Cricket’s Biggest Mystery: The Ashes

By Ronald Willis

A fascinating study of the origin of the Ashes and the early development of Test cricket.

ISBN: 9780718825881


When Australia defeated England for the first time on English soil in 1882, a mock obituary notice was inserted in the Sporting Times lamenting the ‘death’ of English cricket and stating that the body was to be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. Later, an urn containing ashes came to be recognised as the cricketing trophy, and now resides permanently at Lord’s cricket ground.

The mystery is this: where did the Ashes come from, and are they in fact still there? The author examines the official story and other, alternative suggestions, and details the personalities involved in the foundation of this great tradition.

To understand the full significance of the Ashes to both countries, the author recounts the triumphant Australian tour of England in 1882, and the subsequent ‘recovery’ of the Ashes by England in Australia a year later.

Cricket’s Biggest Mystery: The Ashes is one of the most fascinating books to be written on the foundation of the competition for what must be one of sport’s most unusual trophies. It will be a welcome addition to the library of every cricket enthusiast.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 160
Illustrations b&w

Trade Information LGEN

About the Author

Ronald Willis was born in North Yorkshire, and was Burnt Yates Endowed School, Nidderdale, and Ripon Grammar School. After some year reporting on Dales’ newspapers, he became a sub-editor on the Northern Echo before moving to the Daily Telegraph and then the Eastern Daily Press. In 1972 he became a columnist and feature writer on the Yorkshire Evening Press.

In 1976 he migrated to Australia and has settled in Western Australia with his wife and daughter. A life-long York City Football Club supporter, he also has the unusual hobby of moustache-cup collecting.


Chapters 1 to 14

Additional Note

Endorsements and Reviews

This is certainly a book that many will enjoy reading and discussing.
Journal of the Cricket Society

Great cricketers of the past are glimpsed at the crease and a selection of fine photographs fill in the background of the many dramas.
This England

The book cannot solve the whole of the mystery, but it does supply a very detailed account of the crucial early test matches. It also gives a wealth of biographical detail which lovers of cricket history will enjoy.
The Baptist Times

Beautifully produced, this book tells the story of four England v Australia Test matches. It details the birth of the Ashes and looks at the personalities involved in the foundation of this great tradition.
Club Cricketer

In an extremely well-researched and reasonably-priced book, Willis offers a plausible alternative theory of the Ashes came into being, and at the same provides graphic accounts of those memorable matches of a century ago.
Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph

An intriguing book which will give students of cricket history much food for thought. It is a very well-researched story of the origins of the Ashes. The author examines at length the official story and various other suggestions. They make a fascinating tale.
Eastern Daily Press

The author writes a well-researched account; a book for the cricket historian.
Sheffield Cricket Lovers’ Society