Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features > Moments in history >

August 29, 1882 – Giants clashed, sparks flew, which resulted in The Ashes

August 29, 1882 - Giants clashed, sparks flew, which resulted in The Ashes

The original Ashes urn rests at the cricket museum of the Lord’s cricket ground © Getty Images

130 years ago, the on-field gamesmanship of WG Grace so incensed Fred ‘Demon’ Spofforth that it produced a bowling spell that scorched The Oval. As the English batting was cremated in the fire, The Ashes came into being. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at the day that gave birth to the most famous and enduring of all cricketing rivalries.

 

 

“I just taught the young lad a valuable lesson,” WG Grace maintained.

 

Yet the baffled Sammy Jones had no idea that cricket could be played that way. And Fred ‘Demon’ Spofforth was incensed enough to storm into the English dressing room and call the father of cricket a bloody cheat.

 

After unleashing a torrent of abuse for full five minutes, a fascinating exploration of the entire expanse of the colourful Aussie vocabulary, Spofforth left with the ominous words, “This will lose you the match.”

 

Grace was not concerned as he padded up. The target was just 85, after all. And he was the one the Aussies would have to deal with first up.

 

What the bearded giant had done 130 years ago is still looked at with thousands of raised eyebrows when repeated today. According to Simon Rae, the greatest trophy in cricket … came into being as a result of an action which was clearly ‘not cricket’, performed by the greatest cricketer of them all.

 

Fall from Grace

 

The previous day, Billy Murdoch had won the toss and batted, and the move had backfired. Australia had been bowled out for 63 due to some excellent bowling by Dick Barlow and Ted Peate.

 

Spofforth had responded in kind, the first ever scary fast bowler. Taking seven for 46 from 36.3 four ball overs, he had restricted the Englishmen to 101.

 

In the second innings, the tourists found themselves struggling at 99 for six when young Sammy Jones joined Murdoch. They had taken the score to 114 when the skipper played a ball to the leg side, and the English wicketkeeper Alfred Lyttleton ran across to field. The ball was returned to Grace, standing in his habitual position near the stumps at a shortish point. Thinking that the business of that particular delivery was over, Jones walked out to do a bit of gardening with his bat. Grace seized the opportunity and threw the stumps down, much to the bafflement of the inexperienced batsman and the chagrin of the entire Australian side.

 

A letter written by the son of the top scorer of the match, Hugh Massie, indicates that Grace indeed bordered on sharp practice. It seems Jones had nodded to Grace to indicate that he was venturing out, but had failed to detect the decoy.

 

The fire spitting Demon

 

Spofforth, injected with a venomous passion, now carried out his threat, producing one of the greatest bowling feats of Test match history. And in the fire that he spit forth, English batting burned down, resulting in The Ashes.

 

At 15, he uprooted captain AN ‘Monkey’ Hornby’s off-stump. Hornby’s partner in the famous Francis Thomson rhyme, Barlow, followed identically the very next ball.

 

Grace and George Ulyett engaged in some excellent hitting to take the score to 51, before Spofforth induced a snick and wicketkeeper Jack Blackham tumbled to catch Ulyett.

 

Having scored 32, which ended up as the highest of the innings, Grace hit one from Harry Boyle to be easily taken at mid-off by Alec Bannerman.

 

After some dogged resistance by Lyttleton and Bunny Lucas, Spofforth fired out four wickets within the space of nine runs – without any help from the others. He knocked out the stumps of Lyttleton at 66, held a return catch from Allan Steel and bowled Maurice Read, both at 70, and then had Lucas playing on at 75. Billy Barnes followed, gloving one from Boyle to Murdoch.

 

At 75 for nine, the last man, Ted Peate, walked in. The tension was unbearable. From accounts of the day, one learns that one spectator collapsed to his death from excitement, and another gnawed right through the handle of his umbrella.

