Many cricket pundits have a different opinion on the most fancies cricketing rivalry. Some, like Wasim Akram, believe it to be India against Pakistan, where some consider it to be Trans-Tasman contest between Australia and New Zealand or the India-Australia rivalry that has built in the past two decades. However, the fact remains that the most historic and iconic clash is the one between Australia and England which came to be known as the Ashes.
Played since 1882, the Ashes has witnesed numerous high profile incidents and spectacular action both on and off the field. It has produced some scintillating moments of cricket and left many fans in awe over the world.
The series earned its name “Ashes” and reference to the urn in 1882 when England shockingly lost to England and the Sporting Times published a mock obituary. It claimed the death of English cricket with the body to cremated and the “ashes” to be taken to Australia. The obituary read, “In affectionate remembrance of English Cricket which died at the Oval on 29 August 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. RIP. NB. The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”
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The following year, England travel to Australia with captain Ivo Bligh vowing to regain the Ashes. Following the win Down Under, a bail is burnt, placed in a small urn and presented to Bligh. Since his demise, the urn has found its home at the Lord’s after being presented to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
Since 1929, the Ashes urn has returned to Australia only twice – once to Sydney for the Bicentenary Test Match in 1988 and secondly in 2006 for the tour of the Ashes Exhibition to each Australian state capital.
On the cricketing field, the two have shared honour in the last two Ashes series. In 2013/14, Australia smacked aside England in a 5-0 whitewash but more recently, England won the 2015 Ashes 3-2 while playing at home.