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21 Fun Facts About the Ashes

Looking for more information about one of the most celebrated rivalries in cricket? Discover all you need to know with these fun facts about the Ashes!

facts about the ashes

It’s the ultimate rivalry in cricket. England vs Australia. This is a head-to-head that’s been going on for nearly 150 years!

But how much do you really know about the bi-annual cricket tournament to decide who wins the Ashes urn? 

With these fun facts about the Ashes, we’ll dive into the historic results, most epic tests, and the dynamic players who’ve changed the game forever.

This rivalry isn’t just bitter (read examples of this below with fan brawls and dodgy bowlers!), but it’s also hotly contested. In fact, as it stands today, the Australians have won 34 series compare to England’s 32.

ashes facts
How much do you know about the Ashes?

So what’s your prediction for 2023? Can England stop Australia’s momentum? Or will Australia continue to dominate and stretch their grip on the Ashes for another cycle? Remember, Australia hasn’t dropped a series since 2015! 

And what about the women’s Ashes? England is looking to crawl out of a little deficit there too with Australia leading the series 9-6. 

The two tournaments are being run together across England in June/July 2023 – that means double the cricket to watch!

We’re getting pumped for all the upcoming action and we bet you are too, so get yourself for it with these amazing Ashes facts.

fun ashes facts
It’s time to dive into the history of the Ashes!

21 Fun Facts About the Ashes

1. Why the name Ashes?

The Ashes’ unique name comes from the embarrassment of an English defeat. When Australia beat England in 1882, British journalist Reginald Shirley Brooks claimed that English cricket had died, the body cremated, and the ashes taken to Australia.

The English captain at the time, Ivo Bligh, then vowed to reclaim the Ashes for England.

2. When was the first Ashes test?

The same year as England’s 1882 loss at the Oval, the first Ashes test was played with England winning the inaugural series 2-1. 

Usually a series will be played every 18-30 months, and is now a 5-match series. 

what is the ashes
If the Ashes is a draw, the previous winner keeps the little urn

3. What happens if there’s a draw?

It’s not uncommon for the Ashes series to end in a draw. The rules state that in the case of a draw, the Ashes is retained by the defending champion. 

This makes total sense – you can’t take the trophy away after a tie! In the history of the Ashes there have been 6 draws.

4. England vs Australia at the Ashes

It’s truly incredible how close this cricket rivalry is between the two nations. Besides the 6 draws we mentioned above, the current win rate stands at 34 for Australia and 32 for England. 

Could it get any closer than that? England will be desperately looking for the next series win as they haven’t claimed the Ashes since 2015.

5. What’s up with that tiny trophy?

Of course, the trophy is actually a tiny urn! How else would you hold ashes? 

While the Ashes urn awarded today is made of Waterford Crystal and was installed in 1998, the original Ashes urn is on display at the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) Museum at Lord’s.

the ashes urn

6. The contents of the Ashes urn

Okay, we know you’re probably thinking: are there actually ashes in the urn? This is a legend with rampant speculation. 

Some believe the ashes are of a burnt cricket bail. Others believe it’s a burnt cricket ball. But we can confirm, there are ashes in the Ashes urn!

7. The Ashes facts by the numbers

In total there have been 356 tests played in the history of the Ashes. Australia has 150 wins to England’s 110. There have also been 96 draws. 

In terms of centuries scored, Australia leads the way again with 264. England has scored 212 centuries.

8. The Ashes highest run scorers

Here is a fun fact about the Ashes that blew our mind. Sir Don Bradman, legendary Australian cricketer, holds the record for most runs scored with a jaw-dropping 5,028! 

As for the English side, it’s Sir Jack Hobbs with 3,636. No wonder these men were made Sirs!

best ashes player ever
Sir Don Bradman scored 5,028 runs in the Ashes alone

9. The best-ever cricket team

Speaking of Sir Don Bradman, his Australian side for the 1948 Ashes is widely considered the best team ever assembled in cricket. 

