The one thing we have to do now is take our heads out of the sand and we need to pull together and prioritize red ball (test) cricket. Because if we are not careful the Eskimos will be beating us. –England cricketing great, Ian Botham

England slaughtered by the Australians

By Roger Childs

Over the weekend England meekly surrendered in the fifth test of the Ashes series, played in Hobart. A win in this final test of the series was a possibility for the English as they just needed 274 in the second innings. 

They got off to a great start with an opening partnership of 68 and were 82 for one wicket before the collapse occurred. The remaining nine wickets fell for 46 runs and England’s humiliation was complete.

Winning the 19th century trophy

Every Australian newspaper on Monday will have featured victorious Australian captain, fast bowler Pat Cummins holding the legendary Ashes cup. Australia had comprehensively won this series 4-0. He could hide the trophy in his two hands as this is probably the smallest piece of international sports silverware in the world and compared with the America’s Cup and the World Rugby Cup is tiny.

So how did the concept of “The Ashes” originate? It goes back to a famous match between the two long-term cricketing rivals in London in the early 1880s.

The death of English cricket

As with the Tour de France it was a newspaper which set the ball rolling over a century ago. The 1882 Australian victory was regarded as a national disaster in the old country.

 England should have won the match and needed only 85 runs in their second innings. But fast bowler FW Spofforth, who had taken 7 wickets in the first innings took another seven the second time around to leave the English 8 runs short.

The Sporting Times declared judgment. It regarded the defeat by the colonials from the other side of the world as the death of English cricket. Young journalist Reginald Brooks wrote a mock obituary with the punch line that The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.

This creative interpretation captured the public imagination, and the English team under Ivo Bligh (later Lord Darnley), went to Australia later that year to “recover the ashes”. After their 2-1 victory in the series a group of Melbourne women presented Captain Bligh with an urn containing ashes. 

After Lord Darnley’s death in 1927, his Australian-born widow, Florence gave the urn to the MCC to put in their museum at the Lords cricket ground. The trophy has been played for ever since usually in a five test series.