Fifth Test Match

The Match of the Century

As was only natural, with the record standing at two victories each, the fifth and last of the test matches excited enormous interest. Indeed, it may be questioned whether any previous game in the Colonies had ever aroused such intense and widespread excitement. Numbers of people journeyed thousands of miles in order to be in Melbourne on the all-important occasion. The Australians, after anxious deliberations as to the constitution of their team, decided to leave out Turner and play Lyons. For this they were severely blamed after the match; but though they were probably averse to strengthening their already powerful batting at the expense of their bowling, the fact should be borne in mind that Turner during the earlier part of the season had met with little or no success on hard wickets.

As everyone knows, Mr. Stoddart's team gained a brillliant and remarkable victory for England by six wickets. It was only, however, after a desperate and protracted struggle that this result was arrived at, the game lasting well into the fifth day. From first to last the match was played on a perfectly true wicket, which gave no advantage to one side over the other. The Australians, who had the good fortune to win the toss, led off in splendid style, scoring on the opening day 282 runs for four wickets. Darling and Gregory, not out with 72 and 70 respectively, were soon got rid of on the second morning, but the total reached 414. In face of this big score the Englishmen made 385, MacLaren and Peel playing very finely and putting on 162 runs for the fifth wicket. The Australians opened their second innings well, but on the fourth day, when a dust storm caused considerable discomfort both to players and spectators, Richardson bowled superbly, and the eleven were all out for 267. This left Mr. Stoddart's team 297 to get to win, and it was anybody's match.

At the call of time the score stood at 28 for one wicket, and to the dismay of the Englishmen, Mr. Stoddart was out l-b-w from the first ball bowled next morning. The position was desperate, but at this point Albert Ward and Brown made the stand which, if they are never to do anything more, will suffice to keep their names famous in the history of English and Australian cricket. By wonderful batting - Ward's patient defence being scarcely less remarkable than Brown's brilliant hitting - they put on 210 runs together, their partnership practically ensuring the success of their side. After the fourth wicket had fallen, the end soon came, MacLaren and Peel being in at the finish. Though the crowds of spectators were, of course, greatly disappointed, they cheered the Englishmen most heartily.

© John Wisden & Co