Like a travelling fairground or circus show, a nineteenth century cricket tour was meant to make money. The tour promoters took their teams to play in every corner of the countries they visited.In doing so, they had little intention of fostering or spreading the game of cricket all around the world. Their aim was to increase income. They quickly appreciated how to capture the public's interest and bring in a greater attendance by pitting the best players from two countries in a contest against each other. Gradually, such matches came to be regarded as 'Test matches'.
Not all tours were able to make money for the promoters because the public response was so unpredictable.Speculative visits to the United States or New Zealand generally ended in loss. Consequently, most of the early English tours were made to Australia, which helped to improve standards there, as did reciprocal visits by the Australians to England.
English sides had toured Australia three times before, in 1861-62, 1863-64 and 1873-74, but the two countries had not previously been matched on equal terms, that is, eleven players-a-side. This first happened in March 1877 when James Lillywhite's team played the best XI in Australia at Melbourne in the first 'Test' match (though it was not called a Test match at the time- the phrase 'Test Match' was first used in 1861, again by The Melbourne Argus in September 1884 and was in common usage by 1894). This makes 1876-77 the first 'Test tour'.As the cricketing rivalry between Australia and England built up, and its appeal to the spectators became apparent, the two countries exchanged regular visits, a tradition which grew from 1877 onwards.
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Tours marked * are completed. Other tours in preparation.