The Ashes is a five-match Test series of cricket between England and Australia. This awesome event in the cricket calendar takes place every two years and each team takes turns to host it.
The event gets its name from a joke, following the defeat of England by Australia at The Oval in the 1880s, which prompted an English newspaper to print a story on the ‘death of English cricket’. According to the newspaper, English cricket would be burnt down and its ashes would go to Australia. On England’s next tour of Australia, a pair of bails were burnt down and put in an urn.
This year, the 2021/22 series place in the warmer location of Australia. The series began on 8 December 2021 and will run until 18 January 2022. Matches will take place in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Here is a look at how the First Test of the series has gone and who will go on to win the entire series.
Things didn’t go well for England on the first day of the first Test. They got off to a miserable start as Pat Cummins took five wickets in his first match as Australia’s Test captain. England just couldn’t hit their stride when it came to batting and the hosts bowled them out for 147.
The dismissal of Rory Burns at the wicket for a first-bowl duck and of captain Joe Root for a duck were particular highlights of the horror show for England. By teatime it was all over for England for the time being, but rain put the kibosh on play and Australia would have to wait until the next day to get batting, which they probably couldn’t wait to do.
On the second day, the horror show continued for the visitors. Spin bowler Jack Leach could only feel dismay as he was taken for 98 runs in just 11 overs. England had begun to mount their comeback, with a flurry of wickets either side of teatime that sent a message to the hosts that they weren’t going to be dictated to on the crease.
But it seems Australia didn’t get that particular memo. Travis Head was determined to not let the visitors have their own way and found some blistering form at the worst possible time for England. In the county championship, he averaged below 19 for Sussex, but in the Test delivered a speedy century that put Australia well and truly in the driving seat. By the end of the day, the Australians were cruising comfortably ahead by 196 runs, leaving England with some serious catching up to do.
The third day was a different affair. Fed up of being on the wrong end of a drubbing, England dug deep and come out swinging. They closed the day’s play 220 for two. Captain Joe Root had the major monkey of going out for a duck in the first innings to get off his back, which he did with an impressive 86 not out.
The fourth day will have put a severe dent in England’s confidence. The visitors may have clawed their way back into the Test on day three, but they crumbled spectacularly the next day and Australia walked away taking the first Test of the series. By the time lunch had arrived, England had capitulated and lost their last eight wickets for just 77 runs. Australia bowled the visitors out for 298 and duly knocked over the 20 required for victory.
Winning the Ashes
Right now, Australia are holding on tight to the Ashes. The Aussies have won the series 33 times, whereas England have won it 32, and the two teams have drawn six times. To get the Ashes, the teams have to win, so this tournament is especially crucial. Will Australia go two tournaments ahead? Or will England pull one back and level the series?
At the moment, the experts are fancying Australia as the favourites in the Ashes betting, hardly surprising after the way the team have strolled away with the first Test. Australia are strong at home and have a solid attack. Nathan Lyon isn’t far off 400 test wickets. Meanwhile, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne ooze confidence when facing the bowlers, courtesy of averages of more than 60 with the bat. David Warner, who has a Test average of 48.09, is also a player who makes opposing sides nervous when he takes up his place at the wicket.
England haven’t displayed quite the pleasing consistency of Australia. Lately, they’ve been inconsistent, in fact. More than inconsistent, however, they’ve been weak, having been on the business end of some real drubbings.
In the summer of 2019, Australia regained the Ashes in a 2-2 draw. This time they’re looking strong for the win and, with the first Test under their belts, have already started as they mean to go on. Some think the Ashes will be a 3-1 to Australia. If England do walk away with the urn at the end of this series, it will be a pleasant surprise to many.
There are still four tests to go in the Ashes, but Australia are in merciless form and, despite the heart England have shown, right now it’s looking as if the two teams won’t need to play all those matches. Can England mount a comeback? Let’s see in the next Test.