For the less sports-inclined, the Ashes is one of the oldest rivalries in modern day cricket. It’s a 5 test match series played biennially between England and Australia. I know what you’re thinking. Five test matches? Sounds pretty boring, rite? Who wants to wait 5 days to find out the outcome of a match when T-20’s the entire rave today? Well my good man, I’ll have you know the Ashes have produced more nail-biting finishes than many of the games of today. This is what cricket’s all about. Believe it.
A little History lesson for those interested – On Australia’s 1882 tour of England, only one match was played. A low scoring affair, Oz batting first managed only 63. The English, in response, notched up a 38-run lead, chalking up 101. The Australians coughed up 122 in their second innings, which left England with a measly 85 to win (come on guys, the math didn’t confuse you now, did it?).
The world expected the match to go England’s way, but (no surprises here), it didn’t. The Aussies managed to bowl them out for 78, leaving England 7 runs short of victory in one of the closest finishes ever seen. The momentous defeat took a while to sink in to the hearts of English fans, and was widely recorded by the English media. Here’s a “mock obituary” that appeared in The Sporting Times :
Before their next series together, the English captain promised the world that he would “reclaim the ashes” (basically, he’s saying they’re going kick Aussie ass, you dope). The phrase caught on with the English media, who dubbed the series “the quest to reclaim the ashes”. Since then, the term has become an integral part of cricket folklore.
During the series, a small terracotta urn was presented to the English captain by a group of Melbourne women. The urn was believed to contain the ashes of a burnt bail (why someone would do this is beyond me). Replicas of the urn are usually presented to the winning side every tournament.
England currently hold the Ashes after defeating Oz 2-1 in the 2009 season. That was a cracker of a tournament, and the current series holds great promise too. The 1st test saw the English top order coming into their own, but the way it was going, it was never headed anywhere but a draw. Things picked up in the 2nd test, with Cook and Pietersen giving Australia a taste of hell in the batting department, while some brilliant bowling by Swann and Anderson sealed a mammoth victory for England – they won by an innings and 71 runs. The 3rd test saw a complete reversal of fortunes – the Aussies showed why they’re still one of the best teams in the world. Mr. Cricket(aka Mike Hussey) and Mitchell Johnson made the English hide their heads in shame.
With 2 tests still to play, the series is evenly poised at 1-1.
And the way thing have been going so far, it looks like some great cricket is up for grabs, so be prepared for 10 days of sitting in front of the TV getting no work done.
But if you’re a wasted college student like the rest of us, I’m pretty sure that’s how your days go anyway, so happy viewing!