Test Match
Test no.1
Teams Flag of Australia Australia v Flag of England England
Test number 1
Date 15,16,17,19 March 1877 (timeless match)
Venue Melbourne Cricket Ground
Toss Australia, who chose to bat
Result Australia won by 45 runs
Man of the Match
Umpires CA Reid and RB Terry
Last Test First
Next Test Test No.2

While there had already been four major tours by English sides to Australia, the team arranged and captained by James Lillywhite that left England in November 1876 was the first to visit as a business venture rather than following an invitation.

Three years earlier WG Grace had led a similar venture, but there had been deep divisions within the group and Lillywhite's Cricketers Companion had noted that it was unlikely that any attempt to mix amateurs and professionals would happen again.

Lillywhite, who had been involved in that unhappy trip, learnt from his experiences and relied entirely on professionals, leaving all the amateurs at home. While he had a strong bowling attack, the best batsmen were by and large the absent amateurs - the previous summer only four of the top 26 in the averages were professionals. And with every penny spent eating into the venture's profits, the squad was made up of only 12 players, meaning very little rest for those involved.

This was also the first trip to play matches against anything other than odds. The Australian teams were generally considered to be too weak to meet on equal terms, and so opposing sides fielded as many as 22 players. That helped account for the remarkable number of wickets and eyebrow-raising analyses of the leading bowlers on such trips. Alfred Shaw took 19 for 50 against XXII of Newcastle, for example.

But Australia's cricketers were improving fast, and Lillywhite's side were challenged to an 11-a-side game by New South Wales shortly before the tour diverted to New Zealand for six weeks in mid-January 1877. Although the tourists had the better of a draw in the two-day game, the other states were not about to be outdone and Victoria issued a similar challenge.

Meanwhile, Lillywhite's side played eight odds matches in New Zealand. While there, they lost wicketkeeper Ted Pooley, an inveterate gambler, who was left languishing in a Christchurch jail after a betting scandal, and so they returned to Australia with the core 11 players.

The financial demands of playing as many games as possible meant that Lillywhite had accepted the Victorians' offer and on March 15, barely 24 hours after they arrived back, the 18th match of the tour took place at the MCG between Lillywhite's XI and a Combined Australia XI, a side raised between the Victoria and New South Wales authorities. Although not advertised as an international, it is recognised this was the first match between two representative teams and it was subsequently given the accolade of being cricket's first official Test.

England came into the game in a poor state, exhausted by endless cricket and travelling without a chance to rest - Pooley never rejoined the squad - and the reserve keeper, Harry Jupp, was suffering from an inflammation of the eyes. One of the XI, James Southerton, was 49 when he made his debut. Jupp was not trusted to keep wicket but the lack of any reserve meant that he had to play. As it was, he top-scored for England with 63 in their first innings.

Australia, too, had their problems, with a simmering row between the Victoria and New South Wales associations undermining preparations. The biggest loss came when the great fast bowler Fred Spofforth refused to play because he disapproved of the choice of wicketkeeper, insisting in vain that Billy Murdoch play. The selectors brought in Frank Allen as Spofforth's replacement, only for Allen to pull out after deciding he preferred to attend a local fair.

Around 1500 spectators were inside the MCG when, shortly after one o'clock on a sunny afternoon, the first ball in Test cricket was bowled by Alfred Shaw to Charles Bannerman. The first run came off the next delivery, and the first wicket in the fourth over, when Allen Hill bowled Nat Thompson. The ignominy of the first duck fell to Edward Gregory later in the day.

The MCG at the time had one newly built grandstand that could seat 2000, with the remainder of the ground surrounded by a grass bank. By the close 4500 people had turned up, but few bothered to use the stand, which was said to have only a smattering of people in it all day.

At the close, 5pm - there had been around three-and-a-half hours' play - Bannerman had made 126 out of 166 for 6, Test cricket's first hundred. The two teams spent the evening at the opera.

Bannerman continued to dominate the next day until, shortly after lunch, the middle finger on his right hand was split by a lob from George Ulyett, forcing him to retire hurt on 165. His percentage of the innings - 67.3% - remains a record. It was not the best innings and he was helped by what contemporary reports described as poor bowling and fielding. He was dropped when in single figures - a simple chance to mid-off hit a nonplussed Tom Armitage in the stomach.

Armitage, determined to make amends, bet his captain £7 to £1 that he would make a fifty. He failed in that regard as well. In his defence, he, like several of his team-mates, had suffered from severe seasickness on the return trip from New Zealand and was reportedly barely able to stand on the morning of the match.

