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The Ashes is a five-match test cricket series contested by Australia and England. It’s one of the greatest and longest running rivalries in cricket, dating back to 1882. Since its inauguration, 68 series have been played, with Australia shading England 32-31 in wins. Five Ashes series have ended in draws, with the holders taking the honours. The name of the event came after a British newspaper claimed that cricket had died, and ‘the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia’. The mythical ashes immediately became associated with the 1882–83 series played in Australia, when English captain Ivo Bligh vowed to "regain those ashes".
Some of the greatest cricketers of all-time have played in The Ashes, including arguably the greatest ever Batsman Sir Donald Bradman. The Don holds the record for most overall runs in the competition’s history, racking up a total of 5028 in his time at the crease. Another Aussie legend in Shane Warne also dominates in the bowling department. The leg spinner has 195 Ashes wickets to his name, with none more memorable than his first. In fact it was his first ball in Ashes cricket in June of 1993 at Old Trafford in Manchester. Warne dismissed key Englishman Mike Gatting with what has been dubbed the ‘Ball of the Century’. With a ball that pitched outside leg stump, Warnie produced some wicked spin which caught Gatting off-guard and the ball clipped the top of off-stump. It left the bemused batter in sheer disbelief and the crowd stunned.
The Ashes alternates between the United Kingdom and Australia, and when each nation plays host to the event, the five matches are usually played at various cricket grounds. In Australia, the grounds used include the Gabba, Adelaide Oval, WACA, MCG and SCG. The grounds used in the UK are generally swapped between The Oval in Kennington, Old Trafford in Manchester, Lord’s in North London, Trent Bridge at West Bridgford, Headlingly in Leeds, Edgbaston in Birmingham, Sophia Gardens in Cardiff and the Riverside Ground in Country Durham.