The Women's Ashes are created

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The women’s Ashes, created in 1998, is a hollow wooden ball, containing the ashes of a miniature bat signed by both the Australian and England teams and those of a copy of the Women's Cricket Association rules and constitution, burnt in a ceremony at Lord's.

The ceremony was the idea of Norma Izard, then President of the WCA and former England women’s team manager.

England and Australia had been contesting women’s Tests since 1934, but no trophy for the series had ever been created. By the 1990s, a clamour was growing for trophies to be presented to the winning team in both men’s and women’s Ashes series and in April 1998, MCC decided to create a Waterford Crystal representation of the Ashes Urn to serve as a trophy for the men. That same year, Australia’s women were on tour in England to play three Tests and five One-Day Internationals. It would be the final time such a tour was hosted by the WCA; the body which had governed women’s cricket in Britain for 72 years was about to merge with the newly created England and Wales Cricket Board. Henceforth, a unified board would run both men’s and women’s cricket.

Izard knew the time was right. Both the conception and the design of the trophy were hers. She commissioned woodcarver Brian Hodges to create a hollow cricket ball out of wood from a 300 year-old yew tree that had fallen in the great storm of 1987. And there would not just be a trophy changing hands, unlike the new men’s trophy actual Ashes would be contained within it. Izard decided upon Lord’s as the ideal place for the ceremony and 20 July for the date. It was the day before the two teams would face each other in the last of their five-match ODI series, Australia having already gone 4-0 ahead with victory at Southampton the previous day. She secured a miniature bat from MCC’s retail department and a large wok from the Lord’s kitchens to burn it in. She busied herself securing signatures from both sets of players, then added a copy of the WCA constitution to the kindling, a nod to the association’s approaching demise.

30 people attended the low-key ceremony which took place in the Harris Garden. The results were somewhat more successful than the efforts of Ricky Ponting and Colin Miller when they attempted to burn two bails with kerosene in their dressing room at the Oval at the end of the 2001 series. Ashes were created and placed in the new trophy as planned. The next day Australia completed their 5-0 ODI rout of England, but three draws in the subsequent Test series meant that the inaugural women’s Ashes were shared. These days, they are awarded by means of a points system, with Tests, ODIs and T20 Internationals all counting towards the final score.