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The Best of Tests: First-ever official Test match gets underway in 1877

©Reuters
 

Test cricket mirrors life. The ebbs and flows of the format have given birth to some of the most breath-taking cricketing epics. A Cricket World Series, The Best of Tests, highlights the finest of these spectacles.

 

Match Summary

 

1st Test, England tour of Australia at Melbourne, Mar 15-19 1877

Australia 245 & 104

England (target 154) 196 & 108

Result - Australia won by 45 runs

 

It was for the first time that an England cricket team was travelling for a business venture and not in response to an invitation.

The James Lillywhite jnr-led side had been on a 6-week trip to New Zealand. The team which was already travelling with just a 12-member squad lost wicketkeeper Ted Pooley, who was locked up in Christchurch for gambling.

Just 24 hours after they arrived on the Australian shores, Lillywhite's XI faced a Combined Australian XI made up of the players of Victoria and New South Wales. The match was recognised as the first game between two representative teams and later was given the distinction of cricket's First official Test.

With Pooley imprisoned, reserve keeper Harry Jupp was entrusted with the wicketkeeping gloves. Despite suffering from inflammation of eyes, he ended up as the top scorer for England with 63 in the first innings.

Australia's lead pace bowlers Fred Spofforth and Billy Murdoch had shown little interest in taking the field but Tom Kendall made up for them as he picked up 8 wickets in the game. England, who were chasing just 154 in the last innings, were bowled out for 108 and conceded a 45-run defeat.

The match had begun with around 1,500 spectators having gathered inside the Melbourne Cricket Ground with the first ball in Test cricket bowled by Alfred Shaw to Charles Bannerman. Allen Hill bowled Nat Thompson to become the first bowler to take a wicket while Edward Gregory was the first batsman to be dismissed for a duck.

 

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