The committee of the Surrey Club, through no fault of their own, were unable to secure for the second of the representative matches the England team they would have wished to put into the field, a variety of circumstances occuring to thwart them. Yorkshire retained Ulyett and Peel to play against Middlesex at Bradford, Mr. Stoddart preferred to assist the latter county, while Briggs and Attewell were suffering from injuries, and did not feel justified in taking part in so important an engagement.
Under the circumstances the Surrey executive did the best they could, giving places to three cricketers who had neverbefore had the distinction of representing England against Australia - Mr. Cranston, Martin and Sharpe. Mr. Cranston had been scoring so well all through the summer that no one could say he was unworthy of the honour conferred on him, while the only objection to Martin and Sharpe was that for all their fine bowling their presence on the side clearly took away from the batting strength. The Australians left out Jones and Walters, the former of whom was not seen again in the team for the rest of the season.
The colonial players had sustained so many defeats that it was unreasonable to expect the same amount of interest that had been excited in previous years by the meeting with England at The Oval, but when the Surrey ground the day before the match was saturated by rain, good judges, remembering what Turner and Ferris are capable of on a damaged wicket, confidently predicted a capital game, and their anticipations were more than realised. The opening day's play was just what might have been expected after the great amount of rain that had fallen. The ball beat the bat all through the afternoon, and between twelve o'clock and the drawing of stumps twenty-two wickets went down for an aggregate score of only 197.
The Australians, who won the toss, and of course took first innings, were batting nearly two hours and a half for a total of 92. This could only be pronounced a poor performance, for several showers had fallen during the morning, and the wicket was by no means so difficult as it afterwards became. A very fine display of batting was given by Trott, who stayed at the wickets an hour and twenty minutes for 39. He was out at last in a curious way, a ball that he played on to his pad running up his arm and being caught wide on the leg side by the wicket-keeper. Martin bowled wonderfully well on his first appearance for England, taking six wickets at a cost of 50 runs. Lohmann, who was inclined to pitch short, probably found the ground too slow for him. England on going in to bat started very badly, Grace being easily caught at slip from the first ball he received; Shrewsbury at the end of half an hour's cricket being finely taken at point with the score at 10; and Mr. W. W. Read being bowled at 16. Cranston then joined Gunn, and if the latter batsman with his score at two had been caught at slip by Trumble - the ball going right past the fieldsman's hands to the boundary - the four best batsmen would have been out for 19 runs. As it was, Gunn and Mr. Cranston did great service for their side, and had carried the score to 55, when the amateur foolishly started for a short run and lost his wicket.
With 70 on the board for four wickets, England looked to have much the best of the game, but on Charlton taking the ball from Turner at 77, the batting broke down completely, the innings being finished off for a total of 100, or only 8 runs to the good. With the ground in a very difficult state, the Australians lost Barrett and Ferris in their second innings for five runs, and the second day they stayed in till twenty-five minutes to two, the last wicket falling for 102, which left England 95 to get to win, Trott again played much the best cricket on his side and Lyons hit vigorously for 21. Under ordinary circumstances the task of getting 95 runs would have been an easy matter for the England team, but with the wicket as it was it was impossible to feel over confident. Mr. Grace ought for the second time in the match to have been caught from the first ball that he received, but Trott at point dropped a ball that was cut straight into his hands. Despite this lucky let-off, however, the four best England wickets fell for 32 runs, the interest then reaching a very acute point.
With 63 runs wanted to win, Mr. Cranston was joined by Maurice Read, and the two batsmen made a splendid effort for their side. If, however, with the total at 63 and his own score at 17 Maurice Read had been caught by Murdoch at mid-on, the Australians would in all probability have won the game. As it was, the score had been taken to 83 - only 12 to win with six wickets to fall - when Maurice Read was caught at long-on for an invaluable 35.
On his dismissal there came a collapse that recalled the great match in 1882, Mr. Cranston, Lohmann and Barnes being dismissed in such quick succession that with eight men out two runs were still wanted to win. Amid indescribable excitement Sharpe became Mr, McGregor's partner, and five maiden overs were bowled in succession, Sharpe being beaten time after time by balls from Ferris that broke back and missed the wicket. Then at last the Surrey player hit a ball to cover point, but Barrett, who had a chance of running out either batsman, overthrew the ball in his anxiety, and a wonderful match ended in a victory for England by two wickets. Martin in the whole match took twelve wickets for 102 runs - a splendid performance.