On 11 and 12 February 1851, teams from
Van Diemen's Land (now
Port Phillip District (now
Victoria) played the first cricket match between two Australian colonies, recognised in later years as the initial
first-class cricket match in Australia. It took place at the Launceston Racecourse, known now as the
NTCA Ground, in Tasmania. The match was incorporated into celebrations marking the separation of the Port Phillip District from New South Wales in 1851 as the colony of Victoria.
The team representing Port Phillip, generally named "Victoria" in the press, was drawn from the
Melbourne Cricket Club. The Van Diemen's Land team, designated "Tasmania" in newspapers, consisted of players from both
Hobart. The visiting team was expected to have an advantage through the use of fast
overarm bowling. Cricket in Victoria was also considerably more advanced than in Tasmania, whose bowlers operated
underarm. The match, intended to be played to a finish with no limits on time, took place on a pitch that made batting difficult. As was usual practice at the time,
overs comprised four
deliveries and there was no set
John Marshall was the
captain of the Van Diemen's Land team and
William Philpott led the Port Phillip team, which batted first. The Victorian team found the home bowling difficult to face, on account of its unusually slow pace; in their first innings, they scored 82. Van Diemen's Land replied with 104, assisted by a large number of
. The batsmen coped better than expected with the overarm bowling, although
Thomas Antill took three wickets in four balls in returning figures of seven wickets for 33 runs. Batting again, the Victorian team scored 57, leaving the Tasmanian team needing 36 to win. When the first day's play ended due to
bad light, Van Diemen's Land had scored 15 runs and lost six wickets. The next morning, the home team scored the required runs for the loss of one more wicket, recording
a three-wicket victory.
[notes 1] The match, which had been keenly anticipated, was a great attraction and was followed closely in the press in Melbourne. Additionally, there were many social events for the visiting team.
Following this match,
intercolonial cricket became increasingly widespread; cricket in Australia became more popular and was given a boost when teams of English cricketers began to tour the country, leading to a rapid increase in the playing skill of Australian cricketers.