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1882 Ashes

Billy Murdoch led the Australian team to England in 1882. The series was at the time considered to be a first-class cricket tour of England but the match at the Oval between the Australians and an England side led by AN Hornby was later accepted to be a Test match. It was a low-scoring affair on a difficult wicket. Australia made a mere 63 runs in its first innings, and England took a 38-run lead after posting 101. In their second innings, the Australians, boosted by a spectacular 55 runs off 60 deliveries from Hugh Massie, managed 122, which left England needing only 85 runs to win. The Australians were greatly demoralised by the manner of their second-innings collapse, but fast bowler Fred Spofforth, spurred on by some gamesmanship by his opponents, refused to give in. "This thing can be done," he declared as he devastate the English batting to secure an eight run win.

Up to that point, England had remained undefeated at home. This famous Australian victory was widely condemned in the English press leading to publication of the satirical obituary which stated that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the "ashes" taken to Australia. The English media then dubbed the next English tour to Australia in 1882–83 as the quest to regain The Ashes and the legend was born.

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1882 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 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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