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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Australia v England

1887
Sir Robert Ponsonby Staples, George Barrable and Goupil & Cie (engraver)

photogravure on paper (frame: 103.0 cm x 143.0 cm, plate-mark: 71.5 cm x 103.5 cm)

This is an imagined depiction of the Test cricket match between Australia and England which resulted in the creation of the Ashes cricket series. The tussle began with England’s defeat by Australia in a match at The Oval in August 1882, the first time the English side had been beaten on home soil. Australia made only 63 runs in the first innings and 122 in the second, leaving England with a meagre run chase of 85 to win, but they were bowled out just seven runs short of victory. A mock obituary appeared in the Sporting Times lamenting the death of English cricket, stating that ‘the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia’. When the English team toured Australia in 1882–1883, captain Ivo Bligh resolved to ‘regain those ashes’ and did so, winning the series 2-1. A group of ladies, including Bligh’s future wife, then presented the English captain with an urn reputedly containing the ashes of a stump or ball. Now residing in the MCC Museum at Lord’s, the urn and its disputed contents remain the so-called ‘prize’ in the biennial Test series still played between the two countries.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009

Artist and subject

Sir Robert Ponsonby Staples (age 34 in 1887)

George Barrable

Goupil & Cie (age 58 in 1887)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Top shot that

Magazine article by Gideon Haigh, 2009

Gideon Haigh discusses portraits of Australian cricketers from the early 20th century

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency