First Test match, Sydney

Australia v England 1903-04

Played at Sydney, Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, December 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17. England won by five wickets.

The first of the the five Test matches was in many ways the best of the series. Indeed a finer game has rarely been seen in Australia. It lasted into the sixth day, and attracted in all about 95,000 people. The Australians, on winning the toss, lost Trumper, Duff and Hill for a dozen runs, Trumper being out to a wonderful catch at slip. Thanks to Noble these disasters were retrieved, but when at the end of the day the score stood at 259 for six wickets, the Australians did not seem to have done anything out of the common. However, rain in the night made their total look far more formidable.

Next day the Australian innings ended for 285 and the Englishmen went in under very anxious conditions, as no-one could tell how the wicket would play. Tyldesley, batting with the utmost skill, saved his side from a breakdown before lunch, and by four o'clock the wicket had practically recovered. At the drawing of stumps the total had reached 243 for four wickets, Foster being not out 73, and Braund not out 67. Noble was at the wickets four hours and three-quarters for his 133, and hardly made a mistake. The third day was marked by the most brilliant and sensational cricket seen during the tour, R. E. Foster, with a magnificent innings of 287, beating all records in Test matches. Altogether he was batting for seven hours, among his hits being 38 fours. The latter part of his innings was described on all hands as something never surpassed. Foster and Braund added 192 runs together, Braund playing an admirable innings, but with eight men out the Englishmen were only 47 ahead.

Then came the startling play, Relf and Rhodes helping Foster to put on respectively 115 and 130 runs for the ninth and tenth wickets. The last-wicket partnership set up a new record in Test games. Foster's triumph was the more remarkable as he had never before played in an England and Australia match. He did not begin his great innings at all well, and ought to have been caught when he had made 51, but his batting on the third day was beyond criticism. Going in against a balance of 292 runs, Australia had scored 17 without loss when stumps were pulled up.

Next day they did great things, carrying their score to 367 and only losing five wickets. There was a very regrettable and indeed disgraceful demonstration on the part of a large section of the crowd when Hill was given run out, a storm of hooting and booing going on for a long time. On the fifth day the Australian innings ended for 485, Trumper carrying out his bat for a faultless 185. His hits included 25 fours, and during a stay of three hours and 50 minutes he gave no chance. Rhodes bowled with the utmost steadiness on the hard ground, and in writing home Mr Warner said he did not know what the side would have done without him.

England wanted 194 to win, and found the task a very heavy one. They won on the sixth day by five wickets, but they would very probably have been beaten if, after four wickets had fallen for 83, Laver at short leg had not missed Hirst before that batsman had scored a run. As it was Hayward and Hirst made a great stand, and almost won the game together. Hayward was batting just over four hours for his beautifully-played 91.

© John Wisden & Co