Botham, Bradman and Burned Bails - essential facts about The Ashes

Wednesday 01 November 2017

Cricket has no greater contest than The Ashes. Pitting England and Australia against each other over a five-Test series, the occasion never fails to create temper-fraying, stump-splaying drama.

England travel Down Under to begin their defence of their trophy in late November. Let battle (and batting) commence...

Cricket Balls and Bails

It’s an old, old contest

When England travelled to Australia for the first Test match between the two countries – indeed, between any two countries – they had to journey by steamer for some 48 days. That was back in 1877. One hundred and forty years and more than 325 Test matches later, the contest has become one of sport’s classic rivalries. These days, incidentally, the trip takes the players just 20 hours...   

The teams compete for real ashes  

The contest’s unusual name came about after Australia defeated England at London’s The Oval in 1882. A local paper published a spoof obituary to English cricket, noting it was to “be cremated and the ashes taken back to Australia”. Months later, a now victorious English captain received a small urn containing a burned cricket bail, described in turn as “the ashes of Australian cricket.” A legend – and a unique trophy – was born. 

There have been some epic encounters

The series has helped elevate certain names into the annals of greatness, among them Ian Botham, Don Bradman, Freddie Flintoff and Shane Warne. No less unforgettable are the matches themselves. Who can forget the giant-toppling series win pulled off by England in 2005? But statisticians, take note: England have currently won 106 Ashes Tests to date, compared to Australia’s 130. Not that we’re counting.   

Shane Warne - Australian Cricketer

It’s coming back to England in 2019…

Next time around, Australia visit England for a five-Test head-to-head in 2019. It’s the perfect chance to experience the country’s most iconic cricket venues at their most atmospheric, including Lord’s, where the code for the sport was first laid down in the 1780s. The famous old ground is still known as ‘The Home of Cricket’.    

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