The Ashes: Cricket for Glory

The Kangaroos are all set to face the mighty English side to retract the honored Ashes Cup. The Kangaroos will be hosting the Ashes for thirty-sixth time in Ashes History. The hosts will be looking for their 33rd Ashes series win. Currently, both the teams have won the series for thirty-two times. However, with respect in the matches, the Kangaroos are leading the Englishmen with the record of 130-106 with a total of 325 matches.

The Ashes was started in 1882 when the English side had taken a revenge of the memorable win of the Kangroos on the England side on the ground of The Oval. From 1882, there was an extended period of English dominance as they lost only nine Ashes Tests in the 1880s out of 36 played, and they won 11 out of 12 series contested. In 1896 England under the captaincy of W. G. Grace won the series 2–1 but this marked the end of England’s longest period of Ashes dominance.

Australia resoundingly won the 1897–98 series by 4–1 under the captaincy of Harry Trout. His successor, Joe Darling won the next three series in 1899, 1901–02 and 1902 series.

England and Australia were evenly matched until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Five more series took place between 1905 and 1912.

After the war, Australia took firm control of both the Ashes and world cricket. For the first time, the tactic of using two express bowlers in tandem paid off as Jack Gregory and Ted MacDonald crippled the English batting on a regular basis. Australia recorded overwhelming victories both in England and on home soil. They won the first eight matches in succession. England won only one Test out of 15 from the end of the war until 1925.

Australia recovered the Ashes in 1934 and held them until 1953, though no Test cricket was played during the Second World War. In 1948 Australia set new standards, completely outplaying their hosts to win 4–0 with one draw. This Australian Team, led by Bradman, who turned 40 during his final tour of England, has gone down in history as The Invincibles. Playing 34 matches on tour—three of which were not first-class—and including the five Tests, they remained unbeaten, winning 27 and drawing 7.

From 1953 to 1987, it was a time period of fluctuations as in the 19 series held, the English won 8 series with 4 draws. As they held the Ashes, Australian captains Bob Simspon and Bill Lawry were happy to adopt safety-first tactics and their strategy of sedate batting saw many draws. During this period, spectator attendances dropped and media condemnation increased, but Simpson and Lawry flatly disregarded the public dissatisfaction.

Australia reached a cricketing peak in the 1990s and early 2000s, coupled with a general decline in England’s fortunes. After re-establishing its credibility in 1989, Australia underlined its superiority with victories in the 1990–91, 1993, 1994–95, 1997, 1998–99, 2001 and 2002–03 series, all by convincing margins.

Great Australian players in the early years included batsmen Border, Boon, Taylor and Steve Waugh. The captaincy passed from Border to Taylor in the mid-1990s and then to Steve Waugh before the 2001 series. In the latter part of the 1990s Waugh himself, along with his twin brother Mark, scored heavily for Australia and fast bowlers Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie made a serious impact, especially the former. The wicketkeeper-batsman position was held by Ian Healy for most of the 1990s and by Adam Gilchrist from 2001 to 2006–07. In the 2000s, batsmen Justin Langer, Damien Martyn and Matthew Hayden became noted players in Australia. But the most dominant Australian player was leg-spinner Shane Warne, whose first delivery in Ashes cricket in 1993, to dismiss Mike Gatting, became known as the Ball of the Century.

In 2006-07, Australia completed a 5–0 “whitewash”, the first time this had happened in an Ashes series since 1920–21. The series was also notable for the retirement of four significant Australian players, namely Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, and Shane Warne.

In 2010, England won the series 3–1 and retained the Ashes, having won the previous series in 2009 by 2-1.

In the first of two Ashes Series held in 2013-14, England won the series 3–0, with wins at Trent Bridge, Lord’s and the Riverside Ground; the matches at Old Trafford and The Oval finished as draws

In the second, this time hosted by Australia, the home team won the series five test matches to nil. This was the third time Australia has completed a clean sweep (or “whitewash”) in Ashes history, a feat never matched by England.

Currently, England is holding the Cup by their win in 2015 series by 3-2.