There are sketchy references to cricket being played in the Caribbean as far back as the late 18th century, but it was in 1806 that the first club - St Anne's in Barbados - was formed. By the 1830s the military had established the game as a way of life in Barbados, and within a decade Guyana was in the same state. As early as 1842 Trinidad CC was described as being "long standing". In 1865 the first inter-colonial game took place between Barbados and Demerara; in 1886 a West Indies team visited Canada and in 1887 a side from the USA visited the Caribbean.
As with many areas, the game was initially limited to Europeans - slavery was only abolished in 1833 and as late as the 1890s it was noted that there was "little opportunity for the coloured people to play". In 1900 a West Indies side toured England and included "black bowlers" who were paid professionals. Regular tours followed both to and from the region, but two tours to England in 1901 and 1906 were disappointing.
As late as 1926 Lord Harris warned that he thought West Indies "over-rated" and that view seemed justified as West Indies first series after being granted Test status - in England in 1928 - was very one-sided. That balance was soon reversed, and in 1920-30 England were beaten in the Caribbean.