In 1876-77 the English cricket team toured Australia. It is believed that the cricket tour was organized to replace a cancelled tour by Charles Dickens to Australia!
The match that is now recognized as the first official test match was played between Australia and England in Melbourne, March 15th – 19th 1877. Australia won by 45 runs. 100 years later many of the great English and Australian cricket legends descended upon Melbourne to watch the Centenary test match between Australia and England. After a remarkable match Australia beat England by 45 runs – the exact same margin by which they had won the inaugural match 100 years earlier.
Charles Bannerman of Australia set a number of records in that match. He faced the first ball in test cricket, scored the first run, the first four and the first century. He scored 165 not out in Australia’s 245 all out. Of all the records he set in that match one record still holds – his 165 constituted 67.34% of Australia’s total (245) – the highest percentage by a batsman in a completed test innings.
Allen Hill took the first wicket in test cricket when he dismissed Nat Thomson for 1.
Charles Bannerman, Dave Houghton (Zimbabwe) and Aminul Islam (Bangladesh) are the only cricketers to score centuries on their own and their country’s test debut.
In January 1998 England and West Indies played the shortest ever test match. Walsh and Ambrose had reduced England to 17/3 in 75 minutes (10.2 overs) and the match was then called off due to an unsafe pitch!
The longest test match of all was played between England and South Africa at Durban in 1938-39. This was a timeless test which lasted for 9 days, despite which the match ended in a draw since the England players had to leave to catch the boat back to England! Set 696 runs to win in the fourth innings they had reached an astonishing 654/5 and had a real chance of winning the match when they had to leave.
Only two test matches have ever been tied – the first between West Indies and Australia at Brisbane in 1960-61 and the second between Australia and India in Madras in 1986-87. The smallest margin of victory is 1 run when the West Indies beat Australia at Adelaide in the 4th test of the 1992-93 series. West Indies went on to win the 5th and final test and won the series 2-1.
Only thrice in the history of test cricket has a team come back from following to win a test match. Strangely enough Australia has been at the receiving end on all three occasions. At the SCG in 1894-95 Australia lost by 10 runs, having scored 586 in the first innings (the highest score by a losing team) and asking England to follow-on. The second time it happened was at Headingley in 1981 when an inspired Ian Botham and a devastating Bob Willis helped England win by 18 runs. The last occasion was in 2000-01 at Calcutta when a VVS Laxman master-class helped by Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh helped India win by an amazing 171 runs after following on.
In March 2005 India made 407 and 407/9 dec in a test against Pakistan. This is the highest “duplicate” score by a team in a test match.
At an individual level, 1982 Duleep Mendis of Sri Lanka scored 105 in both innings against India. He is the only batsman to hit identical hundreds in both innings of a test match.
Plum Warner became the first person to be knighted for his services to cricket in 1937. Jack Hobbs (1953) and Len Hutton (1956) were the next two cricket knights. Richard Hadlee (1990) is the only person to be knighted for his services to cricket while still playing test cricket. Neville Cardus was the first cricket writer to be knighted, in 1967.
The second day of the Lord’s test match between England and West Indies in 2000 is the only time in the history of test cricket that a part of all 4 innings have been played on the same day.
Makhaya Ntini is the first black man to play test cricket for South Africa. Henry Olonga was the first black Zimbabwean test cricketer.
TJ Matthews once took a hat trick in both innings of a test match.
The Asian test championship is a triangular/ quadrangular test tournament which started in 1998-99. However, this is not a new idea. England hosted Australia and South Africa in a triangular tournament in 1912!