The Ashes has been witness to Australia and England competing at Test cricket since the late 1880s. All these years later, the series is still one of the most important on the cricket calendar.
This year, the Australian team will travel all the way to England, with the 2019 Ashes following hot on the heels of this year’s Cricket World Cup, hosted by England and Wales.
It’s been a rather extended period of Australian domination, both at home and away. In fact, the past decade has seen the infamous urn change hands regularly, with Australia convincingly winning in the 2017/18 tournament.
This year, the Ashes is to be held at Old Trafford, Edgbaston, The Oval, Headingley, and Lords. The series is set to start a little later than the previous Ashes, all because the 2019 Cricket World Cup will be held between May and July 2019.
The series forms part of the inaugural 2019-21 ICC World Test Championship.
What You Need to Know About the Ashes
The Ashes, well the term, actually comes from a newspaper called The Sporting Life. Way back in 1882, the paper published a spoof obituary of English cricket which came after Australia beat the English at The Oval. It marked the very first-time tourists won a game on English ground.
The satirical piece stated that the body of English cricket was to be cremated and the ashes taken back to Oz. The next Test series was then labelled by the media as an effort to win back those “ashes” with the English captain of the time, Ivo Bligh, vowing to recoup the Ashes. The name seems to have stuck!
The Currently Title Holders
Australia is currently the reigning champs, having won by four matches to nil in last year’s Ashes. The Ozzies won all but the fourth Test in Melbourne. That one ended in a draw.
In fact, the last Test was miserable for our Brits, who were defeated 4-0 with not a whole lot to get excited about. It was David Warner’s unbeaten 87 that saw Australia saw a 10-wicket win in the first game which was held in Brisbane. Meanwhile, Shaun Marsh’s unbeaten 126 did well for the visitors in Adelaide. In Perth, England’s bowlers were once again put to the test, especially Steve Smith. However, an innings defeat saw the urn returned to Australia.
Who’s The Biggest Winner?
For a series that’s been going on for over 130 years, the overall tally is actually rather close. To date, there have been 70 series, with Australia winning 33 and England 32. Just five have been drawn.
The 2019 Ashes Schedule
With The Ashes just around the corner, here’s the schedule you’re going to want to keep handy to make sure you don’t miss a second of the action.
Before we get into the Ashes, if you fancy having a bet on the Ashes and you are unsure on how to approach it Betopin has come up with an Essential Guide To World Cup Betting which might help you with any questions have.
First Test – August 1 – 5, 2019 – Edgbaston
This may not be the happiest of hunting ground for the team down under, with just two successes coming their way in the past nine visits they’ve made to Birmingham. The most recent was way back in 2001 when they won by mere innings and 118 runs. Then, Captain Steve Waugh, as well as Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist all, hit hundreds.
Recent memories are somewhat abysmal for the Ozzies, too. They lost the 2005 Test when team member, Michael Kasprowicz was dismissed with two runs needed.
Australia’s 2015 hopes also sank when they endured an 8-wicket loss, mostly as a result of being bowled out for 136 on the opening day.
Second Test – August 14 – 18, 2019 – Lord’s
Next up we’ll be moving to Lord’s, a fixture you’ll always find on English turf when it comes to the Ashes, and one the Australians are more than happy with, mostly.
The English team has had great success at Lord’s of late, winning in both 2009 and 2013. But it was the 405 runs victory for Australia in 2015 that’s far more notable.
The success in 2009 was England’s first on these grounds for more than 75 years, and it’s common for Australia to up their game when they enter the stadium. In fact, Australia’s won 6 of their last 10 games at Lord’s, with their 2015 victory all thanks to Steve Smith’s double hundred.
Third Test – August 22 – 26, 2019 – Headingley
When we think of the Ashes at Headingley, the very first thing that comes to mind is England’s amazing 1981 comeback when, thanks to Ian Botham, the team recovered from following on 227 runs and 135-7 in the second innings to beat Oz by a decent 18 runs.
But Australia has had a grand old time in Yorkshire, too, having won four out of five of their past matches. The most recent win happened in 2009 when the team won by an innings and 80 runs. Mitchell Johnson took 5-69 in the second innings.
