The Ashes is a series of Test cricket matches played between England and Australia. It is also known as the “Worsley Cup” after Englishman George Worsley, who came up with the idea as a way to help English cricket recover from its embarrassing loss to Australia in 1880. In this article, we take a look at all the Ashes history you need to know about the long-time competition.
An Introduction to the Ashes History
The Ashes is a five-day cricket test series between Australia and England. The rivalry between England and Australia began during the 19th century, when both countries were developing their own national sports cultures and establishing themselves as major players on the international stage.
While rugby was popular among English men of all social classes, Australian rules football was seen as being too working-class for their tastes. Meanwhile, cricket was viewed in colonial Australia as a symbol of elite British culture that would not be popular with native-born Australians. As such, once they discovered that it was not an exclusively English sport after all, they decided to make sure they would never lose to them at it again!
The First Test of the Ashes
The very first Test of the Ashes series took place in 1882, just two years after the inaugural Test match between Australia and England. In the second Test of the series, the English team was facing a humiliating defeat on their home turf at the Oval Cricket Ground, so came up with the idea of using the Worsley Cup, a decorative urn that had been given to the Australian captain for his wedding.
With the series tied at one game apiece, the English captain invited the Australian captain to make a ceremonial handover of the Ashes Cup, as a token of England’s desire to regain their pride in this match. Although this was done largely as a joke, the series has since become one of the most famous and important sporting rivalries in the world.
The Ashes History: More than just a cricket game
As well as being a hotly contested sporting event, the Ashes is a significant cultural event in both nations. It is not just about which team will win the Test series, but also about which country will dominate the other in all their other sports as well!
This rivalry has become a part of the national identity in both England and Australia, so much so that when there is no Test series scheduled between the two teams, there is still a lot of media attention given to the scoring of “ Ashes points ” in various other sports including netball, rugby, and even football! In addition to this sporting rivalry, the contest also has significant cultural significance.
The Meaning of “Ashes”
The term “Ashes” comes from the pet phrase of the English cricket captain Andrew Stoddart: “WE have been swept away by a SWEEP of ashes.” Stoddart was referring to his team having been defeated by a “swathe” of Australian cricket players and their fans who had come to celebrate their victory at the Oval cricket ground.
However, this phrase was so popular that it began to be used in connection with the cricket series in general. Although the word has since been misappropriated to mean that the English cricket grounds are full of ashes, the series has retained its name “The Ashes”, even when played in Australia.
Key Moments in the History of the Ashes
Below, we take a look at some key moments in Ashes history. The Ashes are known to have so many ups and downs for both nations with the Australia winning 34 times, England winning 32 times and six draws between the two. Find out more Ashes history in key moments below.
Australia’s First Victory at the Home of English Cricket
In 1882, cricket was played for the very first time at the Oval cricket ground in England. Australia happened to be on tour at that time, and the team handily defeated their hosts by an innings and 3 runs. Fans in England were devastated by this loss, and with the help of George Worsley, came up with the idea of using the Worsley Cup, a decorative urn that had been given to the Australian captain George Bonnor, as a token of their desire to regain their pride in the match.
Australians Win at Home
The series kicked off in Australia in 1882, and the English team was defeated again, this time by an innings and 22 runs. The team used their new Worsley Cup to store the soil that was taken off the pitch, and was presented to them by the captain of the Australian team, who had suggested that they would never lose to England again if they were covered in English soil.
The First Ashes Test in England
The series was then played in England in 1884, and the Australians were victorious once again by an innings and 35 runs. They used the Worsley Cup to store the soil from the pitch, and the English team was presented with their very own “Ashes” after the match.
How to Celebrate the Ashes
When the Ashes series is underway, there are certain ways you can celebrate. One way is by wearing clothing in the colors of either the English or Australian cricket teams. If you are in England, you can watch or attend an Ashes Test Match at one of the grounds hosting the series.
If you are in Australia, you can watch or attend an Ashes Test Match at the Adelaide Oval, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), or Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
You can also wear the colors of the English or Australian cricket teams on the days when the Tests are taking place, and you can also show your support for one team or the other by sharing images and videos of your celebrations online.
The Bottom Line
The Ashes is a hotly contested cricket series between England and Australia. Due to this, it has become a significant cultural event in both nations. It is not just about which team will win the Test series. It is also about which country will dominate the other in all their other sports as well!
This rivalry has become a part of the national identity in both England and Australia. The Ashes history has seen many rivalries and greats go head-to-head with each other for so many years. The two nations still look to score “Ashes points” ahead of each other in various other sports. That includes netball, rugby, and even football! There is so much history and competition between the two teams. The Ashes will keep certainly fans on the edge of their seats!