"Don't leave your TV sets, don't even go to the bathroom," this piece of commentary by Nasser Hussain exactly describes the adrenaline rush that we were all feeling. We saw an unbelievable knock unfold before our eyes.
With only a wicket in hand and 73 runs required to win, Australia looked the favourites to win dominantly with their stacked bowling attack, But one of the greatest all rounders of this generation, Ben Stokes wasn’t going to let his side lose without giving a fight. He played an inspiring knock, which can even be named as one of the greatest test innings ever, scoring 135 runs off just 219 balls. The Aussies had two easy chances of winning the match, but couldn’t capitalize. The saying stood true, fortune favours the brave. When only a single run was required, Ben Stokes square cut the ball and smashed the ball for a boundary. The entire crowd stood up in the roar celebrating one of the most historic triumphs in the sport.
But this was only one of the most iconic moments in this rivalry. In this article by ZAP, let’s dive in and know about one of the greatest rivalries in sport, The Ashes, between England and Australia.
History of the Ashes Cricket Series:
Cricket in Australia first spread through the English colonizers at the start of the 19th century and ever since kept growing. In the middle of the 19th Century, there were regular unofficial matches played between the two nations. It was not until 1882 that this rivalry took a sharp turn. Let's look at an intriguing tale of how one parodic eulogy gave rise to one of the most famous sporting rivalries. When an underdog Aussie team shocked England by winning their first-ever Test match on English territory in 1882, everything changed.
Credit: Wikimedia Images
In a mocking sense, The Sporting Times, a British publication, claimed that English cricket had passed away and that its ashes would be transported to Australia. They had no idea that this light-hearted comment would set off a sporting epic that would last for more than a century.
The Urn - Ashes Trophy:
Ivo Bligh, the then skipper of England, had promised to reclaim the 1882–83 test series down under, and the phrase "The Ashes'' came to refer to that matchup. The quest to reclaim the series became the press's catchphrase for the trip, the series between the two countries is still known by the same name.
Credit: Radio Times
In 1882, after England secured two of three wins against Australia, a small urn was presented to England captain Ivo Bligh by a group of Melbourne women, which has now become one of the most storied items in our sport’s history. The Ashes Trophy contains the remains of a destroyed wooden bail, thought to represent Australia's loss, and also humorously dubbed the “Ashes of Australian Cricket”.
While the urn remains on display at the MCC Museum at Lord's Cricket Ground in London, the winning team is presented with a replica to commemorate their triumph in the series.
England vs Australia Cricket: The Intense Rivalry
The battle for this trophy has been raging for over a century! Held every two years, this cricketing spectacle features five Tests hosted by England and Australia. Whichever team wins the series gets to hold urn, a revered symbol of their victory. But if the series ends in a draw, the reigning winner retains the trophy. So far, there have been 73 series, with kangaroos winning 34, England 32, and seven ending in a draw.
Credit: The Independent
The women’s rivalry is no less and has been going on for a century now. First played somewhere between 1934-35, Betty Archdale, the English captain at the time, claimed that women at the time only played "for love of the game" and did not want to be associated with the male concepts of Tests and Ashes. But now, the series has become one of the most competitive in women’s cricket. Since 2001, series consist of just one or two tests and are played every two years. Since the 2013 series, Test matches as well as One Day International and Twenty20 International games have counted towards the trophy outcome. As of 2015, winning a limited-overs match results in two points, while winning a test is worth four points (two to each team for a draw). Before the latest women’s ashes in 2023, Australia Women’s Team were the holders of the trophy. But the 2023 series ended in a tie with each team accumulating 8 points each.
The Ashes Legends:
Over the years there have been some great heroes that have risen to occasions to win their team matches and etched their names in the record books. Sir Donald Bradman, the player with the highest batting average ever, was England's nemesis whenever he came out with the bat. He is also the highest run scorer in this rivalry with 5028 runs in 37b matches. Shane Warne, the spin king is the highest wicket taker in the history of these series with 195 wickets in 36 tests.
The Best Ashes Series:
Every series between the two teams is filled with drama, thrills, and sporting brilliance. But two stand out from the rest:
2005 Ashes Series:
Credit: Cricket World
Often considered one of the best test series ever, the 2005 series saw the change of power after England beat Australia for the very first time after 1987 to claim the urn. The England squad, led by Michael Vaughan, were determined to retain the trophy against their arch rivals. The Edgbaston Test, which England won by two runs, was one of the greatest matches ever played in a nail-biting series. Andrew Flintoff's outstanding performance in that game, in which he made a crucial century and claimed four wickets in Australia's second innings, will live on in infamy. England eventually prevailed in that series 2-1, and it will always be regarded as a classic.
The Ashes 2023:
Credit: Economic Times
The Ashes 2023 was once again full of drama. Australia came in after winning the World Test Championship Final Against India and were considered obvious favourites. The previous Ashes were won by the Aussies so even a tied series could help them retain the urn. The kangaroos won the first 2 test matches, and the pressure was on England, and they did pounce back. Winning the third test, they were back, keeping the series alive. Victory seemed inevitable for them in the 4th test too at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground, but rain on the 5th day washed away their dreams and Australia had finally retained the urn. The last test was one of the greatest bowlers' retirement tests, and Stuart Broad ended it with a fairytale victory for his team.
Q - When was the first Ashes series played?
The first series was played in 1882-1883.
Q - How often is The Ashes series held?
The series is held biennially, alternating between England and Australia for venues.
Q - Who has won the most Ashes series?
Australia also holds the edge in the most series won, having won on 34 occasions compared to England's 32.
Q - How long is the Women's Ashes series?
The Women's series is a combination of One-Day Internationals (ODIs), T20 and Test matches, spanning several weeks.
The Ashes Cricket series between England and Australia has been one of the most entertaining series in the world and has given us countless moments to cherish. It is a testament to the long standing rivalry between the two great cricketing nations. And as both teams adapt to the changing dynamics of the game, with England’s bazball and Australia's traditional approach, future matches will only get more dramatic, and all of us are waiting for it…..