The Ashes urn arrived in Sydney on Tuesday, giving the last three Australian captains to win the famous cricket trophy a chance to get their hands on it. Yet again, Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh had to settle for a replica.
The three ex-Australia captains were at the Sydney airport for promotional duties when the urn arrived, and posed for photos and TV cameras with a replica while the 123-year-old trophy was whisked away in an armored vehicle.
The fragile 10-centimeter (4-inch) urn had been under heavy security in a special briefcase bolted into a business-class seat for the trip from the Marylebone Cricket Club in London to Australia for a three month tour.
MCC curator Adam Chadwick reportedly handcuffed himself to the suitcase on arrival and escorted it to the Museum of Sydney, where it will go on exhibition from Oct. 21.
It will also be displayed in Australia's other five state capitals during England's five-test Ashes tour of Australia. "We still haven't seen the real one ... but the replica is a very, very close second," joked Border, who led Australia to three Ashes series wins.
He'd like to see the winner of the Australia vs. England test series - the oldest rivalry international cricket - keep the urn. But he knows that is unlikely, given the age and condition of the trophy.
"In my heart I would like to see it travel with the holders and be symbolic of the fact that you won the recent Ashes contest, but I do understand it can't be traveling back and forth."
Taylor was not opposed to the urn staying at the MCC at Lord's. "You don't actually go out and say, 'I want to grab that urn and take it home at the end of the series'," he said. "But it would be nice if the winners of an Ashes series could actually hold on to the urn just for a moment."
England upset Australia to win the 2005 Ashes series, reclaiming it for the first time since the Australians triumphed 4-0 in 1989. The Ashes urn almost never leaves Lord's, the home of cricket.
The urn toured Australia in 1988 but did not return Down Under during Australia's record-long eight-series domination. The Ashes refers to a mock obituary placed in the Sporting Times newspaper in 1882 after England lost to Australia on home soil for the first time.
Later that year, England left for Australia, and after it won a three-test series, some Melbourne women allegedly burned one of the bails from the third test, put the ashes in the urn, and presented it to England captain Ivo Bligh.
It has been housed at Lord's since 1927.