- History of Test cricket from 1890 to 1900
Test matches (matches of
Test cricket) in the 19th century were somewhat different affairs than what they are today. Many of them were not designated as Test matches for many years afterwards, and it is possible that some Test players never knew they had played in a Test. Before 1888 there had been 26 Test matches, all between England and Australia. England had won 13 of them, Australia 9, with 4 draws. During the 19th century England played in all the Tests, which were mostly against Australia, though a few were against what tended to be a very weak South African XI.
By the end of the 19th century, 64 Test matches had been played. Whilst the great England v. Australia matches towards the end of the century were recognised as Tests at the time, the classification of many of the games listed below as Tests only happened much later. Some of the games, especially those involving South Africa, were between a very weak South African squad and a not particularly representative England team. By 1900 South Africa had played 8 games, and lost them all to England. Meanwhile, England had faced Australia 56 times, winning 26, losing 20, and drawing 10. Additionally, one game was abandoned without a ball being bowled because of rain.
The greats: Grace v Murdoch 1890
This series marked the return of
Billy Murdochas Australia’s leader, and pitched him against The Champion, WG Grace. The Australian side was good, but they were still without some of their best players. 1890 was a wet summer, and the rain affected all of the three planned Tests. The first Test was the most eagerly anticipated match of the English summer, with 30,279 spectators watching it over the 3 days, though Stoddart and Briggs did not play. Rain on the 2 days before the match left the pitch slow, but it got steadily better and better, and was at its best on the last day, when England scored 137 to win by 7 wickets, with Grace, who was out for a duck in the first innings, scoring 75 not out. The second Test at the Oval was particularly tense, partly, no doubt, because Andrew Stoddart(an amateur) chose to play for Middlesex, whilst Peel and Ulyett (professionals) were claimed by Yorkshire. [Ralph Barker and Irving Rosenwater: "England v Australia: A Compendium of Test Cricket between the countries 1877-1968", 1969, ISBN 0-7134-0317-9, p48.] Rain before the first day’s play contributed to 22 wickets falling for 197 runs on day 1. On day 2, England only needed 95 to win, they lost eight wickets to Charles Turner and Ferris before getting them, with the winning run being scampered as Australia missed a clear run outchance. A planned third Test match at Old Trafford, Manchesterwas washed out, thereby becoming the first Test to be abandoned entirely because of the weather.
"Australia in England 1890. Match length: 3 days. Balls per over: 5. Series result: England win 2-0."
Blackham's tour of England 1893
Grace was injured for the first Test, so England were captained by
Andrew Stoddart. The match was ruined by rain. Arthur Shrewsburybecame the first cricketerto score 1,000 Test runs during his 106 in England's first innings total of 334. Australia replied with 269 and England moved to 234 for 8 declared before rain tumbled down and no further play was possible. This was the first declaration in Test cricket.
England's strong side won the second Test, aided by a 151 first wicket partnership between Stoddart and the returning Grace. After scoring 91 runs in their first innings, the Aussies were asked to follow on. AC Bannerman became the first Australian to score 1,000 Test runs. The Aussies put up much brave resistance and scored 349, but this still equated to an innings defeat, and England had retained
the Ashes. England went on to play out the third Test for a draw to earn a series victory.
"Australia in England 1893. Match length: 3 days. Balls per over: 5. Series result: England won 1-0."
Trott tours England 1896
The first day of the first Test was well attended: 25,414 paying customers, and possibly 30,000 spectators in total. It was a see-saw game with Australia dismissed for 53, before England got 292. Australia's 347 in their second innings left England with 108 to win, which they did with 6 wickets to spare. In the first Test Grace completed his 1,000 runs in Test cricket.
In the second Test
Ranjitsinhji, the first Indian to play Test cricket, and who the MCC had not selected for the first Test, became the second batsman after Grace to score a hundred on debut for England. His 154 not out and Richardson's 13 for 244 were the highlights of the game, but it was Australian that won by 3 wickets chasing 125. During the match George Giffenbecame the first to complete the Test career double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets.
