Australian cricket’s surprise 118-year first in Adelaide Test against India

Even before the two teams waltzed onto Adelaide Oval, history was made in the first Test between Australia and India on Thursday afternoon.

Using local umpires has traditionally been frowned upon, eradicating any lingering concern of bias from the match officials.

But the coronavirus pandemic has understandably made it difficult for international umpires to travel overseas.

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To minimise cost and reduce risk of spreading the virus, local umpires have officiated Test cricket since the England vs West Indies series got underway in July.

Cricket Australia has done the same for their home series against India, with Paul Reiffel and Bruce Oxenford taking charge of the first Test in Adelaide.

Mitchell Starc of Australia celebrates after taking the wicket of Prithvi Shaw of India.Source:Getty Images

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But as revealed by ESPNcricinfo journalist Daniel Brettig and cricket statistician Ric Finlay, Reiffel’s appointment is a 118-year first for Australian Test cricket.

Reiffel is the first man to play Test cricket for Australia and umpire a Test match in Australia since the legendary Charles Bannerman achieved the feat in 1902.

Here's something unique about today. Have conferred with @RicFinlay and we reckon Paul Reiffel has become the first man to both play Test cricket for Aust and also umpire in a Test in Aust since, wait for it, Charles Bannerman in 1902! #AusvInd

Paul Reiffel and Bruce Oxenford the first Aussies to umpire in Australia since 2002. Not counting Simon Taufel in World XI exhibition Test #AUSvIND

Bannerman had the honour of facing the first delivery in Test cricket history, achieved during the famous five-day contest between Australian and England at the MCG in March 1877.

The opening batsman was also the first cricketer to score a Test century, plundering 165 in the first innings before retiring hurt on day two, having broken his finger.

It remains the highest score by an Australian on Test debut.

After representing Australia in three matches, Bannerman developed into a well-respected umpire, officiating 12 Tests between 1887 and 1902.

Reiffel played 35 Tests and 92 ODIs for Australia, snaring 210 international wickets with his seam bowling. He has umpired 49 Test matches since 2012.

India were 2/41 at lunch on day one, with captain Virat Kohli on five and the formidable Cheteshwar Pujara on 17.

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