What could a smallish ancient-looking brown colored urn hold in it for it to be considered the ultimate prize for cricket-playing gentlemen from two widely dissimilar countries? What is it that makes this urn pump up the adrenaline in each and every player fighting to win it? What is it in this urn which fills every cricket fan's heart with joyous anticipation before each day of an Ashes match takes place?
It's something, isn't it? All cricket fans would know. Every two years, we either peel our eyes to our TV sets or buy tickets to stare on lush green fields riddled with white uniformed-men playing some of the finest cricket of their lives wearing their famed baggy green and navy blue caps. It's called the spirit of the Ashes, and it's the gentlemen's game at its very best.
Played biennially, the Ashes series has been one of the most celebrated sporting rivalries ever since 1882, the year which saw the birth of this tiff by means of a widely known incident involving the English press. Each series consists of five Test matches, and they're conducted alternately in England and Australia.
The winner of the maximum number of matches gets to keep the priced Ashes urn for the next two years. And if the series is drawn by any chance, the the nation already holding the Ashes retains them.
The current mantle is with England, as it has won the Ashes series on both its previous outings; once in 2009 and then in 2010/11. 2013's Ashes is to be played in England, and a lot of changes to the whole scenario have taken place.
Firstly, Australia will be missing its key player and esteemed past skipper, Ricky Ponting, for the Punter decided to hang his boots last November. Another big blow for the Aussies comes in the form of the absence of Mr. Cricket, Mike Hussey who has also decided to retire from international cricket.
Moreover, the morale of the Australian team must have taken a greater dip owing to its recent losses. It suffered a miserable 4-0 Test defeat at the hands of a young Indian side earlier this year. This has led to the sacking of Aussie coach Mickey Arthur, and his shoes have been filled by Darren Lehmann.
Surely, the men from down under will be under immense pressure to put up a fighting performance against a strong English side. But history has shown us that you never underestimate your opponents in cricket, especially when the Ashes are at stake. It's game on indeed.