First Test Match

Australia v England 1897-98

A very unpleasant incident, which gave rise to almost endless discussion, preceded the first test match, the trustees of the Sydney ground taking it upon themselves to postpone the commencement of the game without consulting the captains of the sides. Heavy rain had fallen, but it was not thought by the players on Thursday - the match being fixed to start on the following morning - that any postponement would be necessary. As it happened, the ground on Saturday, after heavy rain for several hours, was under water, and it thus came about that the anxiously-expected game did not begin until Monday the 13th of December.

The delay had one happy result for the Englishmen, Ranjitsinhji, who had been very ill, recovering sufficiently to take his place in the team and playing finer cricket than on any other occasion during the trip. Considering his physical condition - he was quite exhausted after scoring 39 not out, on the first evening - his innings of 175 was a marvellous piece of batting. Before resuming play on the second morning he was in the hands of the doctor. He hit 24 fours, and was batting in all three hours and t35 minutes. Scarcely inferior was the cricket shown by McLaren, who made a third hundred in succession on the Sydney ground.

On the second afternoon the Australians in face of a total of 551 lost five wickets for 86, and from these disasters, despite the superb play in the second innings by the two left-handers - Darling and Hill - they never recovered. The Englishmen won the match by nine wickets. With this victory their good fortune in Australia came to an end.

© John Wisden & Co