Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
English cricket team
Cricket developed as a sport in England, so unsurprisingly England is both a founding Test cricket and one-day international nation. England played in the first Test match in 1877 (against Australia in Melbourne) and also the first one-day international in 1971 (also against Australia in Melbourne).
England has been one of the most dominant teams in international cricket, fielding a strong side for most of cricket's history. This dominance began to fall away in the 1980s as England was overshadowed by Australia, the West Indies, India, Pakistan and South Africa. Since 2000, English cricket has seen a resurgence and once again the team is one of the strongest international sides.
History of English international cricket
England played in the very first test match in 1877. Since then, up to 17 December 2004 they have played 827 test matches, winning 287, losing 239 and drawing 301. During these 827 matches, they have been captained by 75 different players.
1860 to 1900
See also: History of Test cricket (to 1883)
1877 saw the first Test match when England took on Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This rivalry took on a new turn in 1882, when England lost at home at the Oval. Upset at this turn of events, the Sporting Times printed an obituary to English cricket:
- In Affectionate Remembrance of ENGLISH CRICKET, which died at the Oval on 29th AUGUST, 1882, Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances R.I.P. N.B. - The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.
When England toured Australia the following winter, and won 2-1, the English captain, the Hon. Ivo Bligh was presented with an urn that contained some ashes, which have variously been said to be of a bail, ball or even a woman's veil. And so The Ashes series was born.
This period of English cricket was dominated by WG Grace. For thirty six years (1865 to 1900). He averaged 39.45 at first class level, an average undoubtedly dragged down by playing into his late fifties. At his peak in the 1870s his first-class season averages were regularly between 60 and 70, at a time where uncovered, poorly-prepared pitches meant that scores were far lower than the modern game. Grace scored over 1000 runs and took over 100 wickets in seven different seasons
At fifty-three he scored nearly 1,300 runs in first-class cricket, made 100 runs and over on three different occasions and could claim an average of 42 runs. Moreover, his greatest triumphs were achieved when only the very best cricket grounds received serious attention; when, as some consider, bowling was maintained at a higher standard and when all hits had to be run out. He, with his two brothers, EM and GF, assisted by some fine amateurs, made Gloucestershire in one season a first-class county; and it was he who first enabled the amateurs of England to meet the paid players on equal terms and to beat them
There was hardly a record connected with the game which did not stand to his credit. Grace was one of the finest fieldsmen in England, in his earlier days generally taking long-leg and cover-point, in later times generally standing point (see Fielding positions in cricket). He was, at his best, a fine thrower, fast runner and safe catcher. As a bowler he was long in the first flight, originally bowling fast, but in later times adopting a slower and more tricky style, frequently very effective. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Test rankings, he was only out of the top 4 Test batsman ratings for two years in the period from 1880 and 1899.
Main article: Bodyline
Before the 1932-3 tour to Australia, England had become used to the prolific run-scoring of Don Bradman. The England captain, Surrey's Douglas Jardine chose to develop the already existing leg theory as a tactic to stop Bradman. Leg theory involved bowling fast balls directly at the batsman's body, and Jardine had two very fast accurate bowlers, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce to bowl them. The batsman would need to defend himself, and if he touched the ball with the bat, he could be caught by one of a large number of fielders placed on the leg side.
England won the series and the Ashes 4-1. But complaints about the Bodyline tactic caused crowd disruption on the tour, and threats of diplomatic action from the Australian Cricket Board, which during the tour sent the following cable to the Marylebone Cricket Club in London:
- Bodyline bowling assumed such proportions as to menace best interests of game, making protection of body by batsmen the main consideration. Causing intensely bitter feeling between players as well as injury. In our opinion is unsportsmanlike. Unless stopped at once likely to upset friendly relations existing between Australia and England.
Later, Jardine was removed from the captaincy and the laws of cricket changed so that fast balls aimed at the body, and having more than two fielders behind square leg were banned.
English cricket went on a slide during the 1990's. This was not helped by squabbles between key players and the chairman of selectors, Raymond Illingworth. They were more often than not beaten badly during the Ashes series, as they were spellbound by Shane Warne and later Glenn McGrath. They were declared the unofficial worst side in the world after the 1999 home series loss to New Zealand.
