1st Test Match - England V Australia
The 15th of March 1877 AD
Whisper it gently, but the first international match, as opposed to test match, took place 33 years earlier, between Canada and the USA (with Canada winning the two-day game by 23 runs). But the match at the MCG in Melbourne established the longer test match format. Sadly it also established the Australian habit of winning – they were victors in the game by 45 runs.
There were some significant differences compared to the modern format of the test game : the overs were of four balls each rather than the current six, and the match in 1877 was timeless, though it actually lasted four days.
Naturally many firsts occurred in the match: England’s Alfred Shaw bowled the first ball in test cricket; A Hill of the same side took the first test wicket and the first test match catch. Australian opener Charles Bannerman made the first test century and was the first test batsman to have to retire hurt (his right index finger split by England’s Ulyett); and Australian keeper Blackham took the first test stumping.
One record still stands from the match, and is unlikely ever to fall. England bowler Southerton, who took a creditable three wickets for 61 runs from 37 overs in Australia’s first innings, but didn’t bowl a ball in the second, was and still is the oldest test debutant at 49 years 119 days on the day the match commenced. There’s hope for us yet.
For the record, the second match of the two match series was won by England, by the margin of four wickets. It sometimes feels as if we have been playing catch-up ever since.
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