The number of formats in limited-overs cricket is quite a few with the latest two being T10 and the Hundred. The cricket archives suggest that the first officially recognised limited overs or List A match took place, as usual, in England in 1963. The Gillette Cup match was held between Lancashire and Leicestershire.
But not many know that the birth of limited-overs cricket was actually in the subcontinent, Kerala to be precise. The first limited overs cricket tournament, although unofficial, took place in 1951 in India. The tournament, known as the Pooja Cricket Tournament, was the brainchild of Kelappan Thampuran. As a cricketer, he wasn't successful at all with a solitary first-class appearance to his name and that too at the age of 14.
Thampuran was a member of the Cochin Royal family and he used the Palace Oval Ground (later renamed as Tripunithura Cricket Club) as a laboratory to invent a new format whose concept contrasted with that of Test and first-class cricket.
The first official List A match was held twelve years later which suggests this tournament was well ahead of its time.
The concept was later adapted and English county sides played against each other in an unofficial one-day tournament in 1962, known as the Midlands Knock-out Cup. The first full-scale and official one-day competition called the 'Gillette Cup' was held the following year. At that time, each team could bat as many as 65 overs. The number of overs was reduced to 60 in 1964.
League one-day cricket also started in England in 1969 with 40-over-a-side matches. The tournament then called the 'Sunday League', evolved over the years, sponsors changed and it is currently called the 'Royal London One-day Cup'.
But the idea was yet to be adapted in international cricket. The history of the first One Day International (ODI) match itself is a very interesting one and it won't be entirely wrong to say that the inaugural ODI match was held 'by accident'.
The match took place in 1971 between England and Australia in Melbourne. But when the two teams reached Melbourne, they had absolutely no intention of playing an ODI.
The third Test of the series between Australia and England was to be held there. The first two matches ended in lifeless draws and the massively reluctant strategies of both captains suggested that the result would be no different in the third game too.
But even before the teams arrived at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for the match, it had started raining. It rained so heavily that the first two days of the match were called off in advance.
It continued to rain over the weekend and the match was abandoned on the third day. The authorities of the MCG were set to face a loss of £80,000 which made both boards agree to arrange an extra Test match after the end of the series.
The teams also agreed to play a one-day game, just like those games in the Gillette Cup, to give the people something to watch. The teams were named England XI and Australia XI and Rothmans, a tobacco company, came forward as a last-minute sponsor.
The match was scheduled to begin on Tuesday and since it was a working day, many thought that the match wouldn't attract many spectators. The MCG authorities made arrangements keeping in mind that there wouldn't be more attendants than 20,000.
How wrong they were! As many as 46,006 people turned out at the MCG. Before the beginning of the match, Sir Don Bradman addressed the huge crowd and said, "You have seen history made". It was a 40-over-a-side match and each over consisted of eight balls. Australia registered a six-wicket win.
Yes, heavy rain and fear of financial loss in fact gave birth to ODI cricket. And some credit goes to the almost unknown man from Kerala as well.