Regardless of the outcome of the Ashes series between England and Australia later this year, the urn itself will travel down under for only the third time since its creation, as part of an exhibition at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne next summer.
Having previously toured Australia in 1988 and 2006-07, the Ashes urn is set to be the centrepiece of the library’s new Victoria Gallery, currently under construction, as it showcases an exhibit called ‘Velvet, Iron, Ashes’ from December until February.
Despite being the symbol of cricketing battles between Australia and England since it was given as a gift to the touring English captain Ivo Bligh in the summer of 1882-83, the urn has seldom been seen away from its home at the MCC Museum at Lord’s in London. A replica is presented to the winning team at the end of each Test series.
Its 1988 visit to Australia coincided with the Bicentenary Test at the SCG, and the 2006-07 tour, ironically after England had won back the Ashes from Australia in 2005 after 16 years, followed major restoration work to the urn to ensure it was up to the rigours of international travel.
News about the exhibition and the forthcoming arrival of the urn will be formally announced in Melbourne on Thursday by former captain Steve Waugh.