South Africa Table Mountain

Cricket South Africa, a brief history overview

Like many other sports, the game of Cricket has a long history dating back as far as the 17th century, with its origins in England. Cricket was introduced to South Africa by the British during the Cape colonial period which was from 1814 to 1910.

Domestic first class cricket matches started off at the end of 1889, when the first Currie Cup competition took place, which was won by Transvaal who defeated Kimberley.


Earlier in that same year the first international test match had been played between South Africa and England at St George’s Park Cricket Ground in Port Elizabeth.

Learn more about the South African cricket team, the Proteas.

A cricket match at Darnall, Sheffield in the 1820s - Cricket South Africa
A cricket match at Darnall, Sheffield in the 1820s
Cricket South Africa

It was a two match test series with the second match taking place in Cape Town. Both tests were won by England with a comfortable margin. The 1889-1990 season is regarded as the start of cricket in South Africa at both test and first class domestic level.

The Currie Cup became the established national championship. It was named after Sir Donald Currie who donated the Trophy like he did with Rugby. In South Africa we used to have two domestic Currie Cup competitions, the Cricket Currie cup and the Rugby Union Currie Cup, each one with its own Currie Cup trophy.

Cricket test match between Australia and South Africa, December 2008 - Cricket South Africa
Cricket test match between Australia and South Africa, December 2008
Cricket South Africa

From 1990 to 1991 the Currie Cup became known as the Castle Cup and since 1996-97 we have known it as the SuperSport series, South Africa’s primary domestic inter-provincial four-day cricket competition.

For many years Cricket was regarded as the game of the privileged white man. However, history tells us a different story as was shown by Professor Andre Odendaal in his book "The Story of an African Game" that was published in 2003.

The cricket bat of the 1720s was shaped like a modern hockey stick so that it could address a ball that was not pitched. - Cricket South Africa
The cricket bat of the 1720s was shaped like a modern hockey stick so that it could address a ball that was not pitched
Cricket South Africa

Drawing on rare 19th century African-language newspaper sources, family photo albums and extensive interviews, author Professor Andre Odendaal provides an intimate account of a rich cricketing culture that began with the establishment of the first black mission school cricket sides and clubs in the 1850s.

Odendaal demonstrates, through colourful stories and vivid photographs that the game has been played with passion and commitment by black South Africans in inter-town tournaments, village games and national bodies for well over 100 years in a parallel, but largely hidden, tradition to that of their white counterparts.

Cricket test match between Australia and South Africa, January 2009 - Cricket South Africa
Cricket test match between Australia and South Africa, January 2009
Cricket South Africa

This provided the foundation on which the United Cricket Board of South Africa’s could build its multiracial development program long before the country held its first democratic elections in 1994. Although the change is most obvious at the lower levels, it is great to see how an ever-increasing number of players of colour have made it to the top and into the National team, the Proteas.

Until the mid-1960s South African Cricket developed strongly with Australia, England and New Zealand as their main international opponents, playing them on a regular basis. At the same time as this post-war era developed, the international feeling against South Africa’s “Apartheid” policy became stronger and more vociferous.

The Wanderers cricket stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa - Cricket South Africa
The Wanderers cricket stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa
Cricket South Africa - copyright © South African tourism

Things came to a head and South Africa was banned from international cricket. This came at a time when South Africa was unquestionably the strongest in world cricket.In spite of the fact that it was deprived of international competition, South Africa’s cricket went from strength to strength.

Although they were not able to play international test matches during the period of isolation (1970 to 1991), the provincial teams were improving with time and when the international ban was lifted in 1991, South Africa was recognized as a force to be reckoned with in international cricket.

A display depicting the history of the cricket bat - Cricket South Africa
A display depicting the history of the cricket bat
Cricket South Africa

When the country was readmitted to world cricket in 1991, they made their re-entry into international cricket at the World Cup tournament in 1992. They debut with a big splash, making it all the way to the semi finals when they became a victim of the controversial rain rule

Playing against England, rain interrupted play before the last ball of the 43rd over. South Africa then required 22 runs off 13 balls for victory. With 2 overs lost to rain, the target was reduced to 21 runs from only 1 ball. England won by 19 runs.

Cricket test match between England and South Africa at Lord’s in 2008 - Cricket South Africa
Cricket test match between England and South Africa at Lord’s in 2008
Cricket South Africa

The years that followed South Africa went from strength to strength. They made the semi finals in the 1999 World Cup, losing against the West Indies by 19 wickets. At the 2003 World Cup which was hosted by South Africa, they did not do well losing against the West Indies in the first round by three runs.

The 2007 World Cup saw the South Africans making it to the semi finals again, but then they lost against Australia by a massive 7 wickets, after scoring only 149 runs all out. Despite their roller coaster performances in the World Cup tournaments, South Africa fared very well in international test cricket.

The Cricket World Cup Trophy - Cricket South Africa
The Cricket World Cup Trophy
Cricket South Africa

Currently the International Cricket Council is ranking them as number 1 in One Day cricket and as number 2 in Test cricket, putting them on a par with Australia, who is ranked number 1 in Test cricket and number 2 in One Day cricket.

South Africa's three major domestic competitions are the SuperSport Series (Inter-provincial four day first class cricket competition), the MTN Domestic Championship (Inter-provincial limited-overs competition, played mostly under lights) and the Standard Bank Pro 20 Series (Domestic Twenty20 competition).

Cricket test match between England and South Africa at Lord’s in July 2008 - Cricket South Africa
Cricket test match between England and South Africa at Lord’s in July 2008
Cricket South Africa







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