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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

140th anniversary of Test Cricket - Alfred Shaw to Charles Bannerman

While the Pune pitch spun prodigiously from ball one, the second Test pitch in Bengaluru also spun fiercely and featured dramatic cracks that caused deliveries to shoot low and rear up off a length.  Though this is what Australian Press has been writing about, that  pitch at M Chinnaswamy Stadium was reportedly rated as ‘very good’ by Broad in the Indian press. The series has been  dominated by spin bowling,  with some good performance by pacers too.

The scene now shifts to Ranchi for the 3rd test of the Series.  Ranchi is the capital of the Indian state of Jharkhand, and now it is the most populous city of the state. Ranchi was the centre of the Jharkhand movement, which called for a separate state for the tribal regions of South Bihar, northern Orissa, western West Bengal and the eastern area of what is present-day Chhattisgarh. The Jharkhand state was formed on 15 November 2000 by carving out the Bihar divisions of Chota Nagpur and Santhal Parganas. The name Ranchi is derived from the previous name of the Oraon village at the same site, Archi. "Archi" derives from the Oraon word for bamboo grove. Ranchi has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under PM Narendra Modi's flagship Smart Cities Mission. Ranchi is best known for being the hometown of the legendary cricketer MS Dhoni.

Jharkhand (lit. "Bushland") shares its border with the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh,  Odisha  and West Bengal.    After Ranchi,  Jamshedpur is the largest industrial city in the state, while Dhanbad and Bokaro Steel City are the second and fourth most populous cities respectively. Jharkhand accounts for 40% of the mineral resources of India.  The match is to be played at Jharkhand States Cricket Association International Cricket Stadium which also served as home for Chennai Super Kings. The JSCA's decision to build a new cricket stadium in Ranchi stemmed from a dispute with Tata Steel, regarding allocations of international matches and conducting matches in Keenan Stadium.

On this day, 140 years ago, 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.    Charles Bannerman, 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.

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. It was timeless test and 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. 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.

The first officially-recognized test cricket match took place 140 years ago today on 15,16,17 & 19 of March 1877. It was a contest between the established English side and the newly-formed Australian team. Today’s Doodle hits the deck with a lighthearted rendering that captures the spirit of sportsmanship and the inaugural test match. Mustachioed and musclebound, the batsmen, bowlers and opposition fielders spring into action, never losing sight of the red ball. The rivalry between the English and Australian teams, forged on the field, endures to this day.

Miles away, Windies Test legend and his 20-year-old son record unique feat after making 50s in same first-class match. Shivnarine Chanderpaul made a habit of trailblazing during a two-decade long international career and the West Indies legend has made history once again in a regional Caribbean first-class match this week.  In a four-day game for his native Guyana against Jamaica, the 42-year-old brought up his 136th first-class half-century only hours after his 20-year-old son Tagenarine had also reached 50 on day two of the clash at Sabina Park. It's the first time a father-son duo have notched half-centuries in the same first-class match since George Gunn and his son George Vernon made struck tons in a match for Nottinghamshire in 1931. Since making his first-class debut in 2013 with his father’s Test career still in full flow, Tagenarine Chanderpaul has played five matches (including the ongoing one, which still has a day to go) alongside his dad, but it’s the first occasion where both have made telling contributions in the same game.

Cricket is always interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

15th Mar 2017

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