Australian Cricket team led by its captain Michael Clark landed in London to defend the prestigious Ashes title from the challenger and home side England. The Ashes, also billed as the oldest cricket rivalry between the cricket teams of Australia and England will kick start from 8th July at Cardiff. The five match test cricket series is slated to end on 24th August with the last match to be played at the historic Oval cricket ground in Vauxhall, Central London.
Off-late the contest has only got tighter with both the teams throwing up an even contest. It is a stark different picture from what was between the late 80’s to mid-2000s when the Australians simply steamrolled England series after the series. The Ashes series of 2005 is particularly hailed as one of best in modern times as England defeated Australia after the heap of defeats kept piling for humiliating 16 years.
Post that series England has enjoyed an upper hand with winning three series to Australia’s two. Notably, Australia has defeated England only in its own backyard and both the times they had managed to trounce the Old Blighty with 5-0 sweep in as many tests.
Also, there will be a lot to prove between the two captains, Alastair Cook of England and Michael Clark of Australia, for it could well be their last Ashes campaign. At present, Cook leads 2-1 over the rival Clark with victories both at home and away.
Host of other players in both the sides are also at the sunset of their careers, especially Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin from the touring party and Ian Bell and Jimmy Anderson from the home side.
The five tests will be played in Cardiff, Lord’s, Edgbaston, Trent Bridge and Kennington Oval.
The “Ashes” has contributed immensely to the game of cricket with the long list of remarkable individual and team performances. With 5,028 runs, the great Sir Donald Bradman holds the record of most number of Ashes runs, while another Aussie great leg-spinner Shane Warne is the highest wicket taker in the Ashes’ history with 195 dismissals.
The rivalry dates back to 1882, when after the home side England’s loss at the Oval, English press had published a satirical obituary in the newspaper stating “English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”.
Later that year when the English side toured Australia, a group of women in Melbourne had presented England skipper Ivo Bligh a small urn containing what is presumed to be the “ashes” of the burnt bail. Ever since then, that small urn has become a matter of prestige with the winning side carrying the urn.
Though, the original urn gifted to Ivo Bligh has never been used as a trophy, its replica is presented to the winning team as a symbol of their victory. The original “Ashes” urn, however, remains to be kept an the legendary MCC museum in Lord’s at London.