The Ashes series is a bucket-list event for cricket fans. Catch a match or two in 2015

The Ashes is an odd name for a sporting tour, and it has a funny story behind it that dates right back to 1882. That was the first time that the mighty English cricket side lost on home soil, to a visiting Australian team. This tragedy prompted a satirical obituary in the Sporting Times which concluded that the team’s “body” had been cremated, and its ashes taken to Australia. The English team toured Australia just a few weeks later vowing to bring “the ashes” back, and they did - thus a rivalry was born.

The Ashes 2015

The Australian team is already in England and playing against regional teams in Kent and Essex. The Kent match was a victory to the Australians, the Essex match is still underway, and the 1st Aussie-England test match is fast approaching in Cardiff. Here’s a rundown on the different places you can catch part of the iconic Ashes series or the ODIs played between the two teams - and how a UK car hire can get you there.
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Cardiff (Sophia Gardens): 1st Investec Test, Only T20I

It’s perhaps a little late to be thinking about attending the first test match, but there are still tickets available - so a last-minute trip to Wales isn’t completely off the table. It takes place from the 8th-12th of July at Sophia Gardens, also known as the SSE SWALEC for sponsorship reasons, located just a stone’s throw from Cardiff Castle and downtown. The stadium is also hosting a T20 match on the 31st of August which is a much shorter cricketing experience - cricketing lite, if you will: great for beginner cricket watchers.
Pick up a last-minute Cardiff car rental and you could make it a grand tour of the mighty Welsh nation -  be prepared for crumbling castles, dramatic coastlines and sleepy, friendly villages once you venture out of the urban area. 

London (Lord’s and Kennington Oval): 2nd Investec Test, 5th Test, 2nd ODI

If you can only get to one Ashes match, you should try to make it one that’s taking place in Lord’s, the historic St John’s Wood venue. The 2nd Investec Test Match is set to happen there on the 16th - 20th of July, and later on in the proceedings there will be an ODI (One Day International) on the 5th of September. Watching any cricket at Lord’s is a grand tradition, and while you’re there you could have a spot of afternoon tea in the Long Room or visit the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum. 
Kennington Oval is a lesser-known cricket ground but a very significant one, with a long history stretching back to England’s first ever international Test cricket match which was played there in 1880. Just across the Thames, it will host the fifth test match in the series from the 20th -24th of August. 
Catch the earlier match and then embark on a summer road trip around the UK, or opt for the ODI or 5th test and experience Britain as autumn descends. Either way, a London car hire makes it easy to fit in both cricket and sightseeing, a winning combination. Highways radiate out from the city like spokes on a wheel, taking you to wherever you might wish to go with the freedom of your own rental car.

Birmingham (Edgbaston): 3rd Investec Test

Birmingham's international-standard cricket ground and home to the Warwickshire County Cricket Club, Edgbaston is proud to host the third test from the 29th of July to the 2nd of August. Set several miles out of the city in a pretty, leafy suburb, it is a great spot to enjoy the match. 
Pick up a Birmingham car hire and you can make your own way out to the stadium and around the Midlands. The next fixture is another test match in Nottingham, less than 60 miles down the A42 -  why not make it a double feature?

Nottingham (Trent Bridge): 4th Investec Test

Nottingham, forever associated in all tourist minds with men in tights wielding bows and arrows,  is the setting for the 4th Ashes test match from the 6th-10th of August. Trent Bridge is situated across the River Trent from downtown Nottingham, and is considered one of the world’s best stadiums in which to watch cricket. It has also hosted some of the best cricketers of all time and some very memorable test cricket moments. 
Head over to the Trent Bridge Inn for a post-match drink, and then stick around for a bit. The sights and sounds of historic Nottingham might surprise you!

Southampton (Rose Bowl): 1st ODI

Also called the Ageas Bowl, Southampton cricket ground is an extensive facility with a restaurant, a hotel, a cricket academy and a golf club with nine-hole course. Its location on the outskirts of Southampton has allowed it room to spread, and some lovely wooded surroundings. A destination in itself, especially when you add in the ODI that will take place there on the 3rd of September. 
You could fly into the city, pick up a Southampton Airport car hire and head north to begin a UK road trip. More Ashes matches taking place in London, Manchester and Leeds make great points on your itinerary - and don’t forget to include the beautiful Lake District and Peak District. 

Manchester (Old Trafford) : 3rd ODI and 5th ODI

Famous amongst football fans as the home of Manchester United, the name Old Trafford is also used for a cricket ground in Manchester. Although largely in the shadow of the celebrated “Theatre of Dreams”, the cricketing venue is significant in its own right as England’s second oldest test venue with a long history of important matches. The one-day tests held there on the 8th and 13th of September will be a great way to get a taste of Old Trafford cricket in between visiting Manchester and the surrounding attractions of the English countryside
Between the two ODIs, grab a car hire from Manchester and get on the road to see Liverpool, Blackpool, the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, all within a few hours drive. 
Cricket fans, now’s the time to be in England. Get your travel plans sorted and head to one of the country’s historic cricket grounds to see the long-lasting Ashes rivalry play out in 2015.

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