Cricket is Australia's national sport, and a passion for many around the world. "Test" cricket - the highest level international matches - are played between (in alphabetical order!) Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Zimbabwe (currently suspended), and perhaps in the near future, Kenya.
Notice a pattern there? How come Canada got away? Climate maybe? Still, Canada has a national team, as does the Netherlands. There are various cricket competitions in the US, notably in California, where ex-pats form the backbone. I have even seen a flyer advertising cricket in Paris!
Test cricket bewilders many from non-cricketing countries. It is played over five days, for about 6 hours each day, and there are breaks for lunch and tea! "Drinks" are taken in the field midway through each "session". To fans, Test cricket is almost a zen experience. Conditions constantly change, and there is always the variable of the weather to consider... The Captain of the Australian cricket team is probably the most famous sportsperson in the country at any time.
"The Ashes" is the name given to any test series played between England and Australia. This occurs every 2 years, alternating between the countries. To find out more about why it's called "The Ashes" - read here.
Australia lost the last Ashes series in England, and is out to avenge their defeat! Australia won the first match in Brisbane. The second starts in Adelaide on Friday. The series finishes in Sydney the first week in January, with matches in Perth and Melbourne in between. After the Ashes, New Zealand comes over, and a triangular series of "One Day" matches (a different form of the game played within one day) will be contested between Australia, England and New Zealand. I'll be off to see a couple of those matches.