How the Ashes got their name

London, PTI | Updated : 05 July 2013, 05:22 PM

Mention the word `Ashes` to any cricket fan and they know you are talking about a Test contest between England and Australia.

But cricket`s oldest rivals had been playing each other for five years before the idea of the Ashes was born.

It happened in 1882 when, in a one-off Test at The Oval, Australia, inspired by figures of 14 for 90 from Fred Spofforth, `The Demon`, fought back to win a thrilling match by seven runs.

The Sporting Times reacted to Australia`s first win on English soil with a mock obituary written by Reginald Shirley Brooks.

It read: "In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval, 29th August 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. R.I.P. N.B. The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia."

Ivo Bligh, later Lord Darnley, captained England to a 2-1 victory in the subsequent series in Australia and, according to many cricket histories, he was presented with an urn containing the Ashes of a bail used in the third Test by a group of Melbourne women.

However, it was subsequently suggested that the Ashes were those of a ball and in 1998 Lord Darnley`s daughter-in-law said they were the remains of her mother-in-law`s veil.

The urn itself was bequeathed to Lord`s owners Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) on Darnley`s death in 1927 and became an exhibit in the ground`s museum.

Regardless of the result of the Ashes, the urn -- which stands just four inches high -- has remained at Lord`s.

The justification has been that the ashes were a private gift to MCC and not a sporting trophy.

But in order to remedy this perceived unfairness, MCC commissioned an Ashes-shaped crystal trophy which was first presented to Australia captain Mark Taylor after the 1998/99 series.

England hold the Ashes following their 3-1 win on Australian soil in 2010/11, which came hot on the heels of their victorious 2009 home campaign.

The urn has only been to Australia on a couple of occasions, the first in 1988 for the country`s bicentennial celebrations.

MCC had hoped the urn could return to Australia in 2003 but an X-ray taken at the time revealed several serious cracks, notably in the stem.

But, following repair work, it was taken on a tour of Australia to coincide with the 2006/07 series.

First Published: Friday, July 05, 2013 03:09 PM
Post Comment (+)