Shane Warne delivered his first ball in an Ashes series on English soil, known as the ‘Ball of the Century’. Richie Benaud was in the commentary box at Old Trafford on 4 June 1993 and described the moment:
First ball in Test cricket in England for Shane Warne… And he’s done it! He started off with the most beautiful delivery… Gatting has absolutely no idea what has happened to it… He still doesn’t know… He asked Kenny Palmer on the way out. Kenny Palmer just gave him a raised eyebrow and a little nod. That’s all it needed! (Still don’t believe it? Here’s the footage courtesy of Cricket Australia!)
It was day two of the first Ashes test when wonder struck. The ‘Ball of the Century’ had been branded forever, in an Ashes series, which only served to make the moment even more memorable!
‘Urning’ a reputation
It all starts with great stories, great moments and unfortgettable experiences, backed up by high quality performances by great players, and over time. The Ashes is steeped in history and tradition and to understand the pysche of The Ashes there’s nothing more interesting than a tour of Lord’s, the famous English cricket ground. It just happens to house one of the real attractions and hidden gems, a tiny terracotta urn. Revered, savoured and protected, for some cricket fans it gives them the true meaning of life! It’s amazing how a tiny urn attracts pilgrims year after year to visit one of the world’s greatest sporting meccas.
Where did the ‘Ashes’ come from?
The Honourable Ivo Bligh captained England in the first Ashes Test against Australia in 1882-83. In 1882, England lost a test match to Australia at The Oval. The next day a London newspaper said that English cricket had ‘died’ and the body would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. When England toured Australia later that year, Bligh vowed to return with ‘the ashes’. And the rest was history! What’s in the urn? Reputedly, a burnt bail.
Fiercely fought for and defended throughout history, the urn represents ‘more than just cricket’ between the two countries. On a recent tour of Lord’s to see the oldest sports museum in the world, it was easy to see and feel this. Over a hundred Test matches have been played at Lord’s, the first match in 1884. England triumphed over Australia by an innings and 5 runs. Australia notched its first win in 1888 by 61 runs.
Inside the Long Room the stunning portraits on the walls are to be admired, none more so than the imposing figure of ‘Doctor Grace’. Not the Australian racehorse, but the English cricket legend WG Grace! They say Dr Grace ‘revolutionised batting and brought cricket to a mass audience and transformed cricket in England into the unrivalled spectator sport of the summer’! Sounds like Kerry Packer? :) Here’s the Doc’s profile.
The Lord’s Balcony
Two constructions stood out for me. Firstly, the Balcony. What a great feeling to stand on the balcony overlooking the hallowed turf. It’s the balcony for victory celebrations. Just ask Indian cricketer Sourav Ganguly! In 2002 Ganguly took off his shirt to celebrate his team’s win. His behaviour was seen as disrespectful and not a good image for cricket!
The Media Centre is out of this world!
Secondly, the JP Morgan Media Centre. You can’t miss it! The world’s first all-aluminium semi-monocoque building. Built in a shipyard by ship builders and prefabricated into 26 sections, it was re-assembled at Lord’s. A winner of many architectural awards, the centre was voted #11 in the UK’s top 50 most impressive buildings in 2011. Source: JP Morgan.
Top ten classic Ashes moments
Clashes between England and Australia always create talking points and there’s a good Sky Sports list of the top ten moments and incidents which have ‘taken up thousands of columns inches over the years.’ The 1932-33 Bodyline series was prominent for the collision of cricket and politics. Designed to limit Don Bradman, the approach was simple – very aggressive bowling by the English with one intent in mind!
Here’s my #1. It’s Don Bradman’s brilliance in the second Test at Lord’s in 1930: Bradman scored 254 in an innings which he always said was ‘the finest of his career’. Bradman wrote “Practically without exception every ball went where it was intended to go, even the one from which I was dismissed, but the latter went slightly up in the air.” Gold!
And here’s another interesting one at Lord’s, this time in 1972: It was Australian cricketer Bob Massie’s Test debut as a swing bowler where he took took 8/84 and 8/53 for the match. A world record. Massie only played five more Tests but made his impact!
The Ashes series 2013
More history-making moments and the excitement of a truly great series on English soil. After a humiliating 4-0 Test series loss to India earlier this year, Australia has been fighting hard in England to regain the Ashes after two successive losses. But to no avail. Led by our fearless captain Michael Clarke the new look team hasn’t been able to create their own piece of Ashes history. To win, all they needed to do was return the urn! If you’re in London, your best option to see some history, is to take the Lord’s tour!
Highlight of The Ashes series? The debut of Ashton Agar at Trent Bridge.
Two words. Ashton Agar!
Remember I said ‘it all starts with great stories and great moments’ in Ashes Test history? Australian debutant and excitement machine Ashton Agar ripped apart the English bowlers on Day Two of the First Test at Trent Bridge! Coming in at number 11, he was a huge part of a record Australian 10th wicket partnership, the highest ever in Test cricket against England and in any match! And Ashton’s 98 was the highest score ever by a number 11 batsman in Test cricket history! Say no more! And he’s from Melbourne! :)
Lord’s Cricket Ground was named after its founder Thomas Lord and is owned by the MCC, the Marylebone Cricket Club. It is also the home of Middlesex County Cricket Club, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the European Cricket Council (ECC) and was once the home of the International Cricket Council (ICC) until 2005.
Return The Urn
BREAKING: Australia regained The Ashes on Australian soil six months later in January 2014. Their history-making 5-0 win is a whole other subject! #ReturnTheUrn
Leanne Henderson is a communications specialist and owner of Best of Breed Communications Pty Ltd. And a massive cricket follower!