A feature of our Ashes coverage is The '09 Ashes Series interactive below. View player profiles for the Australian and English squads, ground details, statistics and an Ashes timeline.
2009 Ashes Test Series
The 2009 Ashes Test Series hits the pitch on July 8 at Cardiff, and despite England having home game advantage, the Australian team is hoping a blend of experience and youth will bring them the series.
The core of the Australian squad is made up of the side which successfully won the Test series in South Africa, including Phillip Hughes and Marcus North, who both scored a hundred on debut.
Young fast bowlers Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus will be ready for their first Ashes tour, and the bowling group has been further strengthened by the return from injury of Brett Lee and Stuart Clark.
Andrew McDonald, who played an important role in both Australia's victory in the last Test match in Australia and on the recent series in South Africa, has been rewarded with his first Ashes squad selection, as has Graham Manou for his strong interstate performances over the past few seasons.
Cricket Australia's National Selection Panel chairman, Andrew Hilditch, said expectation was high that The Ashes will be a riveting encounter consistent with the great tradition of rivalry between England and Australia.
"Attempting to beat England on home soil is a great challenge for this young Australian squad. It promises to be a very exciting series," Mr Hilditch said.
History of The Ashes
Dating back to 1882, The Ashes is named after a satirical obituary published in The Sporting Times in England.
After the first match at The Oval, in which Australia trounced England on English ground for the very first time, an obituary appeared in The Sporting Times stating that English cricket had died, the body had been cremated and the ashes were taken to Australia. The English media dubbed the 1882-83 English tour to Australia as the quest to regain The Ashes, inadvertedly creating the namesake for the cricket series.
However, mystery and rumour still abounds as to what The Ashes actually are. During a tour to Australia, a terracotta urn was presented to then English captain Ivo Bligh, with the contents of the urn reputed to be the ashes of an item of cricket equipment, possibly a bail or stump. Others claim the urn holds the ashes of King Cole, a cricketer who toured England in 1868, while yet others believe the ashes are actually the remains of a lady's veil.
The urn is wrongly assumed by some to be the trophy of The Ashes series, but the urn has never been formally presented or displayed as a trophy. Since 1998, a Waterford Crystal representation of The Ashes urn has been presented to the winner, and no matter which side holds The Ashes, the terracotta urn normally remains in the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum at Lord's.
At a Glance:
Australia VB Tour Squad 2009
Ricky Ponting (c)
Michael Clarke (vc)
Shane Watson (subject to fitness)
Ashes Test 2009 dates
8 to 12 July - first test in Cardiff
16 to 20 July - second test at Lord's
30 July to 3 August - third test at Edgbaston
7 to 11 August - fourth test at Headingley
20 to 24 August - fifth test at The Oval