Cricket Rivalries: History and the role it plays on the game

Cricket Rivalries: History and the role it plays on the game

Cricket is considered the gentleman’s game. The game played by the British, was conducted in a typical English mannerism. When the game grew to different countries, the way the game played also changed. The intensity and the competitiveness of the game improved with more and more teams playing the game and helped the spread and popularity of the game. This article will explore cricket rivalries which added to the romance of the sport.

Cricket Rivalries History and the role it plays on the game

Presented by Raghunath Nair

Date: 03/07/2023


Cricket rivalries have a rich history and play a significant role in the game. The history of cricket rivalries spans across formats, as teams that may not excel in one format can be ultra-competitive in another. Cricket has always been a very competitive game and when two teams who match equally play the game, competitive sparks are bound to fly and this makes the game even more brilliant to watch. Rivalries differ from format to format of the game. Teams who may not be strong in the longer format of the game, may be ultra-competitive in the shortest version of the game and vice versa.

While Rivalries are built over a period of time, it may not be restricted only on the cricket field. Sometimes Rivalries exist due to geo political reasons too.

Rivalries between teams may also help in building a loyal fan base who share an equal sentiment.

Rivalries may also not necessarily be between countries, it could be between counties (England), cities, club teams in franchise sport etc. With the opening up of franchise sport, fans are split within families who support and follow teams they like which makes watching of the game together even more fun with healthy competition (in most occasion).

Most Rivalries are intense and the game runs on a knives edge and even a small stimulus can cause reactions within the game.

History of Cricket Rivalries 

England vs Australia

England vs Australia

England during their rule, between 1788 and 1868 used Australia to send their prisoners/ convicts as punishment for crimes committed in Britan and Ireland. More than 162,000 convicts were transported to Australia. This was one of the triggers which made these two countries become highly competitive against each other especially in sports

England and Australian Cricket were always very competitive and when a satirical was written after England had their first ever defeat on home soil at the Oval in 1882, gave birth to the biggest Test rivalry – “The Ashes”

England and Australia have been at each other and both teams played against each other at a level higher which made the Ashes, the greatest rivalry of cricket.

England vs Australia 2

When bodyline was introduced to tame the Australian batsman and especially the world’s best Sir Don Bradman, the English captain, Douglas Jardin was the most hated man in Australia. Rules were changed post the series on the bodyline tactics. But relations between the two countries became very uncomfortable. The Australian Fans also played their role in ruffling the feathers which made the rivalry so intense that it nearly created political tensions between the two countries and fearing an economic backclash, the then Australian Prime Minister had to apologies for the same.

The Australians never forgot the bodyline series loss and came back strongly 40 years to England shores with their “two lethal weapons”- Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson bruising and breaking bones and spirit of the English batsmen.

Over the years the Rivalry has become much more dignified but the celebrations after a series win in the Ashes is a national event in both countries.

Cricket Rivalries

Rivalries helped both the countries unearth some of the best cricketers like Ian Botham, Shane Warne, Glen MacGrath, Kevin Peterson, Freddy Flintoff and more who always gave that extra during the Ashes.

Ashes Series along with the Border Gavaskar Trophy are the two most watched Test Series in the world.

West Indies vs Australia / England

West Indies vs Australia England

West indies during the period had intense rivalry between both the Australian and the English side.

The West Indies were the first team to completely desecrate the dominance of Australian Cricket in Test Match Cricket

After their 1-5 defeat against Australia in the 1975-76 series, a hurt Clive Llyod and West Indies management rebuild their squad and infused fast bowlers into the team and made them a ruthless team who dominated the cricket world till the early 80s.

West indies during the period had intense rivalry between both the Australian and the English side.

The West Indies team went on to be victorious in the following seven series against Australia which included 3 series wins in Australian soil.

War of words were vert common with the English Players too. The most famous comment was from the then England Captain, Tony Grieg who at the start of the 1976 series said “You must remember that the West Indians, these guys, if they get on top are magnificent cricketers. But if they’re down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closey and a few others, to make them grovel”.

