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There's nothing quite like The Ashes

Theres nothing quite like The Ashes
SATISFIED: Australia retained the Ashes after the 2-2 drawn series against England. - Reuters

By James Jose
 Senior Sports Reporter

Published: Fri 20 Sep 2019, 10:02 PM

Last updated: Sat 21 Sep 2019, 12:14 AM

LET'S PLAY BALL

 
In Affectionate Remembrance of English Cricket, which died at the Oval on 29 August 1882,
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. R.I.P. N.B.-The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.
This mock obituary written in an English newspaper back in 1882, encapsulating England's capitulation to Australia in a one-off Test at the Oval, gave birth to the series called The Ashes.
Those words are now part of folklore in this Anglo-Australian rivalry which has grown on to become one of the most iconic Test series, if not THE iconic series.
Since then, history has been littered with some great Ashes battles between the former empire and the former colony.
The 1932-33 series, most famously known as the Bodyline series, saw England captain Douglas Jardine employ tactics where his bowlers aimed at the Australian batsmen's bodies, especially aimed to negate the great Sir Don Bradman.
Cricket is known to be the gentleman's game but there was nothing gentlemanly about that series. It was an acrimonious series that almost threatened a diplomatic row between the two countries.
Much water has flown under the bridge since then. There have been many more memorable contests at Old Blighty as well as Down Under, right from Steve Waugh, Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussein, Michael Vaughan and Michael Clarke's time, with the usual banter, but minus the bodyline.
I remember staying up well into the night to catch the action as pace ace Mitchell Johnson ripped apart England Down Under during the 2013-14 series Down Under.
There have been some iconic moments too, with Andrew Flintoff's show of sportsmanship, still fresh in memory.
Just seconds after England had nicked that Edgbaston Test by two runs, Australia's pace ace Brett Lee crouched on his haunches, after having scored a valiant unbeaten 43.
But rather than rushing to join Steve Harmison in celebrations after he had removed last man Michael Kasprowicz, Flintoff headed down the non-striker's end and put his left arm around Lee's shoulder, shook his hand and consoled him.
It is one of the most iconic images from that 2005 series and, although there are different versions of what was spoken, and no one knows what was really said, it went on to show that it still can be the gentleman's game.
And that was very much the theme in the just concluded series in England where Australia made sure the urn returns on their Qantas flight home.
This edition, which can perhaps be called 'Steve Smith's redemption' or quite simply 'Steve Smith's rise from the Ashes,' was a riveting contest that ebbed and flowed.
It had the usual banter, but nothing that crossed the line, and although the series ended fair and square at 2-2, Smith, with a whopping 774 runs, was undoubtedly the difference between the two sides.
As one from the subcontinent, we have been brought up placing India-Pakistan contests above everything else. But the Ashes still holds a special place even though our countries are not involved.
So, here's a toast to The Ashes.
james@khaleejtimes.com




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