Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Ashes Are Up for Grabs Again

The last time we checked in on cricket was a few months ago, when England had just beaten Australia to keep the Ashes -- most famous of all cricketing trophies.  Of the five matches played this summer, England won three, the Aussies won none, and two were drawn.  It was England's third consecutive Ashes victory -- the first time England has won three times in a row since 1981.

Normally, we wouldn't have another Ashes series until November 2014.  But that would mean that the next Ashes competition would last until just before the Cricket World Cup scheduled for early 2015.  To avoid this, England and Australia have decided to shift the usual schedule.  So instead of going to Australia for an Ashes competition in November 2013, England is down there right now.  It's a year of DOUBLE ASHES!

OK, by now you should know the drill.  England and Australia will play five matches, and each match can last up to five days.  Whoever wins the most matches keeps the Ashes.  England are trying to beat Australia four times in a row for the first time since 1890.  (From 1989 to 2003, Australia won the Ashes eight times in a row.)

England is a slight favorite.  If you bet on England at Ladbroke's, for example, you get odds of 1 to 1.  Betting on Australia gets odds of 6 to 4.  Betting on a draw carries odds of 9 to 2.  I will say that from the tone of the coverage in the Guardian, the English are feeling pretty confident.

Here are the locations for the five matches (I like how each match is in a different province):

November 21-25, 2013:  The Brisbane Cricket Ground, (commonly known as "The Gabba," Brisbane, Queensland

December 5-9, 2013:  Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, South Australia

December 13-17, 2013:  WACA Ground, Perth, Western Australia

December 26-30, 2013:  Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria

January 3-7, 2013:  Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney, New South Wales

The Ashes matches in Australia are always associated with the Christmas holidays, because those goofy Australians have Christmas in the summertime.


  1. What? Christmas in Australia ...? What?

    1. Oh, yeah. They shoot off fireworks. You can see it in "Babe."

  2. Hostess in the late 1970s published baseball cards on the backs of their boxes of Twinkies and stuff. We've discussed these before.

    Anyway, once I divided up all my late-1970s Hostess baseball cards into 16 teams and imagined that all of these players were brought to Washington, D.C., on the Independence Day 1976 weekend to play a giant tournament--and that each team would represent (and play in) different neighborhoods in and around Washington. It would be a great way to debut the brand-new Metro train system, to celebrate the Bicentennial and emphasize stars in baseball's new era of free agency. I imagined that ABC would do Olympics-level, whip-around coverage, with Jim McKay in studio, sending us to Foggy Bottom or Eastern Market or wherever for an intense moment in one of the games going on at a local park. Howard Cosell would, of course, be part of the team calling the championship game at RFK. This would've been pretty much, too, served as the coronation of ABC's taking over Monday Night Baseball that same year.

    Anyway, this story would be pretty cute if I had actually thought of this in the late 1970s, as a 10- or 11-year-old boy. But I'm pretty sure it wasn't until I was already a grown man with a full-time job that I spent a week getting out all of the cards, drawing up the schedule of games, etc.

    1. I once made up two baseball leagues based on various Metro stops. I still remember getting excited about the rivalry between Pentagon and Pentagon City.

      Oh, and there was also a big rivalry between East Falls Church and West Falls Church.

    2. Lately, I've been imagining semi-professional basketball and football leagues in Kentucky.