First T20 International cricket match was played on this day fourteen years ago between Australia and New Zealand. A match with many moments scripted perfected beginning of the world of T20I.
Today is the day of the final in the Big Bash League. The Bangladesh Premier league just got over last week. The Pakistan Super League has just started and IPL is just around the corner. The global T20 leagues are in thing now and every year different countries are coming up with their version of Franchise based T20 leagues. Although the concept of T20 was originated in the England County cricket, to become a globally popular game it needed global present and participation of international teams.
First T20 International
On 17th February 2005, Eden Park in Auckland witnessed the first T20 International cricket match between the Tasman neighbors Australia and New Zealand. Ricky Ponting and Stephen Fleming went for the toss and Ponting decided to bat after winning the toss.
It was quite a strong Australian team although Shane Warne was not playing. For New Zealand, most of the hopes were on Brendon McCullum and Chris Cairns. There was a mood of excitement and festivity in the ground to honour the first international T20. Interestingly the New Zealand players also went with it. They were dressed in their retro beige jerseys with few players in a fake mustache, wig and 70’s style headbands.
A Thrilling T20I Match
Australia did not have a good start. Adam Gilchrist and Michael Clarke both were gone in single-digit scores. Symonds and Ponting added 25 runs in the next 13 balls. However, Kyle Mills got Symonds and Damien Martyn in consecutive overs and Australia were on a little spot of bother with the score on 54 for 4. By that time, Ponting was set and started playing sublime cricket full of wonderful shots around the wicket. He added 83 runs with Simon Katich and 77 runs with Michael Hussy, who himself blasted 31 of 15 balls. Ponting finished unbeaten on 98 of just 55 balls. He hit 8 fours and 5 sixes and were the key reason for setting 215 as a target for New Zealand.
For New Zealand, Captain Fleming and McCullum started strongly and maintained a run rate close to 10 in the first five over. But the introduction of Michael Kasprowicz changed the game on its head. Kasprowicz got Fleming and Matthew Sinclair in his first two deliveries in International T20 which remained a record till date. He displayed wonderful swing bowling for Australia and got both the big wickets of McCullum and Cairns. Scott Styris fought hard and added 40 runs with the Double-international Jeff Wilson, who also played 60 Rugby tests for All Blacks. But New Zealand were never closed to the target and ended up requiring 45 runs in the last ball.
Red Card in the First Match
Glenn McGrath then showed his funny side and attempted to ball underarm, referring to the infamous incident in 1981. He was promptly shown a red card by the umpire, Billy Bowden. However, he bowled the final ball in his normal action and got the final New Zealand wicket. This way the match ended in a lighter mood and both players and spectators enjoyed the evening. Ponting and the Australian team did not take this format very seriously and despite the focus now, Australia still have not won the Men’s ICC T20 world cup.
Most of the early T20 Internationals were played in a similar mood. In the first T20I on Australian soil, all the Australian players had their nicknames mentioned in the back of their jersey and Gilchrist even talked to commentators while keeping for Australia. However, the first T20 World cup took place in South Africa two years later and an unexpected Indian win resulted in this version getting noticed in the game’s biggest market. The rest as they said is history.
Also Read: On This Day – 16th Feb