Ashes trophy is a tournament associated with the game of Cricket. It is played between the countries – Australia and England.
The series normally comprises 5 Test matches and is hosted alternatively by both the nations’ respective cricket boards.
So, why is the Ashes series so special among cricket fans?
One reason must be its longevity and rich 100+ years long history. Ashes had its origin in 1882 and has been played since then.
With its long history, one must look into the complete stats report (head to head and individual records) of the Ashes series to understand how competitive it is and how equally both teams dominate it.
Australia currently stands ahead with a head-to-head of 33 – 32.
So close, right? That’s how competitive it is.
Let’s look deep into why a tournament played between two countries is considered so significant in the Cricketing world.
The very history behind it
Though the game has been played between Australia and England since 1877, it was in 1882 the series got its historically special name, which we use now – The Ashes.
When Australians won their first-ever Test match in England in 1882 at the Oval, the British journal, The Sporting Times posted a mockery obituary post of the England Cricket Team – “The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”
The then English captain Ivo Bligh declared during the next England tour to Australia the following year, “We will win and regain the Ashes,” which they did eventually.
And that event led to the naming of the historical Ashes series by the newspapers and then the cricket Boards.
You can find the detailed version of the story here.
The arrival of Donald Bradman and the Body-line Series
During the late 1920s and the early 1930s, other cricketing powerhouses, namely West Indies, New Zealand and India, came into the world of Test cricket.
It was also the time when Donald Bradman, the master Aussie batsman, one of the best, made his debut. It is apt to say Don Bradman ruled the game of Cricket during his widely distributed tenure. He played as a batsman in his early career, scoring a bulk of runs, and led the Australian team in his later stage.
In his 1930 England tour, Bradman scored 974 runs at 139.14, the highest aggregate in a Test series.
His insanity in creating cricketing records even made the English team do unfair things on the cricketing field. Douglas Jardine, the English captain of the 1932-33 Ashes series, instructed his fast bowlers to aim bowling on the body line of the Australian batters.
The idea was to make the batsmen fall out in the trap of close leg side fielding by bowling right at their body, which led to the term Bodyline series.
The idea worked as England won that series 4-1, but it was undervalued by the Australian media and cricketers, calling it an unfair attempt.
The injured Australian captain Bill Woodfull expressed his disappointment after the series by quoting, “There are two teams out there. One is playing cricket; the other is not attempting to do so.”
The high-quality clashes and the dramas that unrolled!
Unpredictability is the other quality the Ashes series possess.
The tournament has seen the rise and fall of many cricketers. With the higher competitiveness and pressure situations, quality is the only thing that stays, which makes the unpredictable turnaround in one’s career.
Not stopping there, more classic events made Ashes the biggest tournament of the longest format of the game – Test cricket.
Like, the epic duck-out of Bradman in his final Test innings in 1948. He needed just 4 runs in that innings to finish with a Test career average above 100. Even though he didn’t, his average of 99.94 is still a dream for any cricketer.
Then there is Jim Laker, who picked up the 1st ever 10-wicket haul in a Test innings at Old Trafford in 1956. In that match, the English off-spinner picked 19 of Australia’s 20 wickets, which is still an unbeatable figure in Test bowling.
Even the recent heroics of Steve Smith add to the rich history of Ashes. Smith ruled the Ashes 2019 series by single-handedly destroying the English bowlers in his Test comeback after a 1-year ban. Find out about Smith’s heroism in detail here.
To conclude, cricket has always been known for its quality and the quality of players who make the game special.
And Ashes has it in abundance!
Thanks for Reading!
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