Third Test match

England v Australia 1899

The third Test match was in some respects the most exciting of the five, and it was a thousand pities that rain, by preventing a ball being bowled on the third day, should have caused it to be left drawn. The position at the finish was that England, with nine wickets to go down - Briggs being incapacitated - required 158 runs to win. The general opinion of the English players was that, with a continuance of fine weather, they would have obtained the runs required, but from this view the Australians dissented, thinking that with the ground as it was they had the best of the game. It is quite fruitless now to discuss the question, but it is certainly a point in favour of the Englishmen's contention that the totals in the match showed a progressive increase, thereby suggesting that the wicket was not becoming more difficult. Heavy rain on the night before the match began had seriously affected the pitch, and at no time during the two days were runs at all easy to get. This naturally made the cricket all the more interesting, and it is safe to say that during the whole season no harder fight between bat and ball was seen.

The selection of the English eleven was the subject of much deliberation. The side that went into the field differed in no fewer than five instances from the eleven so badly beaten at Lord's, J. T. Brown, W. G. Quaife, Young, J. T. Hearne and J. Briggs taking the places of C. L. Townsend, G. L. Jessop, J. T. Tyldesley, Walter Mead and W. Rhodes. The selection of Briggs had, as everyone knows, a disastrous result, the popular player being seized on the Thursday evening with illness of so serious a character as to prevent him playing any more during the season and rendering necessary his detention in the Cheadle Asylum. It was a sad end to a very brilliant career. On the form in which he had been bowling there was some reason for picking Briggs, but the committee made a bad mistake in not retaining Rhodes. After the rain on Wednesday night, the Yorkshire bowler would have been invaluable,. The match marked the finish of Clement Hill's splendid work for the Australians. He had to place himself in the doctor's hands the following week, and though he afterwards took part in three matches he could not in any way do himself justice.

The match from first to last was full of exciting incidents, fortune inclining first to one side and then to the other in a way that for two days kept the spectators at extreme tension. The Australians no doubt acted wisely in going in after they had won the toss, but as events proved they did not gain much by batting first. Indeed, but for Worrall's fearless hitting on the soft wicket they would have fared very badly. True to his reputation at home Worrall proved himself a worthy successor to McDonnell, his driving being a marvel of power. He was batting just under an hour and a half and scored 76 out of 95, his innings including fourteen 4's. He and Clement Hill put on 71 runs in an hour after three wickets had been lost for 24. The fact of his getting the last two wickets made Young's average rather a flattering one but he certainly looked more difficult than either Hearne or Briggs. At the close of the first day England had four wickets down for 119. The Australian bowling was superb in quality and the batsmen had a very hard task. Four wickets were down for 69, but after that Quaife and Fry put on 50 runs with out being separated. Quaife maintained a wonderful defence for an hour and three quarters, but just before the finish he was badly missed by Trumble at slip.

The Englishmen entered on the second day's cricket under very discouraging circumstances, the news of Briggs' seizure having naturally upset them. Quaife and Fry were bowled without adding to the overnight score, and with only three wickets to go down England were 53 runs behind. Hayward and Lilley, however, played up with great pluck at the critical time, and by putting on 93 runs for the seventh wicket were mainly instrumental in gaining for England a lead of 48 on the first innings. Hayward's innings, though marred by two chances, was in the main a fine exhibition of defence and Lilley hit with the utmost confidence.

The sensation of the match came when the Australians went in for the second time. Worrall and Darling opened the innings in such style that 34 runs were scored in twenty minutes. Then, however, there came an astounding collapse. Worrall, at 34, was well caught in the deep field and in the following over J. T. Hearne did the hat trick. With the third ball be bowled Clement Hill; from the fourth Gregory was caught at extra slip, and from the fifth, amid indescribable excitement, Noble was caught at slip by Ranjitsinhji. Misfortune for the Australians did not end here, for at 39 Darling, evidently disconcerted by the disasters that had overtaken his side, hit out wildly at a ball from Young and was caught at third man.

With five wickets down the Australians were still nine runs behind and the match looked to be practically in England's hands. A great change followed, however, the Australians batting with such pluck and stubbornness as to thoroughly retrieve themselves and carry their score to 224. The turning point was the partnership of Trumper and Kelly who stayed together for nearly an hour and put on 58 runs. During this time Young bowled superbly but with provoking luck, beating the bat again and again but always missing the wicket - two or three times by the merest shave. Trumble played a fine innings, he and Laver taking the score from 140 to 218. Laver's runs were very useful, but he was never master of the bowling. During the latter half of the innings the Englishmen sadly felt the loss of Briggs's services, as after Hearne and Young had been overcome there was no one who looked in the least degree difficult.

England wanted 177 to win, and at the drawing of stumps on Friday, Brown and Quaife had scored 19 without being separated. Rain fell for hours during the night and on Saturday the match was abandoned.

© John Wisden & Co