As England and Australia lock horns today at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff for the 69th Ashes series, we will look back to the history of the Ashes.
On August 29, 1882 visiting Australia notched up their first victory on English soil over the full strength of England at The Oval. Nevertheless, the defeat was humiliation for England, a young English journalist Reginald Shirley Brooks wrote a mock obituary. It appeared in the Sporting Times.
He wrote, “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, RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia.”
After the defeat to Australia by seven runs, an arrangement, for the revenge, had already been made. Ivo Bligh led England team sailed to Australia to recover the Ashes. After Ivo, Lord Darnley led England. Australia defeated England by nine wickets in the first match, but England by winning the next two matches, literally accepted that they brought back the Ashes at home.
It was long believed that that the real Ashes – a small urn which contained the Ashes of bail used in the third match – were presented to Bligh by a group of Melbourne women. In 1998 Lord Darnley’s 82 year old daughter-in law said they were remains of her mother-in-law’s veil, not a bail. The other evidence suggests a ball. The certain origin of the Ashes is, therefore, a subject of some dispute.
After Lord Darnley’s death in 1927, the urn was given to MCC by Lord Darnley’s Australia born widow, Florence. It can be seen in the cricket museum at Lord’s, together with red and gold velvet bag, made especially for it, and the scorecard of the 1882 match.
The text in the urn is 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.
See the video here: