140 years ago today, on the 29 August 1882 – The Ashes were born following England’s shock defeat to Australia at The Oval.
After the defeat, The Sporting Times proclaimed the death of English cricket, adding that the body would be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia. Legend has it that a group of women presented the urn to England captain Ivo Bligh in Australia the following winter.
England were overwhelming favourites to win the 1882 Test match. In every instance, the batting average of each member of the Australian team was lower than that of the English batter placed opposite. Additionally, England’s two main bowlers R.G Barlow and E. Peate had a better bowling average than their Australian counterparts.
Australia were dismissed for 63 in their first innings at The Oval. In response, England posted 101. The highest innings total of the match was scored by Australia with 122 in the third innings. England required 85 runs for victory in the fourth innings.
Needing 85 runs for victory, England commenced their second innings at 3.45 with Grace and Hornby. Spofforth bowled Hornby ’ s off stump at 15, made in about as many minutes. Barlow joined Grace, but was bowled first ball at the same total. Ulyett came in, and some brilliant hitting by both batsmen brought the score to 51, when a very fine catch at the wicket dismissed Ulyett.
Thirty-four runs were then wanted, with seven wickets to fall. Lucas joined Grace, but when the latter had scored a two he was easily taken at mid-off. Lyttelton became Lucas ’ partner, and the former did all the hitting. Then the game was slow for a time, and 12 successive maiden overs were bowled, both batsmen playing carefully and coolly. Lyttelton scored a single, and then four maiden overs were followed by the dismissal of that batsman – bowled, the score being 66. Only 19 runs were then wanted to win, and there were five wickets to fall. Steel came in, and when Lucas had scored a four, Steel was easily caught and bowled.
Read joined Lucas, but amid intense excitement he was clean bowled without a run being added. Barnes took Read’ s place and scored a two, and three byes made the total 75, or 10 to win. After being in a long time for five Lucas played the next ball into his wicket, and directly Studd joined Barnes the latter was easily caught off his glove without the total being altered. Peate, the last man, came in, but after hitting Boyle to square leg for two he was bowled, and Australia had defeated England by seven runs.
You can purchase Wisden at The Oval here.
England’s next Test match at The Kia Oval is against South Africa – starting Thursday 8 September. A limited number of tickets are available here.