Australia (cricket)

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In cricket, Australia's national men's team consists of players from the six state sides which contest the Sheffield Shield, the country's main domestic competition. Management and selection of the team is done by Cricket Australia, formerly the Australian Cricket Board (ACB), which was first established in 1905 as the governing body of cricket in Australia. Australia is a full member of the International Cricket Conference (ICC) and has been playing Test cricket since 1877. Their team has invariably been one of the most accomplished and successful in world cricket and has at times been entirely dominant in the Test match arena. There is a long list of great Australian players among whom Don Bradman is paramount.

Cricket arrived in Australia in the early years of British settlement there and, on 8 January 1804, a match report appeared in a Sydney newspaper. It is known that clubs were founded in New South Wales during the 1820s and, in the 1830s, cricket was recorded in other colonies. In February 1851, the first inter-colonial match took place in Launceston between teams representing Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) and the Port Phillip district of New South Wales which became Victoria a few months later. The Victorian team was organised by the Melbourne Cricket Club. The match, which Van Diemen's Land won by 3 wickets, is recognised as the startpoint for first-class cricket in Australia.

A decade later, a Melbourne catering company called Spiers & Pond managed to organise a tour of New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria by a team of English professionals who arrived in December 1861. England were captained by H. H. Stephenson and the team included his Surrey team mate, William Caffyn. These two had been members of the inaugural England touring team that visited North America in 1859. As in North America, all of England's matches on their first tour of Australia were "against odds" with their eleven taking on teams of 18 to 22 players. There was one exception when the English team divided for a match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground which was billed as World XI v Surrey XI. There were six Surrey players on the tour and they joined with five locals to form the Surrey XI while the other six English players joined with five more locals, including John Conway, to form the World XI. The World XI won by 6 wickets and this match is rated first-class. The tour was a success and encouraged later English teams to make the long sea voyage.

Melbourne Cricket Club took the initiative and invited another England team, captained by George Parr and including E. M. Grace, to visit in 1863–64. Ten years later, W. G. Grace was persuaded to tour.

In 1876–77, an all-professional team led by James Lillywhite played against Australia in two matches that were retrospectively classified as the first two Test matches. Australia won the first by 45 runs after Charles Bannerman scored an unbeaten 165. England won the second match by 4 wickets. By this time, standards of play in New South Wales and Victoria were high and Australia had several outstanding players including Bannerman, Fred Spofforth, Jack Blackham, Harry Boyle and Billy Murdoch.

See also