England's Cricketers Take Ashes from Australia
Without a doubt, this was the best Ashes cricket series in a very long time. Australia’s XI have dominated international cricket for the better part of 20 years. England’s XI are the best side the Mother Country has fielded since Ian Botham and Geoff Boycott played while Mrs. Thatcher ran the country into the ground. The only flaw in this series, which England took 2-1, was that it had to end.
The Australia-England match up is the oldest in cricket, starting in Melbourne in 1877. Back then, Britannia did indeed rule, and the colonies in Australia were 24 years away from federation. The Limeys were always supposed to win. And when they didn’t win, in Britain, in 1882, the following epitaph appeared in the Sporting Times:
In Affectionate Remembrance of English Cricket Which Died at the Oval 29th August, 1882, Deeply Lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. R.I.P. N.B. – The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.
According to Marcus Williams, a cricket writer of no small repute, this “ led a group of Australian ladies the following winter to present the touring English captain, the Hon. Ivo Bligh, with a small urn containing the ashes of a bail (or it may be a ball or even a veil).” Thus, the competition has been known as the Ashes ever since.
This time around, Australia thumped England at Lord’s in the first test (with England’s last five wickets falling for just 22 runs). The second test at Edgbaston went to England by just two runs after a late rally by Australia came up short. The third at Old Trafford was a draw in large part thanks to six hours’ of batting from Aussie captain Ricky Ponting to saved the tourists’ bacon. The fourth test at Trent Bridge was a more certain victory for the home side with a three wicket triumph. The last test was a victim of weather over the week-end (only the British upper crust would try to play a game in England that can’t continue if it rains), but with England needing only a draw to carry the day, the over-excited non-cricket fans who bought into the hype were left wondering “who’s winning?” England batted through the last day (including one of the greatest Ashes stands by Kevin Pietersen with 158 runs before he was bowled out), leaving Australia without any time to bat – the test was a draw, and the series went to England.
Most of the time, cricket isn’t this interesting or exciting. Indeed, there are times when lunch and tea are the best parts of a match, to say nothing of the beer tent. But the Ashes are always something special because of the history. This time, the series was special because it was the game at its best.
© Copyright 2005 by The Kensington Review, J. Myhre, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent.
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