Rivalries add to the excitement of sports. Cricket has a rich history and heritage. It, too, has had its share of competitors. India vs. Pakistan has become a prominent event in recent years, although it lacks historical significance. If you’re a true cricket enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of ‘The Ashes,’ played between England and Australia. The 141-year-old rivalry is regarded as one of the best in the world of sports. But do you know how it began and what makes ‘The Ashes’ the greatest? In this post, I’ll go through the history of the rivalry and how it’s going statistically. Let’s get started!
How It All Began
In 1877, Melbourne hosted England and Australia’s first international cricket match. Since then, the two sides have played an annual Test series. That test series, however, was played on English land one year and on Australian soil the next. As a result, when the series is played for the first five years, the host country wins. However, it was overturned in 1882, laying the groundwork for the Ashes series’ history.
The Australian squad travelled to England to compete in a one-match Test series. Australia won the toss in that match and chose to bat first, which began on August 28, 1882, at the Oval Stadium. However, as England’s bowlers bowled magnificently, the Australian batters filed into the pavilion one after the other. In their first innings, Australia was all out for 63 runs. Eight players are out for a single-digit score, particularly in the Australian innings. It describes how beautifully England’s bowlers bowled during that innings.
As a result, at the end of Australia’s first innings, English fans began to rejoice that their team would win the match. But everything changed when Australia started bowling. Like the Australian batters before them, the England batters queued up for the pavilion. Despite this, England scored 101 runs and had a 38-run lead in the first innings. On the other hand, Australia made a crucial comeback in the second innings, doubling their first-innings score.
Opening Batter Hugh Massie hit a brilliant half-century to help Australia reach 122 runs. Nonetheless, England’s objective is only 85 runs. As a result, even with such a small target, England supporters believe their team will win. However, Frederick Spofforth, who took seven wickets in England’s first innings, was also wonderfully bowled in the second innings. He only gave up 44 runs in 28 overs and took another seven wickets.
England was all out for 77 in their second innings and could not chase down even the lowest goal of 85 runs, losing the match by seven runs. They were defeated on their home turf for the first time in cricket history.
The Beginning of the Ashes Series (1882)
The fans, like the England players, could not accept their setback. The English media began criticizing their team after losing the series for the first time on home soil. During this period, The Sporting Times of England ran a sarcastic piece titled “English Cricket Which Died at the Oval on August 29, 1882.” They also added a tagline to this title, suggesting that we must be more robust for this tragedy as a tribute to English cricket.
However, they placed a remark behind this phrase that said RIP, paving the way for the Ashes’ history. “The English cricket body will be cremated, and the ashes will be transported to Australia,” they said in their piece. At the time, the story sparked a great lot of debate. The British nation, which governed the world then, could not tolerate the humiliation they suffered in their own country.
Ivo Bligh was now named the England team’s new captain. Bligh took the piece seriously and vowed in front of the English press. “In the subsequent visit to Australia,” he declared, “we will defeat them and bring back the Ashes.” The series was called “The Quest to Regain the Ashes” by the English media. As a result of this landmark series, the Ashes series history took a giant stride forward.
The Quest to Reclaim the Ashes (1882-83)
The term produced a warlike mood among the followers of the two countries. Their fans pressured the English squad to win the Ashes at any cost. In addition, the series has been renamed The Ashes since then. However, these ashes remained a fiction, invisible to all. The Ashes series history had just begun as the England team prepared to reclaim the Ashes.
The England squad travelled to Australia in December 1882 to play a three-match series against Australia. However, England lost the first Test on December 30 in Melbourne. However, the following year, in January 1883, England defeated Australia 2-1 in the remaining two Tests to win the first-ever series on Australian soil. At the time, a women’s group in Melbourne burned a wooden bail on the stumps, placed its ashes in an urn, and presented it to Bligh. English cricket supporters called it the “Ashes of Australia” and welcomed the return of the Ashes to England.
So, from then on, the two sides took the Ashes extremely seriously and began playing to win the series and keep the Ashes in their country. Bligh married Florence Morphy, a woman from the women’s group who had given Bligh the ashes a year after the incident. As a result, the urn was considered a personal gift for Bligh and was delivered to him. So the series was named after the Ashes, but no real trophy represents it. As a result, there is no physical representation of the Ashes series’ history. Now the Ashes Urn is presented to the winner of the series.
Stats for the Ashes Series (1882-2022)
The Ashes have been played 72 times between the two teams. Australia has won the Ashes 34 times, while England has won it 32 times. The Ashes series was drawn the other six times.
72 series have been played in all.
Australia won with a score of 34.
England won with a score of 32.
Drawn Series – 6
So, why is it significant?
Unpredictability is another quality that the Ashes series possesses. The tournament has seen the rise and fall of many cricketers. With the increased competitiveness and pressure situations, quality is the only thing that remains, which makes the unpredictable turnaround in one’s career. As the fierce competition continues, the intensity and the pressure start to come in and make things more exciting to watch. This is all about the greatest rivalry in the game of cricket.