June 22, 2024

Sports Enthusiast

Professional Sports Purveyors

History of the Ashes

After the success and popularity of the 2005 Ashes, the English Cricket Board will be hoping for a repeat of those fortunes this summer.

Dating back to 1882-83, the Ashes is a Test series played between the national sides of Australia and England. Its origins come from a newspaper stating that – after an English loss to Australia at the Oval in 1882 – English cricket had died and its body would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The 1882-83 series in Australia is considered the first Ashes series as the England team went on a quest to regain the Ashes.

After winning, England were handed a small urn with the ashes of a miscellaneous object – often through to be a bail – which is now found in the museum at Lord’s. A replica is given to the winning captain of each series.

England had early dominance in the Ashes, winning 11 of the first 12 series. Australia’s first win came in the ninth series – in 1891/92 in Australia – but they have since gained the advantage. Of the 64 completed series, Australia has won 31 to England’s 28 (with five drawn series) and this is helped a lot by recent form where Australia has defeated England in nine of ten attempts.

That failed attempt, of course, came in 2005 when English cricket dominated the sports news and Michael Vaughan lifted the urn. The series is sure to go down in history alongside Botham’s Ashes, the Invincibles and the Bodyline Series.

Botham’s Ashes – in 1981 – are so called because of the heroic efforts of Sir Ian Botham. Regarded as by far the best player of the series, Botham – or Beefy, as he was nicknamed – turned the Ashes around. After one drawn game and one loss, England looked to be heading to another defeat as they were made to follow on at Headingley. However, a mammoth 149 not out from Beefy, followed by a massive eight wicket haul by Bob Willis, turned fortunes in England’s favour. After that win, England won two and drew the last match to win the series 3-1. In all three of England’s victories Botham was named man of the match.

The 1932-33 tour of Australia is one that has gone down as a dark time in cricket history. So worried were the English by the batting skills of Sir Donald Bradman that their bowlers set out to intentionally hurt Bradman – and the other Aussie batsmen – in the hope of forcing them to give away their wicket cheaply or to retire hurt.

The team that Australia brought to England in 1948 is widely regarded as the greatest Test side ever. Led by Bradman – and featuring players such as Sid Barnes, Ray Lindwall and Lindsay Hassett – the Invincibles became the first Test match side to go undefeated for an entire tour, a total of 31 matches. This series saw The Don play his last ever Test match and he went out to bat for the final time at the Oval to a standing ovation. Needing just four runs to record a staggering career average of 100, Bradman was bowled second ball without scoring leaving his average stuck on 99.94.

The npower Ashes series are currently five games long, having temporarily gone up to six and seven, while they started as just a three-match series. The 2009 series will retain the five-Test format and will open at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff- which will be the first ever Test match played there as England look to make it two from two on home soil.