20th Century Cricket

Only England, Australia, and South Africa were members of the Imperial Cricket Conference (as it was originally known) when it was founded in 1909. However, before the Second World War, the West Indies (1928), New Zealand (1930), and India (1932) all became Test countries, followed by Pakistan (1952). With the introduction of Test Cricket, the popularity of cricket in these countries skyrocketed, and domestic competitions gradually became more formalised, with the West Indies establishing an island-based First-Class competition, New Zealand retaining the Plunkett Shield, which dates back to 1906, India introducing the Ranji trophy in 1934, and Pakistan establishing the Quaid-e-Azam trophy in 1953.

Women’s cricket made its first big international strides at the beginning of the twentieth century, with England and Australia playing the first ever Test Match in 1934. The International Women’s Cricket Council (now amalgamated with the ICC) was established in 1958 to further promote the women’s game, and the first Cricket World Cup of any type was held in 1973. England hosted the Women’s World Cup and went on to win the inaugural trophy, led by captain Rachel Heyhoe-Flint.

Following a wartime boom, sluggish play and fewer run totals typified the 1950s, and the defensive style of county cricket contributed to a gradual decline in attendance. In response, English county teams began playing a form of cricket in 1963, with games consisting of only one innings and a maximum number of overs each innings. As limited-overs cricket developed in popularity, a national league was formed in 1969, resulting in a drop in the number of matches in the County Championship.

South Africa was excluded from international cricket competition indefinitely due to apartheid in 1970, and as a result, deprived of top-level competition, the South African Cricket Board began supporting so-called “rebel tours”, in which foreign players formed teams and toured South Africa. The rebel tours lasted throughout the 1980s, but with the end of apartheid in sight, South Africa was welcomed back into international sport in 1991. South Africa competed in the 1992 World Cup, followed by a ‘return’ Test match against the West Indies in Barbados in April.

The inaugural limited-over international match was played at Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1971 as a filler after a Test match was called off due to severe weather on the first two days. The International Cricket Conference (as it was known at the time) responded to this trend by hosting the inaugural Men’s Cricket World Cup in England in 1975, which included all of the Test-playing nations at the time, with the West Indies triumphing in the final at Lord’s.

Kerry Packer signed some of the world’s greatest players to a privately managed cricket league outside the system of international cricket in 1977. World Series Cricket hired some of the banned South African players and gave them the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities in an international setting against other world-class players. This only lasted two years, but the long-term effects of World Series Cricket include much greater player wages and novelties like coloured uniform and night games. Many of these ideas quickly made their way to international cricket.

Because the initial World Cup was such a success, it was agreed that it would become a permanent fixture on the calendar with future Cricket World Cups. World Cups were hosted in England in 1979 and 1983 before moving to India and Pakistan in 1987, which was the final event to be played with a red ball and white apparel. Floodlights, coloured apparel, and a white ball were used for the first time in 1992, ushering in a new era of World Cup Cricket.

For the first time in a Test series between South Africa and India in 1992, a third umpire was used to evaluate run-out claims using television replays. The third umpire’s responsibilities have now grown to encompass judgements on other parts of play such as stumpings, catches, and boundaries.
With numerous ICC Associate and Affiliate Members being active in increasing domestic competitions and later on the international stage, the international game continues to flourish. And three of those countries became Test nations in the last years of the twentieth century: Sri Lanka (1982), Zimbabwe (1992), and Bangladesh (2000).

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