A cricketing rivalry of mythical proportions that’s steeped deep in the annals of the sport, the Ashes refers to a Test series between England and Australia.

Widely regarded as the best and most intense Test rivalry in the history of cricket, no two sides have had more international red-ball duels than England and Australia.

While this series didn’t start off as being known as the Ashes, it gets its name due to the storied history of the rivalry that threw up many fascinating chapters over the years.

This England versus Australia Test series was named the Ashes in 1882. It happened after a British newspaper known as The Sporting Times published a satirical obituary that mourned England’s seven-run defeat against Australia at The Oval in 1882. 

It was England’s first loss against the Aussies on English soil and the obituary stated that English cricket had died and “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”

This was the first-ever instance of the term the Ashes. Thereafter, it had been arranged that an English cricket team captained by Ivo Bligh would tour Australia in the 1882-83 season and his team was the nation’s great big hope, vowing to return to English shores with “The Ashes of English cricket.”

There were three official matches on this tour and Australia won the first one, while England won the subsequent two which gave them the series win. 

It was also during this tour that the Ashes urn was made and it has since gone on to become a symbol for the greatest Test series in the history of the sport. 

Having won the series, the Ashes urn is believed to have been given to skipper Ivo Bligh by a group of Melbourne women, including Florence Morphy who the English captain would later marry.

The contents of the urn are reported to be the ashes of wooden bails and were wittily described as “the ashes of Australian cricket” at the time.

The intrigue and mystique surrounding the Ashes urn or trophy has stood the test of time with fans today just as consumed by it as those of yesteryear. 

While several questions remain surrounding the urn, one frequently repeated one is about the Ashes trophy size. Here, we take a closer look at the Ashes trophy size and learn a bit more about the mythical urn.

The Ashes trophy size

As already mentioned, the Ashes trophy was first presented as a prize to England captain Ivo Bligh after he had won a series 2-1 Down Under.

The urn was presented to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) after Bligh’s death in 1927 and it is now there on display at Lord’s cricket ground in London, England.

The exact size of the Ashes urn or trophy is said to be standing tall at 10.5 cm (4.1 inches) high. It is made of terracotta and is speculated to contain the ashes of a cricket bail, while another school of thought insists it contains the burnt remains of a lady’s veil.

While the exact weight of the Ashes urn is unknown, the Ashes trophy these days is more along the lines of a Waterford crystal representation of the trophy.

There are also some words that were etched on the original Ashes urn. What do these words say? Let’s find out!

What is written on the Ashes urn?

The original Ashes urn had two labels pasted on them with some writing. The top label simply read ‘The Ashes’ in a scribbled manner.

The second label had a much larger chunk of writing that went like somewhat of a poem, celebrating the English team that had reclaimed the Ashes’ feats. Here’s what it said:

When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;

Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;

The welkin will ring loud,

The great crowd will feel proud,

Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;

And the rest coming home with the urn.

The names mentioned here are that of the England team’s players at the time, including their captain Ivo Bligh. 

These exact words are also etched on the replica versions of the urn which the England and Australia players battle for today.

Photo credit: Alamy