First Test match

England v Australia 1905

Played at NOTTINGHAM, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, May 29, 30, 31. England won by 213 runs. In choosing the England Eleven for the first of the five Test Matches the Selection Committee could not secure quite the side they wanted. At this period of the season George Hirst"s leg was giving him a great deal of trouble, and as it would have been absurd to play an unsound man in such a game, he was not even included in the thirteen players from among whom the final choice had to be made. In the previous week, C. B. Fry, already in great form, damaged one of his fingers rather badly in practice at Brighton, and though present at Trent Bridge he did not play, the other man who stood down being Walter Lees. Of the eleven that took the field Bosanquet, John Gunn, and Arnold appeared for the first time in a Test Match in England. The Australians had their strongest side, and the wicket being hard and the weather fine the match began under conditions that could scarcely have been better. In the end England won by 213 runs, but only after some truly sensational cricket was this result arrived at.

When England won the toss a total of over three hundred was regarded as almost a certainty, but to the consternation of the crowd Hayward, A. O. Jones, MacLaren, and Jackson, were so quickly got rid of that four wickets were down for 47 runs. Tyldesley and Bosanquet, and later in the innings Lilley and Rhodes did something to make up for this disastrous start, but by a quarter to four the innings was all over for 196, the advantage of winning the toss being entirely discounted. There was a little moisture in the ground before lunch, but the chief cause of the failure could be found in the demoralising effect of Cotter"s bowling. Pitching little more than half-way at a terrific pace he made the ball get up more than shoulder high, and there can be no doubt that the fear of being hit on the head upset the batsmen considerably. Laver, following up some splendid work during the previous fortnight, took seven wickets for 64 runs. He kept an irreproachable length, and varied his pace with the nicest skill, but finely as he bowled he would not have met with so much success if the batsmen had not had their confidence shaken at the other end.

Going in against a total of 196 the Australians started their innings with a couple of misfortunes. Duff was caught very low down at short leg in the second over, and Trumper strained his back so badly that after getting three boundary hits and a single he retired from the field, and, as events turned out, played no more cricket for a fortnight. Of course, it was not known at the time that the injury would prove so serious. For these early troubles Hill and Noble made ample amends, and when the hundred went up with only one man out the Australians stood in a most flattering position. It was just after this that Jackson bowled his now famous over. Noble was out to the first ball, Hill to the fourth, and Darling to the last, the game undergoing a change that can only be described as astonishing. Still the Australians left off for the day with much the best of the game, their score standing at 158 for four wickets. Hill and Noble put on 106 runs, playing masterly cricket together for an hour and three-quarters. The attendance all told numbered quite 15,000. It should be mentioned that the wicket had been prepared in a simple way, without any special use of marl.

The second day brought with it an extraordinary change in the fortunes of the match, the Englishmen playing up in a fashion not unworthy of comparison with their never-to-be-forgotten effort on the second day at Manchester three years before. For a little while the Australians got on remarkably well, and when without further loss their over-night score had been carried to 200, they had every reason to feel satisfied, though they knew that Trumper would not be able to bat. There was such a sudden collapse, however, that the last five wickets fell in less than forty minutes, the innings being finished off for 221. The English fielding while these wickets were going down was amazingly brilliant. Indeed, nothing better could be imagined. The best piece of individual work was done by A. O. Jones, who, in getting rid of Laver, brought off a marvellous catch in the slips, throwing himself forward and taking the ball with the left hand close to the ground. It was a catch that recalled George Lohman"s greatest feats. All through the innings Jessop"s fielding on the off-side was beyond praise. He stopped everything that came within reasonable distance of him, and such was the moral effect of his presence that a short run was never attempted when the ball went in his direction.

Standing in a far better position than they could possibly have expected after their paltry first innings, the Englishmen went in for the second time before half-past twelve, and at the drawing of stumps they had scored 318 for five wickets. Under ordinary circumstances they would in the same space of time have made a bigger score, but at about three o"clock Armstrong was put on to keep down the runs. He took the ball at 110 and was not changed till the total had reached 301, delivering thirty-five overs for 50 runs. It was something quite new to see the Australians on the second afternoon of a Test Match playing for a draw rather than a win, and the innovation gave rise to endless discussion. In doing so well the Englishmen were mainly indebted to MacLaren and Hayward, who in two hours and a half scored 145 for the first wicket, thus giving their side a splendid start. Armstrong"s method of keeping the ball wide of the leg stump for over after over irritated the crowd who, quite forgetting their manners, became rather noisy. MacLaren was out second at 222, being finely caught low down at mid-off from a hard drive. His innings of 140, which lasted three hours and forty minutes, was for the most part magnificent. Just after lunch he was inclined to be reckless, but luckily for him the ball always fell out of harm"s way, and he soon returned to safer methods. He scarcely cut at all, but he drove and pulled with tremendous power, and nothing could have been more skilful than the way in which he turned the ball on the leg side. Tyldesley played a fine innings, being far more successful than anyone else in scoring from Armstrong, and Jones hit hard at a time when rapid scoring was essential. At the close Jackson and Rhodes were the not-outs. On the following morning these two batsmen gave a splendid display, staying together until a quarter to one, and without being parted carrying the score to 426, Jackson then declaring the innings closed. Altogether he and Rhodes put on 113 runs. Jackson was batting two hours and twenty minutes for his 82 not out. He was not quite happy in the fading light on the second afternoon, but his play in the morning was without a flaw.

The Australians wanted 402 to win, and when they went in at one o"clock four hours and a half remained for cricket. It was not to be supposed, especially with Trumper disabled, that the runs could be obtained, and the only question was whether the Australians would be able to avoid defeat. In the end, as everyone knows, Bosanquet beat them. Darling opened the innings himself with Duff, and at lunch time the score stood at 21 without loss. Everything pointed to a draw when the total reached 60 with the two batsmen still together, but at 62 Duff was easily caught and bowled, and this as it happened proved the turning point. Forty minutes later there were four wickets down, Noble, Darling, and Hill being got rid of. Hill was out to a remarkable catch. He hit a ball back to Bosanquet so high that only a man standing fully six feet could have got near it. Bosanquet jumped up, got the ball with one hand and kept his hold of it, though he stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. It was a great change from 62 for no wicket to 93 for four, and a little later Armstrong was easily caught at cover-point, the Englishmen then looking to have the match in their hands. Bosanquet had taken all the five wickets. Gregory and Cotter added 39 runs together, but at the tea interval seven wickets had fallen for 173. The players were only away ten minutes but during that time the light became very faulty. Gregory, who had played splendid cricket for an hour, was out at 175 - caught at mid-on at the third attempt, and Kelly joined McLeod. With Trumper unable to bat these were the last two men. The light grew worse and worse with every sign of on-coming rain, and the Englishmen had reason to fear that all their efforts would be thrown away and the match left drawn. For a quarter of an hour play went on in deep gloom, and then McLeod was out leg-before-wicket, England winning a memorable game by 213 runs. In bringing off the victory that MacLaren"s hitting had first made possible, the Englishmen owed everything to Bosanquet. He took eight of the nine wickets that fell, completely demoralising the batsmen with his leg-breaks. He gained nothing from the condition of the ground, the pitch remaining firm and true to the end. In the first flush of his triumph his place in the England team seemed secure for the whole season, but he never reproduced his form, and dropped out of the eleven after the match at Leeds. In the course of the three days at Trent Bridge 31,622 people paid for admission.

© John Wisden & Co