The game of cricket is played by many nations throughout the world, but particularly in England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. (Note: all of these nations were colonised by the English sometime in the past few centuries, as the British Empire expanded).
Cricket was first played in England in the 16th century and is probably considered its national game. All the nations mentioned above participate in regular “tests” or series of games. No competition is as fierce as the competition between Australia and England. In 1877 the first “test” between England and Australia was played.
It was after the ninth test in 1882 that the Ashes were actually described. After Australia had trounced the English side at The Oval, the English press declared in a widely published obituary that stated “English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”
A short time later, the English captain received a small urn from some Australian women (one of whom he ended up marrying). The urn was said to contain the ashes of a wooden bail and were supposed to represent the “Ashes” that had been won by Australia and taken to Australia after the test defeat of England.
History has numerous stories about the precise account of the appearance of the Urn and the Ashes, but the concept has been embraced by both nations and “the Ashes”, a series of five games, played biennially with Australia and England taking a turn to host the test.
My motivation for writing this article is because Australia has been the host of the Ashes test (commencing in late November 2013) and has won the Ashes back from the English. Australia won three games, therefore being declared the winner of the entire test and thus the Ashes.
There are two games left to play, and some would call these “dead rubbers”, but I can assure the reader that the Aussies and the Poms will fight tooth and nail to win every game.
For your interest here is a description by an unknown English writer, who describes the game of Cricket to a visitor.
You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!