Cricket is one of Australia’s best loved sporting pastimes, and the top of cricket contests is the Ashes – a fiercely contested Test cricket series played between Australia and England.
The Ashes is held in Australia every two years, as the series alternates between the UK and Australia. The next Ashes Test Series in Australia will take place in 2013.
The friendly rivalry between the two countries is celebrated via a cricketing tradition that began in the 19th century.
The Ashes got its name after a cricket match in 1882, when Australia beat England on English turf for the first time. A fake obituary published in a British newspaper stated that English cricket had died, and the body would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The English media dubbed the next English tour to Australia as the quest to regain The Ashes.
The Ashes series usually comprises five Test matches. In Australia, each Test is held in a different city. The grounds used are the Gabba in Brisbane, Adelaide Oval, the WACA in Perth, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Traditionally, Melbourne hosts the Boxing Day Test and Sydney hosts the New Year Test. Both begin on major public holidays and are enthusiastically attended by cricket-loving Australians.
The country that wins the most Tests of the series wins the Ashes. In the case of a draw, the country already holding the Ashes retains them. England currently holds The Ashes, after winning the 2010/11 series.