The Story of the ‘Ashes’

By Imad Ali Khan

It was the year 1882 when Australia toured England and won the first test on England soil. On the very next day, The Sporting Times, a British newspaper, published a story in which the word Ashes was used satirically.

The newspaper stated that English cricket had died, and “the body will be cremated and ashes taken to Australia”. In the same year, England tour to Australia was due and captain Ivo Bligh promised to “regain those ashes” and so the English media dubbed the tour as “the quest to regain the ashes”.

The Ashes has since become a famous test cricket series played between England and Australia. Since 1882, both the teams have played 71 test series of which 35 were played in Australia while 36 on the England soil. Australia won 33 series, England 32, while 6 series were drawn.

Matches, Wins, and Top Performances

As far as the total matches are concerned, 335 have been played between Australia and England of which 167 matches were played in Australia while the other 168 in England. Australia won 136 test matches, England 108, while 91 matches were drawn.

In 1978-79, England won the series by 5-1 and it was the biggest margin for England in the Ashes history. Australia have whitewashed England three times, i.e. in 1920, 2006, and 2014.

Both the teams have held the Ashes for a record eight consecutive series. England did this from 1820 to 1890, while Australia did this from 1989 to 2002.

Sir Donald George Bradman, “The Don”, an Australian cricketing legend, remains the leading Ashes runs scorer who scored 5,028 runs in 37 matches. Sir John Berry Hobbs, “The Master”, was the leading runs scorer for England who scored 3,636 runs in 41 matches.

The Australian legend Shane Warne, aka “The magician”, took 195 wickets in 36 matches while, Sir Ian Botham, England’s all-time great all-rounder, took 128 wickets in 32 matches for his team.

Steven Smith, former Australian captain, and current legend has bagged most Ashes man-of-the-match awards (7 times) and was also awarded man-of-the-series twice.

The Story of the Ashes Urn

The Ashes Urn, a trophy presented to the winning team, is a small urn that was presented to Ivo Bligh, the first England captain, as a personal gift in a friendly match hosted by the Rupertswood Mansion in 1882.

The famous trophy was made in 1882 tour and two labels are pasted on it: the top label says “The Ashes”; the lower label is a verse cut out from Melbourne Punch magazine of 1 February 1883 which reads:

“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.”