Famous trophy ready for 14-week tour October 17, 2006

Ashes urn lands in Australia for second time


Hello old friend: Steve Waugh, Allan Border and Mark Taylor get their hands back on the Ashes © Virgin Atlantic

The Ashes urn arrived in Australia for only the second time in 123 years this morning under tight security ahead of the summer's battle for its ownership. The antique and fragile trophy landed in Sydney in a special carrying case, strapped into a business-class airline seat and handcuffed to the wrist of its curator.

"It's just the symbol of what cricket's all about, the great rivalry between Australia and England," Allan Border, who was on hand to meet the special visitor from London, said. The ten-centimetre wooden trophy is kept at Lord's and has only returned to Australia twice since it was given to a visiting English captain as a joke during the 1882-83 tour.

"This is an extremely rare opportunity to see the original urn," the Museum of Sydney's Beth Hise said. "I can't see it ever coming back ... not in the foreseeable future," she said. The urn is reportedly insured for a "seven-figure sum" and will tour Australian museums over the next 14 weeks.

The trophy flew in on a Virgin Atlantic flight from London, reportedly with its own ticket made out in the name of "Urn, Ashes, Mr," guarded by a coterie of security and curators who will take care of its every need during its Antipodean adventure. Only in 1988 has the urn been displayed in Australia and it rarely leaves the Lord's museum.