The Ashes are currently played once every two years, alternating in location between the United Kingdom and Australia. Due to the preference that cricket be played in the summer and the difference in seasons between the two hemispheres, the actual break can range between 18 and 30 months.
The Ashes is considered to be one of the oldest rivalries in sports, beginning in 1882. Today, the series consists of five test matches containing two innings, with each match lasting up to five days. The winner claims possession of an urn which is said to contain the ashes of a bail from the first test. If the match ends in a draw, the previous winner maintains ownership of the urn.