What began as a pastime in early medieval times among the farming and metal-working communities of the Kent and Sussex, is now a multi-billion dollar industry that has found international fame and commercial success. But all of this T20 cricketing madness began with test cricket back in the day.
Rewind 140 years: The first official Test match began on March 15, 1877 and witnessed England and Australia go head-to-head at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground. The contest finished with the Aussies winning by 45 runs, 4 days later, on March 19. In the second Test, England came back to level the series. Later this rivalry between England and Australia came to be known as the Ashes with the competition beginning in 1882.
Nostalgia aside, there have been several milestones throughout the history of test cricket and here’s a collection of the lesser known events in the last 140 years, in no particular order.
# Growth of International Test Cricket
When the Imperial Cricket Conference was founded in 1909, only England, Australia and South Africa were members. In the coming years, West Indies (1928), New Zealand (1930) and India (1932) became Test playing nations. After the end of the Second World War, Pakistan (1952) joined the ranks.
The international game grew in the closing years of the 20th century and three new Test nations were added in the form of Sri Lanka (1982), Zimbabwe (1992) and Bangladesh (2000).
# Team India’s first test match
An Indian cricket team toured England in the 1932 season under the title of the “All-India” team. This was the second tour of England by an Indian team, following the first place lo of people 1911. Led by CK Nayudu, All-India played their first Test in 1932 against England at Lords Stadium, many years after test cricket was officially introduced.
However, what was to follow would capture the imagination of the whole world. In a shocking opening sequence, the Indian bowlers dismissed three top-order English batsmen within the first 20 minutes. Ultimately, however, the experience of the English side won through. England scored 259 and 275-8 declared in their two innings, while India was bowled out for 189 and 187, handing victory to the English by 158 runs.
# Rest of the World XI test matches
In 1970, five Test matches were played between England and the Rest of the World XI, at England (These matches, originally scheduled between England and South Africa, were amended after South Africa was suspended from international cricket because of their government’s policy of Apartheid).
A six-day Super Series match took place in October 2005, between Australia and a World XI, officiated by the ICC. These are the only two officially recognised instances of test matches being played between a test nation and a World XI.
# Bodyline series (Fast Leg Theory Bowling)
Bodyline was a cricketing tactic devised by the English cricket team for their 1932–33 Ashes tour of Australia, specifically to combat the extraordinary batting skill of Australia’s Don Bradman. A bodyline delivery was one where the cricket ball was bowled towards the body of the batsman on the line of the leg stump, in the hope of creating leg-side deflection catches.
This was considered to be intimidating and physically threatening for the batsmen, by spectators and experts of the game. Although no serious injuries arose from any short-pitched deliveries, the tactic still led to ill-will between the two teams, with the controversy spilling into the diplomatic arena.
This series also marked the transformation of cricket from being a respected gentleman’s game like Tennis, to being the commercialized “victory-at-all-costs” slug-fest that it is today.
# Tri-national test series
Today, Test cricket is played as a series of matches between two countries, with all matches in the series taking place in the same country. There’s a trophy that is awarded to the winner which is retained or lost every time the series takes place, one of the most famous being the Ashes series between England and Australia.
There have been two exceptions to the bilateral nature of Test cricket:
The 1912 Triangular Tournament, a three-way competition between England, Australia and South Africa (hosted by England) was played.
The Asian Test Championship – a professional Test cricket tournament contested between the Test playing nations of Asia: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In the 1998-99 series, Pakistan emerged victorious, and the 2001-02 series ended with Sri Lanka as champions. It was originally planned that the tournament would be held every two years, alternatively with the Asia Cup, but it never panned out.