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Ashes: Symbol of Victory in Cricket; Read to know more

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After 71 historic Ashes series, with 33 in favor of Australia 33, 32 for England and six drawn, the 72nd duel of the Ashes series commenced at The Gabba in Brisbane on Wednesday, December 8.

The Ashes is one of the very few cricketing events that get the whole of the cricketing world glued to their TV screens to watch the series unfold.

Around every two years, the two countries clash, with the champions claiming one of the most recognized (and smallest) trophies in sport – the Ashes urn.

It is held alternately in England and Australia, with Australia hosting this time. Both teams play a series of five test matches, each lasting up to five days.

The high magnitude of this match-up is one of the longest-running rivalries in sport. It is a historical fierce cricketing rivalry that has given us some memorable cricketing stories that will remain attached to our memories forever.

Although most of us cricketing fans are aware of the cricketing rivalry, many aren’t aware of the History and the origin of the word “The Ashes”. So, let’s take a look at it and find out more about the Ashes’ history.


Australia and England first met in Test match cricket in Melbourne in 1877, but the legend of The Ashes, the symbolic trophy the two teams play for, only started in the year 1882.

Australia won its first test match on English soil in the year 1882 at The Oval in London, beating the hosts by seven runs in a match that lasted two days in late August.

Four days later a mock obituary, lamenting the home side’s loss, appeared in a newspaper, The Sporting Times, written by Reginald Shirley Brooks.

It read:

“In Affectionate Remembrance of English cricket, which died at The Oval on 29 August 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances RIP. NB – the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”

After a few weeks, an English team, captained by the Hon Ivo Bligh [later Lord Darnley], set off to tour Australia. Captain Bligh pledged to return with “the ashes” just like his Australian counterpart, WL Murdoch promised to defend them.

As well as playing three scheduled games against the Australian national side, Bligh and the amateur players in his team took part in many social matches. After one such match, Bligh was given the small terracotta urn as a symbol of the ashes that he had travelled to Australia to regain.

On the same occasion, he met his future wife – Florence Morphy – who was the companion to Lady Janet Clarke, mistress of Rupertswood, and governess to the Clark children.

In February 1884, Bligh married Florence. Shortly afterward, they returned to England, taking the urn – which Bligh regarded as a personal gift – with them. It remained on the mantelpiece at the Bligh family home – Cobham Hall, near Rochester in Kent – until Bligh died, 43 years later. Later, at his request, Florence passed on the urn to the MCC.

The Verse on “The Ashes”

The first photo of the urn emerged in The Illustrated London News of January 1921 and the words stuck to the urn are “The Ashes” followed by a six-line verse:

“When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;

Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;

The welkin will ring loud;

The great crowd will feel proud;

Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;

And the rest coming home with the urn.”

The words are the fourth verse of a song lyric published in the Melbourne Punch (February 1, 1883) from a song called ‘Who’s in the cricket field’.

Historical Records

Only five players have scored more than 3000 Test runs in Australia – England Tests:

Donald Bradman (Aus) 5028
Jack Hobbs (Eng) 3636
Allan Border (Aus) 3548
David Gower (Eng) 3269
Stephen Waugh (Aus) 3200

20 bowlers have taken 100 or more wickets in Ashes contests.

Unsurprisingly, Warne sits at the top of this list:

Shane Warne (Aus) 195
Dennis Lillee (Aus) 167
Glenn McGrath (Aus) 157
Ian Botham (Eng) 148
Hugh Trumble (Aus) 141
Bob Willis (Eng) 128
Monty Noble (Aus) 115
Ray Lindwall (Aus) 114
Wilfred Rhodes (Eng) 109
Sydney Barnes (Eng) 106
Clarrie Grimmett (Aus) 106
Derek Underwood (Eng) 105
James Anderson (Eng) 104
Alec Bedser (Eng) 104
George Giffen (Aus) 103
Bill O’Reilly (Aus) 102
Charlie Turner (Aus) 101
Bobby Peel (Eng) 101
Terry Alderman (Aus) 101
Jeff Thomson (Aus) 100

The Ashes 2021

Australia won the match by a massive 9 wickets and lead the series 1-0. Travis Head was the man of the match with his mammoth innings of 152 runs in the first innings of the match.

The second match which began on December 16, is currently underway at the Adelaide Oval.



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