It’s that time of the year when cricket lovers are eagerly waiting one of the greatest rivalries in cricket, “The Ashes”.
Ashes series is considered to be the most prestigious series for Australian & England players and fans and no side wants to be on the losing side.
According to www.wikipedia.com Australia & England started playing test cricket against each other in year 1877. In 1882 the series was held in England and it was just a one game affair at The Oval. This game was won by Australia when fast bowler Spofforth tore the England batting order apart. This was Australia’s first victory against England on English soil after which a satirical obituary was published in “The Sporting Times” saying that “The English cricket has died today, the body will be cremated and the ashes will be taken back to Australia”
Before the following series in 1882/83 in Australia, English captain Ivo Bligh had commented that his team would regain the ashes this time. They won the series 2-1 after which Bligh was presented an urn by a group of Victorian ladies (assumed to be containing ashes of a burnt bail).
This caught up and every subsequent series after that between the two countries is called “The Ashes.”
Ashes is now a biennially occurring series which takes place in England and Australia alternatively.
Over the years Ashes series has given us many great cricketing moments which have etched a special place in every cricket lover’s heart. We thought we should relive some of them.
Body Line series of 1932/33
- An England team led by Captain Douglas Jardine has chalked up a plan where right arm fast bowlers would bowl round the wicket into the Australian batsmen with close leg side fielders in order to stop Sir Don Bradman and company.
1930- Sir Don Bradman’s 334
- This series in England is most remembered for the batting heroics of Sir Don Bradman which includes a 334 at Headingly of which 309 were scored in a single day, a record which still stands.
- This series is fondly remembered as Botham’s Ashes because of his remarkable all round performance with both bat & ball which helped England regain the Ashes 3-1
1993- Ball of the century
- The word wizard is perhaps made more popular by Shane Warne than Harry Potter. This spin wizard bamboozled Mike Gatting and bowled him round his legs by a vicious turning delivery.
2005- Resurgence of England
- This is considered to be one of the most exciting Ashes series which saw England regain the Ashes after 16 years with all matches being very closed. This series is also remembered for the great gesture by Flintoff, who instead of celebrating the win chose to first shake hands with Brett Lee and console him.
Head-to-Head statics and facts:
- Till date 66 Ashes series have been played out of which Australia has won 31 and England 30, the other 5 been drawn.
- If we see the matches, then also Australia have the edge. Australia have won 123/310 matches while England have won 100/310.
- Australia have won/regained the Ashes 35/66 times while England have done it 31/66 times
- Both countries hold the record of holding the Ashes for continues 8 times with England doing it from 1882/83 – 1890 and Australia doing it from 1989-2002/03
- Highest winning margin for Australia has been 5-0 which they did in 1920/21 and in 2006/07 and for England, their best margin has been 5-1 which they achieved in 1978
- Shane Warne is the all-time highest wicket taker in Ashes with 195 scalps and Sir Don Bradman being the all-time highest run scorer with 5028 runs
- Darren Gough is the only bowler to take a hat trick in an Ashes test in 1998/99
Time to be Nostradamus and Paul the Octopus:
We gazed into the crystal ball and we predict that the 2013 Ashes series will be a tightly fought won with England being the eventual winners. Our reasons for the prediction are:
- England team has a better team balance both batting and bowling wise with great fast swing bowlers and one of the best spinner in the name of Swann. On the other side Australia do not have a good spinner and we have seen the English pitches turning a great deal in the recently concluded Champions Trophy. Also the Australian fast bowling unit is good but not much experienced. England batting is also far more experienced and balanced compared to Aussies who mainly depend on Shane Watson and their skipper Michael Clarke
- England is playing at home and is better equipped to play in these conditions compared to Australia. Also home crowd advantage will spur the England team.
- Australia is not the same dominating team which it was in late 90’s and early 2000’s and have not done that well outside Australia recently whereas England have done very well in test matches both at home and away and have also beaten India in India which is always a difficult task. So England will be high on confidence compared to Australia
Off field antics
- Australia are the unsettled lot owing to some recent off field antics. Warner brawl with Root, Watson coming back from India’s tour to protest against Clarke and recent sacking of coach Micky Arthur to name a few. On other hand, England team has overcome the Pieterson saga and is charged up to do well and keep it behind them
However all said and done, Ashes is a very important series for both teams and there is no reason why Australia cannot do well.
As the cliché goes “Cometh the hour, cometh the men”, Australia will have to show real character and the tough will have to get going during these tough times and only then they will be able to “Rise from the Ashes like a Phoenix”
Let us all sit back and prepare ourselves to watch the greatest rivalry in sports.