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1981 Ashes

The Australians under Kim Hughes toured England in 1981 for a 6 Test series. Single Tests are often dubbed after players, but this 1981 series has gone down in history simply as "Botham's Ashes".

Having been 1–0 down after two Tests under Ian Botham's captaincy, England recalled Mike Brealey as skipper after axing Botham who had laboured out of form and had no wins to show in his 12 tests as skipper. England won the next three Tests to finish 3–1, thus retaining the Ashes after remarkable performances by Ian Botham.

The drama started in the 3rd Test at Leeds with the visitors on the verge of wrapping up an easy win as England were forced to follow on 227 runs behind. Ian Botham swung lustily in England's second innings for 149 to make Australia bat again A fired up Bob Willis then swept through their line-up with 8-43 to seal a remarkable 18-run win against the odds.

The 4th Test at Edgbaston contained another inspired comeback victory as Botham took five for 1 to deliver a narrow win by 29 runs. In the 5th Test at Old Trafford, Botham smashed a hundred in 86 balls as England retained the Ashes.

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1981 Ashes

The Ashes: A brief history (28 June 2013)

The first Test match was played between England and Australia in 1877 at the MCG. The Ashes legend started 5 years later, after the ninth Test, played in 1882 at the Oval in London.

The third Australian team to tour England in 1882 achieved the unthinkable. Until then, the English had never been beaten on home soil, but Australia led by by WL "Billy" Murdoch shocked England, with the legendary WG Grace in their ranks, lost by seven runs with Aussie fast bowler Fred Spofforth taking 14 wickets for 90 runs.

The following day, a mock obituary ran in the Sporting Times "in affectionate remembrance of English cricket, which died at the Oval on 29th August, 1882". 

During the next tour to Australia in late 1882, a small terracotta urn was presented to the England captain Hon Ivo Bligh by a group of Melbourne women, led by Lady Clarke, after a friendly game that was played at Sir William Clarke's Rupertswood manor in Sunbury, Victoria. The contents of the urn are reputed to be the ashes of an item of cricket equipment such as a bail, or scarf, depending on which legend is true.

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