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Two English teams visited Australia in the season of 1887-88, but it is certain that such a piece of folly will never be perpetrated again. Having regard to the fact that eleven-a-side matches are only practicable at Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide, it was clear from the first that two combinations would not be able to pay their way, and, though we do not know the exact result of Shaw, Shrewsbury, and Lillywhite's venture, the Melbourne Club frankly admitted a heavy loss over Mr. Vernon's team.
It would serve no purpose now to go into the cause of the blunder, for a blunder in every way it undoubtedly was. The Melbourne club authorities averred that it was well known their intention of bringing out an English team had only been postponed from the previous year, while the Sydney people, who supported Shaw and Shrewsbury, declared that for all they knew, when they asked Shrewsbury and his friends to get up an eleven for the centenary celebration in New South Wales, the Melbourne Club's project had been abandoned. Wherever the blame lay, the effect was to throw a complete damper on the visits of English cricketers to the Colonies.
It is satisfactory to think, however, that, apart from financial considerations, both tours were completely successful, the cricket shown being in every way creditable to the Englishmen. Mr. Vernon's team only lost one match, and in that one they played a first innings of over 300 runs, while Shaw and Shrewsbury's side suffered but two defeats. For one special occasion the two elevens joined forces, and decisively beat Combined Australia - a strong, though not quite a representative, side. The record of Mr. Vernon's combination was indeed a brilliant one when we take into consideration the fact that the death of his father compelled Lord Hawke to return to England, and that Bates's services were lost through a painful accident to his eye - an accident which kept the popular Yorkshireman out of all first-class cricket in the English season of 1888, and from which, it is feared, he can never wholly recover. He was injured while practising on the Melbourne Ground, a ball hit from a neighbouring net striking him with frightful force.
Mr. Vernon's team, with whose doings we shall deal first, was thus made up:
The side got together by Shaw, Shrewsbury and James Lillywhite, but which was generally called Shrewbury's Team, consisted of:
Though we cannot help thinking that the visit was a mistake, it is only right to say that the team played in a style that did high credit to English cricket. They only lost two matches, both against New South Wales; and the batting of Shrewsbury and the bowling of Lohmann and Briggs may rank among the best achievements of our players in the Colonies. Mr. C. A. Smith was captain in the field, and was everywhere most popular. Against the local teams his bowling average was phenomenal, and he has never batted so well.
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