The Ashes is the name of the Test cricket series that is played between England and Australia. It is played biennially, alternately in England and Australia. In a typical ‘Ashes’ series, there are five Test matches, two innings per match. The matches are played as per the regular rules for international Test-match cricket. Looking back into the history of the ‘The Ashes’, one of the oldest international contests in cricket, one finds that it dates back to the year 1882, the year when Australia gave England its first home defeat.
In the year 1882, English was beaten on its home soil for the first time, by the Australian cricket team, led by WL Murdoch. In an unfathomable match, with no precedents, England team was beaten by seven runs, with an innings that had fast bowler Fred Spofforth taking 14 wickets for 90 runs. This was when the legendary cricketer WG Grace was still a part of the team. The very next day of England’s defeat, a mock obituary was published in the Sporting Times, “in remembrance of England’s cricket.
The obituary read “In Affectionate Remembrance of ENGLISH CRICKET, which died at the Oval on 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.” The ashes, which were only mythical at that point of time, became a reality in Australia tour 1882-83, which England team went to participate in. After beating Australia in the tour, Hon Ivo Bligh was presented with an urn containing the burnt remains of a ball.