Australia v England, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 1876-77

England square the series

Martin Williamson

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Two weeks and three up-country matches after the first Test, the sides returned to the MCG for a game played for the benefit of the tourists.

Australia were the pre-match favourites after their win in the earlier game and the return of Fred Spofforth which greatly boosted their bowling attack. Billy Murdoch, whose absence as wicketkeeper in the first match led to Spofforth's withdrawal, played as a batsman, although he took over the gloves on the last day of the game when Jack Blackham had sunstroke.

Australia batted but found Allen Hill, who took the first four wickets, too much for them, and from 96 for 4 they slid to 122 all out. England's start was hardly better, but from 4 for 2 they were indebted to their Yorkshire contingent for boosting them to 261. George Ulyett made 52, Greenwood and Hill 49, and Tom Emmett 48, with Yorkshire's batsmen making 86% of England's runs in the game.

Nat Thompson and Dave Gregory put on 88 for the first wicket when Australia batted again, but again the innings rather lost its way and they were dismissed for 259, leaving England a modest target of 120. James Southerton and James Lillywhite shared eight wickets.

It seemed as if history was about to repeat itself as England lost early wickets to find themselves at 9 for 3, but again Ulyett dug deep, and despite another mini collapse to leave them 76 for 5, by the time he was eventually dismissed for 63, the game was almost won.

As was often the case at the time, there were accusations that the outcome had been fixed, the suggestions coming from the large number of gamblers who had lost money on the first Test.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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