The inter-war years were dominated by Australia's Don Bradman, statistically the greatest Test batsman of all time. Test cricket continued to expand during the 20th century with the addition of the West Indies (1928), New Zealand (1930) and India (1932) before the Second World War and then Pakistan (1952), Sri Lanka (1982), Zimbabwe (1992), Bangladesh (2000), Ireland and Afghanistan (both 2018) in the post-war period. South Africa was banned from international cricket from 1970 to 1992 as part of the apartheid boycott.
In the home Test series victory against Pakistan in July and August 2006, several promising new players emerged. Most notable were the left-arm orthodox spin bowler Monty Panesar, the first Sikh to play Test cricket for England, and left-handed opening batsman Alastair Cook. The 2006–07 Ashes series was keenly anticipated and was expected to provide a level of competition comparable to the 2005 series. In the event, England, captained by Flintoff who was deputising for the injured Vaughan, lost all five Tests to concede the first Ashes whitewash in 86 years.
The option of staying at Lord's was investigated and a request was made, through Sport England, to the British Government to allow the ICC to have all its personnel (including those working on commercial matters) in London – but be given special exemption from paying UK corporation tax on its commercial income. The British Government was unwilling to create a precedent and would not agree to this request. As a consequence, the ICC examined other locations and eventually settled on the emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. ICC is registered in British Virgin Islands. In August 2005, the ICC moved its offices to Dubai, and subsequently closed its offices at Lord's and Monaco. The move to Dubai was made after an 11–1 vote by the ICC's Executive Board in favour.
Michael Vaughan took over, with players encouraged to express themselves. England won five consecutive Test series prior to facing Australia in the 2005 Ashes series, taking the team to second place in the ICC Test Championship table. During this period England defeated the West Indies home and away, New Zealand, and Bangladesh at home, and South Africa in South Africa. In June 2005, England played its first ever T20 international match, defeating Australia by 100 runs. Later that year, England defeated Australia 2–1 in a thrilling series to regain the Ashes for the first time in 16 years, having lost them in 1989. Following the 2005 Ashes win, the team suffered from a spate of serious injuries to key players such as Vaughan, Giles, Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones. As a result, the team underwent an enforced period of transition. A 2–0 defeat in Pakistan was followed by two drawn away series with India and Sri Lanka.
On the same year the West Indies became the fourth nation to be granted Test status and played their first game against England. England won each of these three Tests by an innings, and a view was expressed in the press that their elevation had proved a mistake although Learie Constantine did the double on the tour. In the 1929–30 season England went on two concurrent tours with one team going to New Zealand (who were granted Test status earlier that year) and the other to the West Indies. Despite sending two separate teams England won both tours beating New Zealand 1–0 and the West Indies 2–1.
Keith Fletcher took over as captain in 1981, but England lost his first series in charge against India. Bob Willis took over as captain in 1982 and enjoyed victories over India and Pakistan, but lost the Ashes after Australia clinched the series 2–1. England hosted the World Cup in 1983 and reached the semi-finals, but their Test form remained poor, as they suffered defeats against New Zealand, Pakistan and the West Indies.
The 1986 Austral-Asia Cup, played in Sharjah in UAE, saw a last-ball victory for Pakistan against their arch-rivals India, with Javed Miandad emerging as a national hero. India batted first and set a target of 245 runs, leaving Pakistan with a required run rate of 4.92 runs per over. Miandad came in to bat at number 3 and Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals. Later recalling the match, he stated that his main focus was to lose with dignity. With 31 runs needed in the last three overs, Miandad hit a string of boundaries while batting with his team's lower order, until four runs were required from the last delivery of the match. Miandad received a leg side full toss from Chetan Sharma, which he hit for six over the midwicket boundary.
The most famous player of the 19th century was W. G. Grace, who started his long and influential career in 1865. It was especially during the career of Grace that the distinction between amateurs and professionals became blurred by the existence of players like him who were nominally amateur but, in terms of their financial gain, de facto professional. Grace himself was said to have been paid more money for playing cricket than any professional.
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The game underwent major development in the 18th century to become England's national sport. Its success was underwritten by the twin necessities of patronage and betting. Cricket was prominent in London as early as 1707 and, in the middle years of the century, large crowds flocked to matches on the Artillery Ground in Finsbury. The single wicket form of the sport attracted huge crowds and wagers to match, its popularity peaking in the 1748 season. Bowling underwent an evolution around 1760 when bowlers began to pitch the ball instead of rolling or skimming it towards the batsman. This caused a revolution in bat design because, to deal with the bouncing ball, it was necessary to introduce the modern straight bat in place of the old "hockey stick" shape.
As a result of this loss, the tour of 1882–83 was dubbed by England captain Ivo Bligh as "the quest to regain the ashes". England, with a mixture of amateurs and professionals, won the series 2–1. Bligh was presented with an urn that contained some ashes, which have variously been said to be of a bail, ball or even a woman's veil, and so The Ashes was born. A fourth match was then played which Australia won by four wickets. However, the match was not considered part of the Ashes series. England dominated many of these early contests with England winning the Ashes series 10 times between 1884 and 1898. During this period England also played their first Test match against South Africa in 1889 at Port Elizabeth.
Pakistan started well in the ICC Cricket World Cup, which was held in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, after beating Kenya, Sri Lanka (one of the tournament favourites) and bye a margin, beating Canada. Shahid Afridi clearly stated that his team is capable of qualifying for the Semifinals. After a huge loss against New Zealand, Pakistan defeated Zimbabwe by 7 wickets. After victory against Zimbabwe Pakistan cemented their shot at playing the ICC CWC 2011 Quarters. One of the highlights of the tournament for Pakistan was when they beat Australia, who were led by 3 brilliant pace bowlers, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson. However Pakistan defied the odds and defeated Australia, courtesy of a brilliant bowling display. This saw Australia's record win streak of 27 consecutive world cup games broken which saw them win every game between the 1999 world cup up until this game. In the quarter-finals they played West Indies. Pakistan were ruthless, as they emphatically won against the West Indies side by 10 wickets, due to another brilliant bowling display. In the semi-finals on 30 March, Pakistan had a match with its fiercest rival, India. India managed 260 after they batted first. Not having a good batting line-up along with a slow start to the chase, Pakistan were 29 runs short as India reached the final (India went on to win the final, by defeating Sri Lanka).