The Ashes is a Test series that is played between Australia and England every two years. The term came about thanks to satirical obituary that a British newspaper published when Australia won their first ever test on English soil in 1882. The paper stated that English cricket was dead and that it will be cremated and taken to Australia. Thus, when England went to play their next series in Australia, it was said that they were on a quest to take back the Ashes. To find out all you could possibly want to know about the Ashes, keep on reading.
When was the First Ashes Test Match?
It was the end of the year 1882 when England first toured Australia after having lost their first test to them. Therefore, the very first Ashes series is said to have occurred during the 1882-83 cricket season. The tour got off to a bad start for England as they lost the first test by nine wickets, but they were victorious in the next two tests and won the Ashes back thanks to a 2-1 scoreline.
England did play a fourth test against a United Australian side, but this match was not considered as part of the series. It was counted as an official test, but not as part of the Ashes. Which, for England, was just as well as a strong Australian side, went on to win the game.
The legendary Australian batsman, Donald George Bradman, scored 5028 runs in the Ashes, spanning a period from 1928-48. He scored 19 centuries and 12 half-centuries at an average of 89.78. To this day, he is the highest runscorer in the Ashes. He also holds the record for most runs in a series – he scored 974 runs in the 1930 series.
England’s Len Hutton scored 364 runs on the 20th August 1938. This is the highest score ever scored in an Ashes test match.
Australia’s Sydney Gregory holds the Ashes record for most ducks. In 52 matches, he was out for zero no fewer than eleven times.
Australian bowler Shane Warne picked up 195 wickets from 36 Ashes matches, making him the bowler with the most wickets in the Ashes.
England’s Jim Laker picked up 10 wickets for 53 runs in one innings during an Ashes test match that began on the 26th July, 1956. These innings bowling figures are yet to be beaten. He had already picked up 9 wickets for 37 runs in the first innings, giving him match figures of 19 wickets for 90 runs. These are the best match figures in Ashes history.
Australian bowler Chuck Fleetwood-Smith conceded 298 runs and picked up just one wicket during the first innings of a 1938 Ashes test. These are the most runs ever conceded by a bowler in one Ashes innings. However, in his defence, he did bowl 87 overs, so only conceded 3.42
Australian wicket-keeper Ian Healy dismissed 135 batsmen (123 catches and 12 stumpings) in 33 matches. This is the greatest number of dismissals by a wicket-keeper in Ashes history.
Sir Ian Botham took 54 catches in 32 matches, which is the most by any fielder in Ashes history.
The Format of the Ashes Series
As this is simply tested cricket between two nations, the format used has been the same since the first Ashes test back in 1882. Each team gets to bat and bowl twice, with who bats first being determined by the captain that wins the coin toss. The batting team’s innings comes to an end when ten of their eleven players are out if the captain declares because he believes his team has enough runs to win the game if the team that is batting fourth scores the required runs to win the game, or if the time runs out.
If the team that bats second has a deficit of more than 200 runs, then the captain of the opposing side can force them to bat again right away. This is known as a follow-on and means that the team that batted first will then bat fourth instead of third (if the team following-on manages to overtake their opponent’s first innings score, of course). A team that is forced to follow-on rarely ends up winning.
Nowadays, all test matches are played over a five-day period, but they used to be played over three or four days. Furthermore, from 1877 to 1939, there was no time limit in tests, meaning that the game was played until there was an outright winner. These are now known as Timeless Tests, with the longest one on record being played between South Africa and England in 1939. This match was played over nine days but was abandoned, despite England only needing 41 runs to win as they would have missed their boat home.
Ashes series have mostly been played as best out of five, but two have been played as best out of four and eight have been played as best out of six.
When Has Each Team Won the Urn?
Since the Ashes began, there have been 71 test series between Australia and England. The first table below shows how many times both teams have won the series, while the second table reveals how many tests matches each team has won against the other.
* There have been six drawn series between these two sides.
* These two sides have played 335 Ashes tests between them, meaning that 91 test matches have been drawn. The most recent Specsavers Ashes series that took place in August and September finished in a 2-2 draw and will be remembered for some heroic batting from Ben Stokes and Steve Smith. England fans will also always remember Stuart Broad, in the absence of James Anderson due to injury, leading England’s bowling attack and getting David Warner out seven out of ten times.
Information about the Women’s Ashes
People generally think that women’s cricket hasn’t been around for that long, but the first women’s test match between England and Australia was played way back in 1934. However, matches between these two sides didn’t officially become known as the “Women’s Ashes” until 1998.
Right up until 2013, series were decided on test matches alone, but now the Women’s Ashes consists of one test match, three ODIs, and three T20s. Four points are awarded to the team that wins the test match, while two points are awarded to the winners of each limited-overs match. The team that accumulates the most points wins the urn.
23 Women’s Ashes series have been played, with Australia having won 9 of them and England 6. The other 8 series ended up as draws. Charlotte Edwards is the leading runscorer with 1534 runs, while Ellyse Perry has taken the most wickets (64).
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