With the Test series between England and Pakistan well under way, talk has turned to the upcoming match, Test cricket in general, and the best fun facts and figures. Cricket enthusiasts are wiping the floor with brilliant anecdotes and we think enough is enough.
It’s time for us all to become cricket experts and wow friends, family, and guests with our knowledge. And we can guarantee, after reading this you’ll have plenty of great stories to tell.
If you’re completely new to cricket, never fear! We have A Beginner’s Guide, just for you.
What makes the Test Match Unique
Test cricket is the longest form of the sport and is considered its most difficult game. It’s played between national teams with “Test status”; two teams of 11 play a four-innings match, which may last up to five days (or longer in some historical cases).
Test cricket is generally considered to be the most complete examination of the teams’ playing ability and endurance. The origin of the name ‘Test’ came from the gruelling nature of the match; it is essentially a ‘test’ of the relative strength of the two sides.
History of the Test Match
The first Test match in England was played at The Oval in 1877 between England and Australia. In 1882, Australia won the Test by seven runs within two days. The Sporting Times wrote a mocking obituary notice stating that English cricket had died at The Oval and the ashes would be taken to Australia. The English captain at the time, Ivo Bligh, had vowed to ‘regain those ashes’ and the tour was quickly dubbed as ‘the quest to regain the ashes‘.
After winning two of the three Tests on tour, a small urn was presented to Bligh, the contents of which are reputed to be the ashes of a wooden bail and were described as ‘the ashes of Australian cricket’. The Ashes trophy was thus created and is still hotly-contested whenever England plays Australia.
After its independence in 1947, Pakistan was given Test match status soon after and the new, independent state played its first Test series at Lord’s Cricket Ground on 28 July 1952.
Because of its length, however, Test cricket is not played in the same way as other multi-team tournaments. The ICC introduced a rotation sytem in the 1990s, where all ten Test teams play each other over a six-year cycle. The highest ranked team at the end of the cycle holds the ICC Test Championship Mace. Furthermore, the highest ranked team on 1 April every year is awarded a cash prize.
Top facts and figures
The first international cricket Test match, which was played between Australia and England in 1877, is often mistaken for the first ever international game of cricket. This is not true. This honour actually goes to the 1844 three-day clash between Canada and United States.
Ahmed Shehzad, opening batsmen for Pakistan, has taken more selfies than any player in cricketing history.
For a while during the late 1930’s, international cricket dabbled with timeless Tests that went on until both sides batted twice. This was quickly stopped after a timeless Test between England and South Africa had to be stopped on the tenth day. The cricket game hadn’t finished but the English team had to catch their boat home!
The slowest hundred for any Test in England is 458 minutes (329 balls) by KWR Fletcher, England v Pakistan, The Oval, 1974.
England’s Wilfred Rhodes, who made his debut in the summer of 1899, continued to play international cricket till 1930. He retired as the oldest cricketer to play internationally. He was 52 years and 156 days old–or rather, young!