Tests take fresh guard at 2,000 not out

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A five-day contest where often neither side wins, Test cricket may seem out of touch with 21st Century life yet next week’s series opener between England and India at Lord’s will mark its 2,000th match.
And with a sell-out crowd expected at the ‘home of cricket’, where India great Sachin Tendulkar could become the first player to score a hundred international hundreds it seems there is life in the old dog yet. Certainly no-one designing a sporting format today would come up with anything like Test cricket.
Yet its sheer length, and associated unrivalled capacity for changes of fortune — this month marks the 30th anniversary of England’s remarkable win, following on, against Australia at Headingley — means it can create more truly memorable moments than one-day and Twenty20 formats. Starting with a match between Australia and England at Melbourne in 1877, it took a while for Test cricket to be regarded as more important than the old rivals’ own first-class matches and, South Africa apart, its global appeal in those early years was strictly limited.
Landmarks in Test history ahead of the 2,000th Test, between England and India:
1877: Australia and England play what is later
recognised as the first Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Charles Bannerman scores the first Test
hundred in a match Australia win by 45 runs.
1920/21: Australia inflict a 5-0 Ashes thrashing on
England — the first whitewash in a five-match series.
1938: England’s Len Hutton scores a record-breaking 364 out of a total of 903 as Australia are hammered by an innings and 579 runs, still a record margin.
1948: Bradman leads Australia on a 4-0 unbeaten Ashes.
Bradman, needing four in his last Test innings for an average of 100, is bowled for nought and has to settle for 99.94.
1955: New Zealand bowled out for 26, the lowest Test total, by England in Auckland.
1956: England off-spinner Jim Laker becomes the first bowler to take all 10 wickets in a Test innings, against Australia at Old Trafford.
1958: West Indies all-rounder Garry Sobers breaks
Hutton’s record with 365 against Pakistan in Jamaica.
1960: Australia and West Indies produce the first tie in Test history, in Brisbane.
1964: Fred Trueman become the first bowler to take 300 Test wickets, against Australia at The Oval.
1970: South Africa begin their apartheid-enforced Test exile.
1977: Australia beat England by 45 runs in the
Centenary Test in Melbourne.
1986: India and Australia play out the second tied Test, in Madras, when Maninder Singh is lbw in the last over to off-spinner Greg Matthews.
1990: New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee becomes the first bowler to take 400 Test wickets.
1992: SA return to Test cricket, losing to the West Indies.
1994: Brian Lara breaks Sobers’s record with 375 against England in Antigua.
1997: Sri Lanka pile up 952 for six against India in Colombo — the highest Test total of all-time.
2004: Lara makes the first quadruple century in Tests, against England in Antigua, to regain the world record he’d lost to Australia’s Matthew Hayden.
2006: Pakistan become the first side in history to
forfeit a Test when, after being penalised five runs for alleged ball-tampering by Australian umpire Darrell Hair, they refuse to take the field against England after tea on the fourth day at The Oval.
2010: Muralitharan becomes the first bowler to take 800 Test wickets in Tests, against India.
2010: Pakistan captain Salman, Aamir and Asif are all prepared to deliberately bowl no-balls in a Test against England at Lord’s as part of a spot-fixing scam. The trio are all eventually banned by the ICC.
2010: India’s Sachin Tendulkar scores a record 50th Test century, against South Africa in Centurion.
As Test cricket prepares for its 2,000th
fixture, between England and India at Lord’s, AFP Sport looks back at some of
its greatest matches:
1877: The first Test match sees Australia beat England by 45 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with Charles Bannerman scoring the first Test century.
1882: Australia beat England by seven runs at The Oval, with Fred Spofforth taking 14 wickets.
The Sporting Times publishes a mock obituary of English cricket stating the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The Ashes are born.
1948: Australia, set 404 to win in a day, beat England by seven wickets at Headingley with Arthur Morris making 182 and Don Bradman 173 not out.
‘The Invincibles’ go on to win the series 4-0.
1960: With many pundits fearing for Test
cricket’s future, Australia and the West Indies
play out a thrilling tie in Brisbane secured by
West Indies fielder Joe Solomon’s brilliant direct
hit run-out of Ian Meckiff.
1973: In a match disrupted by a bomb scare,
37-year-old Garry Sobers — arguably cricket’s
greatest all-rounder — scores 150 not out as West
Indies hammer England by an innings and 226 runs.
1977: The Centenary Test, remarkably, produces
exactly the same result as the first, with Australia beating England by 45 runs in Melbourne.
Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee takes 11 wickets in a match that features a breath-taking 174 from England’s Derek Randall.
1981: “One of the most fantastic victories ever known in Test cricket history,” according to former Australia captain Richie Benaud, commentating for BBC television, sees England, who had been made to follow on, beat Australia by 18 runs at Headingley.
When Ian Botham comes out to bat in England’s
second innings, they are five wickets down and still 122 runs behind. Yet he makes a thrilling 149 and, with Australia set just 130 to win, fast bowler Bob Willis takes eight for 43.
1984: West Indies, in the midst of their domination
of Test cricket, win 5-0 in England.
For all the talk about their formidable fast bowling
attack, they have some fine batsmen too, with opener Gordon Greenidge making an unbeaten
214 at Lord’s as they chase down 342 in five and a half hours to win by nine wickets.
2001: India, following on, are all but down and
out against Australia in Kolkata in 2001 until VVS Laxman, produces one of the great all-time innings to make 281 and share a superb stand of 376 with Rahul Dravid, whose 180 is a hugely impressive
effort in its own right.