20.10.06

Keeping the Ashes safe

The Ashes urn on tour I reckon it ought to stay with the team who wins but tradition is tradition I guess. For all folk who do not really know about the game of cricket the Ashes’ series is the most strongly fought over trophy in Test cricket, contests played between England and Australia - is one of cricket's fiercest and most celebrated rivalries and the oldest in international cricket dating back to 1882. It is currently played at approximately two yearly intervals, alternately in England and Australia. The Ashes are "held" by the country which last won a series and to "regain" them the other country must win more Test matches in a series than the country that "holds" them. If a series is "drawn" then the country holding the Ashes retains them. The last Ashes series was played in England in 2005 when England regained The Ashes after a gap of 16 years by winning the series 2-1. The next Ashes series will be in Australia in 2006-07 the next series in England will be in 2009. I want to be around to see both as it is televised like most sports are today. This is no joke sitting up all night to watch either but avid fans do and I am one of them. There are usually 5 or 6 games in each series and I know Americans will laugh at this but it is played over 5 consecutive days. In the beginning this was not always the case and some games were long drawn out affairs, others were not; long before my time of course. At the moment there are 10 test playing nations one Zimbabwe is limited at the moment to a shortened version of the game for political reasons but will resume tests next year and South Africa was out of the scene for a good 20 years sadly due to its apartheid policy but are now back in the fold. This pleased many Cricket lovers around the world as they had some fine cricketers and had to play for England or Australia to beat the ban. I’m getting off the track somewhat; the ashes series is almost akin to a war, years ago it was in a way; the Brits couldn’t beat us so they devised some nasty tactics called bodyline bowling (or leg theory)1932-1933; it worked and sadly there was almost a diplomatic incident over it. There was a Movie or TV series about it I can’t quite recall now which was which, today all sides use these tactics depending on the state of the pitch. My workmates years ago used to wonder why I went to the Sydney Cricket Ground to watch test matches and also touring teams from other countries who played our NSW state team I took with me like most folk did in those days an Esky full of chilled grog. A no no today of course Not just England and Australia either but any team. But this bodyline did actually cause an international incident between the two countries with our Prime minister getting involved but I do believe that money was involved some loans or such that we owed the British Government, I did read this in some cricket books of mine, as a matter of interest I am refering to them for this blog (Australian Cricket by Jack Pollard) given to me incidently by my late Brother and his Wife for my sixtieth birthday. Cables were sent back and forth no e-mail then lol The Brit fast bowler Harold Larwood who never played test cricket again migrated out here and Bert Oldfield one of our Batsmen never did meet or speak again just onetime when a centenary test match was held in Melbourne and both were invited; I managed to watch that game, the oddest thing about that is they lived quite near one another but there was ill will between them as Bert Oldfield was terribly injured in the head, Actually none of the players wanted to play this type of game but The Brit Skipper Douglass Jardine born in India of Scottish parents did and it seemed demanded it you must remember this was in 1932/33 I was not even a twinkle in my Dad's eye then Prior to this terrible series players always socialised after games but not when bodyline started they do now of course. I am looking forward to the coming series and of course one day games will be played as well, in some ways it seems a better game than the 5 day test matches. At one time they were 6 days duration; one day was a rest day. Whatever I am looking forward to the coming battle with the old enemy as the British team is known as. The story of the ashes in its urn is an intriguing one; it normally stays at Lords Cricket Ground Marylebone near the City of London but its on a tour here at the moment and the value of it is priceless. Australia has actually held the Ashes for 16 of the past 17 years, but despite its recent dominance, it has never been able to overturn the long-standing tradition that the urn remains in London, regardless of who wins the contest. This urn was made by a group of women from Melbourne and presented, so the legend goes, to Bligh the Brit skipper, who took it back home along with one of the Melbournites, the future Mrs Bligh. They play for another trophy now. Pictured below with Steve Waugh of Australia and Nasser Hussain of England. A little info can be found on the BBC

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