will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.
There never were
any ashes, really, although some Melbourne ladies later burned a bail,
collected the ashes in a small urn and presented them to the next visiting
English captain. The urn never travels back and forth between the two
countries, however; it rests in the museum at Lord's.
Australia play for the Ashes on an irregular schedule that would be every
fourth year in each country if it weren't complicated by the Australian summer
that occurs in the middle of winter. So each nation ends up host once every
three or five years. In between, they play test matches with India, Pakistan,
South Africa, New Zealand and the West Indies, and although the last named, in
particular, is playing tremendous cricket these days, somehow it never seems so
important. In the West Indies spectators sometimes fall out of trees—which is
not at all like Lord's.
The 1961 test
matches began in England in early June with Australia favored. The Aussies had
no fast bowlers to compare with the famed Brian Statham or Fiery Freddie
Trueman, the uninhibited Yorkshireman who can throw a cricket ball through a
battleship, and only Neil Harvey among the Australian batsmen seemed to be in
the class of Peter May and Cowdrey. But the Australians were a better team;
they had good strength right down the order, while England was lacking, once
past its top men.
England went out
on the first day at Edgbaston, in Birmingham, after only 195 runs. Before
Australia was retired, Harvey had scored 114, his 20th test century. O'Neill
had scored 82 and the side totaled 516 for nine wickets, declared. It was the
highest test score since 1934, and a London headline said: NOW ENGLAND NEEDS A
DUNKIRK. So the English came up with another Dunkirk, aided by a day's rain,
and earned a draw. Raman Subba Row scored 112 and Ted Dexter 180, and England
had 401 runs in its second innings for a total of 596—and Australia never had a
chance to bat.
The second test
was at Lord's, and a terrible thing happened: a ridge developed in the pitch,
right in front of one wicket, and surveyors later discovered that the cricket
ground sloped two inches from north to south. "By gad, sir," said the
, "Lord's is full of bumps." No one could buy a hit
(O'Neill went out for one run and then a duck—no runs—in his two innings)
except for one of the least considered Aussies, Bill Lawry, who stayed in for
130 and gave the visitors all the edge required.
In the third
test, in Leeds, it appeared that England would lose again. May was hurt and
Cowdrey aching. But then Freddie Trueman took five Australian wickets for just
16 runs. He had his stuff that day. Now the series was tied.
which had won the Ashes in the last test, down under in the winter of 1958-59,
hung on grimly. The first day of the fourth test, at Old Trafford, was all but
rained out (there have been a total of 100 test hours rained out in Manchester
since World War II) and the English always seem to operate better on a sticky
wicket—which is hardly surprising since it is their climate. Peter May showed
his skill by scoring 95 runs, and England, after her first innings, was in a
very strong position. But things can change quickly—perhaps surprisingly is a
better word—in cricket. Alan Davidson, the handsome Australian all-rounder who
has been better known for his left-handed seam bowling than his bat, went on a
rampage. He slugged England's David Allen for two sixes and two fours in just
one over and scored 77 runs, not out. It was the spark Australia needed; the
run total climbed to 432 and the English found themselves faced with the
virtually impossible task of scoring 256 runs after lunch on the fifth day to
win. They couldn't make it.
insured Australia of at least a tie in the test matches, no matter what England
did in the fifth and final match, which was played this week at the Oval in
Kennington. It meant that Australia would continue in possession of the Ashes,
in spirit if not in fact, for another two years, since the Ashes remain with
the country that had them whenever there is a draw.
will stand, of course, and there will always be an England and all that. But
England is not the same without the Ashes. Even if she does keep them locked up