February 17, 2005, Auckland.
Not only the first ever T20 between the two Trans-Tasman neighbours but the first ever men’s international to be played in the format. The first ever T20 international was played between England and New Zealand women’s teams in Hove on 5 August, 2004.
On the format’s international debut for men, Australia won by 44 runs at Eden Park after making 214-5 in their 20 overs.
Captain Ricky Ponting top-scored with an unbeaten 98 off 55 balls with eight fours and five sixes. Michael Kasprowicz then took 4-29 to steer the Australians to victory despite a fighting 66 by Scott Styris.
Ponting recalled a few years back that there was a feeling that it was all a promotional event but his 98* was stroke filled as ever and remained the highest individual score till Chris Gayle’s century in the 2007 World T20.
The debut of the format, however, was not the serious, money-making giant it was to become over the next decade.
Both teams played in retro gear with some players sporting moustaches, beards and hairstyles popular in the 1980s. New Zealand batsman Stephen Fleming’s moustache was described as a “fat slug”.
“There’s obviously still a lot of work to do in terms of the marketing and where it fits into international cricket, but certainly from a players’ point of view it’s exciting to play,” Fleming said of the new format.
“You get a stage with 30,000 people you’re not going to turn that away, so hopefully it’s here to stay.”
It was part-cricket, part-drama so much so that ESPNCricinfo did a feature on things that actually happened and those that did not and you’d be hard-pressed to say what was real and what was fantasy. The website reads, “back when the first-ever men’s T20 international was played between New Zealand and Australia in February 2005, the game was a gimmick-filled half-serious spectacle, with the actual cricket little more than a sidelight.”
So much so that, when 45 runs were needed off the last ball, Glenn McGrath recreated the infamous underarm incident only to be shown a red card by Billy Bowden in his signature theatrical style.
“This was the first-ever Twenty20 international, and a fun event. We were wearing fake mustaches and hair, - except for Hamish Marshall, whose frizzy hair was real,” Craig McMillan recalled to ESPNCricinfo.
“With the match all but won, Glenn McGrath revisited the history of underarm bowling between Australia and New Zealand. When he ran in to bowl the last ball, he shaped to bowl underarm, but held on to the ball. Look at Billy Bowden in the background. His reaction was special. He actually produced a red card and showed it to McGrath, soccer style.”
Highlights of the match below:
With AFP Inputs
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