What Makes the Ashes Series so Special

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The Ashes series, as we all know is one of the most awaited Test series played between England and Australia.

The term was used in a satirical obituary published in a British newspaper, The Sporting Times, after Australia’s victory in 1882 at The Oval, which happened to be their first Test win on English soil. The obituary said that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia. The term ‘Ashes’ immediately became associated with England’s 1882–83 tour to Australia, before which the English captain Ivo Bligh had vowed to “regain those ashes” on the tour. Therefore English media dubbed the tour, as the quest to regain the Ashes.

Ashes Series

After England won two of the three Tests on the tour, a small urn was presented to the captain by a group of Melbourne women .The contents of the urn are said to be the ashes of a wooden bail, and were known as “the ashes of Australian cricket”.

But what makes the Ashes rivalry a special one? Out of the last 35 Ashes series, only eight have gone down to the wire .There has rarely been an even contest barring the 2005 Ashes series. Throughout Ashes history one side has always reigned supreme over the other for long periods. The Ashes has never been an open contest, a prize is handed back and forth each year and no new team is involved in the contest.

The answer is because it is endless. It is always one of the most important dates in a cricket lover’s calendar. This all-important contest holds great significance. This is all about sporting history between a small island nation and its former prison.

Ashes Series
England’s Stuart Broad bowls on the second day of the third Ashes cricket test match between England and Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, on July 30, 2015.

Even my friends who loathe the sport are likely to know who England are playing as they hear the term ‘the Ashes’.  Ashes matches have provided some of the most hard fought games in the history of cricket, and even some of the most exciting reversals and upsets in sporting history. This series has a knack of creating legends, and it tends to instill memories no fan would ever forget. I personally would rather watch reruns of the era of Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Kevin Pietersen, Shane Warne ,Michael Vaughan, Brett Lee, Glenn Mcgrath, Andrew Flintoff etc for the rest of my life than watch maybe a Messi or Ronaldo at their best.

Ashes history is often recited, tales dedicated, to the cricketing gods– but it can also read like a diary. In more recent years, with the advent of the England’s barmy army who are always after Mitchell Johnson who watched whitewashes with glum faces in the late 2000’s, disliked Matthew Hayden, and complained about how Shane Warne was nothing without his flipper.

The life cycle of an Ashes fan is a strange one. Why else would followers of a game that has fought through the horror of two world wars, the outrage of apartheid, weathered Bodyline, match-fixing and terrorist attacks, still keep on backing their favourite teams and players .

Ashes Series
The famous urn

In the case of the Ashes series, each result at the end of a series merely makes the next one more vital. The rivalry not only extends but also deepens. Some people enjoy Test cricket much a lot more than ODI and T20 cricket, so a proper 5-match Test series that has tradition and rivalry is always more exciting. For example if India and Pakistan played a regular 5 Test series with a trophy and a tradition as well as honour built around it, the passion surrounding the series would probably be of the same magnitude as that of the Ashes.

Such kind of rivalry is not unique to cricket. There are many other sports that have intense, historic rivalries that for dedicated fans eclipse the significance of overall competitions. There are definitely some Arsenal fans who care more about beating Spurs than about winning the Premiership or Boston Red Sox who don’t care for not qualifying for the playoffs so long as they beat the New York Yankees in the regular season.

Ashes series
Australia’s Usman Khawaja leaves the field after being dismissed during the fourth Ashes cricket test match against England at the Riverside cricket ground in Chester-le-Street near Durham August 12, 2013.

Starting from the 2005 series, performing in the Ashes has been a huge task. The attitude and atmosphere at each match is simply amazing in relation to the crowd attendance at the stadium. There is something intangible and inexplicable but brilliant about it.
There is nothing more intriguing than to wake up early in the morning and watch the men in white take the field. But with more people preferring the shorter format of the game, cricket’s heritage in the longest format is getting lost somewhere.

In the coming days test cricket might just lose its importance, but the Ashes have managed to do what no other Test series has.
There is no love lost between England and Australia, and the Ashes series is a great exhibition of Test match cricket where a full house is witnessed and every player is cheered for by the crowd.
It brings a new freshness to the usual sight of empty stands in the subcontinent during tests .

The Ashes is also surviving due to the kind of pitches on offer, with the bowlers having something to work on and the batsmen being put to test in trying conditions.

It is far from being a one-sided series, people think Australia were the favourites but England just won the series, which makes the Ashes a treat to watch. It is regarded as the test series which is going to lift Test cricket as it has been doing for all these years.

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