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What is the Ashes trophy? Published: 23 August 2013

What is the Ashes trophy?

One of the many quirks of cricket is that England and Australia compete in the Ashes Series - but are never awarded the Ashes Urn as a trophy.

The precious item is in fact a symbol of perhaps the greatest rivalry in sport, which is permanently housed in the MCC Museum and was presented to the Club as a gift in 1929.

There's much more information about the Ashes Urn elsewhere on this site, but this is a blog about its bigger and younger cousin, the Waterford Crystal Ashes Trophy.

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While a replica of the original Ashes Urn is often waved around at the Kennington Oval or Sydney Cricket Ground by a victorious captain, the trophy claimed by either side is a rather more substantial object.

The Waterford Crystal Ashes Trophy was first presented to Mark Taylor, Australia's victorious skipper in the 1998/99 series.

It was commissioned following a formal request to MCC by the Australian Cricket Board for the original Urn to be used as a trophy.

While the very idea of offering a trophy for a sporting contest was unheard of when the Ashes began, the request followed Australia's fifth consecutive Ashes series victory - 3-2 in England in 1997 - and came at a time of growing clamour for a tangible award to be introduced to the fiercest and oldest rivalry in the game.

MCC replied that the Urn was both too fragile to travel and was a private gift to the Club, but at a time when trophies for sporting contests have become ubiquitous, agreed at a subsequent Committee meeting to commission a replica of the Urn to fulfil the same role.

The Club originally agreed for the replica to be made in silver, but Waterford Crystal generously offered to produce the striking glass replica which has been used as the series trophy since, free of charge.

The original Urn later toured Down Under on the Travelex Ashes Exhibition in 2006/07, before returning to Lord's, and while it will remain at the Home of Cricket for the foreseeable future, the Waterford Crystal Ashes Trophy continues to be used.

There will always be a murmor of dissent from Australians who would like to see the original Urn regained in a more literal sense, but after a third consecutive series victory, smug England fans might question how much traveling the Urn would be asked to do in the coming years in any case.

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