A Most Peculiar Grail

The contest for the Ashes, cindery symbol of Anglo-Australian cricket supremacy, doesn't appear to have much to recommend it. It does not determine cricket's world champion. It is not played for cricket's largest purse, and no trophy changes hands. It is not even cricket's oldest international rivalry: that honor belongs to the U.S. and Canada, whose annual matches date back to 1844. Yet, after 116 years, the Ashes remains cricket's most prestigious brand name, to Australia's captain Mark Taylor "the most glittering prize in world cricket." As Australian leg-spinning cynosure Shane Warne puts it: "I still think it's the best series...

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