Frequently Asked Questions about the Ashes Series

It’s the oldest series in the history of international cricket but how much do we actually know about the Ashes? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.

Why is it Called the Ashes Series?

The series is called the Ashes after the trophy that the two teams fight for. It’s a tiny urn which contains the ashes of a bail.

After England lost the Oval test of 1882, a mock obituary appeared in the Sporting Times newspaper which referred to the ‘ashes’ of English cricket. When England toured Australia in 1882/83, the famous urn was given to their captain Ivo Bligh by a group of women from Melbourne.

Inside the urn, so they claimed, were the ashes of a bail. The urn became the trophy that the two teams play for and it is known as The Ashes.

Why is the Ashes Series so Important in Cricket?

The Ashes is the first recognised trophy in international cricket. Additionally, Australia and England played the first ever test match in history when they met at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1877.

Other countries will argue that their games are better and they are right to have their opinions. That’s a matter for debate but the Ashes is so important because of its history within the game of cricket.

Why were there 2 Ashes Series in 2013?

Cricket authorities in England and Australia wanted to break the cycle of Ashes series. Prior to 2013, the timing meant that games were played ahead of an ICC World Cup. This could be draining for the players and the countries wanted to spread out the major competitions.

That’s why 2013 saw back-to-back Ashes series. The first was played in England during the home summer season and it was over to Australia for the second series in 2013/14.

Which is the Best Ashes Series of All Time?

The answer to this question would probably be dependent on whether you are English or Australian. If you ask a neutral, they may well say that the 2005 series in England was the best.

2005 had everything as England came from behind to win the five-match series 2-1. Not only was the series close, every game was a thriller with both teams in with a chance of winning.

There was some brilliant bowling and exceptional batting on both sides and many cricket fans, even one or two Australians, feel that this was the best.

English team after Ashes 2005
English team after Ashes 2005

Which Player has won the Most Ashes Series?

The record for most Ashes series wins as a player is eight and it’s jointly held by Steve Waugh and Johnny Briggs. Waugh made his Ashes debut in the 1986/87 series and would go on to play in 45 Ashes matches during a successful period for Australia.

Briggs was an English bowler who played international cricket between 1884 and 1899. This was a time when England were exclusively playing Australia and Briggs’ eight series wins came in 33 test matches.

Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh

Most Ashes Series played by a Player

Two players have featured in 15 Ashes series. Syd Gregory and Wilfred Rhodes are the two men in question. Gregory was an Australian batter who player in 58 tests between 1890 and 1912.

Rhodes is an Englishman who also played in 58 tests between 1899 and 1930. It’s probably no coincidence that this is the longest test career in cricket history.

Because of the scheduling of the Ashes in the modern day, the record of 15 is unlikely to ever be broken.

Wilfred Rhodes
Wilfred Rhodes

Most Ashes Matches wins as Captain

Australia’s Allan Border holds this particular record with 13 Ashes wins as skipper from 1985 to 1993. Border also holds the record for most matches as captain with 28.

Two players are tied in second place with 11 wins in Ashes games. Australia’s Don Bradman won 11 of his 19 games as skipper between 1936 and 1948. England’s Mike Brearley also won 11 Ashes matches but they came at a higher ratio in just 15 fixtures between 1977 and 1981.

Allan Border, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh
Allan Border, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh in October 2014

Which Country has won the Most Ashes Series?

Australia leads the way in terms of most Ashes wins. At the end of the 2021/22 series, the Aussies had won 34 of the 72 official Ashes series that had been played,

England had won 32 series while the remaining six were drawn. The overall list is a close one and England will be looking to catch up in the near future.

Worst Ashes Series

Once again, this is an area which is open to some conjecture. A side that has been whitewashed 5-0 will say that it’s the worst Ashes series while the winning team would say it’s the best.

Statistically, the 1953 Ashes in England may be considered as the worst. Of the five tests that were played, four ended in draws while the home side claimed the final test to regain the Ashes for the first time since 1934.

Rain was a common factor throughout the series. It washed out the whole of the fourth day of the first test at Trent Bridge and didn’t allow play to resume until the evening session on the final day. When the teams travelled to Old Trafford for the third game, more than half of the match was lost due to the weather.

There was some good cricket at times but 1953 will be remembered for those rain interruptions and some dull play throughout the showers.

Conclusion

I hope it’s been an interesting read through some of the frequently asked questions relating to the Ashes series. Statistics are always fascinating to look at and this is the most historic game of all so there are plenty to consider.

If you want to know more about the Ashes, please take a look at the many articles on this site that relate to the oldest trophy in international cricket.