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1956 Ashes

The Australian team under Ian Johnson toured England in the 1956 summer and played a five-match Test series. Peter May's team won the series 2-1  to retain The Ashes.

The pivotal moment in the series was in the 4th Test at Old Trafford. England retained the Ashes with a bowling performance from off-spinner Jim Laker that is unlikely to ever be matched - let alone bettered. Laker finished the Test with astounding match figures of 19-90. The spinner took 9-37 as the visitors were skittled for 84, and when they followed on he claimed all 10 scalps to seal an innings and 170-run victory. 

Laker's achievements was a touch overshadowed by the furore surrounding the pitch. Arthur Morris wrote "I complain, not on behalf of Australia but on behalf of cricket, that the pitch was not properly prepared for a match of this kind.". Richie Benaud later stated that "a terrible pitch but a terrible pitch on which England made 459".

 

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1956 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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