Llyod and his team did not react to the comment but that triggered them to play their best cricket to beat England with a 3-0 whitewash leaving the entire England team embarrassed.

Australia vs South Africa

Australia vs South Africa

South Africa, a team filled with talented cricketers unfortunately were banned from competitive cricket for a long time due to political reasons but their rivalry against Australia was also intense. All teams wanted to beat Australia who dominated the cricket world in the early 2000s.

The South African team were the first team to beat the Australians at home in 16 years in 2008- 09.

On the return test series when Australia travelled to South Africa, the proteas did manage to draw the test series in 2011.

India vs Pakistan

India vs Pakistan

While historically Australia and England are the oldest rivals, there can not be a more intense rivalry than the India and Pakistan one. While historical both countries have fought 3 wars, cricket continued to be played between the two neighbouring countries. Currently, these two arch rivals meet only in ICC events and Asia cups while bilateral series have become a thing of the past.

Unlike England- Australia rivalry is only in Test, the subcontinent rivalry is consistent for all the three formats and played with lots of emotions. Both teams donot like to loss against each other and India has never lost against Pakistan in worldcup One Internationals, losing only twice in T20 ICC event.

The Last ball six by Javed Miandad off Chetan Sharma in the last ball of the Sharjah Finals have to be one of the iconic movements of this rivalry.

The sending off of Amir Sohail by Venkatesh Prasad in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinals after the Pakistan opener aggressively pointed towards the boundary after a four was hit the previous ball of the over

India defending 125 runs in the Rothmans Cup, Sharjah when a spirited Indian bowling attack took all ten wickets for just 87 runs.

Anil Kumble taking all 10 wickets in an inning becoming only the second bowler in history then to accomplish this task

The rivalry between the two sides are still as intense as it was two decades ago and the world awaits the upcoming World Cup when the two arch Rivals will meet again late this year.

An India Pakistan match is the most watched in Cricket history and this prompts the ICC to pool in the arch Rivals in the same group to kick start any ICC event.

Australia vs India

Australia and India Test Series probably is right up there with the ashes and both teams have given some mouthwatering test matches. From Tied Test match to winning a test after being told to follow on are some of the moments in the rich history of the Australia- India Rivalry.

Both countries have struggled to win Test series on each other’s soil but recently India did the unimaginable by beating Australia in Australia. Australia also won the 2004 India series.

Australia vs India

In Test, Australia have a superior record overall against India.  In the Limited overs, Australia have been the dominating team and have an excellent world cup record against India.

India has now been one of the dominating cricket team in all formats along with Australia and any contest between the two sides bring in lot of excitement.

Australia vs New Zealand

Australia vs New Zealand

The Rivalry of the two neighbours, Australia and New Zealand has been always very competitive but the rivalry is very healthy and is not a bitter one like the India- Pakistan rivalry.

Both teams hate to loss against each other and in their history of clashes, Australia has an upper hand. Nevertheless, New Zealand punches above their weight when they meet Australia which has given lot of memorable matches between the two teams

Australia vs New Zealand2

Australia enjoys greater success and have been successful at home and in NewZealand where the pitch and conditions are drastically different from Australian conditions.

In the recent times, NewZealand have become a team to beat as they won the inaugural world test championship and have been consistent in the top 4 in all global events.

Pakistan vs Afghanistan

Pakistan vs Afghanistan

While this rivalry is in its early stage, due to socio Political reasons and tension between these two neighbours is for everyone to see and cricket is nothing short of a war. While Afghanistan is the newer team in the cricketing circle, the country prefers the shorter format of the game. Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan has been the No 1 bowler in T20. While Pakistan has been currently on the winning side in most encounters, Afghanistan also punches above their weight in this clash and makes the game as competitive as it can be.

Only Time will tell, but Super sports team opines that this is one clash fans would eagerly wait and see how it unfolds in the future.

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