Today is the opening day of the First Test with Australia. Cricket originated in England, and is arguably the most popular game in all English-speaking countries with the exception of America. As you know, test matches take place between all the major cricket-playing countries. The most important series is the Ashes between England and Australia. England won the Ashes back from Australia in 2005, and there is much excitement that England may retain them.
The great old story is worth repeating. In 1882 it seemed inconceivable that Australia could possibly beat England at cricket, as it had never been done before. However, Australia did, and an obituary notice appeared in the Sporting Times, saying "In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at the Oval on the 29th of August 1882, RIP." Further, "N.B. The Ashes will be cremated and taken to Australia."
The Ashes series excites considerable passion which has led in the past to threats of diplomatic action. However, the series is usually characterized by friendly good spirits between the teams, with little of the rancour which sometimes accompanies other major international sporting events.