Cricket tours are fairly unique to the sport of cricket and are steeped in history. They have also lasted as long as the game itself, and have been used to help spread cricket to countries all over the world.
In this guide we will take a closer look at the history of cricket tours, while also looking at the reasons they are still used and highlighting some of the very best ones in history.
A cricket tour is when a team, typically a national team, jumps on a plane and spends a few weeks playing cricket in another country. The goal is usually to play one major national team over the course of several days, but they may also tour nearby countries and play nearby teams, second elevens, and even domestic teams.
These tours are not unique to cricket. You can find them in other sports as well and there have been some very famous ones. Ask any England soccer fan above the age of 60 what their earliest memories are and they’ll tell you about the time that the great Hungarian team came over and demolished England. Do the same with rugby fans and they’ll point to The British Lions tour.
The reason tours tend to be more closely associated with cricket is because cricket games are played over the course of many days and even weeks, which means a tour is a prolonged and intensive experience, as opposed to something that takes place over the course of a single 90 minute session.
Tours are also rooted in the history of this sport and are the main reason it became so popular in so many countries.
The very first cricket tour by a national team was in 1859, when an England squad toured North America. This is something that they had planned to do on a regular basis, but by the time they planned the next one the American Civil War had broken out, and cricket was the last thing on the minds of the people. This forced the England team to take their equipment to Australia instead.
In those days, Australia looked decidedly different, as did Aussie cricket. In fact, most of the games that England played were against teams with more players than they had. They found themselves going up against vastly inexperienced players, some of which had never played before, so they allowed their opponents to field more men. In one match the England 11 played against a field of 18 players!
This tour was repeated two years later, by which time the Aussies were able to field better players and match England’s 11 with their own 11. This was really the first time that Australia began to field a competitive team, and is often seen as the year in which Aussie cricket truly developed.
This would lead Australia to play their first official test just over a decade later against England in what is considered the first official test match.
Most national teams have tours now. It helps them to spread their reputation far afield and also gives the players plenty of experience. More importantly, it helps to build their rankings with official bodies, and allows them to gain a better understanding of the skill of their rivals.
The biggest and best tours are the ones undertaken by the biggest and best teams. England’s tours of Australia are some of the most popular, as they mirror the very first tours taken by England over 150 years ago. England’s tours of India also generate a lot of interest, as do many tours that take place in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
The West Indies also generate a lot of interest when they tour, as they have fielded some of the most exciting players of recent generations and always put on a good show.