The History of the England Cricket Team can be said to date back to at least 1739 when sides styled “Kent” and “All England” played a match at Bromley Common. Over 300 matches involving “England” or “All England” prior to 1877 are known.
However, these teams were usually put together on an ad hoc basis and were rarely fully representative.
The history of the current England side can be traced to 1877 when England played in what was subsequently recognized as the very first Test match. The scorecard from this game is still available, which we think is a fascinating fact. The invention of the internet has made sure it can be accessible for all cricket fans, and for future generations as well.
The Very First Cricketers
But the history of cricket on the English isles is much older than that. In fact, it goes as far back as the 14th century! The historical records and the accuracy of these are rather blurry and we can not know for certain that all is true. But there are records of a childish game played by 14th Century children and/or shepherds. This information has been ascertained largely by the fact that there are few records about the sport, so it must not have been a sport of the adults, even those of the working class.
What is known is that it was played before 1550 of our Common Era (CE) and that its roots can be traced to South East England. In those days, right up until 1760, the ball was delivered along the ground, meaning that it could only be played in short grass.
So, the players would be restricted to areas in which sheep were grazing (hence the reference to its being a popular game amongst shepherds) or in certain clearings in the forest or bush. The ball was made of rags or wool that had been bound closely together to form a rounded shape. The bat was likely a shepherd’s staff or a stick of sorts.
When working men began to play the game during the 1600s was when cricket emerged as a more viable, recognized sport. The spectators were attracted by the fact that they could bet on winners at first, but soon became wrapped up in the game itself. As the English people spread abroad, occupying areas like America, India, and southern Africa, they took this game along with them.
The term “All-England” was first used in reports of two Kent v All-England matches in July 1739. The game was initially known as Creckett. The term Creckett was borrowed from Dutch, and it means a stick. The modern-day bat used in cricket, was, therefore, the source of the name of the game.
The very first recorded match was at Bromley Common in Kent on Monday 9 July 1739. It was billed as between “eleven gentlemen of that county (i.e., Kent) and eleven gentlemen from any part of England, exclusive of Kent”. Kent, described as “the Unconquerable County” won by “a very few notches”.
The second match was at the Artillery Ground in Bunhill Fields, Finsbury on Monday 23 July 1739. This game was drawn and a report includes the phrase “eleven picked out of all England”.
In subsequent decades there were many more such matches between a side representing a county, or the MCC, and a side drawn from the rest of England and described as “England” or “All England”. As the next section describes, in 1846 the term “All England Eleven” would acquire a new, more precise, definition.
Important Dates In Cricket History Until 1980
1550 (approx) Evidence of cricket being played in Guildford, Surrey.
1598 Cricket mentioned in Florio’s Italian-English dictionary.
1610 Reference to “cricketing” between Weald and Upland near Chevening, Kent.
1611 Randle Cotgrave’s French-English dictionary translates the French word “crosse” as a cricket staff.
– Two youths fined for playing cricket at Sidlesham, Sussex.
1624 Jasper Vinall becomes first man known to be killed playing cricket: hit by a bat while trying to catch the ball – at Horsted Green, Sussex.
1676 First reference to cricket being played abroad, by British residents in Aleppo, Syria.
1694 Two shillings and sixpence paid for a “wagger” (wager) about a cricket match at Lewes.
1697 First reference to “a great match” with 11 players a side for fifty guineas, in Sussex.
1700 Cricket match announced on Clapham Common.
1709 First recorded inter-county match: Kent v Surrey.
1710 First reference to cricket at Cambridge University.
1727 Articles of Agreement written governing the conduct of matches between the teams of the Duke of Richmond and Mr. Brodrick of Peperharow, Surrey.
1729 Date of the earliest surviving bat, belonging to John Chitty, now in the pavilion at The Oval.
1730 First recorded match at the Artillery Ground, off City Road, central London, still the cricketing home of the Honourable Artillery Company.
1744 Kent beat All England by one wicket at the Artillery Ground.
– First known version of the Laws of Cricket, issued by the London Club, formalizing the pitch as 22 yards long.
1767 (approx) Foundation of the Hambledon Club in Hampshire, the leading club in England for the next 30 years.
1769 First recorded century, by John Minshull for Duke of Dorset’s XI v Wrotham.
1771 Width of bat limited to 4 1/4 inches, where it has remained ever since.
1774 LBW law devised.
1776 Earliest known scorecards, at the Vine Club, Sevenoaks, Kent.
1780 The first six-seamed cricket ball, manufactured by Dukes of Penshurst, Kent.
1787 First match at Thomas Lord’s first ground, Dorset Square, Marylebone – White Conduit Club v Middlesex.
– Formation of Marylebone Cricket Club by members of the White Conduit Club.
