Ever since the first Ashes tournament was held in the late 1800s, there has been a fierce rivalry between cricketers from England and cricketers from Down Under over who will claim this prestigious prize.
The tournament, which is held every two years with hosting duties alternating between England and Australia, is one of the main events on the cricketing calendar.
The term “The Ashes” first appeared back in 1882, in the days following Australia’s crushing defeat of England at The Oval cricket ground in South London.
A journalist for popular newspaper The Sporting Times declared that the quality of English cricket was all but dead, and as a result Australia were taking the cremated remains – or, “the ashes” – of English cricket back with them Down Under.
In the years that followed, English cricketers made it their mission to get these ‘ashes’ back, and they did when they won a series in Australia the following year.
Although no actual ashes were at that point in existence, the name stuck – and in the years to come, an urn full of the burnt remains of a bail (the small pieces of wood placed on top of the stumps to form a wicket) became the prize.
The modern Ashes
Ever since then, the sense of competition between the two nations has been well and truly cemented. The pendulum of victory has swung in both directions over the decades, with Australia enjoying a period of Ashes success in the aftermath of the first world war.
Australia have won significantly more Ashes tournaments than England have, although the English side are the current holders as of 2017. What’s certain is that this long-running rivalry is bound to result in future Ashes contents being just as gripping and enthralling as those that have already been played.
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