No Urn For Ashes 2013!
Since 1882, the year when cricket “died” in England, the cricketing teams of Australia and England have fought matches against one another that were eventually to be named as The Ashes. 1882 was significant year for cricket followers; as in this year, on a tour of England, the Australian cricket team beat the best that England could muster by 7 runs. It was a bowler called Spofforth who took 14 wickets for 90 runs in the match, and bowled his last 11 overs for 2 runs and 4 wickets, who proved to be the destroyer for Australia. An astonished Oval crowd fell silent, struggling to believe that England could possibly have lost to a colony. It was here that the foundations were laid for a sporting event that captures the imagination of both countries, and will continue to do so with the Ashes 2013.
Following this humiliating defeat a mock obituary for English cricket was penned by Reginald Shirley Brooks, under the pseudonym “Bloobs”, and this appeared on 2nd September 1882 in The Sporting Times. It read:-
In Affectionate Remembrance
which died at the Oval
29th AUGUST 1882,
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing
friends and acquaintances
N.B.—The body will be cremated and the
ashes taken to Australia.
The urn is believed by some to be the trophy that England and Australia play for in the Ashes Series Test Matches. Unfortunately this is not so. The urn has never been formally adopted as such.
It is said that when England regained “the ashes of English cricket” during their tour to Australia of 1882/3, a group of Melbourne ladies presented the urn to the England captain, The Hon. Ivo Bligh, after the teams win at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The urn is reputedly said to contain the burnt ashes of a bail following that success. However, a conflicting story states that the urn was presented to Bligh on Christmas Eve 1882 at Rupertswood Estate outside Melbourne, following one of the many social games that the England team undertook on that tour. It was to be regarded as a symbol of the ashes that he travelled to Australia to regain.
In any event, Bligh always considered the urn to be a personal gift, and it remained on the mantel of the family home in Rochester, Kent until his death. At his request, his widow bequeathed the urn to MCC, and it has remained in the MCC Museum at Lords to this day. Replicas of the urn are often held aloft by victorious teams as a symbol of their victory in an Ashes series, but the actual urn has never been presented or displayed as a trophy in this way.
In the 1990s it was recognised that the two teams wished to compete for an actual trophy, and following discussions between both cricket Boards, an urn-shaped Waterford Crystal trophy was made. This was first presented to Mark Taylor after his Australian side triumphed in the 1998-99 Test series against England. Since then, the trophy has been presented to the winning captain at the end of each Test series between Australia and England.
Keith Faunch wrote this article to remove the misconception that people hold about The Ashes Urn.