Cricket Article

Earliest history of Australian Cricket till 1876

The very first Test match that Australia played was against England in 1876. However before the official format of the game was designed, cricket did existed as a game in Australia since as early as the 17th century.

Abel Tasman and Willem Janz are credited to introducing the form of game. Both were well known Dutch explorers and navigators and they discovered the game of cricket during one of their numerous expeditions. The earliest known cricket club that was established was the Hambledon Club. Later on, in 1766, thw famous Captain James Cook was commissioned by the Royal Society to carry ou astronomical expeditions into the Pacific Ocean. It is believed that the voyages led by Captain Cook resulted in a widespread acknowledgement of the game of cricket. By 1804, cricket had established itself as a popular sport the proof of which can be assumed from a newspaper clipping in The Sydney Gazette which describes favourable weather conditions for cricketers.

Australia had acquired the first-class status in cricket by the 1850s and established cricket as a very popular game of sport. The Melbourne Cricket Club had challenged the Launceston Cricket Club in March of 1850 for the 1850-51 season. The debut first-class match that was held in Australia was played between Victoria and Tasmania on the grounds of Launceston Racecource. The match resulted in a win for Tasmania by 3 wickets.

Slowly but steadily, Inter-colonial cricket fixtures had started to be arranged in Australia. Victoria and Tasmania clashed with each other for three more times in the year 1855. In the 1855-56 season, New South Wales had emerged as a competitor for the inter-colonial matches. The New South Wales played their debut match against the team from Victoria and were defeated by three wickets. In the following season, the 1857-58 one, there were three important matches played between Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. Incidentally, Victoria won all the three matches by defeating Tasmania twice by 69 runs and 20 runs and New South Wales once by 171 runs.

In those days, matches were not played as frequently due to travel restrictions and hence regular fixtures between the colonies every season was an impossible task. However, as and when possible, these matches were held and cricket, as a game, as a sport was steadily growing grounds in Australia. Soon enough, there were English teams that started touring the country to play matches and international cricket has started to become more and more popular. In 1861-62, the legendary cricket player, WG Grace visited Australia along with his team. Australia also reaped world-class players like famous bowler, Fred Spofforth. The debut tour of England to Australia was in 1861-62 which was led by Englishman HH Stephenson. In 1863-64, another English team toured the Melbourne Cricket Club captained by George Parr.

Abhay burande
Abhay Burande Sports Pundit member

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