Fourth Test match

England v Australia 1899

The team that did battle for England in the fourth of the Test matches differed in only two instances from the eleven that played so creditably at Leeds, W. M. Bradley and Brockwell taking the places of Briggs and J. T. Brown. Brown was among the thirteen players from whom the side had to be chosen, and under ordinary circumstances he would no doubt have appeared. Unluckily, however, he injured his hand very badly on the Saturday before the match and, as it turned out, could not play cricket again during the season. Rhodes had this time been retained in view of wet weather, but he was not wanted. The Australians were at a grave disadvantage, Clement Hill, who had since he played at Leeds undergone an operation, being far too weak to attempt any cricket. Obliged perforce to play without their best bat the Australians also left out McLeod and Johns. The match excited an enormous amount of interest, 23,226 people paying for admission on the first day, and 21,144 on the second.

The result was a draw, but inasmuch as the Australians for nearly two days were fighting their hardest to avoid defeat, the honours were largely with England. By dint of untiring patience the Australians were enabled to declare their second innings closed with seven wickets down and set England the impossible task of making 171 runs in about sixty-five minutes. Worn out by over eleven hours fielding the Englishmen did not in this closing stage of the match play serious cricket and lost three of their best wickets for 94 runs. If the catches had been held they would have done even worse than this, but as a draw had become inevitable the score at the finish mattered nothing. The game showed English batting in a far more favourable light than any of the previous Test matches, and against a team possessed of no more than ordinary tenacity there is little doubt that a brilliant victory would have been obtained. The Australians, however, as match-savers have never been equalled, and in this particular instance their stubbornness and defence were something to marvel at. While frankly admitting all this, it must be added that the follow-on rule pressed very heavily on the Englishmen. When an innings had been completed on each side they held a lead of 176 runs, and if they could then have gone in to bat instead of turning out to field again they would have been in a splendid position. As it was their bowling was fairly worn out. Three dropped catches seriously prejudiced them, but they must scarcely be blamed, for it is quite hopeless to expect a side to stay in the field for two days without making mistakes. The misfortune was that all three blunders involved far reaching consequences.

On the first day England stayed in until just after six o'clock their total reaching 372. Nothing in the early cricket gave promise of such a score, the start being so disastrous as to threaten a repetition of the failure at Lord's. Despite fine weather in the morning the ground kicked a good deal during the first hour, and at the end of fifty minutes' play four wickets were down for 47. Things changed a little when Hayward joined Jackson these two batsman staying together for an hour and twenty minutes and in that time putting on 60 runs. Jackson was caught at slip off a bumping ball at 107, and though Brockwell played a very bright innings he only remained in while 47 runs were added when he left England's position was a very bad one, the only dependable batsman left to help Hayward being Lilley. These two had saved the situation at Leeds and again they did brilliant work together, putting on 113 runs in something over an hour an a half.

When Lilley was lbw at 267 a speedy end to the innings was expected, but the Australian bowling had now lost its keen edge and some rare hitting followed. Hayward and Young took the score to 324, and after the ninth wicket had fallen Young and Bradley added 35 runs in as many minutes. Sadly disappointed at the turn the game had taken the Australians became a little demoralised. Hayward's innings of 130 was in every way magnificent. Rarely or never in the whole series of England and Australia matches in this country has a more remarkable display of batting been given. Up to lunch time he took an hour and a half to make 20 runs, but so completely did the character of his cricket change when things were going better for his side that after the interval he added 110 runs in rather less than two hours and three-quarters.

The Australians lost one wicket on Monday and thenceforward they were batting till shortly after five o'clock on Wednesday. In the first innings Bradley and Young bowled superbly but the continuous work proved far too much for them. Noble clearly saved the Australians from defeat, his batting being a miracle of patience and self-restraint. In scoring 60 not out and 89 he withstood the English bowlers for eight hours and a half and scarcely made a mistake. At one time on Wednesday he did not score for three-quarters of an hour. Lilley, standing back to Bradley's bowling, missed Worrall and Trumper on Tuesday afternoon and on the last day Jackson missed Darling at mid-off. The three batsmen scored between them 155 runs, but if the catches had been held Worrall would have made one, Trumper and Darling three. There was a good deal of rain in Manchester on the Tuesday night, but the wicket scarcely suffered.

© John Wisden & Co