The history of the ICC World Test Championship is incomplete without mentioning the Ashes Trophy tournament. However, it is noteworthy that this bilateral test tournament, the symbol of the arch rivalry between two giant cricket nations, had existed long before the ICC world Test championship.
It all started as a test match between England and Australia in The Oval, England, in 1882. Since then, the Ashes have been played between the two countries. Today, it is run and controlled by the ICC and retains its Test cricket format, a 5-match series.
While fans of the Ashes Trophy anticipate their favorite event, the interesting facts surrounding the interesting history of the event are worth knowing. Here are some fun facts to learn about Ashes tournament and its 136-year-old trophy.
The Name – Ashes
Many cricket enthusiasts may wonder how the Ashes tournament got its name. Well, it is not far-fetched from the game itself. The name Ashes was first mentioned at the Kennington Oval in London in 1882. That year, Australia, as visitors on English soil, defeated England in the test match for the first time. As expected, the English people didn’t handle the defeat so well. A few days later, an Australian journalist, Reginald Shirley Brooks, made a caricature of the game. In his words, he referred to the match as the demise of English cricket, and he mentioned that the body of England would be burnt and “the Ashes” would be taken to Australia.
During an interview with England captain Ivo Bligh in the 1883 tour of England to Australia, Bligh assured the fans that he would recover ” the Ashes of English Cricket.” In the 1903 tournament, captain Pelham Warner reminded his team that they had to regain the Ashes of England. However, the term Ashes wasn’t officially used until 20 years later.
The name Ashes reappeared in the book published by Pelham, titled “How we Recovered the Ashes.”
The Series’ Venues
Each team takes turns hosting the series. Over the years, the English team has hosted the series in the venues below;
⦁ Old Trafford
⦁ The Oval
⦁ Trent Bridge
Venues for the past series in Australia include:
⦁ The Gabba
⦁ The MCG
⦁ The Adelaide Oval,
⦁ The SCG
⦁ Perth’s WACA.
The Urn Was Never an Official Trophy
The original urn was said to be a gift to Ivo Bligh from his fiance, Florence Morphy, after a Test match between the two teams in 1883. The Urn was never officially presented to the winner of the Ashes tournament. It was more of a ceremonial artifact created to spite the opponent. Following the famous Ashes saying, “the Urn is where Ashes are being kept.” This signifies that whichever team wins has the ashes of its opponent.
But the official trophy, the tournament cup, was made in 1998 from Waterford Crystal. However, the significant history surrounding the tournament made the trophy one of the most famous trophies in the history of cricket.
The Original Urn Has Left England Twice
While several news outlets have said that the original Urn has never left England, this claim has proven false. Despite it being too fragile to carry around, the original Urn has left the soil of England twice. The first time it left for Australia was in 1988 when Australia beat England, and the winning team decided on a Bicentenary celebration. The second time the Urn left the shores of England was in 2006 for a tourism exhibition.
The Ashes Urn is Still a Mystery
The content of the original Urn was never known. Many believed it contained a burnt bail or stumps of bail. Another story, according to one of Ivo Bligh’s descendants, Dowager Countess of Darnley, claimed that the Urn contains a piece of Florence Morphy’s veil.
What Happens in Draws?
The two teams have ended the series on a draw on several occasions. This happened in 1938, 1962-63, 1965-66, 1968, and 1972. When the tournament ends in a draw, the winner of the previous tournament holds on to the title. Australia took home the title in the first four-draw series, while England only retained the Ashes in 1972.
England Never Had a Whitewash
Completing a whitewash means winning every match in a Test series. A noteworthy fact in the Ashes is that Australia had completed the whitewash height three times. The first was in 1920/1921, then 2006/2007, and the most recent in the 2013/2014 season. On the other hand, England had never attained a whitewash in the Ashes. Also, Australia had won 34 out of 66 series, and they are the current champions of the tournament. This shows that the Aussies have been the dominant side in the tournament.
The Women’s Ashes Tournament
While the women’s test matches between England and Australia were not officially named the Ashes tournament until 1998, the female cricket teams of both countries have long played each other in the test series since 1934. Like the men’s version, the women’s Ashes series is played every two years. However, since 2013, the women’s T20 series and ODIs are also considered when concluding the winner of the Ashes.
The Ashes Test series holds an interesting history as one of the greatest rivalries in the cricket world. While Australia and England are arch-enemies on the pitch, the Ashes have interestingly strengthened the bond between these two countries. Don’t forget to visit Parimatch for the best odds on your favorite cricket matches.