top of the table for many years to come. Despite the second and third highest scorers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Allan Border, both playing in more series Test matches than Bradman, they only managed to rack up 3636 and 3222 runs respectively.
10. It’s Not Just for the Men
Although the women’s version of this prestigious sporting event wasn’t officially referred to as the Ashes until 1998, female Australian and English cricketers have been taking each other on in Test series since 1934. Like the men’s competition, the women’s event is held biannually but, since 2013, the results of Twenty20 Internationals and One Day Internationals have also been taken into account when deciding the winner of the title.
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