As a result of this loss, the tour of 1882–83 was dubbed by England captain Ivo Bligh as "the quest to regain the ashes". England, with a mixture of amateurs and professionals, won the series 2–1. Bligh was presented with an urn that contained some ashes, which have variously been said to be of a bail, ball or even a woman's veil, and so The Ashes was born. A fourth match was then played which Australia won by four wickets. However, the match was not considered part of the Ashes series. England dominated many of these early contests with England winning the Ashes series 10 times between 1884 and 1898. During this period England also played their first Test match against South Africa in 1889 at Port Elizabeth.
Keith Fletcher took over as captain in 1981, but England lost his first series in charge against India. Bob Willis took over as captain in 1982 and enjoyed victories over India and Pakistan, but lost the Ashes after Australia clinched the series 2–1. England hosted the World Cup in 1983 and reached the semi-finals, but their Test form remained poor, as they suffered defeats against New Zealand, Pakistan and the West Indies.
With Australia sending a weakened team and the South African bowlers being ineffective England dominated the tournament winning four of their six matches. The match between Australia and South Africa at Lord's was visited by King George V, the first time a reigning monarch had watched Test cricket. England went on one more tour before the outbreak of the First World War, beating South Africa 4–0, with Barnes taking 49 wickets in the series.
The 1938–39 tour of South Africa saw another experiment with the deciding Test being a timeless Test that was played to a finish. England lead 1–0 going into the final timeless match at Durban. Despite the final Test being 'timeless', the game ended in a draw after 10 days as England had to catch the train to catch the boat home. A record 1,981 runs were scored, and the concept of timeless Tests was abandoned. England went on one final tour of the West Indies in 1939 before the Second World War, although a team for an MCC tour of India was selected more in hope than expectation of the matches being played.
After a drawn Test series in South Africa, England won their first ever ICC world championship, the 2010 World Twenty20, with a seven-wicket win over Australia in Barbados. The following winter in the 2010–11 Ashes, they beat Australia 3–1 to retain the urn and record their first series win in Australia for 24 years. Furthermore, all three of their wins were by an innings – the first time a touring side had ever recorded three innings victories in a single Test series. Cook earned Man of the Series with 766 runs.
If the 1980s were a low point for English Test cricket, then the 1990s were only a slight improvement. The arrival of Gooch as captain in 1990 forced a move toward more professionalism and especially fitness though it took some time for old habits to die. Even in 2011, one or two successful county players have been shown up as physically unfit for international cricket. Creditable performances against India and New Zealand in 1990 were followed by a hard-fought draw against the 1991 West Indies and a strong performance in the 1992 Cricket World Cup in which the England team finished as runners-up for the second consecutive World Cup, but landmark losses against Australia in 1990–91 and especially Pakistan in 1992 showed England up badly in terms of bowling. So bad was England's bowling in 1993 that Rod Marsh described England's pace attack at one point as "pie throwers". Having lost three of the first four Tests played in England in 1993, Gooch resigned to be replaced by Michael Atherton.
Another greatest performance from Pakistan is when they whitewashed the touring Australian cricket team. After beating Pakistan 1-0 in T20Is and 3-0 in ODIs, Pakistan were doubtful to win a two match Test series against the tourist. However, Pakistan won the matches by 221 runs and 356 runs. The win in the second Test was their highest winning margin against any opposition in their history. Also in the same match, Misbah equaled the then fastest Test match century off 56 deliveries.
In 1956 Australia toured Pakistan. Pakistan had a victory against them. They bowled Australia out for 80 in their first innings. Pakistan took a lead of 119 runs when they were dismissed at 199. Pakistan again bowled Australia out for 187 in the second innings, giving the hosts a target of 68. Pakistan won comfortably by 9 wickets. Again, Fazal Mahmood was the chief destroyer, taking 13/114 in the match.
In August 2016, Pakistan achieved the number 1 ranking in test cricket for the first time since 1988, after Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia. Pakistan displaced India as number 1 after rain caused the final test match between India and West Indies to end in a draw. Pakistan became the 1st Asian team and 2nd team overall to win a day-night test match, which was against the West Indies in Dubai.
Despite having major upsets in the southern continent, Pakistan were triumphant in the West Indies tour of 2017, having won the T20 series 3-1, the ODI series by 2-1, and winning a thriller in the 3rd test to seal it 2-1. This was Pakistan's first ever test series win in the Caribbean. Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan retired after, with the captaincy going to Sarfaraz Ahmed.
England's first match after the war was in the 1920–21 season against Australia. Still feeling the effects of the war England went down to a series of crushing defeats and suffered their first whitewash losing the series 5–0. Six Australians scored hundreds while Mailey spun out 36 English batsmen. Things were no better in the next few Ashes series losing the 1921 Ashes series 3–0 and the 1924–25 Ashes 4–1. England's fortunes were to change in 1926 as they regained the Ashes and were a formidable team during this period dispatching Australia 4–1 in the 1928–29 Ashes tour.