The Ashes Betting

The Ashes is an historic cricket rivalry between Australia and England. It consists of a series of five tests, with two innings per match and conducted under the regular rules for international Test matches. The winning side has the honor of safeguarding a Waterford Crystal replica of a funerary urn, which was commissioned as the trophy for the 1998-99 Ashes series. In case of a draw, the country already holding the Ashes retains them.

The story behind the name of the series and its trophy is one of the most fascinating in all sports. England and Australia played their first Test match in 1877. Over the next few years, the English team dominated their opponent through eight tests, playing especially well at home.

Then, in the Ninth Test in 1882, a team from Australia did the unthinkable and defeated England’s side for the first time ever on English soil. Newspapers decried the loss as “the death of English cricket.” The Sporting Times went so far as to publish an obituary, reading:

“In Affectionate Remembrance
which died at the Oval
29th AUGUST, 1882,
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing
friends and acquaintances
N.B.—The body will be cremated and the
ashes taken to Australia.”

Ivo Bligh, the English captain, was particularly distressed by the bad reviews, which berated his team for their “lack of pluck.” Prior to the 1882~83 tour to Australia, he vowed to “regain the ashes,” a phrase which was picked up by both the Australian and British press as the “Quest to Regain The Ashes.”

As it turned out, Bligh and his mates were successful, winning the three match series by a score of two-one. A fourth match was apparently won by the home team, but disputed and England prevailed.

To commemorate Bligh’s success, a group of Melbourne women presented him with a terracotta urn full of ashes, said to be the burnt remains of a cricket ball or possibly a lady’s veil. Nevertheless, it became symbolic of the return of The Ashes to England, and over time, though not immediately, the name stuck to describe the series.

The actual urn presented was in no way official. It was also too fragile to be used as a true trophy and travel back and forth, so no matter which side “holds the ashes” in a figurative sense, the physical property was entrusted to the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum at Lord’s for display. The crystal trophy travels in its place.

One oddity of the The Ashes series is the frequency with which it occurs. Cricket is a summer sports, but England and Australia are in different hemispheres, so their summers are at opposite times of the year, making an annual series problematic. The solution was to hold the event every 18 months, alternating venues each series. As a result, those who enjoy betting on cricket have a long wait between series and lots of time to consider ante post bets.

Australia has dominated The Ashes across the course of its history and particularly in the closing decades of the 20th century. But in 2005, England had an undefeated side and home advantage. It was said to be one of the most competitive cricket series ever played. It took a draw in the fifth and final Test to give the English team their first series victory in 18 years, signaling the start of a new era of competition.

In 2006-2007, Australia regained The Ashes convincingly, 5-0. But in 2009, England fought back to prevail with two wins, one loss, and two draws. The 2010~2011 series has attracted intense speculation and ante post betting. Heavy wagering on who will win each match outright can be expected in November, too, when the series commences at The Gabba in Brisbane.

As for other Test matches, sportsbooks will be offering a broad variety of wagering opportunities, including Top Run-Scorer for the series and for each side in every match, Highest Opening Partnership, 1st Innings Lead, and more. Some bookmakers will be offering anywhere from four to 20 markets per match—lots of ways to wager and win, making up for the long interval between meetings.

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