Birth of the concept
The term ‘‘Ashes’’ was first used after England lost to Australia – for the first time on home soil – at The Oval on August 29, 1882.
A day later, the Sporting Times carried a mock obituary of English cricket which concluded that: ‘‘ The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia’’.
The concept caught the imagination of the sporting public.
A few weeks later, an English team set off to tour Australia vowing to return with ‘‘the ashes’’
As well as playing three scheduled matches against the Australian national side, the team participated in many social matches.
It was after one such match on Christmas Eve 1882 the English were given a small terracotta urn as a symbol of the ashes that they had travelled to Australia to regain.
Today the tiny, delicate and irreplaceable artefact resides in the Mary- lebone Cricket Club Museum at Lord’s. In the 1990s, recognising the two teams’ desire to compete for an actual trophy, MCC commissioned an urn-shaped Waterford Crystal trophy.
This was first presented to Mark Taylor after his Australian side emerged triumphant 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.