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November 28, 2017

The Ashes in Adelaide

True cricket fans know the game is more about charisma than statistics, but these few facts about the Ashes will make for solid conversation on The Hill when the legendary test series returns to Adelaide Oval this Summer.

  • Illustrations: Chris Edser

The Barmy Army and Australian cricket fans will swarm Adelaide Oval from December 2-6 for the second test match of the 2017 Ashes Series. 

This is the 70th Ashes series ever played, and England and Australia are currently neck and neck, having taken out 32 series each, with five series resulting in draws.

In 1882, Australia defeated England in a test series on English soil for the first time. Following the loss, Reginald Shirley Brooks wrote a satirical poem lamenting the death of English cricket that included the line, “The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”.

Apparently, this was interpreted as a literal instruction. And it has resulted in decades of test matches being played and millions of dollars being spent in search of possession of the Ashes.

Despite that, the trophy awarded for each series is actually a Waterford Crystal replica of the original 11cm-high terracotta urn, which remains permanently on display in the Museum at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

A total of 325 tests have been played as part of the Ashes so far – 130 won by Australia, 106 won by England, and 89 resulting in draws.

The test at Adelaide Oval this December will be the 327th match in the series.

The last time an Ashes test was played at the Oval was 2013, and during the play food and beverage revenue reached $5 million – which is a lot of pies, beer, and chips sold in the more than 612,000 transactions that took place.

The teams will be lining up on the Oval’s approximately 16,132m2 of turf. Meanwhile, Aussie fans and England’s Barmy Army will be jostling for space on The Hill’s 2,100m2 of lawn, in front of the heritage scoreboard that dates back to 1911. 

While it might seem that the Aussie punters will have an upper hand at the match, the Adelaide Oval is actually the official birthplace of England’s Barmy Army.

The Army was formed there as the fourth test in the 1994 Ashes Series kicked off, with original shirts (now rumoured to sell for about $1500 each on eBay) printed at Hindley Street’s T-Shirt City and handed out to English fans on day one.

A lot has changed since then, but there are a few certainties in cricket. No doubt this year there will once more be plenty of beers drunk, plenty of umpire decisions called into question, and a healthy showing of the handlebar moustache – a style of facial hair that seems to have a mysterious and unending relevance to the game.

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