1788 First revision of the Laws of Cricket by MCC.
1794 First recorded inter-schools match: Charterhouse v Westminster.
1795 First recorded case of a dismissal “leg before wicket”.
1806 First Gentlemen v Players match at Lord’s.
1807 First mention of “straight-armed” (i.e. round-arm) bowling: by John Willes of Kent.
1809 Thomas Lord’s second ground opened at North Bank, St John’s Wood.
1811 First recorded women’s county match: Surrey v Hampshire at Ball’s Pond, London.
1814 Lord’s third ground opened on its present site, also in St John’s Wood.
1827 First Oxford v Cambridge match, at Lord’s. A draw.
1828 MCC authorizes the bowler to raise his hand level with the elbow.
1833 John Nyren publishes his classic Young Cricketer’s Tutor and The Cricketers of My Time.
1836 First North v South match, for many years, regarded as the principal fixture of the season.
1836 (approx) Batting pads invented.
1841 General Lord Hill, commander-in-chief of the British Army, orders that a cricket ground be made an adjunct of every military barracks.
1844 First official international match: Canada v United States.
1845 First match played at The Oval.
1846 The All-England XI, organized by William Clarke, begins playing matches, often against odds, throughout the country.
1849 First Yorkshire v Lancashire match.
1850 Wicket-keeping gloves first used.
– John Wisden bowls all ten batsmen in an innings for North v South.
1853 First mention of a champion county: Nottinghamshire.
1858 First recorded instance of a hat being awarded to a bowler taking three wickets with consecutive balls.
1859 First touring team to leave England, captained by George Parr, draws enthusiastic crowds in the US and Canada.
1864 Overhand bowling authorized by MCC.
– John Wisden’s The Cricketer’s Almanack first published.
1868 Team of Australian aborigines tour England.
1873 WG Grace becomes the first player to record 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a season.
– First regulations restricting county qualifications, often regarded as the official start of the County Championship.
1877 First Test match: Australia beat England by 45 runs in Melbourne.
1880 First Test in England: a five-wicket win against Australia at The Oval.
1882 Following England’s first defeat by Australia in England, an “obituary notice” to English cricket in the Sporting Times leads to the tradition of The Ashes.
1889 South Africa’s first Test match.
1890 County Championship officially constituted.
– Present Lord’s pavilion opened.
1895 WG Grace scores 1,000 runs in May and reaches his 100th hundred.
1899 AEJ Collins scores 628 not out in a junior house match at Clifton College, the highest individual score in any match.
– Selectors choose the England team for home Tests, instead of the host club issuing invitations.
1900 Six-ball over becomes the norm, instead of five.
1909 Imperial Cricket Conference (ICC – now the International Cricket Council) set up, with England, Australia, and South Africa the original members.
1910 Six runs given for any hit over the boundary, instead of only for a hit out of the ground.
1912 First and only triangular Test series played in England, involving England, Australia, and South Africa.
1915 WG Grace dies aged 67.
1926 Victoria score 1,107 v New South Wales at Melbourne, the record total for a first-class innings.
1928 West Indies’ first Test match.
AP “Tich” Freeman of Kent and England becomes the only player to take more than 300 first-class wickets in a season: 304.
1930 New Zealand’s first Test match.
Donald Bradman’s first tour of England: he scores 974 runs in the five Ashes Tests, still a record for any Test series.
1931 Stumps made higher (28 inches not 27) and wider (nine inches not eight – this was optional until 1947).
1932 India’s first Test match.
Hedley Verity of Yorkshire takes ten wickets for ten runs v Nottinghamshire, the best innings analysis in first-class cricket.
1932-33 The Bodyline tour of Australia in which England bowl at batsmen’s bodies with a packed leg-side field to neutralize Bradman’s scoring.
1934 First women’s Test: Australia v England at Brisbane.
1935 MCC condemn and outlaw Bodyline.
1947 Denis Compton of Middlesex and England scores a record 3,816 runs in an English season.
1948 First five-day Tests in England.
1952 Pakistan’s first Test match.
1953 England regain the Ashes after a 19-year gap, the longest ever.
1956 Jim Laker of England takes 19 wickets for 90 v Australia at Manchester, the best match analysis in first-class cricket.
1957 Declarations authorized at any time.
1960 First tied Test, Australia v West Indies at Brisbane.
1963 Distinction between amateur and professional cricketers abolished in English cricket.
– The first major one-day tournament begins in England: the Gillette Cup.
1969 Limited-over Sunday league inaugurated for first-class counties.
1970 Proposed South African tour of England canceled: South Africa excluded from international cricket because of their government’s apartheid policies.
1971 First one-day international: Australia v England at Melbourne.
1975 First World Cup: West Indies beat Australia in the final at Lord’s.
1976 First women’s match at Lord’s, England v Australia.
1977 Centenary Test at Melbourne, with an identical result to the first match: Australia beat England by 45 runs.
– Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer signs 51 of the world’s leading players in defiance of the cricketing authorities.
1978 Graham Yallop of Australia wears a protective helmet to bat in a Test match, the first player to do so.
1979 Packer and official cricket agree to a peace deal.
1980 Eight-ball over abolished in Australia, making the six-ball over universal.