“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust – if Lille doesn’t get you, Thommo must”
These are the words which are being mostly nurtured by the younger generation whenever the two nations, England & Australia encounter each other for the test brawl. Chanting of these words, reminiscing the never ending rivalry between these two nations has now turned into a practice which is almost at its immortality. The war cry for hundreds of thousands of Australian cricket fans, baying for English blood on the cricket field resonated with the head splitting wavelengths, which in itself is believed to be inflicting the trembling fear into the English dugout. This is the rivalry which has, along with the passing of decades, been shaping up to be the fiercest of all.
The rivalry named, the Ashes, for the first time ever came into being 135 years ago on August 29, 1882. “Demon” Fred Spofforth and Harry Boyle bowled Australia to their first Test victory over England at The Oval in nine matches. Chasing 84 for victory, England were blown away for a mere 77. Following the humiliation of English Cricket, media houses like The Sporting Times lamented few lines which burnt the English nation into the real ashes, the lines are as follows:
“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.
N.B.-The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”
The Ashes themselves took its giant share in due time. Following England’s victory in a Test in Australia the following year, a cricket bail was burned in memory of the Ashes and put in an 11-inch terra cotta urn. A few Melbourne ladies then proceeded to give the urn to Ivo Bligh, the legendary England captain.
There has been some controversy surrounding the Urn in the decades that followed. Australia, on account of their domination, demanded the urn be given to them but the MCC has continued to refuse. England claims it is their property and the teams really only play for a replica.
But that has not stopped generations of players from etching out some of the greatest performances in the history of cricket. Donald Bradman is by far the leading run-scorer in the Ashes with 5028 runs in 37 matches at an average of 89.78. Jack Hobbs, the venerable English batsman is second in the list with 3636 runs in 41 Tests. Australian batsmen once again dominated in the 1980s and 1990s with Allan Border accumulating 3222 runs and Steve Waugh rattling up 3173. Not surprisingly, another Australian legend, Shane Warne is right on top of the list for highest wicket-takers with 195 scalps. Compatriot Glenn McGrath is next with 157 wickets.
England had won the last Ashes in 2015 and the teams will soon vie for glory again later this year Down Under in Australia. Hope this rivalry never ends, some stories should always be on the motion, wish The Ashes is one of those.