Cricket is one of the most popular sports in Australia at international, domestic and local levels. The peak administrative body for both professional and amateur cricket is Cricket Australia.
The 2017-18 National Cricket Census showed 1,558,821 Australians engaged in cricket competitions or programs - an increase of 9% from the previous year. 30% of cricket’s participants are now female, and 6 in every 10 new participants are female, one of the highest year-on-year participation growth figures. In terms of attendance figures, more than 2.3 million people attended cricket during the 2017-18 summer, surpassing the record of 1.8 million set in 2016-17.
Cricket has been played in Australia for over 210 years. The first recorded cricket match in Australia took place in Sydney in December 1803 and a report in the Sydney Gazette on 8 January 1804 suggested that cricket was already well established in the infant colony.
Intercolonial cricket in Australia started with a visit by cricketers from Victoria to Tasmania in February 1851. The match was played in Launceston on 11–12 February with Tasmania winning by 3 wickets.
The first tour by an English team to Australia was in 1861–62, organised by the catering firm of Spiers and Pond as a private enterprise. A further tour followed in 1863–64, led by George Parr and was even more successful than the last.
In 1868, a team consisting of Aboriginal cricketers became the first Australian team to tour England. The team played 47 matches, winning 14, drawing 19 and losing 14. The heavy workload and inclement weather took its toll with King Cole contracting a fatal case of tuberculosis during the tour.
Further tours by English teams took place in 1873–74 (featuring the most notable cricketer of the age W. G. Grace) and 1876–77. The 1876–77 season was notable for a match between a combined XI from New South Wales and Victoria and the touring Englishmen at the Melbourne Cricket Ground played on 15–19 March. This match, later to be recognised as the first Test match, was won by Australia by 45 runs thanks mainly to an unbeaten 165 by Charles Bannerman. The result of this match was seen by Australians and Englishmen as a reflection of the rising standard of Australian cricket.
The most successful leg-spinbowler in the history of the game, Shane Warne, made his debut in 1991–92 in the third Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He had an undistinguished Test debut, taking 1/150 off 45 overs, and recording figures of 1/228 in his first Test series.
From this modest beginning, Warne dominated Australian cricket for 15 years, taking 708 wickets at an average of 25.41. When the fast medium bowler, Glenn McGrath was first selected in the Australian team for the Perth test against New Zealand in 1993–94, the core of a highly successful bowling attack was formed. In 1994–95, under new captain Taylor, the Australians defeated the then dominant West Indies in the Caribbean to recover the Frank Worrell Trophy for the first time since 1978 and staked a claim to be considered the best team in the world
The Australian national team is one of the most successful teams in international cricket. Along with England, Australia was recognised as one of the founder nations of the Imperial Cricket Conference, later the International Cricket Council. Australia generally plays a test series against a visiting team, and a one-day series between two other teams at home each summer, and tours overseas for the remainder of the year
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