To many the history behind the series with the tiny trophy is something of a mystery. Well the simplest recollection is that The Ashes can be traced back to the 1882/83 test series between Australia and England, which the hosts lost. A British newspaper posted a satirical obituary following England’s first loss to Australia on home soil.
The mock obituary stated that English cricket had died, and "the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia". English captain Ivo Bligh then vowed to "regain those ashes". The English media went on to christen England’s following tour of Australia ‘the quest to regain the Ashes.’
Fast forward a couple of centuries to Thursday January 4th, 2018 and James Anderson has just edged a Josh Hazlewood delivery to the keeper at the Sydney Cricket Ground to give Australia a resounding 4-0 Ashes victory. That result saw Australia regain the urn from the old enemy having previously lost it during the 2015 series in England.
We’ve come full circle since then as the Ashes Series returns to England. A few things have changed following England’s humiliation during the 2017/18 series. England are the recently crowned ICC Cricket World Cup Champions. Even in change of format and squads England fans will still be eager to laud it over the counterparts. However there will be an added sideshow during the latest instalment of the age-old rivalry that will likely garner just as much if not more attention.
Following the 2017/18 series the Australians then toured South Africa in March. The Proteas would go on to rout the new Ashes holders 3-1 but the result was not would make the headlines the world over.
Smith’s men showed maintained their red-hot form from the onset and downed the hosts in the first test in Durban before South Africa bounced back spectacularly in Port Elizabeth to go into the crucial third test in Cape Town on equal terms. With the opportunity to take an unassailable 2-1 lead seemingly too good to pass up the Australians then conspired to take matters into their own hands when the proverbial pendulum started swinging in South Africa’s favour. One of their players was caught on camera using sandpaper to manipulate the condition of the ball.
At the end of it all two players, Steve Smith and David Warner, were suspended for 12 months while a third, Cameron Bancroft, was suspended for nine months for his involved in what has since become to known as ‘Sandpaper Gate’ in one of darkest times in Australian cricket and sports history.
Steve Smith and David Warner returned from their suspensions to be included in the World Cup team and seemed to have picked up where they left off despite not being able to lead their country past the semi-finals of the tournament. However all three players are yet to represent the Baggy Greens in white clothing since their involvement in the now infamous test in the Mother City.
Warner and Smith were given a precursor of what is to come on their tour of England. The two top-order batsman were constantly booed throughout the World Cup in England and are likely to get it even more during the Ashes. England players have often copped some of the worst verbal tirade from vocal Aussie fans when they’ve toured down under and there can be no doubt that the home faithful will be determined to return the favour.
While England are the current ICC Cricket World Cup holders in the 50-over format, the Ashes is a different format altogether which comes with different dynamics and permutations. As far as test matches go, England’s recent outings have been less than convincing. In July they played a one-off four-day test against Ireland and while they were comfortable victors in the end they were dismissed for a paltry 85 in their first innings at Lord’s. Before the World Cup they played in a three-match series in the Caribbean against the Windies and they were surprisingly beaten 2-1.
Since the cheating scandal Australia, under the new leadership of Tim Paine, have played three test series, winning one and losing two. In 2018 they lost 1-0 to Pakistan in a two-match series in the UAE before India pulled of an historic away win beating the Aussies 2-1 in a four-match series in their own backyard. In 2019 they have played just the one series, against Sri Lanka in Australia, which they won convincingly 2-0 in a two-match series.
With only just over 18 months passing since the last Ashes this may seem like just another series with , as recent history suggests, the hosts favourites to reclaim the famous urn. However so much has changed and happened in between that you would need more than the form-book and historical data to predict the outcome of this mouth-watering series.
England are the favourites and you can get even money for them or 29/20 if you fancy Australia before the start of the series. We have a multitude of betting markets for the entire series as well as for each test match. We have highlighted just a few below:
Top Run Scorer for the Series
Player of the Series