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The Ashes /ði: ˈæʃəz/
(plural noun) Usage note: This is the usual term used by all speakers.
A regular series of cricket matches between England and Australia. ‘The Ashes’ refers to the series of matches and to the trophy awarded to the winning side. The first ashes were made of a burnt cricket stump or bail (parts of the ‘wicket’ meaning the wooden posts that one side defends) and were presented as a joke to the captain of the English team.
Example: England has retained the Ashes as constant rain after lunch extinguished Australia's encouraging fight towards victory at Old Trafford [a football stadium in Manchester in the UK] on Monday. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-06/england-retains-ashes-at-old-trafford/4866778)
Watching a match during the Ashes at Adelaide Oval
(photo by Edward Palmer)