January 5, 1971: When ODI cricket was born

The first ODI was played on January 5, 1971 when the third Test between Australia and England was washed out in Melbourne.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021, marks the 50th anniversary of One Day International cricket. It was on this day 50 years ago excessive rain led to the first international limited-overs cricket match to be played. An attendance of 46,000 was recorded at the MCG, a sign of the popularity this format would gain in the coming decades.

On January 5, 1971, the first ever ODI was played when the third Test between Australia and England was washed out in Melbourne.

The first top level one-day competition introduced in domestic English cricket was the Gilette Cup in 1963 but it was only eight years later that rain led to administrators trying out the format on the international arena.

The Australian cricket board decided to host a 40-over one-day international in Melbourne when the first three days of the third Test between the two countries got washed out at the MCG due to excessive rain. Eager to give fans some cricketing action, Australian captain Bill Lawry won the toss and elected to field first against Ray Illingworth’s team. Australia won the game by 5 wickets.

England kept losing wickets at regular intervals, but opening batsman John Edrich stuck in and got a score of 82 from 119 balls. Spinners Ashley Mallett and Keith Stackpole were the pick of the bowlers for the home side with figures of 3/34 and 3/40 respectively. Fast bowler Graham McKenzie was the next best bowler with figures of 2/22.

Australia lost two early wickets before Ian Chappell (60*) and Doug Walters (41*) shared a partnership of 66 runs, which helped the team chase down the total in 35 overs with five wickets in hand.

Skipper Illingworth was England’s best bowler with figures of 3/50. Fast bowlers Ken Shuttleworth and Basil D’Oliveira picked up the other two wickets.

To the board’s surprise, 46,000 people turned up in the stadium to watch the match. It was then that the board realised that the one-day international format could be a big hit.

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