After the first Test of the 5 Test series against South Africa was drawn, Nasser Hussain resigned the Test captaincy, with Michael Vaughan being appointed in his stead. Vaughan went on to draw the series 2-2, after an Oval Test match rated by most commentators as the greatest in England since the 1981 Headingley Test. Since then, as of November 2004, England have played 16 tests, won 12, drawn 3, lost 1, and risen to number 2 in the International Cricket Council Test rankings. They were also runners-up in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy.
On December 21 2004 England completed their eighth successive Test victory with a win in the opening Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth This is the best sequence of Test match wins by England.
England's greatest players
- Alfred Mynn
- George Parr
- WG Grace
- Allan Steel
- Gilbert Jessop
- CB Fry
- Wally Hammond
- Jack Hobbs
- Eddie Paynter
- Len Hutton
- Denis Compton
- Peter May
- Alan Knott
- Ian Botham
- David Gower
- Graham Gooch
- Mike Gatting
- Mike Atherton
- Alec Stewart
England's greatest ever Test matches
England were set 234 to win in the second Test against the West Indies. In need of quick runs, Brian Close took the battle to Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith , the two fastest West Indian bowlers, daring to advance down the wicket to him. This was an age before body protection and helmets , and time and again the ball struck Close firmly on his body. But he persevered. His 70 very nearly won the game for England, and with no other English player other than Ken Barrington scoring above 20, he saved the game. Set 234 to win, England ended on 228 for 9, with Colin Cowdrey famously coming in to bat (for two balls at the non-striker's end) with his broken arm in plaster.
Going into the game at Headingley - the third Test in a 6-match series against Australia - England were in disarray. Ian Botham had resigned as captain after getting a pair in the second Test at Lord's and the selectors had been forced to recall former captain Mike Brearley to the side.
Despite Botham taking six wickets, Australia's first innings seemed like a continuation of their dominance of the series so far, declaring at 401 for 9. England's response was another collapse - Australia only needed to use three bowlers (Dennis Lillee, Terry Alderman and Geoff Lawson ) as England stumbled to 174 all out, Botham top-scoring with 50.
Kim Hughes immediately enforced the follow-on and by the fourth afternoon of play, England had collapsed again to 135 for 7 with a not-out Botham perhaps England's only hope of avoiding the ignominy of an innings defeat. Botham had other ideas, however, and playing again with the freedom that he'd enjoyed before he was awarded the captaincy, he flayed the Australian bowling all around the ground, scoring an incredible 149 off just 148 balls with 27 fours and 1 six. The lower order batsmen also did their part - Graham Dilley scored a maiden test fifty off just 75 balls, and after he was dismissed Chris Old and Bob Willis both stayed in long enough to allow England to put on 221 for the last three wickets, before finally being all out for 356.
Defeat by an innings had been avoided, but England only had a lead of 129 runs and almost all observers expected them to polish that off easily and, despite Botham grabbing an early wicket, they'd moved on to 56 for 1 when Brearley brought Bob Willis back into the bowling attack. Willis went on to produce one of the greatest ever bowling performances in the history of Test cricket, taking 8 wickets for just 43 runs as Australia were dismissed for just 111 runs and England had pulled off a spectacular victory by just 18 runs, only the second time in Test history that a side had won after following on.
Inspired by this performance and Botham's heroics with both bat and ball in the next two tests, England went on to win the series - often referred to as "Botham's Ashes" by three tests to one.
Interestingly, at one point during the fourth day a Headlingly bookmaker was offering odds of 500-1 on England winning. Regarding these odds as too good to be true, the Australian players Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh bet £5 on England winning.
