Yes it’s that time again, when the populists and the ignoramuses (or in John Howard’s case, both) call for the urn holding the original “Ashes” to be kept in Australia. At least until England wins again.
As Malcolm Fraser used to say: Let me be quite plain.
The Urn is a fragile antique. It is not a trophy. It is not something to be carted around the SCG on the players’ lap of honour. Nor waved from the upper deck of open-top buses, nor to be brandished (and possibly dropped) in airport lounges. Nor to be used as a vodka glass after a few dressing-room verses of “Under the Southern Cross I stand”.
Nor, like the first Frank Worrell Trophy, to be lost in transit.
The Urn is shortly to complete its once in a lifetime roadshow of Australian museums. The Marylebone Cricket Club and all involved in the travelling exhibition are to be commended. However, it’s time for the Urn to return to the place that its owner, Ivo Bligh, decreed that it should reside: at Lord’s.
There is a contemporary update of the Urn, made from Waterford crystal, which is used and was created specifically for public presentation to the winning team of each Ashes tournament. Steve Waugh received it for the first time in 2001. Andrew Flintoff displayed it in 2005. It will be Ricky Ponting’s turn this Saturday. This is the appropriate trophy for the 21st century.
All good traditions have to start somewhere. If we remain firmly rooted in the past, without understanding why, then we are just that… rooted.