Some sporting rivalries never fade. Some of the elite rivalries are Muhammed Ali vs Joe Frazier, John Mcenroe vs Jimmy Connors, India vs Pakistan in cricket, and the biggest rivalry in cricket, the Ashes, played between two countries, Australia and England.
Who knew that the satirical obituary which was published in an Australian newspaper after the Australian cricket team’s triumph over England on the English soil, that the English cricket team has died, and its ashes will be brought to Australia will become a part of the classic rivalry. Since then the Ashes has become the part of their ego, pride, and revenge. It was 1882-83 test series which was played in England, and Australia beat England in that series and obituary was published in an Australian newspaper that English cricket has died, the body will be cremated and their ashes will be brought to Australia. after that, then England’s captain Ivo Bligh vowed that he will bring back the ashes to England. This was said in context to that obituary which was published in an Australian newspaper. Ivo Bligh stood rock solid to his affirmation and England regained the series in the following series against Australia by winning it by a 2-1 margin. A small urn was presented to Bligh by a group of women from Melbourne which is humorously referred to be the urn of Australian cricket team. Since then, the urn is what the teams play for. However, the urn which is awarded now to the winning team is the replica of the original Urn. The Urn has never been considered as the real Trophy, it has become the part of the tradition.
The Ashes series comprises of 5 test matches hosted by England and Australia in turn once every four years. The statistics of the ashes overall is quite balanced now, especially after the 2015 Ashes series which England won by 3-2. Overall both the countries have won 32 series each.
Let’s talk about the most recent Ashes series which was played in England. England clinched the Ashes series 2015 by a 3-2 margin. Some great players from Australian cricket team retired after the series like Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers. Michael Clarke as a captain had guided the Australian cricket team towards many memorable triumphs like the famous world cup win in 2015 and many others. The first test match which was played at Cardiff was won by England by 169 runs due to Joe Root’s heroic century. In the second test match, Australia came back hard and thrashed England to win the match by 405 runs. The third test match was again won by England, which fired up the contest as both the teams were going neck to neck, but what changed the course of the Australian cricket team was the fourth test. Australia was put to bat first and then series of wickets started to fell, a pure debacle of Australian cricket team was witnessed at the Trent Bridge, Nottingham. Stuart Broad came up with a brilliant spell of 8 wickets for 15 runs. Australia tumbled on just 60 runs, this was the first time in the history of Ashes that the runs from the extras had outnumbered a team’s top batsman. Australia scored 14 runs from the extras and Mitchell Johnson was the top scorer from the Australian cricket team with 13 runs. Australia was Bowled out on the very first day of the test match and on the same day Joe Root scored a century, so ironically Joe Root scored more runs than the entire Australian cricket team on the first day of the test match. England faced no trouble in winning the fourth test match, they won it quite comfortably with a margin of an innings and 78 runs and clinched the Ashes. Fifth test match was won by Australia, the team gave a respectful farewell to Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers.
Joe Root was honored as the man of the series.
One of the greatest Ashes matches in this era must be the one which was played in the 2005 Ashes series in England. That was the era of Australia, they were pretty much unbeatable in that era, actually were invincible. The team had some great players like Ricky Pointing, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Mathew Hayden, Justin Langer, Jason Gillespie, Adam Gilchrist, and many others. The Australian cricket team was at its peak in that period and they had already won the first test match in that series by 239 runs at Lords. The second test match at Edgbaston was one of the best test matches. To cut long summary short England batted first and scored 407 runs with the help of Trescothick’s 90 runs and in the seconds innings of the test match Australia scored 308 runs which helped England to start of their innings with 99 runs lead, but England tumbled on just 182 runs, Shane Warne took 6 wickets for 46 runs. Australia needed 281 runs to win the test match but even they were struggling at one point of time, Australians were in serious trouble when they were reduced to 175-8 but then Shane Warne and Brett Lee batted with aggression and determination, both the batsmen were playing well and had scored 40 runs each, they were marching towards the victory until Shane Warne got out, now Australia had only one wicket in hand and Kasprowicz was the last batsman. Even he batted with determination and scored 20 runs but in the end, he was given out for caught behind when only two runs were needed to win the match. This is considered to be one of the best test matches and one of the closest test matches in the history of cricket.
The Ashes has always been a backbone of cricket and of the cricketing spirit. It has inspired a lot of aspiring cricketers and will continue to do so. May the spirit of the Ashes and it’s tradition never fade.