10 Facts about the England Vs Australia Ashes cricket tour

The Ashes, England, Australia, test cricket, test match, test series
I have to confess that I am not an avid follower of cricket, but who can ignore the battle between England’s finest cricketers and the boys from down under? The 2015 Ashes series kicked off this week in Cardiff and the England lads have made a good start towards a 2015 Ashes victory. The first thing that I learned today about the Ashes is that the Aussies will be playing more than just the Ashes test matches while they are over here, so here’s a list of the 2015 Australian cricket tour fixtures along with ten facts about the Ashes that, at least, I didn’t know.

2015 Australian Tour of United Kingdom – Fixture Dates
Wed 8 – Sun 12 July                       1st Ashes Test                   Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Thu 16 – Mon 20 July                      2nd Ashes Test                 Lord’s
Thu 23 – Sat 25 July                        3-day v Derbyshire            Derby
Wed 29 July – Sun 2 Aug                3rd Ashes Test                  Edgbaston
Thu 6 – Mon 10 Aug                        4th Ashes Test                  Trent Bridge
Fri 14 – Sun 16 Aug                         3-day v Northants              Northampton
Thu 20 – Mon 24 Aug                      5th Ashes Test                  The Oval
Thu 27 Aug                                      Ireland v Australia ODI      TBC
Mon 31 Aug                                     T20 International                Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Thu 3 Sept                                       1st ODI (D/N)                     Rose Bowl, Southampton
Sat 5 Sept                                        2nd ODI                            Lord’s
Tue 8 Sept                                       3rd ODI (D/N)                   Old Trafford
Fri 11 Sept                                       4th ODI                             Headingley
Sun 13 Sept                                     5th ODI                             Old Trafford

1. How the Ashes began
International test cricket is said to have started in around 1887, when England’s began to play friendly matches against an Australian national cricket team. In August 1882, England lost a test match series to the Australians and a London journalist, Reginald Shirley Brooks, wrote an obituary to English cricket in the Sporting Times that read “"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. The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia”.

2. What are the Ashes?
It’s actually not known for sure what is in the famous Ashes urn that is kept at the MCC Museum in Lords cricket ground, but it is said that it is either the remains of a cricket ball, or the bails, from the 3rd test series when England regained the title from the Australian’s.

3. The Ashes has never been the official trophy of the Ashes series
Although members of the victorious team hold aloft a replica of the urn containing the Ashes, it has never actually been the official trophy of the Ashes test match series. The urn was a personal gift to the England captain, Ivo Bligh, who had vowed to ‘regain those ashes’ following the 1882 England defeat.

4. The first Australian cricket team to tour England was an Aboriginal team
The very first Australian cricket team to tour the UK was a team consisting of entirely of Aboriginal players. The tour, which the cricketing establishment of the time turned their noses up at, happened in 1868 and the visiting team won about half of the matches that they played.

5. England will always keep the Ashes
Much to the Australians disgust, England will always retain the Ashes because the urn rarely ever leaves Lords. It has visited Australia, though, once in 1988, when it went to Sydney for the Bicentenary Test Match in 1988 and then again in 2006, when it toured Australia with the Ashes Exhibition.

Bodyline, The Ashes, England, Australia, test cricket, test match, test series
Ducking a bodyline delivery
6. The Bodyline incident
Perhaps the most famous and controversial incident in the history of the Ashes was the infamous bodyline scandal of 1932, when the English bowlers, under the direction of England Captain, Douglas Jardine, bowled directly at the heads and upper beside of the Australian batsman. England won the series, 4-1, but the tactic was later outlawed.

7. The 1975 Ashes streaker
In 1975, Michael Angelo made the headlines when he ran on to the Lords pitch, stark bollock naked, apart from a pair of trainers, and leapt over the stumps at the Nursery End. He said the match was getting boring and he did for a £20 bet. Magistrates found Angelo guilty if ‘outraging public decency’ and, after asking him how much the bet was for, they fined him the same amount of £20.

Donald Bradman, The Ashes, England, Australia, test cricket, test match, test series
Sir Donald Bradman
8. The Bradman records
Possibly the most famous test cricketer to grace the Ashes was the Australian batsman Donald Bradman. Bradman is widely acknowledged to have been the best test batsman that there has ever been and many of his test match and Ashes records still stand. He holds the record for most runs in the history of the Ashes, the centuries and the highest batting average.

9. Which team has won the Ashes the most?
Well, as to whether it is the Australians, or the English who have won the most Ashes series, it’s pretty close run thing with Australia in the lead with 31 series and England on 30. In terms of individual test matches, it’s; Australia 123, England 100, as at the time of writing.

10 Can England win the 2015 Ashes?
England is certainly off to a reasonable start in the first test match of the 2015 Ashes test series and their odds to win are currently standing at 9/4. If they keep up the good work, they might even have the nation watching cricket again!

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