In reply to Australia's 245, England were bowled out for 196, Billy Midwinter taking 5 for 78. It would have been far worse had either umpire spotted that Jupp had trodden on his wicket before he had scored, but he survived the appeal, to the booing of the crowd.

England did better second time round, dismissing Australia for 104 in front of a third-day crowd of 12,000. Bannerman, severely incapacitated and given a rousing reception as he walked out, was again dropped, this time before scoring, but it wasn't nearly such a costly miss, as he made only 4.

Chasing 154 to win, England were skittled for 108, with slow bowler Tom Kendall (like Bannerman, born in England) taking 7 for 55. Their chase might not have been helped by the large lunch, and copious quantity of beer, they consumed during the break. They lost Allen Hill second ball, slogging to mid-on, and within an hour were 22 for 4. From there, on a wearing pitch, there was no way back.

The margin of Australia's victory was 45 runs, a result remarkably repeated in the Centenary Test in March 1977. "The combined team worked together with the utmost harmony and goodwill," reported The Australian.

There were the almost customary moans about the quality of the pitch and the umpiring, but of more concern to Lillywhite's men was their share of the gate money. Southerton noted that throughout the trip "the financial returns rarely tallied with the estimated number of people present".

The Australian XI were all presented with a gold watch each by the Victoria Cricket Association - captain Dave Gregory getting a slightly larger one - while a public subscription raised £83 for Bannermann and £23 for Kendall and wicketkeeper John Blackham.

Although England squared the series by winning the second Test, the Australians were jubilant at having shown that they could match their rivals. One newspaper summed up the mood in an editorial on the day Lillywhite's side set sail for home. "It shows that in bone as muscle, activity, athletic vigour, and success in field sports, the Englishmen born in Australia do not fall short of the Englishmen born in Surrey or Yorkshire".

"For the time being," wrote the Argus, "we must forget we are Victorians and New South Wales and our geographical distinctions, and only remember that we are of one nation - Australia."

Flag of Australia

Australia 1st innings

Player Status Runs Balls 4s 6s Strike rate
C Bannerman retired hurt 165 18
NFD Thomson b Hill 1
TP Horan c Hill b Shaw 12
DW Gregory* run out 1
BB Cooper b Southerton 15
WE Midwinter c Ulyett b South 5
EJ Gregory c Greenwood b Lillywhite 0
JM Blackham† b Southerton 17
TW Garrett not out 18
TK Kendall c Southerton b Shaw 3
JR Hodges b Shaw 0
Extras (b4 ; lb2; w2) 8
Total (10 wickets; 169.3 overs) 245

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Thomson), 2-40 (Horan), 3-41 (DW Gregory), 4-118 (Cooper), 5-142 (Midwinter), 6-143 (EJ Gregory), 7-197 (Blackham), 7-240* (Bannerman, retired not out), 8-243 (Kendall), 9-245 (Hodges)

Flag of England England bowling
Bowler Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Econ
A Shaw 55.3 34 51 3 1.37
A Hill 23 10 42 1 2.73
G Ulyett 25 12 36 0 2.16
J Southerton 37 17 61 3 2.47
T Armitage 3 0 15 0 5.00
J Lillywhite 14 5 19 1 2.03
T Emmett 12 7 13 0 1.62
Flag of England

England 1st innings

Player Status Runs Balls 4s 6s Strike rate
H Jupp lbe b Garrett 63 241 2 0 26.14
J Selby† c Cooper b Hodges 7 18 1 0 38.88
HRJ Charlwood c†Blackham b Midwinter 36 62 2 0 58.06
G Ulyett lbw b Thomson 10 21 2 0 47.61
A Greenwood c EJ Gregory b Midwinter 1 26 0 0 3.84
T Armitage c †Blackham b Midwinter 9 31 1 0 29.03
A Shaw b Midwinter 10 28 0 0 35.71
T Emmett b Midwinter 8 32 0 0 25.00
A Hill not out 35 47 3 0 74.46
J Lillywhite* c & b Kendall 10 15 1 0 66.66
J Southerton c Cooper b Garrett 6 21 0 0 28.57
Extras (lb1) 1
Total (10 wickets; 136.1 overs) 196

Fall of wickets: 1-23 (Selby), 2-79 (Charlwood), 3-98 (Ulyett), 4-109 (Greenwood), 5-121 (Armitage), 6-135 (Shaw), 7-145 (Jupp), 8-145 (Emmett), 9-168 (Lillywhite), 10-196 (Southerton)

Flag of Australia Australia bowling
Bowler Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Econ
JR Hodges 9 0 27 1 4.50
Tom Garrett 18.1 10 22 2 1.80
Tom Kendall 38 16 54 1 2.13
WE Midwinter 54 23 78 5 2.16
Nat Thomson 17 10 14 1 1.23
Flag of Australia

