First Test match

England v Australia 1893

Despite the moderate record which the Australians had obtained up to the end of June, the first of the representative matches proved quite as attractive as ever, and there was a great gathering at the St. John's Wood ground. On a fast wicket the success of England would have been generally anticipated, but so much rain had fallen on the previous day that the wicket was necessarily very treacherous, and on Monday morning it was known that owing to an injured finger W. G. Grace for the first time since matches between England and Australia had been played in this country would not do battle for the old country. W. W. Read not being available, the eleventh place was given to Flowers, to whom such a honour had never fallen before, but who thoroughly justified his selection. Stoddart captained the England team, and winning the toss was placed in a very awkward position, for with the sun shining and the ground soft, it was obvious that the wicket must improve as time wore on, the question remaining whether he would be justified in putting the other side in.

Few people expected a total of 150, and the performance of the Englishmen in staying at the wickets until after half-past five and scoring 334 was really wonderful. The Englishmen no doubt had a good deal of luck, three or four catches being dropped, but at the same time it was an extraordinary achievement to make so many runs. The honours of the day were divided between Shrewsbury and Jackson, each of whom in a strangely different style was seen to remarkable advantage. Shrewsbury was four hours and ten minutes making 106, and Jackson only an hour and three-quarters in scoring 91. Shrewsbury's batting was marked by extreme patience, unfailing judgment, and a mastery over the difficulties of the ground, of which probably no other batsman would have been capable.

A far greater surprise was the success of F. S. Jackson. Everyone felt the Cambridge captain had done sufficiently good work to entitle him to a place in the international team, but few indeed could have anticipated that he would triumph so completely over the conditions against which he had to contend. He went in to bat when Stoddart and Gunn had been disposed of for 31, but so far from being over-anxious he from the first played with the utmost confidence, driving everything over-pitched with great power, whilst the way in which he pulled short-pitched balls to square leg was quite a liberal education. After making 50, the Cambridge captain ought to have been easily caught at mid-on, and he gave two other chances, but at the same time his display was one of which any batsman might well have been proud. He hit thirteen 4's, a 3, and eight 2's, and Shrewsbury nine 4's, five 3's, and seventeen 2's. In all these two put on 137 runs, and after five wickets had fallen, Flowers assisted Shrewsbury to put on 80 more. Before play ceased for the day the Australians lost Lyons and Giffen for 33 runs.

Cricket on the second day was carried on under far more favourable conditions, the ground having practically recovered from the rain and the bowlers getting very little assistance. The play was naturally very keen on both sides, and the Australians had to work so hard for their runs that only 38 were obtained in the first hour against the admirable bowling of Lockwood. Half the wickets were down for 75, but then came the partnership between Gregory and Graham, which completely altered the aspect of the match. These two young cricketers began by making a series of short runs, and obviously upset the fieldsmen by the fearless and rapid manner in which they travelled between the wickets. Very soon, too, the bowlers became anxious, and almost before the spectators could realise it runs were coming at a great pace. So admirably did the two Australians bat that at lunch time 120 runs had been added without further loss, and in all the total had reached 217, or 142 for the wicket, before Gregory was dismissed. With Bruce in, Graham completed his hundred, and soon afterwards the follow-on was saved with four wickets in hand, but at 264 Graham's splendid, though by no means faultless innings, was closed by a catch at the wicket. Out of 189 added during his stay, the young Victorian had made 107, batting for two hours and twenty minutes, and hitting a 5, twelve 4's, two 3's, and nine 2's. The innings then came to a speedy conclusion, and, although in the second innings of England Stoddart was not seen at his best against the bowling of Turner and McLeod, Gunn and Shrewsbury raised the score to 113 before the close of play.

The two Notts men next morning played a sterling game for their side, running no risks but making good use of such opportunities as presented themselves. In all their partnership produced 152 runs, and it is scarcely too much to say that, but for the rain which interrupted play, Shrewsbury would probably have had the unique distinction of scoring two separate hundreds in an England and Australia match. As it was he was bowled just after play was resumed. Later on Wainwright forced the game to good purpose, and at lunch time the score was up to 234 for eight wickets. A drizzling rain prevented play being resumed at the usual time, and shortly afterwards it was announced that England had closed their innings, and preparations were made for the Australians, who had 300 to get to win in three hours and three-quarters, to commence their innings. No play, however, was possible, and the game had to be left drawn.

© John Wisden & Co