Second Test match

England v Australia 1905

Played at LORD"S ,Thursday, Friday, Saturday, June 15, 16, 17. Drawn. The second of the five Test Matches ended in a draw, rain and the condition of the ground preventing a ball being bowled on the third day. At the finish, England held a big advantage, being 252 runs ahead with five wickets to fall in their second innings. Having regard, however, to the state of the pitch while they were batting, the Australians took a far larger share of the honours than the score would suggest. Nine of the England players who had appeared at Trent Bridge played again, the places of G. L. Jessop and John Gunn being taken by C. B. Fry and Haigh. George Hirst was one of the twelve men picked by the Selection Committee, but as the specialist"s report as to the soundness of his leg was not altogether reassuring, it was considered advisable to leave him out. A deluge of rain in the previous week had reduced Lord"s ground to the condition of a mud-heap, and though, as the result of bright weather during the Whitsuntide holidays, the turf recovered wonderfully, no one could tell when Jackson won the toss for England how the pitch would play. England, staying in for the whole of the first day, scored 258 for eight wickets, and on the following morning the innings closed for 282. Never perhaps has any performance in a big match given rise to such divergent opinions. In some quarters the Englishmen were denounced for their lifeless batting, and even Darling expressed the opinion that with the ground as it was the side ought to have made many more runs. Personally, we took a different view. Watching the game closely, we did not think that the wicket was ever very easy, and in our judgment a total of 282 was quite equal to 400 on a true run-getting ground. Going in first under such dubious conditions the batsmen were almost bound to be cautious, and those who found fault with the steady methods adopted would have been the first to condemn any rash or unguarded play. Moreover, the Australian bowling was a model of accuracy, and the field was placed with the utmost skill, Darling"s one object being to keep down the runs. One cause of the slow scoring on Thursday could be found in the fact that, except for a break of twenty minutes for tea, Armstrong bowled for three hours at a stretch, keeping the ball wide of the leg stump, with seven men fielding on the on-side. During the afternoon he only took two wickets, but he succeeded thoroughly in cramping the batsmen. The fact that it took Jackson nearly an hour and a half to score 29, furnishes strong evidence that the conditions were not easy. Up to a certain point England seemed sure to get over 300, the score when Jackson left being 208 for four wickets, but four other wickets went down before the drawing of stumps for the addition of only 50 runs. Perhaps the best batting was that of MacLaren, who opened the innings with Hayward and was out second wicket down at 97. For more than two hours he played very skilful cricket, rarely missing a fair chance of scoring. He was out at last in hitting across at a short pitched ball from Hopkins, the slow pace of the ground evidently deceiving him. Tyldesley, apart from a couple of faulty strokes, played a fine game for an hour and three-quarters. Fry withstood the bowling for three hours and a half, playing all the time with the utmost watchfulness and self-restraint. His misfortune was that he was never sufficiently at home to take a liberty, his cricket from first to last being strictly defensive in character. Of all the bowlers that went on against him, Noble looked the most difficult to play.

Heavy rain for an hour or so on Thursday night was followed by bright sunshine on Friday, and the Englishmen, after completing their own innings felt confident that on the treacherous wicket they could get the Australians out for about a hundred, and make them follow on. These expectations, however, were far indeed from being realised. The Australians hit with splendid power, and unfortunately for England, Rhodes, who had been a good deal knocked about at the beginning of the week in the Yorkshire and Lancashire match at Manchester, could not bowl in anything like his proper form. The result was that the Australians, batting from shortly before noon till twenty minutes to four, ran up a total of 181, or only 101 runs behind. Under the circumstances this was a very fine performance, and Darling himself thought that his team did wonders. At one time a far bigger score seemed in prospect, but the last four wickets fell for ten runs. Trumper and Duff, by dint of some astounding hitting, made 57 together, in thirty-five minutes for the first wicket, and the moral effect of their fearless play could not be over estimated. Armstrong and Darling afterwards batted in splendid form Darling driving with great power, and always choosing the right ball to hit. The two batsmen put on 36 for the fifth wicket, and Hopkins helped Darling to add 33 for the seventh. Coming to the rescue after Rhodes and Haigh had failed, Jackson bowled in capital form.

England went in for the second time at four o"clock, and though a very smart catch in the slips sent Hayward back at 18, MacLaren hit with such brilliancy that in forty minutes the score was up to 60. After Tyldesley - in a most unlucky way - had played on at 63, the character of the game changed, Fry being at the wickets twenty-five minutes for two runs. However, at six o"clock the total was up to 127, with only two wickets down, and the Englishmen looked to have the game in their hands. Then came a startling alteration, three wickets falling in the last half-hour to Armstrong"s bowling. MacLaren lost his wicket through sheer impatience; Jackson was bowled first ball, and Jones was caught at point, apparently off the wicket-keeper"s foot. Time was called with the total at 151 for five wickets, and as events turned out nothing could be done on the third day, the conditions being so hopeless that the game was given up before half-past one. MacLaren"s 79 was in all respects a splendid innings - quite one of his finest efforts.

© John Wisden & Co