Australia 2nd innings

Player Status Runs Balls 4s 6s Strike rate
C Bannerman b Ulyett 4 10 1 0 40.00
NFD Thomson c Emmett b Shaw 7 26 0 0 26.92
TP Horan C †Selby b Hill 20 32 2 0 62.50
TW Garrett c Emmett b Shaw 0 8 0 0 0.00
BB Cooper b Shaw 3 16 0 0 18.75
WE Midwinter c Southerton b Ulyett 17 73 1 0 23.28
EJ Gregory c Emmett b Ulyett 11 31 1 0 35.48
JM Blackham† lbw b Shaw 6 20 0 0 30.00
DW Gregory* b Shaw 3 15 0 0 20.00
TK Kendall not out 17 22 3 0 77.27
JR Hodges b Lillywhite 8 18 1 0 44.44
Extras (b5 ; lb3; w2) 8
Total (10 wickets; 68 overs) 104

Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Bannerman), 2-27 (Thomson), 3-31 (Garrett), 4-31 (Horan), 5-35 (Cooper), 6-58 (EJ Gregory), 7-71 (Blackham), 8-75 (Midwinter), 9-75 (DW Gregory), 10-104 (Hodges)

Flag of England England bowling
Bowler Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Econ
A Shaw 34 16 38 5 1.67
G Ulyett 19 7 39 3 3.07
A Hill 14 6 18 1 1.92
J Lillywhite 1 0 1 1 1.50
Flag of England

England 2nd innings (Target 154)

Player Status Runs Balls 4s 6s Strike rate
A Hill c Thomson b Kendall 0 2 0 0 0.00
A Greenwood c Midwinter b Kendall 5 5 0 0 100.00
H Jupp lbw b Midwinter 4 17 0 0 23.52
HRJ Charlwood b Kendall 13 17 1 0 76.47
J Selby† c Horan b Hodges 38 81 4 0 46.91
G Ulyett b Kendall 24 62 1 0 38.70
A Shaw st †Blackham b Kendall 2 9 0 0 22.22
T Armitage c †Blackham b Kendall 3 32 0 0 9.37
T Emmett b Kendall 9 27 0 0 33.33
J Lillywhite* b Hodges 4 6 0 0 66.66
J Southerton not out 1 7 14.28
Extras (b4 ; lb1) 5
Total (10 wickets; 66.1 overs) 108

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Hill), 2-7 (Greenwood), 3-20 (Jupp), 4-22 (Charlwood), 5-62 (Ulyett), 6-68 (Shaw), 7-92 (Selby), 8-93 (Armitage), 9-100 (Lillywhite), 10-108 (Emmett)

Flag of Australia Australia bowling
Bowler Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Econ
TK Kendall 33.1 12 55 7 2.48
WE Midwinter 19 7 23 1 1.81
DW Gregory 5 1 9 0 2.70
TW Garrett 2 0 9 0 6.75
JR Hodges 7 5 7 2 1.50

Match details

  • Balls per over 4
  • Series Australia led the 2-match series 1-0
  • Test debuts C Bannerman, JM Blackham, BB Cooper, TW Garrett, DW Gregory, EJ Gregory, JR Hodges, TP Horan, TK Kendall, WE Midwinter and NFD Thomson (Australia); T Armitage, HRJ Charlwood, T Emmett, A Greenwood, A Hill, H Jupp, James Lillywhite jnr, J Selby, A Shaw, J Southerton and G Ulyett (England)

Close of play

  • 15 Mar day 1 - Australia 1st innings 166/6 (C Bannerman 126*, JM Blackham 3*)
  • 16 Mar day 2 - England 1st innings 109/4 (H Jupp 54*)
  • 17 Mar day 3 - Australia 2nd innings 83/9 (TK Kendall 5*, JR Hodges 3*)
  • 18 Mar rest day
  • 19 Mar day 4 - England 2nd innings 108 (66.1 ov) - end of match

Match notes

  • Alfred Shaw bowled the first Test delivery to Charles Bannerman, who went on to become the first Test centurion. Hill had both the first Test wicket and the first catch.
  • Midwinter picked up the first 5 wicket haul, and Blackham had the first stumping.
  • W.Newing fielded for Bannerman.
  • Southerton is still the oldest Test debutant at 49 years 119 days.
  • Bannerman scored 69.6% of his side's runs from the bat - still a record in Test matches - his 165 took about 290 minutes and included 18 fours.
  • C Bannerman retired hurt at 240/7 (split the index finger on his right hand by a ball from Ulyett)
  • Attendances on the four 4 days were approximately 4500, 4000 10000, 2000

External links

Test Match List