Arch-rivals England and Australia are all set to renew their old rivalry when the two cricketing super-powers lock horns against each other in Ashes 2019 on Thursday. The hosts led by the charismatic batsman Joe Root and the Aussies led by Tim Paine will be battle it out in the first Test match at the Edgbaston in Birmingham. Both the sides will play five Tests each to decide who gets to keep the urn at the end of it. Let us now look back and understand how competitive the two teams have been in this high-octane series.
Australia and England had played their first-ever Test Test match against each other way back in 1877.
The first mention of "the Ashes" in Wisden Cricketers' Almanack occurs in 1905, while Wisden's first account of the legend is in the 1922 edition.
Heading into the 2019 series, the Aussies lead England by 33 series to 32. Astonishingly, it also includes five drawn series. In fact, the last of the four 10 Ashes series have been won by Australia. Not only this, but there is also some additional information about this series which one needs to be aware of.
Australia are the current holders of the Ashes urn after having registered a comprehensive 4-0 victory Down Under in the 2017-18 series. As the upcoming series will be held in England, the hosts have a huge advantage as they had emerged victorious by a 3-2 margin. Another interesting fact about this epic rivalry is that no team has won this series on away soil ever since England's 3-1 win in the 2010-11 season in Australia. At the same time, Australia have failed to win an Ashes series in England since 2001. A losing streak which they would look to get off their backs in the upcoming season.
More importantly, this series also marks the beginning of the much-anticipated ICC World Test Championship.
As we have looked into the competitive edge of the bilateral Test series between England and Australia, let us now understand about the 'Urn' that makes this rivalry an epic one.
The name 'Ashes' was given in 1882 when England suffered a shocking seven-run loss against Australia. This happened to a full-strength English side. Disappointed by their loss, one of the English newspaper mentioned in an obituary that ''English cricket had died, and "the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia".
However, before the 1882–83 series played in Australia, the then English captain Ivo Bligh promised to "regain those ashes".
The tour was then hyped by the English media as the quest to regain the Ashes.
It is made of terracotta and stands at 11cm high. There is a belief that it contains the ashes of a burnt cricket bail. This urn was first presented to English skipper Ivo Bligh. It was presented as a gift after a friendly match which was played at Rupertswood Mansion in Sunbury during the 1882–83 tour in Australia. Post his death, the urn was given to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
Here's what is written on the Ashes urn:
"When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn."