The second of the Test matches was the only one of the five brought to a definite conclusion, and its result was heavy blow to English cricket, the Australians gaining a brilliant victory on the third afternoon by ten wickets. They played a winning game all the way through, fairly beating the Englishmen at every point. The match, indeed, furnished one of the most complete triumphs gained by Australian cricketers in England since Gregory"s team came over and astonished us in 1878. Without in any way attempting to make excuses for an overwhelming defeat, it must be said that the committee in picking the England eleven laid themselves open to obvious criticism. They made no fewer than five changes from the side that had done duty at Trent Bridge a fortnight before, A. C. MacLaren, Townsend, G. L. Jessop, Lilley and Mead taking the places of W. G. Grace, William Gunn, Hirst, Storer and J. T. Hearne.
As regards batting, they were probably right to leave out Grace and Gunn, but having done that they ought assuredly to have invited Shrewsbury to play. The Nottingham batsman had given conclusive evidence that he was in form, and with Grace standing down there would have been no difficulty about his fielding at point. A still more serious blunder, however, was committed in connection with the bowling. It was tempting providence to go into the field on a fine day at Lord's with no other fast bowler than Jessop, and it was a dangerous experiment - by no means justified by results - to give Walter Mead the preference over J. T. Hearne on the latter's favourite ground. There was, too, some risk in playing MacLaren, who had not so far taken part in any first-class cricket during the season. In this case however, the committee had reason to congratulate themselves MacLaren playing a magnificent second innings and making a great, though fruitless, effort to save the game.
The Englishmen really lost the match during the first hour or so on the opening day. They won the toss and when they went in to bat on a carefully-prepared wicket it was confidently expected they would stay for the whole of the afternoon. To the dismay of the crowd, however, six wickets went down for 66 runs - a deplorable start from which the team were never able to recover. Jackson and Jessop by putting on 95 runs together saved their side from complete collapse, but Jackson, who played a superb innings, might have been run out by several yards when England's score stood at 70. It was felt when the innings ended for 206 - Jones's terrific bowling being the chief cause of the breakdown - that the Australians had an immense advantage, and so it proved. For a little time there seemed some chance of an even game, Worrall, Darling and Gregory being got rid of for 59 runs, but thenceforward the Australians were always winning.
The turning point of the game was the partnership of Clement Hill and Noble. The two batsmen had carried the score from 59 to 156 at the drawing of stumps, and on the following morning they took the total to 189 before Noble left. Then came another good partnership, Hill and Trumper putting Australia well in front with six wickets in hand, and increasing the score to 271. At this point Hill was brilliantly caught by Fry in the deep field. Later on Trumper found a valuable partner in Trumble, and it was not until after four o'clock that the Australian innings ended, the total reaching 421, or 215 runs ahead. In their different styles Hill and Trumper, who curiously enough made exactly the same score, played magnificent cricket. Trumper's innings was by far the more brilliant of the two, but inasmuch as Hill went in while there was still a chance of an even game, and had to play the English bowling at its best, it is only right to say that the left-handed batsman had the greater share in the ultimate success of his side. Hill, who was missed at slip by Ranjitsinhji when he had made 119, was batting just over four hours, and hit seventeen 4s, seven 3s and eighteen 2s. Trumper, who so far as could be seen gave no chance whatever, hit twenty 4s, four 3s and six 2s, and was at the wickets for three hours and a quarter.
Going in for the second time against a balance of 215, the Englishmen had a very gloomy outlook, and their position was desperate when at 23 their third wicket went down, the batsmen out being Fry, Ranjitsinhji and Townsend. Hayward and Jackson made things look a little better, but just before the time for drawing stumps Jackson was easily caught and bowled in playing forward at Trumble, the total at the close being 94. Hayward batted well, but when he had made a single he was palpably missed by the wicket-keeper, standing back to Jones. On the third morning MacLaren joined Hayward, and so long as these two batsmen stayed together there was still a chance of England making something like a fight. Indeed things were looking comparatively cheerful when 150 went up without further loss. However, on Laver being tried Hayward, Tyldesley and Jessop were caught in quick succession, and with seven wickets down for 170 the match was as good as over. MacLaren, who so long as Hayward stayed in had been steadiness itself, hit in wonderful form from the time that Lilley joined him, but despite his efforts England were all out for 240. Never has MacLaren played a greater innings. The Australians only required 26 runs - a trifling number, which after lunch Darling and Worrall obtained without being separated.