Why are England wearing black armbands in the first Ashes Test? Cricketers’ tributes in Australia explained

Joe Root and his team pay tribute to former England bowler Eileen Ash in first Ashes test match

England kicked off their Ashes campaign in an overwhelmingly disappointing fashion as opening batter Rory Burns was out on the first ball.

Joe Root’s team could not have started their bid for the urn much worse with the whole team being bowled out for 147 runs.

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On his first day as Australia’s new test captain, Pat Cummins took a fifer as he got the wickets of Haseeb Hameed, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood for just 38 runs.

Unfortunately for Australia, a storm swept across Brisbane and forced play to end before the Aussies were able to reply to England’s 147.

Ben Stokes was out after making 5 runs

However, it was not just England’s ineptness with the bat that caught the attention of cricketing fans but they were also seen sporting black armbands as a mark of tribute to the former England bowler, Eileen Ash.

Who is Eileen Ash?

Eileen Ash was a former England cricketer and died last week at the age of 110, making her the oldest-ever Test cricketer.

Born in 1911, Ash began playing Test cricket before World War II and made her debut in 1937 against Australia.

Her best career performance was in 1949, the year she would also play her last game of international cricket, during a match against Victoria Country XI as she scored an unbeaten century and took five wickets giving England a win of 170 runs.

In her seven test matches for England, she took 10 wickets at an average of 23.00 and scored 594 runs.

Ash was a specialist right-arm medium bowler and played for Middlesex County in 1949, taking 32 first class wickets in her 22 matches.

Alongside her work as a cricketer, Eileen Ash was also an employee of the Civil Service and was seconded to MI6 during World War II.

After she retired, Ash took up golf and only quit the sport at the age of 98.

Eileen Ash rings the bell at Lord’s before Women’s World Cup final 2017

In 2011, Ash was the first female test cricketer to live to 100 years old and was made an honorary life member of the Marylebone Cricket Club to mark the occasion.

The former bowler rang the bell for five minutes at Lord’s in 2017 at the Women’s World Cup final as she commemorated her 80th anniversary of her international debut.

Earlier this year, Ash became one of the oldest people in the UK to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and she celebrated her 110th birthday on 30 October 2021.

Ash died five weeks later on 4 December 2021

What’s been said?

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s Managing Director of Women’s Cricket and MCC president Clare Connor made a statement saying:

“Our sport owes so much to its pioneers and Eileen was one of them. I am deeply sad to be saying goodbye to her today. Our thoughts and prayers are with Eileen’s family as they come to terms with losing such a wonderful woman and the end of an astonishing life.”

Have England’s cricketers worn black armbands before?

This is not the first time that England has worn black armbands as a sign of tribute and respect.

Most recently, England’s cricketers wore black armbands to pay tribute to former president of the MCC and former test captain Ted Dexter on 26 August 2021.

During England’s test match against Sri Lanka, the players also wore their armbands to pay their respects to former players John Edrich and Robin Jackman.

When are England next playing?

England and Australia will hope to continue playing from 11.30pm GMT tonight, Wednesday 8 December 2021. Play will start half an hour earlier than usual in order to help make up lost time after yesterday’s weather interruptions.

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