The Ashes trophy did not exist until the late 1990’s. This is a fact that many people would argue with, but that is only because most people assume that the Ashes trophy is an urn containing the ashes of a cricket item – probably a ball or cricket stump. This isn’t the case at all. Whilst the Ashes urn does indeed exist, it isn’t the Ashes trophy and never has been the Ashes trophy.
The urn associated with the Ashes series came into being after the competition itself was established. It was presented to the England Captain Ivo Bligh by a group of women from Melbourne in the 1882-83 tour in Australia, and has been on display at Lord’s Marylebone Cricket Club Museum since Bligh’s death.
Despite the fact that the Ashes urn has never been officially viewed as the Ashes trophy, replicas of the urn have been treated as symbolic trophies for decades. Then, in the late 1990’s, it was decided by the England & Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia that an official Ashes trophy should be introduced.
Waterford Crystal were commissioned to create the official Ashes trophy. Exquisitely crafted in silver, the Ashes trophy is shaped like the Ashes urn that has for so long been associated with the series. The Ashes trophy was first presented to Mark Taylor at the end of the 1998-99 Ashes series after Australia beat England 3-1. Ever since that time, the Ashes trophy has been presented to the captain of the winning team at the end of each Ashes series.
Arguments about the original Ashes urn given to Ivo Bligh have been going on for decades, and the introduction of the Ashes trophy has not changed that situation. Many Australians feel that the much older Ashes urn is, in every sense except the official one, the original Ashes trophy and should therefore be kept in Australia when the team defeat England. English cricket fans maintain that the Ashes urn was a personal gift to Ivo Bligh and that since the urn was donated to Marylebone Cricket Club Museum by his widow, it can and should remain there regardless of who wins each Ashes series.
Such disagreements might sound petty to some, but they come as no surprise to those who understand that the Ashes cricket series revolves around one of the most intense rivalries in the sporting world. The Ashes trophy – whether the official trophy or the Ashes urn that has become so important – symbolises the success of one immensely proud nation over another equally proud nation. Both England and Australia would rather win the Ashes trophy than virtually any other cricket trophy in existence.
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