Ashes to ashes

December 29th, 2010 | Uncategorized

Very few people that do not play, understand the rules of cricket, and even fewer will understand why England and Australia get so excited every couple of years when they compete for a trophy no bigger than an egg cup.

The ‘Ashes’ series dates back to 1882 and is named after a satirical obituary published in the Sporting Times newspaper after a match in which Australia beat England on English soil for the very first time. The obituary suggested that English cricket had died, the body cremated, and the ashes would be taken to Australia. The English media dubbed the next English tour to Australia as ‘the quest to regain the ashes’.

On that following tour a small terracotta urn was presented to the England captain by a group of Melbourne women. The contents of the urn are reputed to be the ashes of an item of cricket equipment, a bail (the top part of the stumps).

Of course no one outside the two participating countries could possibly be expected to understand the intense rivalry of this series, especially when we consider that cricket is usually regarded as a game for gentlemen.

The reason that I write about this now is that England have today retained the ashes in Australia (the first time they have won over there for some 24 years), and it is making headline news in the UK.

In view of its perceived importance perhaps we should call it ‘the ashes world series’, despite the matches being played between only two countries (but still one more than participates in the baseball world series in the USA)!

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