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The Ashes: A Recap of Australia’s Three-Straight Retentions of The Urn

The Ashes is one of the most fiercely competitive sporting events in the world, with tensions often reaching boiling point as England and Australia will do all they can to win the historic bi-annual event and claim bragging rights over their old rivals. 

The bubbling cauldron can overflow at any point and did this year as Aussie wicketkeeper Alex Carey controversially dismissed Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s, which led to ugly scenes between a couple of the visitors’ players and Marylebone Cricket Club members in the iconic Long Room.

Those are the lengths these two sides will go to get their hands on the urn and there’s very little to separate them in the Ashes betting odds when they meet every other year. The competition has become somewhat one-sided in recent renewals, however, with Australia retaining the prize on the last three occasions.

Pat Cummings and company are in the driving seat to hold on to the urn for a fourth-successive time as the 2023 Ashes is set to come to a thrilling conclusion in England. That said, let’s take a look back at Australia’s recent dominance. 

2017-18: Australia win Series 4-0

After just two wins in the last seven editions of The Ashes leading into the 2017-18 Series, Australia will have felt they needed a win here — and they trashed the visitors on home soil, adding insult to injury by winning 4-0 after a clean sweep over England Down Under four years prior.

The opening Test at the Gabba in Brisbane was evenly balanced after the first innings, with Australia outscoring England by just 26 runs. However, the hosts bowled the visitors out for just 195 in the second innings and Australia’s openers were able to chase it down with ease to secure a 10-wicket win.

That was a sign that this Series might not be as competitive as first thought and that proved to be the case as Australia won the second Test by 120 runs at the Adelaide Oval before winning by an innings and 41 runs to seal the overall victory in Perth. Rain meant that the fourth Test in Melbourne was drawn and that arguably saved England from the whitewash as they were beaten by an innings and 123 runs at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

2019: Series drawn, Australia retain The Ashes

The 2019 edition of The Ashes was officially a draw, but such are the rules of the competition that in the event of a stalemate, the current holders of the urn retain it. That means that if Australia are to hold on and win this year’s renewal, it would be their first proper victory in England since 2001.

While retaining The Ashes is certainly better than losing it to their rivals, Australia might look back at this Series as a missed opportunity to get the win. They won the first Test at Edgbaston by a convincing 251 runs and were just 100-odd runs short at Lord’s where rain resulted in a draw.

England got back into the Series thanks to Ben Stokes’ heroics at Headingley resulting in a narrow one-wicket triumph in Leeds, but Australia won by 185 runs at Old Trafford to ensure they would at least retain the urn — which was the best they could muster as England won by 135 runs at the Oval to confirm the draw.

2021-22: Australia win Series 4-0

With another 4-0 defeat Down Under in 2021-22, England haven’t won a Test in Australia since they won the 2010-11 Ashes Series 3-1. The hosts bowled England out for just 147 at the Gabba and set a huge score of 425 to leave the visitors with a mountain to climb. They could only exceed their target by 19 runs and Australia won by nine wickets after scoring 20/1 in just over five overs.

Australia won easily again at the Adelaide Oval, beating England by 275 runs and they didn’t even need to bat in the second innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as they bowled their rivals out for just 68 after outscoring England’s first-innings tally of 185 by just 82 runs. Rain likely saved the visitors from going 4-0 down at Sydney as they were 270/9 and still 117 runs off the pace come the end of play.

England had a chance of salvaging something from the Series as they were set what looked like a manageable target of 271, but they didn’t even come close as Australia bowled them for a mere 124 and sealed a 4-0 win.