England vs Australia: Almost 50 years since their maiden contest, ODI cricket’s oldest rivals set to join elite list
England and Australia are international cricket’s oldest rivals. These two teams played the first ever Test match in 1877 in Melbourne and are part of a traditional rivalry in cricket’s oldest format called ‘The Ashes’. Interestingly, when the sport decided to test uncharted waters by playing the first ever limited overs match, which has since come to be known as one-day internationals, these were the two countries involved again.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground was the scene of the first ever ODI, which was played between England and Australia on January 5, 1971. A little less than half a century later, these two teams will play against each other in an ODI for the 150th time.
This will make this rivalry only the third such to have contested 150 or more matches. Asian powerhouses India and Sri Lanka top the list with 159 encounters, while Pakistan and Sri Lanka have battled it out on 155 occasions. England and Australia take part in a three-match ODI series at Manchester from Friday and after the series would have played 152 matches.
Australia occupy the fourth and fifth slot in the list too, having played 140 ODI matches against India and the West Indies.
Australia are the most successful team in the format, courtesy their world beating sides of the late 90s and the first decade of the 2000s, when an all-star team dominated the ODI landscape under the leaderships of Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. They have won the ICC World Cup a record five times.
India and West Indies have won the global event twice each. India and current world champions England are arguably the biggest powerhouses in ODIs currently but Aaron Finch’s Australia would want to show that the men from down under are not to be taken lightly when they play the upcoming series.