The Ashes: Australia and England look to put off-field problems to one side as fierce rivalry reignites

England captain Joe Root (left) and Australia captain Pat Cummins (right) pose for a photo.

(CNN)Australia and England take to the field for the first Test on Wednesday of the highly-anticipated Ashes series, with both teams burdened by off-pitch scandals in recent weeks.

Considered by some the pinnacle of cricket, The Ashes, is five-Test series of contests between the two powerhouses and is the sport's oldest rivalry.
Beginning in 1882, there have been 71 Ashes series, with Australia winning 33, England victorious in 32, with six draws.
    England endured a dismal defeat by Australia on home soil at The Oval in that 1882 encounter, with a newspaper, the Sporting Times, carrying a satirical obituary of English cricket, stating that: "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken back to Australia."
      When England traveled to Australia for the return series, it gained revenge with captain Ivo Bligh awarded a small terracotta urn to symbolize the winning of the Ashes.
        That tiny trophy is arguably the most precious prize in world cricket, though the 72nd edition of the series begins under something of a cloud.