England’s main success happened in 2001, helped by a declaration by Gilchrist as Mark Butcher’s unbeaten 173 saw the squad chase down the victory, eventually scoring 315-4.
Most excitingly, “Punter,” the most successful crickets ever, won three ICC Cricket World Cups in a row here in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
Fourth Test – September 4 – 8, 2019 – Old Trafford
Manchester on the schedule is hardly going to put a dent in Australia’s confidence, considering they’ve not lost at Old Trafford in the past six visits since 1985. In fact, one of the Ozzy team’s finest moments came when Shane Warne’s ball of the century dismissed Mike Gatting.
Even when the Australian team struggled in 2005, looking like a series defeat was on the cards, they still managed to swerve defeat as Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee battled out those final overs to reach a draw.
The last time England and Australia met up at Old Trafford in 2013 was also a draw.
Fifth Test – September 12 – 16, 2019 – The Oval
Even when Australia dominated in the 1990s and early 2000s, The Oval remained a challenge. The team won in 2015 there by 46 runs, and that marked just one of two successes for them in their last 12 visits to the south of London.
The Oval certainly has much happier memories for England, who won in 2009 and drew in 2005.
What Are the Odds?
Right now, the odds to draw are 13/2, with the odds of England winning the Ashes sitting at 4/5 and the odds of Australia’s victory sitting at 2/1.
So far, this year’s Ashes is a difficult one to predict, especially with a World Cup taking place beforehand. However, it’s likely that England will be favourites on their home turf.
Steeped In Controversy
One of the most controversial Ashes series dates all the way back to 1932-3, the bodyline tour of Australia. During the series, English captain, Douglas Jardine managed to perfect the art of packing the leg-side field and getting the team’s fastest bowlers (Harold Larwood and Bill Voce) to aim at the Australian batsmen’s upper bodies and even heads.
Accordingly, and hardly surprisingly, this caused a diplomatic incident. The Australian authorities labelled the Marylebone Cricket Club (the game bosses) “unsportsmanlike,” and naturally that ruffled many feathers. Eventually, the tactic was outlawed.
England went on to win the series 4-1 and the threat from the sensational Don Bradman was neutralised. It was a victory for England.
As for the aftermath of the bodyline saga, former Nottinghamshire miner and bodyline whizz, Larwood, never played for England again after that tour. Funny enough, he moved to Australia with his wife and five children where he got on well with the locals. What’s more, the West Indies went on to use a version of that bodyline tactic against Jardine (who remained as captain) and the next year and Jardine rose to the challenge, going on to score his highest score ever against them (127).
A Little Ashes Trivia
Don Bradman remains one of the finest Ashes players ever, perhaps we’d go so far as to say he’s the finest batsman to ever grace the beautiful game. Yet, there is another Ashes record that was won by David Boon in the 1980s. Boon was a beer-swilling Tasmanian batsman who reputedly sank 52 tins of beer on one flight to England ion 1989. Before he won the coveted beer drinking title, it was held by the wicketkeeper, Rod Marsh. He sank just 45 cans in 1945. Go Aussies!
The Urn Belongs in England
Despite those Aussie complaints we hear so often, the urn has always remained in England. It lives at Lord’s cricket ground, which is the HQ of the MCC. While the urn has hopped over to visit Australia just twice (once to Sydney for a 1988 Bicentenary Test Match and once in 2006 for the Ashes Exhibition tour) this is an English urn through and through.
While it seems unlikely that either Australia or England will look too heavily on past history, Aussie’s strong records at Lord’s, Old Trafford and Headingley are plying the 2019 generation with hope that they may just have the best chance yet of becoming the first side since 2001 and Steve Waigh’s team to leave England holding the urn (metaphorically, of course!).
The fact that Trent Bridge hasn’t made the schedule (a cricket ground the Aussies have lost at on the last three visits) is sure to have pleased the team.
Perhaps the only concern is that two of the matches – The Oval and Old Trafford – will be played in September, just as the English summer is drawing to a close. The last Ashes match that was played at that time of the year was in 2005 and it took place at The Oval. The Test was hit by lashings of rain and poor light, which played a big part in England playing out the draw and taking the series.
Who’s in it to win it this year? We can’t wait to watch the action unfold!