England will become the first country to play in a 1,000 Tests when they kick-off proceedings at Edgbaston, a venue where they’ve never lost to Asian side.
Since they first played competitive cricket 141 years ago, the English Test side has won 357 Tests, lost 297 and drawn 345 – a long-winding cricketing history that has seen them reach the pinnacle of the game as well its bottom rung. In that space of time, 686 men have donned a cap for the country, the most among any Test playing nation.
Australia, with 812 Tests, are a distant second in the list but it only goes to show how England’s love for Test cricket has persisted over the years. West Indies, with 535 Tests, have played the third most number of matches, and India, despite playing their first Test in 1932, come in at 522.
For nearly the first 80 years of the 20th century, England dominated its former colonies. Winning on the island nation remains the ultimate Test cricketing achievement, a feat that is hard to achieve.
England’s dominance largely diminished from the late 1980s and eventually saw a resurgence in the early 2000s, which culminated in the 2005 Ashes triumph. Since then, they’ve played some effective cricket aided by players like Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff and more recently Alastair Cook and Joe Root.
However, the resurgence of the 2000s is slowing beginning to fade. Despite a strong showing against Indian opposition in the recent past, England are losing almost as many matches as they’re winning.
Since their 2011 Ashes series win in Australia, they’ve only had one successful year (2013), where their wins have been more than their losses. But none of this compares to the 1980s to the 1990s where England didn’t stand much of chance against the opposition.
Their opponents on Wednesday are the number one Test side in the world. Over the last 86 years, they’ve clashed 117 Times with England coming out on top 43 occasions. India have knocked England off their perch only 23 times with the remaining matches ending in draws.
Joe Root and his men will take heart from the fact that India have won only six times on English soil. The last of those Test wins came in 2007 at Nottingham. Among the current squads, only Alastair Cook and Dinesh Kartik played in that Test.
Still, a 1,000 Tests is a landmark to be cherished... especially in a world that seems to care only for T20 cricket. Here’s one to old-world charm.