A few years ago, I came up with the concept of the Alternative Ashes, effectively a linear championship of Test cricket, looking at what would have happened if every cricketing nation played for the Ashes rather than just England and Australia.
The rules are the same as those for the regular Ashes – a team holds the title until they lose a Test series to another nation who then hold it until they’re defeated and so on until there is no more cricket left to be played. At our last update a couple of years ago, Australia had just taken the title from Sri Lanka, but what happened next?
Australia only kept the title for a short time, losing it to India in the next series when they lost 4-0. India defended the title against the West Indies later in 2013, but then lost it to South Africa in December.
Having won back the original Ashes, Australia then travelled to South Africa and unified the two versions again, beating the South Africans 2-1. However, their grasp on the title only lasted until their next series when they lost to Pakistan (which I believe is the first time the title changed hands outside of a Test-playing country, in the UAE). Pakistan defended the title in a drawn series against New Zealand in the UAE before travelling to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for two more victorious series.
So, England will take back the original Ashes at the end of this series, but the alternative Ashes still remain in Pakistan’s hands. England’s first series this winter? A trip to the UAE to face Pakistan in a three-test series with the chance to reunite the two titles.
Going back over my old blog posts, I’m reminded that I created the ‘alternative Ashes’, tracking where the trophy would be if every Test cricketing nation was allowed to compete for them, not just England and Australia.
In our last update, the Ashes had made their way to Sri Lanka but now they’ve moved on again. Australia won this year’s series between the two countries 3-0, so as well as winning the Warne-Muralitharan trophy, they’ve now claimed the Ashes back as well. Their first defence of them will be against India next month.
Back in January 2011, I looked at what would have happened if cricket’s Ashes weren’t restricted to being won by Australia and England. As much cricket has been played since that time, I thought it was time for an update to see what had happened since then.
At that point, India held the Ashes, holding them after a drawn series with South Africa. Their next series was in summer 2011, when they visited England, and lost 4-0, thus handing the Ashes back to England.
England, however, weren’t able to hold onto the Ashes very long, and lost them 3-0 to Pakistan in their first series. I believe this is the first time the Ashes changed hands outside a Test-playing country, as the series was held in the neutral territory of the UAE.
Pakistan also failed to keep a grip on the Ashes, travelling to Sri Lanka and losing the series there 1-0. Sri Lanka remain the holders of the Ashes, and will make their first defence of them against New Zealand at home in Novemeber.
Following that, the alternative Ashes will next be up for grabs in the Australia-Sri Lanka series around New Year, or in England’s visit to New Zealand in early 2013.
A thought struck me as I was looking at the Cricinfo archive yesterday – what if the Ashes hadn’t stayed as purely England vs Australia series, but – when other countries started playing Test cricket – had been seen as an accolade everyone could play for?
Googling didn’t reveal any cricketing equivalent of the Unofficial Football World Championship which traces its origins back to the first England vs Scotland international and then proceeds in a ‘man who beat the man’ style to have Japan as the current world champions. So, I decided to waste some time and work out who would hold the cricketing version.
The rules are the same as currently with the Ashes – the team that holds the trophy retains it if they win or draw the series. The challenger can only take the title by winning the series. The trophy can also only change hands in games that are generally recognised Test matches and series.
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