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Why ‘The Ashes’ is called Ashes?

The Ashes is one of the oldest sporting events in the world. But where does the name come from?



Why 'The Ashes' called Ashes?
The original 'Ashes Urn' is preserved in the Lord's Museum. Photo: Getty

The Ashes is one of the most hotly contested and oldest sporting events in the world.

Why 'The Ashes' called Ashes?

The Ashes 2019. Photo: Getty Images

In every two years, in the heightened of English summer, the ancient foes of Test cricket England and Australia contested for the urn of Ashes, a tiny vessel that is said to contain real ‘ashes’ of a burn cricket ball.

Why it is termed as such?

Going through the history books, the competition is compiled to be dated back in 1882, when Australia beat England at home for the first time.

Why 'The Ashes' called Ashes?

Geoffrey Boycott in 1970’s Ashes. Photo: The Independent UK

In the intensely contested match, England lost by just eight runs. The stunned cricketing community of the birth land of the game mourned over the defeat for days.

The following day, an English newspaper called the Sporting Times published a mock obituary of English cricket which said, “The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”.

Most convincingly, the concept of ‘Ashes’ emerged with the expression of that particular newspaper as in that year when England next travelled Down Under for the return series, captain Ivo Bligh promised to return with ‘the ashes’ of England cricket.

Why 'The Ashes' called Ashes?

Sir Don Bradman scored 974 runs in a single series in 1930 Ashes. Photo: The Independent Uk

In Christmas Eve of 1882 in Melbourne, Bligh was presented a small terracotta pot as a symbol of “the ashes” which some think was originally a perfume bottle.

A label is pasted upon it which contains a six-line poem published in The Melbourne Punch during the tour, beginning with the line, “When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn”.

However, Bligh successfully returned with the ‘burnt stature’ of English cricket not only for that year but for eight consecutive series.

It was 1891-92 when Australia registered their first Ashes win.

Why 'The Ashes' called Ashes?

The mocked obituary of English cricket. Photo: Getty Images

‘The curious case of Ivo Bligh’ is that the urn presented to the then English skipper had never actually been used as a trophy in the Ashes for even in a single occasion.

He preserved the memento for himself after the 1882-83 tour, and it showcased on his mantelpiece for 43 years until his death.

As per will of Ivo Bligh, this sporting artefact had been taken to Lord’s Museum in 1927 and it is there ever since.

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