The Oval, 2003
Going into the final Test of the 2003 series against South Africa, England were 2-1 down and had to win at The Oval to tie the series. The match that followed was a classic.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat, spotting that the flat Oval pitch looked conducive to run-scoring. Due to a combination of mediocre bowling and powerful batting, South Africa took immediate control of the match and scored at a high pace. Herschelle Gibbs blasted a tremendous century, finally being bowled for 183 after attempting a huge hit off the bowling of spinner Ashley Giles. At the end of the first day's play, South Africa has reached 362-4. With such a large total of runs amassed and six wickets still in hand, South Africa looked certain to win the series. A repeat of the disastrous defeat at Lord's earlier in the series looked likely for England.
The next day, however, saw the balance of play shift towards England. South Africa were all out for 484, quite a low total considering their huge advantage at the end of the first day. South Africa lost their remaining six wickets due to a much better spell of bowling by England, and three farcical run-outs. After the end of South Africa's first innings, England came out to bat knowing that they had to perform extremely well if they were to get a result from the game, and perform well they did. At the end of day 2 England has reached 165-2, losing Michael Vaughan for 23 and Mark Butcher for 32. Marcus Trescothick and Graham Thorpe(returning after a year away from Test cricket) were not out at the close, on 64* and 28* respectively. Interestingly, Vaughan was Shaun Pollock's 300th Test wicket.
The match started to turn in England's favour on the third day. Trescothick and Thorpe resumed their innings and played superbly, with a mammoth partnership of 286. Thorpe scored 124, his 12th Test century, before being bowled by Jacques Kallis. It was an amazing return to international cricket for the England batsman. Despite the loss of Thorpe, Marcus Trescothick continued his innings in majestic fashion, attacking South Africa relentlessly. Eventually he was dismissed near the end of the day's play for 219, his maiden first-class double hundred. It was an innings of class and occasional brutality, which contained 32 fours and two monstrous sixes. Despite Trescothick's innings, Alec Stewart stole some of the headlines. He came out to bat at his home ground for perhaps the last time, after deciding to retire at the end of the series. The crowd at the Oval gave him a standing ovation, and the South African team formed a guard of honour. A fitting tribute to a fine cricketer who was one of England's best throughout the 1990s. Stewart made a typically gritty 38 before being trapped lbw by Pollock. At the end of day 3, England had overhauled South Africa's total, gaining a lead of 18. This would need to be increased substantially if England were to have a chance of winning the match. All-rounder Andrew Flintoff, left on 10* at the close of play, was England's last real chance of victory.
The result of the match depended on how England, and more specifically Andrew Flintoff, negotiated day four. England desperately required more runs to increase their lead over South Africa. Flintoff was a very dangerous player, as shown by his spectacular innings of 142 in the Lord's Test of the series. But equally, his maverick style of batting could easily backfire. When Martin Bicknell was dismissed by Shaun Pollock for 0, Flintoff decided to attack South Africa. With new partner Steve Harmison blocking at one end, Flintoff annihilated the South African bowling attack with some almighty hitting. Twelve lusty fours and four monumental sixes followed in an innings of 95 from only 104 balls. Flintoff narrowly missed out on a century, being bowled after attempting to blast spinner Paul Adams out of the ground. Even so, his furious innings had given England a reasonable lead of 120 runs as the team declared on 604-9. Now England would have to produce a high-quality bowling performance to stop South Africa achieving a sizable lead in their second innings. England's bowlers devestated the South African batting line-up with stupendous displays from veteran Martin Bicknell and newcomer Steve Harmison. South Africa slumped to 185-6 at the end of day four, with a wholly inadequate lead of just 65.
The final day's play saw the last four South African wickets fall quickly, leaving England to chase a target of 110 to win the match. Who would have though after the first day's play that England would have such an opportunity! England's batsmen played excellently and wasted no time in attacking South Africa. Once again opening batsman Marcus Trescothick led the glorious England charge, as England reached the required total with the loss of only one wicket. A phenomenal victory had been achieved, leaving the South Africa team distraught. Marcus Trescothick was named man of the match, being only the second man after the legendary Donald Bradman to score a double century and a fifty(219 and 69*) in a test at The Oval. The day belonged, however, to Alec Stewart. His final test saw a proud England win a stunning match and level the series 2-2.
- Women's Cricket Association tour of Australia, 1934-1935 images digitised and held by the National Library of Australia
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