One of the oldest International cricket teams, Australia have also consistently ranked as one of the best. They hold the record for the most ICC World Cup titles and they have also been ranked as the world number 2 on several occasions. There have been many brilliant Australian teams throughout their extensive history, made up of some of the best players to ever play the game.
The first ever Test match was between England and Australia, and it was staged in Melbourne in 1877. During this historic game Aussie batsman Charles Bannerman became the first player to score a Test century, helping Australia to victory. For a number of years, England and Australia remained the only two Test nations, and the huge distances between the two, and the limited methods of travel at the time, meant that Test matches were few and far between.
Australia were much better than England back then, but they were not dominant. Still, for a country of its size, this was still unexpected. Although Australia would go on to win three successive World Cups in later decades, the golden age of Australian cricket is usually referred to as the two decade or so period that began towards the end of the 19th century. This was when its first superstars of the game took to the field, with notable victories in tours against England, South Africa and others. During this time there were no major international competitions and internationals were played in Test matches and tours, but for some time Australia were unstoppable.
The earliest stars from the golden age of Aussie cricket included Joe Darling, Reggie Duff, Bill Howell, George Giffen, Harry Trott and more. Victory Trumper was perhaps the biggest name of this period, and he became one of the first players to gain celebrity status because of his performances on the field. Unfortunately, Trumper suffered from a kidney disease which caused his untimely end, with the entire nation mourning his demise.
Don Bradman, who played in-between the First and Second World Wars, was another legendary figure in the game, scoring close to 1,000 runs in a single series against England. In fact, the team that he played in, one that also contained Archie Jackson, was said to be as unstoppable, if not more so, than the team that had played a few decades earlier.
In the modern era, Ricky Ponting has notched a large number of records and is considered to be one of the best players to take to the field in recent decades. He became the first player to make more than 10,000 runs in ODIs, and at the last count his run total was actually over 13,000. He also has the most half-centuries and centuries.
Other big players throughout the country’s history have included Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Shane Watson and Adam Gilchrist.
Australia are the most successful team in the ICC World Cup and always seem to show-up on the game’s biggest stage. In the first ever World Cup they made it through to the final, only to be beaten by the West Indies. The Windies had actually beaten Australia in the group stage as well, and the boys from Down Under were simply no match for this in-form team.
Despite falling at the final hurdle, this performance would be Australia’s best for 14 years, as they didn’t make it passed the group stage in either the 1979 or the 1983 World Cups. They got back to winning ways in 1987 though, and after claiming their first victory, they repeated their success in 1999, before winning three consecutive titles. This was a period of global dominance for Australia, but despite being crowned champions of the world for what was effectively more than a decade, they were not the unstoppable force that the record books would have you believe. One of the strangest blips on their record is their performance at the 1992 World Cup. They had won the previous tournament and of the 6 tournaments played from 1999 to 2015 they would win four and finish second in another 1. Yet, the 1992 competition was actually held in their own country, an advantage they clearly didn’t take use as they made an early exit.
They didn’t make it beyond the first round of the 2009 Twenty20 and also lost some major Test games, including their famous defeat to England in the 2005 Ashes. Still, on the biggest stage they always showed up and in both 2006 and 2009 they also won the ICC Champions Trophy. They suffered another World Cup blip in 2011 when they didn’t make it beyond the quarter-finals, but they returned to form in 2015 when they were declared champions for the fifth time.