Not only did they sweep the Ashes without a loss, it was all done away from home in England. No wonder the team was known as “The Invincibles”.

10. The incomparable Jim Laker

Now here’s the Ashes record that may never be broken. Englishman Jim Laker became the first bowler to take all ten wickets in an innings. 

Overall, his 19/90 at the Ashes of 1956 is a record not only at the Ashes but in test as well. Wow, what a legend!

11. Biggest Ashes wins by runs

Out of the top 10 largest victories by runs, Australia leads the series 8-2. However, the largest victory ever was on November 30th 1928 in Brisbane when England beat Australia by an astonishing 675 runs!

ashes history
The Australian 2006/07 team was one of the best ever

12. Largest series victory over England

Australia has whitewashed England a total of 3 times over the history of the Ashes. It happened first in the 1920-21 series where Australia bashed England 5-0. 

In more recent times, a 5-0 series win for Australia embarrassed England in 2006-07. Then Australia did it again in 2013-14.

13. Largest series victory over Australia

England has never been able to whitewash Australia in the history of the Ashes. The best English performance was in 1978-79 when they bested Australia 5-1. 

Interestingly, many of Australia’s best cricketers were absent from the tournament due to their commitment to World Series Cricket.

14. The infamous captain Douglas Jardine

The biggest controversy to hit the Ashes was the bodyline tactic developed by Douglas Jardine in order to stymie the Australian team, especially star player Donald Bradman. 

Bodyline was a strategy where bowlers pitched the ball short, so it would rise up dangerously toward the bodies of the batsman and possibly cause injury.

best ashes bowler
John Snow was a legendary bowler for England in the 70s

15. The legendary John Snow

No, not THAT Jon Snow. The English bowler John Snow is infamous during the Ashes of 1970-71 for hitting Australian Terry Jenner on the head with a bowl. 

This led to a fan revolt with many storming the field and one even taking Snow to the ground. In the end, England won the test by 62 runs.

16. The biggest Ashes crowd ever

They sure love their cricket in Australia! Especially during the Christmas season (which is Australian summer). 

The fourth Ashes test of 2013 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground pulled in a massive 91,902 fans to watch on Boxing Day. It broke the cricket attendance record from 1961!

17. The women’s Ashes 

The inaugural women’s Ashes was held in 1934 and the rivalry between the women’s teams is just as intense. 

To date, Australia has won 9 times and England 6. Draws seem to be an even more common occurrence in the women’s game, since 8 Ashes series have been knotted.

females ashes cricket
There is a female version of the Ashes

18. Biggest duck of them all

Australia’s Sydney Edward Gregory has the most ducks in Ashes history. In 52 matches, comprising 92 innings, Gregory managed 11 ducks. 

What’s even more bizarre is that during his entire career he had only had 12 ducks, so 92% of his ducks came at the Ashes.

19. The man of the match

After each test the best player on the day is awarded with the coveted Man of the Match. The cricketer that holds the record for most Man of the Match awards is Australian Steven Smith. He’s won it 6 times, the most recent in 2019.

20. The Ashes and science fiction

Here’s one of the Ashes facts we certainly had no idea about. In the third installment of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series titled Life, the Universe and Everything, the Ashes urn is stolen by alien robots! 

Who knew the Ashes urn had been to space!

hitch hikers guide to the galaxy
The Ashes is mentioned in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

21. The Ashes on the silver screen

Did you know the Ashes was featured in a film? The 1953 British sports film The Final Test tells the story of aging cricketer Sam Palmer’s last match for England.

The Final Test was a play to begin, but director Anthony Asquith turned it into a beloved film that The Guardian called, “Britain’s only significant cricket picture.”

Who wants more fun facts?

fact books

If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!

  1. Interesting Facts for Curious Minds
  2. 1,144 Random, Interesting & Fun Facts You Need To Know
  3. The Intriguingly Interesting Book of 555 Fascinating Facts

We really hope you enjoyed all our fun facts about the Ashes! Did you learn something new? 

If there’s any Ashes facts we missed, you can let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to this article! 

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