1882: The Ashes are born
The history of England v Australia, the mother of all Test series, was first distilled into a minuscule urn-shaped vessel, then pressure-cooked to create a hyper-contest for the 21st century. But time and distance cannot diminish the role played in the creation myth by a single game. The Oval 1882 was a microcosm of the tension that has never left the Ashes.
Australia's indomitability was summed up by their first-day recovery from 30 for six and Fred Spofforth's demonic bowling - inspired, legend has it, by W. G. Grace's caddish run-out of Sammy Jones. More than 2,000 Tests have taken place since, but Australia's seven-run victory remains in the top ten tightest wins.
The paroxysms of the umbrella-gnawing spectator resonate with fans on all sides of all sporting divides, as does the Sporting Times's mock obituary shortly afterwards, the first truly memorable example of English cricket's gallows humour. England had lost to Australia before, but only ever while out of sight, out of mind, on the other side of the globe. This was an awakening in every sense. A rivalry that, according to the newspaper, was dead as soon as it began would attain a life of its own. ANDREW MILLER
From Wisden 1883: the run-out of Jones in Australia's second innings, leaving them 114 for seven and with their overall lead 76...
Jones was run out in a way which gave great dissatisfaction to Murdoch and other Australians. Murdoch played a ball to leg, for which Lyttelton ran. The ball was returned, and Jones having completed the first run, and thinking wrongly, but very naturally, that the ball was dead, went out of his ground. Grace put his wicket down, and the umpire gave him out. Several of the team spoke angrily of Grace's action, but the compiler was informed that, after the excitement had cooled down, a prominent member of the Australian eleven admitted that he should have done the same thing had he been in Grace's place. There was a good deal of truth in what a gentleman in the pavilion remarked, amidst some laughter, that "Jones ought to thank the champion for teaching him something".
...and England's run-chase
England, wanting 85 runs to win, commenced their second innings at 3.45 with Grace and Hornby. Spofforth bowled Hornby's off stump at 15, made in about as many minutes. Barlow joined Grace, but was bowled first ball at the same total. Ulyett came in, and some brilliant hitting by both batsmen brought the score to 51, when a very fine catch at the wicket dismissed Ulyett. Thirty-four runs were then wanted, with seven wickets to fall. Lucas joined Grace, but when the latter had scored a two he was easily taken at mid-off. Lyttelton became Lucas' partner, and did all the hitting. Then the game was slow for a time, and 12 successive maiden overs were bowled, both batsmen playing carefully and coolly. Lyttelton scored a single, and then four maiden overs were followed by the dismissal of that batsman - bowled, the score being 66. Only 19 runs were then wanted to win, and there were five wickets to fall. Steel came in, and when Lucas had scored a four, Steel was easily caught and bowled. Read joined Lucas, but amid intense excitement he was clean bowled without a run being added. Barnes took Read's place and scored a two, and three byes made the total 75, or ten to win. After being in a long time for five Lucas played the next ball into his wicket, and directly Studd joined Barnes the latter was easily caught off his glove without the total being altered. Peate, the last man, came in, but after hitting Boyle to square leg for two he was bowled, and Australia had defeated England by seven runs.