 

Peate, the best slow left-arm bowler in the country, was plainly unequal to the task of scoring the remaining 10 runs. After hitting Boyle through square-leg for two, he missed the next one and the stumps were in shambles.

 

England lost by seven runs and Spofforth finished with seven for 44 – match figures of 14 for 90.

August 29, 1882 - Giants clashed, sparks flew, which resulted in The Ashes

Andrew Strauss of England lifts the Ashes Urn after winning the npower 5th Ashes Test Match between England and Australia at The Brit Oval on August 23, 2009 ©Getty Images

The rise of the Ashes

 

There was funereal silence in the ground as the result took a while to sink in. It was the first time England had been beaten at home – which sounds somewhat strange after all these years.

 

In the press, the death rattle sounded loud and clear. In Sporting Times, the young journalist Reginald Shirley Brooks writing under the pseudonym Bloobs, composed the mock obituary:

 

In Affectionate Remembrance

 

of

 

ENGLISH CRICKET,

 

which died at the Oval on

 

29th AUGUST 1882,

 

Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing

 

friends and acquaintances

 

—-

 

R.I.P.

 

—-

 

N.B. — The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.

 

The next skipper of England, Ivo Bligh, pledged to regain those ashes when he toured Australia. As the media repeated this several times, the phrase caught on.

 

When Bligh, who later became Lord Darnley, took the team to Australia in 1882-83, he was presented with a small terracotta urn by a group of Melbourne women.

 

The contents of the urn were long believed to be the ashes a burnt bail. However, in 1998, the 82-year old daughter in law of Lord Darnley claimed that it was not a bail, but the remains of her mother-in-law’s veil.

 

The urn now rests at the cricket museum of the Lord’s cricket ground.

 

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 17, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 16, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 41 runs

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Australia Women won by 6 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Sri Lanka won by 6 wkts

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

England Women won by 9 wkts

T20 WC 2014

Apr 4, 2014  at Dhaka

India won by 6 wkts

Photos

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge play cricket

Videos

Prince William, Kate Middleton meet McGrath, Ellyse

Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Live Cricket Score IPL 2014: KKR beat MI by 41 runs in tournament opener

Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014 will look to keep integrity intact, says Shane Watson

IPL 2014: Life after Sachin Tendulkar

IPL 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders’ all-rounders hold key to success

IPL: What value does a franchisee owner bring to the side by sitting in the dugout?

Australia BCCI England India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kolkata Knight Riders Lasith Malinga Moments in history Mumbai Indians Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders Royal Challengers Bangalore Sachin Tendulkar

IPL 2014 partners with Twitter to bring real-time experience to fans

Sunil Narine, Jacques Kallis star in Kolkata Knight Riders’ 41-run victory against Mumbai Indians in IPL 2014

Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), IPL 2014: Mumbai Indians 113/5 in 18 overs

Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), IPL 2014: Mumbai Indians 95/2 in 15 overs

IPL 2014: Sunil Gavaskar meets team captains and former players

IPL 2014: Begins yet another Controversy Premier League

Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2014 will look to keep integrity intact, says Shane Watson

IPL 2014: Life after Sachin Tendulkar

IPL 2009: Looking at events that led to T20 extravaganza being held in South Africa

IPL 2014: Top 10 Indian youngsters to watch out for

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

622 Posts | 7 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli's 77 during India vs Sri Lanka ICC World T20 2014 final at Dhaka

Happy Birthday Charlie Chaplin: A tribute to a great comedian

How did Kangana Ranaut redefine phasion, fun and gun in Revolver Rani?

Know your medical terms: Edema

Bengali film Jaatishwar bags four National Awards

IPL 2014: How does the umpire cam work?

IPL 2014: 5 tips to use your smartphones to click pictures in a stadium

Free Hugs video by Juan Mann is voted as YouTube Video of the Year

Stay healthy with these 8 summer foods (Gallery)

Also on cricketcountry.com