Cricket, Lovely Cricket

9443235195_d706454c0d_kCricket fans rejoice – it’s an Ashes summer again, when England and Australia join battle in one of the oldest and most hotly contested sporting contests in the world.

We’re already two matches into the five Test series, and the play has proved scintillating; England gained an early advantage through a comprehensive 169-run victory in Cardiff, but then the Australians came roaring back this last weekend with a stunning 405-run annihilation at Lord’s – with a day to spare as well. With 3 Test matches remaining, everything is well set for another enthralling series.

‘The Ashes’ derived from a term used in mock obituary written in the Sporting Times newspaper when Australia beat England at the Oval in 1882, stating that “English cricket has died, and the body cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.” The following year England toured Australia and beat them, and England captain Ivo Bligh was presented with a small urn reputed to contain the ashes of the ball used by the English in the victory – and dubbed by the Australians as “the ashes of Australian cricket”. Thereafter, every Test match series between the two countries has been a contest to win or retain those Ashes. To the beginning of 2015, Australia hold a narrow advantage over England, by 32 series victories to 31 (with five drawn), with the Australians winning 126 individual matches to the English total of 103.

Loughborough University has a proud cricketing tradition itself – its male and female MCCU teams regularly win trophies – and can count several alumni from their ranks who have gone on to play international and Test cricket, including Sam Billings, Monty Panesar and Nick Knight.

We have a broad range of cricketing books on our shelves in the Library, including the controversial autobiography by former England captain Kevin Pietersen in our Leisure Reading collection upstairs on Level 4, and Scyld Berry & Rupert Peploe’s intriguing account of the story behind the genesis of the Ashes, Cricket’s Burning Passion: Ivo Bligh & the Story of the Ashes, which you can find among our other cricket history books downstairs in our sports section on Level 2. Why not have a browse?

The Ashes Urn image by David Holt, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

MCC Twenty20 Cricket Finals on Campus This Week

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Cricket fans are in for a real treat this week when the MCC Twenty20 Finals take place on the Loughborough University cricket pitches at Haslegrave and Brockington for two days of what promises to be great cricket action.

Nine University teams in total are competing in three groups, with the winner of each group plus the best runner-up going to the semi finals and eventual final which will be played on the Thursday 19th June.The tournament gets underway on Wednesday, 18th June, at 10am when Loughborough MCCU take on Newcastle Uni at Haslegrave, while Durham play Exeter and Cardiff play Warwick. The next round of matches start after lunch at 1.15pm, and then conclude at 4.30pm.

Admission is completely free – just turn up and enjoy!

Full details of the draw are available from the Loughborough Sport site here:

http://loughboroughsport.com/blog/2014/06/10/mcc-t20-competition-returns-to-loughborough-1819th-june/

Ashes to Ashes

WG Grace by Happy AToday not only marks the start of the second ‘Ashes’ Test Match between England and Australia at Lord’s cricket ground, but also the 165th birthday of the man who not only played an instrumental part in the formation of the ‘Ashes’ series, but who was also one of the greatest – if not the greatest – figures in cricket history – W.G. Grace.

William Gilbert ‘W.G.’ Grace was born on 18th July 1868 and over the course of a career that lasted nearly five decades spanning almost 30 teams he scored over 54000 runs and took over 2800 wickets. He was a formidable all-rounder, excelling in batting, bowling and fielding.

He played in 22 Tests for England including the notorious England v Australia Test at the Oval in 1882, which Australia pipped England to win by 7 runs and gave birth to the ‘Ashes’ legend which has been played out ever since. It is said that Grace inadvertantly played an instrumental part in Australia’s victory after riling them through a piece of gamesmanship (of which the ultra-competitive Grace was notorious for throughout his career) involving the run-out dismissal of an Australian batsman. So perhaps Stuart Broad shouldn’t feel so guilty after all…!

We have a considerable range of books about the history of cricket (including works about W.G. Grace) as well as a wide variety of coaching texts to assist budding Grace’s. You can also find out a lot more about the science of cricket through SPORTDiscus, while armchair enthusiasts can read all the reportage from past Ashes series among our online newspaper archives, including The Times and The Daily Mail. Howzat?!?

W.G. Grace portrait in the Long Room at Lord’s, photo taken by Happy A, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.