Five England players (that is, professionals) threatened strike action before the start of the third Test at
the Oval, Surrey’s home ground, because of a dispute over match fees. They wished to be paid £20 rather than the normal going rate of £10, and were upset as they saw amateurs such as WG Graceand Walter Readseemingly earning lots of money from cricket despite being amateurs. They were Abel, Hayward, Lohmann and Richardson, all Surrey-players, and William Gunn of Nottinghamshire. The Surrey committee did not budge, and they put out the following statement on 10 August, the opening day of the Test:
::"The committee of the Surrey County Cricket Club have observed paragraphs in the Press respecting amounts alleged to be paid, or promised to, Dr WG Grace for playing in the match England v Australia. The Committee desire to give the statements contained in the paragraphs the most unqualified contradiction. During many years, on the occasions of Dr WG Grace playing at the Oval, at the request of the Surrey County Committee, in the matches Gentlemen v Players and England v Australia, Dr Grace has received the sum of £10 a match to cover his expenses in coming to and remaining in London during the three days. Beyond this amount Dr Grace has not received, directly or indirectly, one farthing for playing in a match at the Oval."
Abel, Hayward and Richardson relented, but Gunn and Lohmann refused to play. Rain prevented play until 4.55pm. on the first day, caused 24 wickets to fall on the second, and led to Australia being dismissed for their lowest total, 44 all out chasing of 111. England had retained the Ashes.
"Australia in England 1896. Match length: 3 days. Balls per over: 5. Series result: England won 2-1."
English summer of 1899
It was known that the Australian side that would tour in 1899 would be a strong one, probably the strongest since 1882. And for the first time in England, 5 Tests were going to be played. MCC and the counties appointed a selection committee for the first time. It comprised 3 active players:
Lord Hawke, WG Graceand HW Bainbridgethe captain of Warwickshire. Prior to this, England teams for home Tests had been chosen by the club on whose ground the match was to be played.
The first Test was also the first Test ever played at
Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire's home ground. Australia had the better of a drawn game: having set England 290 to win, England were 155 for 7 off 99 overs at the close.
Grace was 50 years and 320 days old on the last day of the first Test. It says a lot about The Champion that he was still worth his place as a batsman. But he could no longer bend down, so his fielding was poor, and the Nottinghamshire crowd jeered and heckled him for it every time a ball went past him at point. Grace himself put it to the selection committee that he should be dropped for the second Test, and after some debate this is what happened. Only one man has played Test cricket at a greater age. He is
Wilfred Rhodes, who coincidentally made his debut in the first Test. Archie MacLarenwas selected as captain for the remaining Tests, with the Honourable Stanley Jacksonbeing somehow overlooked for his role (at the time the "Honourable" should have swung it his way). Jackson, however, went on to captain England later. The second Test was won well by Australia, with notable performances from Ernie Jones(7 for 88 in England's first innings) and Clem Hilland Victor Trumper(both making 135 in Australia's first innings) helping the Aussies to a 10 wicket victory.
The third Test, which was the first time a Test match was played in
Leeds, was drawn after rain wiped out the final day with England needing 158 runs with all second innings wickets remaining to win. Johnny Briggs suffered a violent epileptic fit on the first night. He was detained in Cheadle Asylum and played no further cricket until the next season, though his illness killed him in 1902.
The fourth and fifth Tests were both draws. Between those Tests,
Albert Trott, playing for the Marylebone Cricket Clubagainst the Australians, notably hit a six off the bowling of Monty Noblethat went over the pavilion at Lord's. This remains the only time someone has achieved this since the current pavilion was built. The fourth Test was also notable for WM (Bill) Bradley taking a wicket (that of Frank Laver) with his first ball in Test cricket.
"Australia in England 1899. Match length: 3 days. Balls per over: 5. Series result: Australia won 1-0."
*"The Cricket Captains of England" by Alan Gibson ISBN 1-85145-395-4
*"Wisden Anthology 1864-1900" edited by Benny Green ISBN 0-356-10732-9
*"Australia versus England, A Pictorial History of every Test Match since 1877" ISBN 0-670-90323-X
* [http://www.cricinfo.com Cricinfo]
* [http://www.cricketarchive.com Cricket Archive]
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