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As England and Australia prepare to wage war with the Ashes just three weeks away, a gold medal presented during the first ever official Test match, between James Lillywhite’s England and a combined Australia XI in Melbourne 133 years ago, will come up at auction in London next week. The medal, engraved with crossed cricket bats, stumps and a ball, was presented to one of the England players, Harry Charlwood, by George Browne, the architect of the first grandstand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It is expected to fetch up to £20,000 at Graham Budd Auctions at Sotheby’s Bond Street sale room.
Budd explained that the medal was the only one known to remain from Browne’s commemoration, but it was presumed he presented a medal to each of the England team. “Perhaps he gave similar medals to the home team too, as a suitable souvenir of his achievements in developing a ground more than worthy of hosting Test match cricket” said Budd. “Browne is known to have socialised heavily with the England cricketers during the tour. Browne’s MCG grandstand cost ₤4,500 but did not last long as it was destroyed by fire in 1884.’’