A rivalry that is over 131-years-old, a series that has spawned amongst the greatest performances of all time through the ages, a contest that is marked on every cricket fan's calendar from Bombay to Barbados and from Melbourne to London. That's the Ashes for you.
Yes there is a lot of hype surrounding what is ultimately just a series between two countries; yes the Aussies and particularly the English, often give the impression that they are not aware of a world beyond the Ashes; yes the current flavour of the season is Twenty20, while the Ashes consist of five Test Matches - but there is something about the series that makes you sit up and take notice.
It could be because this is the series where Sir Donald Bradman weaved his most sublime magic. Or perhaps because this is the series in which Jardine unleashed Bodyline and changed the cricketing landscape forever. Maybe Ian Botham staged a resurrection that will echo through the ages or because Shane Warne showed us magic that was more compelling than anything Harry Houdini could conjure.
In 2005 England and Australia played what is universally regarded as the greatest five Test match series of all time, reinvigorating a worldwide interest for this most-famous of rivalries.
By virtue of being the oldest series in the game, the Ashes has given us more history making moments than any other series.
Though this year, the upsurge of one team and the faded glory of the other makes critics and analysts predict yet another one-sided affair. But don’t forget, a wounded lion fights back the hardest. Whatever be the end result, this much is sure, both the sides will give it their all to rest their hands on the coveted urn.
But whose best will be better than the other’s? That’ll be decided when wood strikes leather this July.
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