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Beating England at Leeds by 126 runs the Australians, as events turned out, won the rubber, the subsequent games at Manchester and the Oval being left drawn very much in their favour. For two days the struggle was one of the sternest ever seen in Test Match cricket, but on the Saturday England's batting went all to pieces, no one being able to cope with the fine bowling of Cotter and Macartney. The Australians fully deserved their victory, but England suffered an irreparable blow, Jessop, when the game had been in progress about seventy minutes on the first day, straining the muscles of the back so badly that he could not play cricket again during the season. The loss of such a player and the fact of having to bat one man short in both innings had of course a most depressing effect upon the side. On this occasion Walter Brearley played for England for the only time in the series of matches, but he did not meet with much success, taking only three wickets at a cost of 78 runs. Blythe, who was practically forbidden by the doctors to play at Lord's, was not chosen, Rhodes being the England slow bowler. Barnes who should have been picked for all five matches, was brought in at almost the last moment and bowled in splendid form. Fry reappeared but Hayward, although present, was left out, his knee not being sound. The Australians played exactly the same side that had gained such a brilliant victory at Lord's.
During the previous week rain had been falling almost continuously at Leeds, but on the Tuesday before the match, the weather underwent a pleasant change and the ground made a wonderful recovery, the wicket never being half as difficult as had been expected. Apart from Jessop's deplorable accident the Englishmen had no reason to feel dissatisfied with the first day's cricket. They got the Australians out by half past four for 188, and then scored 88 for the loss of Hobbs and Fry's wickets. The Australian innings was a curiously uneven one. Thanks to some extremely steady batting by Gregory and Ransford the total at lunch time was up to 89 for two wickets, and so well did Bardsley and Armstrong play that it reached 140 before the fifth wicket went down. Then came a remarkable change, Rhodes taking the next four wickets at a cost of seven runs. There were nine men out for 171, and after Trumper had hit Rhodes for four 4's in one over the innings ended. The best batting was clearly shown by Gregory and Ransford, Gregory maintaining an admirable defence for more than two hours. Except for a few rather loose overs by Brearley the English bowling was very good, Barnes's figures of one wicket for 37 runs by no means representing the value of his work.
England began badly, Fry being leg before wicket with the score at 8 and Hobbs bowled at 31. Just before being out Hobbs was appealed against for hit wicket, but the umpire gave him not out on the ground that he had completed his stroke before his foot touched the stumps. Tyldesley and Sharp, the latter of whom was appearing in a Test Match for the first time, faced an anxious period very coolly, and by sound cricket added 57 runs without being separated. On the second day about 16000 people watched a tremendous fight. Some of them found the stubborn defence of Armstrong and Noble too slow to please them, but others thought the keen struggle quite absorbing. So long as Tyldesley and Sharp stayed together in the morning England seemed certain of a substantial lead on the first innings. The score was up to 130 for two wickets, but at this point Noble made a change of bowling that, as it happened, completely turned the fortunes of the game. Macartney went on and bowled with astonishing success, sending down thirteen overs and three balls for 31 runs and six wickets. He kept a fine length, and again and again did quite enough to beat the bat. The batsmen were freely blamed for feeble play, but it struck one that Macartney bowled wonderfully well. Perhaps the best testimony to the excellence of the bowling and fielding can be found in the fact that Tyldesley took two hours and a half to score his 55. Sharp, who played a strong confident game hit seven 4's. England's last six wickets fell in seventy minutes for 45 runs.
The Australians' second innings opened in sensational fashion. The first ball from Hirst - a real swerver - clean-bowled Gregory, and at fourteen McAlister was caught at short leg. Then came some very stern cricket, Ransford and Armstrong playing the fine bowling of Hirst and Barnes with the utmost care. It was unfortunate for Hirst that while he was making the ball swerve he nearly always had to bowl to the left handed man. When 50 went up the innings had been in progress nearly eighty minutes. Then at 52 Ransford was out leg before wicket for an invaluable 24. With Armstrong and Noble together the batting as before was steadiness itself and at the tea interval the score had without further loss been raised to 103. Not often has a harder struggle between bat and ball been seen. On the game being resumed the pitch suddenly became difficult, and thanks chiefly to some splendid bowling by Barnes, the game underwent such a change that seven wickets were down for 127. Armstrong, bowled at last by Rhodes, was at the wickets for fully two hours and a half. The game was very much in England's favour, but Macartney kept up his end while Cotter and Carter hit, and at half past six the total for eight wickets was 175. One could not help thinking that during the last part of the day's cricket MacLaren made a mistake in not bringing Brearley on to bowl.
There seemed every promise of a fine finish on Saturday, but England's batting failed lamentably in the last innings. The Australians took their score to 207, Macartney playing with infinite patience. In all he was at the wickets for an hour and three quarters. The task of getting 214 was not thought likely to be beyond England's powers, but the early play was far from encouraging. With the score at 17 Fry played a ball from Cotter on to his foot and into his wicket and, at 26, Tyldesley was caught and bowled from a hard return. Hobbs and Sharp raised the total to 56 before lunch, but Hobbs was never in the least degree comfortable. After the interval there came a doleful collapse. Cotter and Macartney bowled in great form and nothing could be done against them, the last seven wickets falling in less than an hour for 31 runs. To Macartney belonged the chief honours of the Australian victory. In the whole match he took eleven wickets, and only 85 runs were hit from him. Even the greatest bowlers of the early Australian teams could in the circumstances have done no better.
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