The Other Ashes; where the worlds of competitive sport and being smart collide

According to www.itsonlycricket.com, the 328th Ashes match started at Lords on Thursday.

Most of you when you hear that sentence think back through more than a hundred years of cricket history. A smaller group of you would instantly reflect that 328 is the sum of the first 15 prime numbers. That group have their attention divided this week, because for the first time ever on Saturday, Ashes Cricket coincides with Ashes Mathematics.

We are heading for only our sixth Ashes Mathematics contest on Saturday – an annual contest between the elite young mathematicians of Australia and the UK. (The England cricket team is so called because as well as having Welsh, Irish and Scottish participants over the years, the core recently has been South African, as their players are better. The Maths team takes a more geographically-honest title.)

You can read all the official background at this website which also includes past problems you might want to look at between collapses. The results of the first five matches were an inverse of the first five cricket matches between the countries; Australia won the early cricket 3 -1 with one draw. The Poms hold the early edge in the Maths contest.

When the Australians won the first mathematics contest between the countries, the scripts of the defeated UK team were burnt and are forever held in an urn, presented to the winner of the annual contest.

And where are the Maths Ashes being fought this year? Lords? Sydney? No, the talented teams of 6 youngsters from each country are in Santa Marta, Colombia. Something to do with perfect playing conditions apparently.

The results of the Other Ashes will be known before play commences at Lords on Sunday.

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