Test cricket is international first-class cricket played by complete International Cricket Council members (ICC). Each team plays two innings in a five-day contest. Timeless Tests were once played. “Test match” was first used in 1861–62.
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Since 1877, numerous international matches have been retroactively designated Tests. The first such match was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in March 1877 between a Combined Australian XI and James Lillywhite’s XI, an English professional club. Australia-England “test matches” began in 1892. Two years later, South Australian journalist Clarence P. Moody wrote the first authoritative retrospective Test list, which was accepted by the end of the century. Twelve complete ICC members play Test cricket now. In 2012, the ICC allowed day/night Tests, and Australia and New Zealand played the first at the Adelaide Oval in November 2015.
International cricket’s growth:
In the 18th century, “England” and “All England” teams played, although they were not representative. French Revolution and American Civil War hampered early international cricket. On September 24–26, 1844, the US and Canada played the first international cricket match (bad weather prevented play on the 25th). English teams began touring North America, Australia, and New Zealand in 1859. The first organized squad to travel England was the 1868 Australian Aboriginals.
James Lillywhite and Fred Grace proposed professional and amateur English tours of Australia in early 1877. Lillywhite’s team toured New Zealand and Australia in 1876–77 instead of Grace’s. The first official Test matches were against a combined Australian XI. Australia won the first by 45 runs and England the second. In 1882, the Australian tour of England established The Ashes as a competition after reciprocal tours established international cricket. The Ashes urn was created after the Sporting Times published a fake obituary of English cricket the day after Australia’s unexpected win. “The body shall be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia” was the wording. In 1901, England player Alfred Shaw called the 1884–85 team “the best ever to have left England”. In 1888–89, South Africa hosted an under-strength England team for the third Test match. Before WWI, only Australia, England, and South Africa played Test cricket.
During the English tour of Australia in 1861–1862, the term “test match” was used in a different way. It meant that each of the Australian colonies was a test for the English team. After Lillywhite’s tour, Australian teams went to England. In 1878, Dave Gregory’s team was the first to do so. By the start of 1892, seven Australian teams had been to England and eight English teams had been to Australia. In its 25 February 1892 issue, Cricket: A Weekly Record of the Game brought back the term “test match” and used it to describe the three international matches that Lord Sheffield’s XI had just played in Australia. The first of these was at the MCG and was called Lord Sheffield’s Team vs. Combined Australia. The first sentence of the report said, “It made sense to set the first of the three great test matches for January 1.”
Clarence P. Moody:
In his 1894 book, Australian Cricket and Cricketers, 1856 to 1893–94, South Australian journalist Clarence P. Moody made the first list of games that were considered “Tests.” Charles W. Alcock, the editor of Cricket in England, liked Moody’s idea. His list of 39 matches was printed in the 28 December 1894 issue of the magazine in an article called “The First Test Match.” The first game on the list was played at the MCG on March 15–17, 1877. The last game on the list was played at the Association Ground in Sydney from December 14–20, 1894.
All 39 were recognized as Test matches after the fact, as was the unlisted 1890 match at Old Trafford that was called off before a ball was even bowled. Moody’s list didn’t have any South African games on it, but three games against England were given Test status after the fact. Moody became the editor of a newspaper, and in 1912, he started the Adelaide Sunday Mail.
Teams that are in test mode:
The ICC gives test status to a country or a group of countries. There are currently twelve men’s teams that have this status. International teams that do not have Test status can play first-class cricket in the ICC Intercontinental Cup, which has conditions similar to Tests.
Teams that can play in Tests are (with the date of their first Test):
- Australia (15 March 1877)
- England (15 March 1877)
- South Africa (12 March 1889)
- West Indies (23 June 1928)
- New Zealand (10 January 1930)
- India (25 June 1932)
- Pakistan (16 October 1952)
- Sri Lanka (17 February 1982)
- Zimbabwe (18 October 1992)
- Bangladesh (10 November 2000)
- Ireland (11 May 2018)
- Afghanistan (14 June 2018)
Conduct of the game:
Test cricket has three two-hour sessions with 40 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for tea. However, if bad weather or a change of innings occurs close to a scheduled break, the break may be taken immediately; if there has been a loss of playing time, such as due to bad weather, the session times may be adjusted to make up the lost time; or if the batting side is nine wickets down at the scheduled tea break, the interval may be delayed until either 30 minutes has elapsed.
Five-day Test matches are scheduled today. Early Test cricket matches lasted three or four days. New Zealand and Pakistan last played four-day Tests in 1973. A Sunday’rest day’ was common until the 1980s. “Timeless Tests” have no time limit. Australia played a six-day match against a World XI in 2005, which the ICC sanctioned as a Test match. The contest ended on the fourth day. South Africa and Zimbabwe played a four-day Test match on 26–27 December 2017 after the ICC approved a request in October 2017. The ICC tested the four-day Test until the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Cricket Australia considered four-day Tests in December 2019, if other Test nations agreed. Later same month, the ICC explored making four-day Test matches mandatory for the 2023 ICC World Test Championship.
Test Cricket Playing Countries
|1||Australia||15 March 1877|
|2||England||15 March 1877|
|3||South Africa||12 March 1889|
|4||West Indies||23 June 1928|
|5||New Zealand||10 January 1930|
|6||India||25 June 1932|
|7||Pakistan||16 October 1952|
|8||Sri Lanka||17 February 1982|
|9||Zimbabwe||18 October 1992|
|10||Bangladesh||10 November 2000|
|11||Ireland||11 May 2018|
|12||Afghanistan||14 June 2018|