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The first ever Test Published: 15 March 2013

James Lillywhite (middle row, centre) with the first England Test side
James Lillywhite (middle row, centre) with the first England Test side

Today marks the 136th anniversary of the first ever Test match between England and Australia.

Played at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 15 1877, England - captained by James Lillywhite - lost by 45 runs.

It was not the first time an England side had toured Australia but in November 1876, when Lillywhite's team set off for the southern hemisphere, it was the first to visit as a business venture rather than following an invitation.

England's association with MCC would not start until 27 years later, when the first England team to tour under the MCC banner was the 1904-1905 tourists to Australia led by captain Sir Pelham Warner.

Lillywhite, a slow left arm bowler who played county cricket for Sussex, had toured Australia on six occasions and was given the captaincy for the inaugural Test match.

It was a timeless Test consisting of four ball overs, but it was completed within five days, including a rest day on the Sunday.

The match started with England's Alfred Shaw bowling the first ever delivery in Test cricket to Australia's Charles Bannerman, after the hosts won the toss.

Bannerman went on to score the first ever Test century, after compiling 165 before retiring hurt, in a total of 245 during Australia’s first innings.

49-year-old James Southerton, who was joint top wicket taker in the first innings with 3-61, was the oldest player on either side and to this day remains the oldest Test debutant ever.

In response England posted 196 with Surrey’s Harry Jupp (63) top scoring. He was lucky to do so however, after standing on his stumps before even scoring a run. Neither umpire noticed as the Australians appealed in vain, while 4,000 spectators at the MCG booed in disapproval.

In fact, Jupp was not meant to even play due to an eye infection but had to take the field as England's twelve-man squad had been reduced to eleven after they returned from the New Zealand leg of their tour.

Wicket-keeper Ted Pooley was in a Christchurch jail after becoming embroiled in a betting scandal.

England fared better second time around, dismissing the hosts for 104 in their second innings in front of a 12,000 strong crowd on the Saturday.

But set 154 to win, England crumbled to 108 all out, with English-born slow bowler Tom Kendall taking 7 for 55 as Australia won the first ever Test match.


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