Cricket is one of the most popular sports in Australia, at international, domestic and local levels. Unlike most other sports played in Australia, cricket generates equal interest in all states of the nation.

In 2007, a survey by Sweeney Sports found that 52% of the Australian public have an interest in cricket. The peak administrative body for both professional and amateur cricket in Australia is Cricket Australia. Cricket is often known as Australia's national sport due to its equal popularity in all parts of the country.

A census conducted on behalf of Cricket Australia found that in the 2010-11 season there were 850,155 professional participants in Australian cricket programs and competitions, putting Australia’s national game ahead of all the football codes and other popular sports such as golf and bowls.

Separately, official audience data shows that 93.6% of Australians watched at least some cricket on TV in 2010-11 calender year, the highest penetration of anysport in Australia

Cricket has been played in Australia for over 207 years. The first recorded cricket match in Australia took place in Sydney in December 1803 and a report in the Sydney Gazette on 8 January 1804 suggested that cricket was already well established in the infant colony. Inter-colonial cricket in Australia started with a visit by cricketers from Victoria to Tasmania in February 1851. The match was played in Launceston on 11–12 February with Tasmania winning by 3 wickets.

The first tour by an English team to Australia was in 1861-62, organised by the catering firm of Spiers and Pond as a private enterprise. A further tour followed in 1863-64, led by George Parr and was even more successful than the last.

In 1868, a team consisting of Aboriginal cricketers became the first Australian team to tour England. The team played 47 matches, winning 14, drawing 19 and losing 14. The heavy workload and inclement weather took its toll with King Cole contracting a fatal case of tuberculosis during the tour.

Further tours by English teams took place in 1873-74 (featuring the most notable cricketer of the age W.G. Grace) and 1876-77. The 1876-77 season was notable for a match between a combined XI from New South Wales and Victoria and the touring Englishmen at the Melbourne Cricket Ground played on 15–19 March. This match, later to be recognised as the first Test Match, was won by Australia by 45 runs thanks mainly to an unbeaten 165 by Charles Bannerman. The result of this match was seen by Australians and Englishmen as a reflection of the rising standard of Australian cricket.

The rising standards of Australian cricket was further established during the first representative tour of England in 1878. A return visit in 1878-79 is best remembered for a riot and by the time Australia visited England in 1880, playing the first Test in England at The Oval, a system of international tours was well established.

A famous victory on the 1882 tour of England resulted in the placement of a satirical obituary in an English newspaper, The Sporting Times. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The English media then dubbed the next English tour to Australia (1882–83) as the quest to regain The Ashes.

The Sheffield Shield, the premier first-class cricket competition in Australia, was established in 1892 by the Australasian Cricket Council, the first attempt at a national cricket board.

The era from the mid 1890s to the World War I has been described as Australian cricket's golden age. This era saw the emergence of players such as Monty Noble, Clem Hill and in particular Victor Trumper, who was idolised by the Australian public.

It also saw the emergence of the first women's cricket club in the colonies, captained by Lily Poulett-Harris. The Great War lead to the suspension of both international and Sheffield Shield cricket and the enlistment of many cricketers in the AIF. After the war, a team consisting of cricketers enlisted in the AIF toured the United Kingdom.

International cricket recommenced with a tour by a weakened England team in 1920-21. The strong Australian team, led by Armstrong and with a bowling attack spearheaded by Gregory and Ted McDonald won the series 5-0, the first time this was achieved in an Ashes series. Don Bradman, born in Cootamundra and raised in Bowral was 20 when he made his Test debut in the first Test of the 1928-29 series against England. He would hold the records for the highest individual Test innings and the most centuries in Test cricket and when he retired in 1948 he had the highest Test batting average, the last a record he still holds. He scored 117 first class centuries, still the only Australian to score a century of centuries and was knighted for services to cricket.

The Bodyline controversy began when Bradman toured England with the Australian team in 1930. Bradman scored heavily, 974 runs at an average of 139.14 including a then world record 334 at Leeds, two other double centuries and another single. Watching these displays of batting was Douglas Jardine, playing for Surrey. Following discussions with other observers such as Percy Fender and George Duckworth, he developed a tactic to limit the prodigious run scoring of Bradman and the others. The tactic, originally called fast leg theory and later called bodyline involved fast short pitched bowling directed at the batsman's body and a packed leg side field. Appointed captain of England for the 1932-33 series in Australia, Jardine was able to put these theories into practice. Combined with bowlers of the speed and accuracy of Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, the tactic required batsmen to risk injury in order to protect their wicket. In the third Test in Adelaide, Larwood struck Australian captain Bill Woodfull above the heart and fractured wicket-keeper Bert Oldfield's skull.

In December 1934, the Australian women's team played the English women in the first women's Test match at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground. Despite a 7 wicket haul to Anne Palmer in the first innings, the English women were too strong and won by 9 wickets.

The Australian national team is one of the most successful teams in international cricket. Along with England, Australia was recognised as one of the founder nations of the Imperial Cricket Conference, later the International Cricket Council. Australia generally plays a test series against a visiting team, and a one-day series between two other teams at home each summer, and tours overseas for the remainder of the year