What are the Ashes anyway?

Maybe you have heard about England and The Ashes recently, maybe you wondered what it was all about, then remembered you have no interest in cricket and let that thought fall to the wayside.

Well I’d like to resurrect that flutter of brain activity and explain a little bit about the infamous Ashes.


The Ashes is a series of games, called Tests, played between England and Australia which started in 1882. The name comes from a satirical obituary published in The Sporting Times after Australia beat England on English ground for the first time. The article claimed that English cricket had died and that ‘the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.’

During the next English tour to Australia the media dubbed the trip as ‘the quest to regain the Ashes.’ The story goes that a group of women from Melbourne presented a small terracotta urn to England skipper Ivo Bligh, which contained the ashes of a bail (a piece of cricket equipment).

So every other year the teams play five five-day tests to decide who gets to keep the prized Ashes.

This year

You’ll be pleased to hear (if you are English that is) England have retained the Ashes and won the series with one test to go. A close win for England at Trent Bridge followed by a crushing victory of 347 runs at Lord’s left Australia 2-0 down. They fought back in the third test only to be let down by the great British weather bringing the play to an early close. This resulted in a draw and England retaining the Ashes, as Australia could not now win and England was already in possession.

The win came for England in the 4th test at Durham. The game was swinging either way as the two sides battled it out, but Stuart Broad pulled out an epic performance, claiming 11 Aussie wickets in the match.

As the next test gets underway at the Oval why not listen in to the excellent commentary on BBC 5 Live Extra and cheer England on to a 4-0 victory. You never know, you may become the newest member of the Barmy Army.