The first international cricket match was played between the USA and Canada in 1844 at the St. George’s Cricket Club in New York. Canada defeated USA to win the match by 23 runs.
There are plenty of myths and misconceptions when it comes to discussing the first international cricket match in history. Cricket, as an amateur sport, is being played since the 16th century and there’s no confirmed or reliable record of the first cricket match in history. The basic rules of the sport as well as the instruments such as bat and ball came to be defined in the 18th century.
The Marylebone Cricket Club was established in England in 1787 and it quickly became the custodian of Cricket Laws and the highest governing body in the still-fledgling sport. Cricket continued to grow in England and its Commonwealth territories from then on, and several high-profile matches between clubs and touring parties started being organized.
International cricket then got underway in the 19th century. While the common opinion suggests that the first ever Test match between two different countries was the first Test between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne in 1877, it is wrong.
Actually, the first-ever international cricket match played between two nations was in 1844 when the USA and Canada faced off against each other in New York.
Curious to know more? Let’s dive deeper:
First international cricket match: USA vs Canada, New York, 1844
The record of playing the first ever international match is held by USA and Canada. In fact, it wasn’t just the first ever cricket match, it was also the first international match played between two different countries across any sport.
The origins of the match can be traced back to four years before the actual encounter when tired and exhausted players from the St. George’s Cricket Club arrived in the Canadian city of Toronto after a long and tiring journey that involved getting through New York state by a stagecoach and then crossing Lake Ontario by steamer.
A certain man, claiming to be George Philpotts, who had presented himself as the secretary of the Toronto Cricket Club had invited the team from New York to play Toronto CC at home. However, when the 18 players from St. George’s arrived in Toronto on 28th August, 1840, much to their shock and dismay, they were informed that the Canadians were hardly expecting them.
It was later realized that the Mr. Phillpotts who had invited them for the match was not the secretary of the Toronto Cricket Club, but actually, an imposter posing like him.
Despite the hoax, the Canadians gracefully arranged a cricket match as they didn’t want their guests to leave empty-handed after such and arduous journey. A fair number of spectators attended, as well as a brass band, and even the Governor of Upper Canada, Sir George Arthur, graced the match with his presence.
The team from New York won the game by 10 wickets but the rapport and the camaraderie between the two parties was so strong that they invited their opponents to the United States for another match, which eventually became the first ever international match in the history of cricket.
The USA team for the match was made up of players from clubs in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, and New York. Meanwhile, the majority of the Canadian team included players from Toronto CC. However, efforts also led to players being included from elsewhere like Guelph Cricket Club in Western Ontario and Upper Canada College in Ontario, which resulted in the international tag for the game.
The match was scheduled for two days and after the first day, the Canadians had been bowled out for 82 with USA also scoring 61 for 9 in reply. In their second innings, Canada scored 63, setting the Americans a target of 83. However, they were bowled out for just 58 as Canada won the match by 23 runs.
Because of the fact that neither cricket team is included among the Test playing nations in the modern era, the popularity of the match isn’t as great among casual cricket lovers. However, it was the first time an international match was held between two different countries.
Just like the first Test match between Australia and England had led to the Ashes, similarly this match also began the American-Canadian cricket rivalry known as the Auty Cup. While it used to be one of the most exciting rivalries among the ICC’s associate members, due to the decline in popularity of cricket in the continent of North America, both countries faded away from the top level.
With the advent of baseball and basketball in USA and ice hockey in Canada, the excitement of the rivalry shifted to other sports. Given the fact that the International Cricket Council (ICC) didn’t exist in 1844, this match in New York isn’t recognized as an official Test match.
First international cricket match: Australia vs England, Melbourne, 1877
Australia and England are commonly acknowledged as the founders of Test cricket. Therefore, the tag of the first officially recognized international cricket match belongs to the two countries who faced each other at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne in 1877.
The set of events leading to the test match actually begin from a year earlier when two cricket teams from England had planned to tour Australia – an amateur one captained by Fred Grace and a professional one led by James Lillywhite. The amateur tour was forcibly cancelled but Lillywhite’s team did not have the greatest amateur player of his era and a man who came to be known as the Father of Cricket Sir W.G. Grace.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground was also supposed to host the first amateur Test match with the first Test of the professional touring team being held at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground. However, following the calling off of the amateur tour, the organizers moved the venue to the MCG as it could host more spectators and the event would be more profitable.
In 1877, a touring England team played two Test matches against full Australian XIs that are now deemed to be the very first test matches in cricket. The very first ever test match was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground between March 15 and 19, 1877.
The Australian team, led by captain Dave Gregory won the toss and opted to bat first. Opener Charles Bannerman faced the first ever delivery in international cricket which was bowled by English fast bowler Alfred Shaw.
Shaw was in astounding form as he picked up three wickets to skittle Australia for 245 in the first innings while Bannerman scored the first ever Test ton, and retired hurt after scoring 165. Only four other batters managed to register double-digit scores.
Australian bowler Billy Midwinter registered the first ever five-wicket-haul in Test history, taking 5/78, and helped bowl out England for just 196. In their second innings, Australia scored 104. Needing 154 to win the very first officially recognized Test match in history, England collapsed and were bundled out for 108, and thus Australia won the match by 45 runs.
The first ever Test match was actually a ‘timeless’ match but it lasted even less than five days. The Australian opener Charles Bannerman who went on to slam the maiden century in international cricket was dropped by Tom Armitage when he was batting at 10. Each over bowled by a bowler in the very first international Test consisted of only four deliveries. After the match, every Australian player was felicitated with a gold watch from the Victoria Cricket Association.
Of course, that very first Test match also led to the birth of the now-iconic Ashes rivalry. Following England’s surprising defeat against Australia when the latter toured England in 1882, a mock obituary of English cricket appeared in a journal called the Sporting Times. In the journal, the writer had suggested that the ‘body’ of English cricket would be cremated and that the Australian team would carry back the ashes when they returned to their home country.
This led to the cricket administrators labelling the rivalry as Ashes and an urn which contained the burnt ashes of bails became the symbol of the famous Australia-England cricket rivalry.
When was the first Cricket World Cup held?
ODI cricket began with the first match between Australia and England on 5th January 1971 at the same Melbourne Cricket Ground. The first cricket World Cup was organized in June 1975 in England where West Indies emerged as the winners.
When was the International Cricket Council founded?
The International Cricket Council was actually founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference by representatives of Australia, England, and South Africa in 1909. It was renamed the International Cricket Conference in 1965 and came to be known as the International Cricket Council in 1987. The headquarters of the ICC are located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Which was the first international match for the Indian team?
India played its first ever Test match against England on 25th June in 1932 at the Lord’s Stadium in London. India was still a British colony at that point in time and the travelling team was led by CK Naidu. They went on to lose the match by 158 runs.
When was the first international cricket match held in India?
India hosted its first ever Test match in 1933 when the visiting England team played two Test matches in Bombay and Calcutta (now known as Mumbai and Kolkata respectively).