How Ashes started? 11 intriguing Ashes facts & records.
The Ashes Urn The words on the original Ashes urn reads as follows :
When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn.

Any clue what does it mean? read on to find out..

1. The beginning

English loved cricket, when they ruled the world, in years gone by. They found a rival in their own people down under - now known as Aussies and started playing friendly matches.

That was the start of International test cricket as well. The year was 1877. But somewhere in between, British missed the idea that if these cricket matches continued, someday they might lose as well.

That's what happened at the Oval on 29th August 1882 - the 9th test match between the two countries. Although it was just a 4 balls per over 2 day match, England team fell short by 7 runs and being the only test of the series - Australia not only won the match but the series as well.

"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" - wrote a London journalist, Reginald Shirley Brooks in a mock obituary (which means death notice). It was published by Sporting Times next day.

Death of cricket. From that day onwards, these two countries play a test match series every 2 years. Whoever wins the series, wins the Ashes. If series is draw, Ashes remains with previous winner.

2. So what do we mean by "Ashes"

It's basically an urn (a vase of varying size and shape, usually having a footed base or pedestal) and can be seen in the cricket museum at Lord's. A red and a gold velvet bag - which were made specially for that urn and the scorecard of that 1882 test match reside along with it.

It's not known what that Ashes urn contains. Some say it has the ashes of the "bail" used in the 3rd test match when English team traveled to Australia to regain ashes after that Oval test loss. Some say it's burned ball... make your own guess..

3. Victory after follow-on

Well over two thousand test matches so far, only three have seen teams coming back and winning after being asked to follow-on (all three lost by Australia). Twice it has been done by English team in Ashes series - at Sydney in 1894 and then at Leeds in 1981. (3rd instance has Indians winning at Kolkata in 2001).

England v Australia cricket test series is called Ashes series

4. Head to head

Total tests = 336 = Australia 138, England 105, Draws 93.
In Australia = 175 = Australia 91, England 57, Draws 27.
In England = 161 = England 48, Australia 47, Draws 66.

5. Highest Ashes totals

903/7 declared by England at The Oval back in August 1938, built around Len Hutton's triple century (364) and his 382 runs partnership with Maurice Leyland (187). Joe Hardstaff nailed a quickfire 169 coming in at no.7 to inflict mesmerising inning + 579 runs defeat over Australia which still stands at the biggest win in test cricket.

Australia's 729/6d at Lord's is the second best team score in Ashes thus far.

6. Lowest Ashes totals

36 is all that Aussies managed at Edgbaston back in May 1902 against Wilfred Rhodes' 7 wicket haul in just 11 overs. Interestingly, Australia survived that horrible session and didn't lose, earning a draw in that 3 day test.

Aussies also own next two lowest totals at 42/10 and 44/10 before we reached England's worst at 45 all out at Sydney back in January 1887.

7. Highest score by a batsman in Ashes

Four triple centuries for Australia - 304, 307, 311 and 334 by Don Bradman in 1930 at Leeds but the only one triple century by England batsmen in Ashes series - 364 by L Hutton as I mentioned earlier, is alone the highest score by any batsmen in Ashes series.

8. Highest Ashes Partnerships

England holds the record for highest innings score, their lowest score is 3 places higher than Australian's lowest total and even the highest score by a batsmen in Ashes series is by an Englishman, but Partnership record rests with Australia as Don Bradman and Bill Ponsford pun on 451 for the 2nd wicket at The Oval.
England's best partnership is 382 between Len Hutton & Maurice Leyland.

9. Best bowling figures in Ashes

Jim Laker's 19/90 at Manchester remains not just the best bowling performance in Ashes but in test cricket overall. The only wicket that Laker didn't get was of Jim Burke (falling to Tony Lock). 16 for 137 by Bob Messie at Lords in 1972 Australia's best in Ashes.

10. Most runs in Ashes series

English and Aussie young cricketers dream of playing Ashes series and making a mark. The best of batting marks have been made by Don Bradman for his 5028 runs against England with an average of 89.78. Bradman also has most centuries in Ashes = 19. Most runs by one Englishman is by Jack Hobbs for his 3636 compilation in 41 Ashes test matches.

11. Most wickets in Ashes series

Shane Warne is stranger to no cricket fan, specially not for England fans as he is the highest wicket taker in Ashes series = 172 wickets from 31 Ashes matches at an average of 22.30.

I know history is not always interesting, but I hope this piece was different.

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