Trivia on Test cricket - Pre-1900s: Part 3

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21 Apr 2020 | 08:19 AM
authorMohandas Menon

Trivia on Test cricket - Pre-1900s: Part 3

In a series of special trivia articles, our expert statsman looks back on some interesting and rare statistical pieces of cricketing information

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Two English touring teams - led by GF Vernon and A Shrewsbury - toured Australia in the winter of 1887-88. They combined to play the Sydney Test against Australia in February, 1888. However, this match attracted the smallest attendance (2000) for any Test in Australia. 

The Ashes Test at Lord's on 16 and 17 July 1888 began only at 3:00pm due to heavy overnight rain, yet 13 wickets fell on the opening day. On the second day 27 wickets fell for 157 runs in just over three hours of actual playing time on a muddy pitch - the highest number of wickets to fall in any day of Test cricket. The match ended at 4:25pm on the second day!

On the second day of the Ashes Test at Old Trafford, Manchester on 31 July 1888, 18 wickets fell before lunch - a record for all Test cricket. The match ended before lunch at 1:52pm on the second day.  With the match lasting just six hours 34 minutes of actual playing time it remains the shortest completed Test to be played in England. 

South Africa's maiden venture into the Test arena was against England in Port Elizabeth in March 1889. However, this match was given its "Test" status only in 1909 after the formation of the ICC in 1909. One of the South African players, Gus Kempis (died in May 1890) by then had died without knowing that he had played a Test match! 

At 23 years and 144 days, Monty Bowden still remains England's youngest Test captain when he led his team against South Africa in Cape Town in March, 1889. Three years later when he died in a Umtali (now in Zimbabwe) hospital - a glorified mud hut where his body had to be protected from marauding lions prior to being interred in a coffin made from whisky cases! 

Englishman Robert Abel's 120 against South Africa in Cape Town in March, 1889 was the first hundred to be scored in South Africa's first-class history!

Opener Bernard Tancred - 26 not out - who carried his bat through the South African innings of 47 against England at Newlands, Cape Town in March, 1889 became the first Test batsman to do so. It still remains the lowest individual score by a Test batsman who has achieved this feat.  

In the Cape Town Test in March, 1889, England's left-arm slow bowler Johnny Briggs captured eight South African wickets by conceding just 11 runs in the second innings, after he had taken seven wickets for 17 in the first. Fourteen of his victims were bowled while one was dismissed leg-before. Therefore he did not need any assistance from his fielders while capturing 15 wickets in the match!

England's Johnny Briggs captured 15 South African wickets for 28 runs on the second day of the Cape Town Test match on 26th March, 1889. This was the most number of wickets taken by a bowler in a single day's play in Test history. 

Johnny Briggs, meanwhile, also became the first bowler to claim 15 wickets in a Test match! His match figures of 15/28 were then the best bowling match figures in Tests until December 1913 when countryman Sydney Barnes claimed 17 wickets in Johannesburg.

Yorkshire refused to release two of their players Robert Peel and George Ulyett for the Oval Test against Australia in August, 1890. They were made to play against Middlesex in Bradford instead.  

The Oval Test between England and Australia on 12 August, 1890 could have ended in a tie when Australian fielder Jack Barrett missed an easy run-out that resulted in an overthrow. England eventually won the match by two wickets. 

The Melbourne Test played from 1-6 January, 1892 was the first Test match to involve a fifth day of actual play and had also attracted a then record attendance of 63,652!

In the above Melbourne Test, Australian, Jack Blackham became the first wicketkeeper to claim 50 or more dismissals, with 30 catches (two as fielder!) and 20 stumpings to his credit. In the next Test at Sydney he completed the landmark only as a keeper.

In the Sydney Test on 3 February 1892, Australia recorded a notable victory after being 163 runs behind on the first innings, which gave them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. However, what was significant about this win, was that - it was Australia's first ever Ashes series victory in history in nine attempts since 1883. 

For the first time England contested two Test series simultaneously; WW Read's team played South Africa in Cape Town from 19-22 March, 1892 and then two days later an England side, led by WG Grace, began the third Test match in Adelaide against Australia. 

The Cape Town Test in March, 1892 provided the only second instance of three brothers playing in the same match, after England's Grace brothers in 1880. However, in this case, two of the brothers, Alec Hearne and George Gibbons Hearne appeared for England, while the third brother Frank Hearne was representing South Africa. Interestingly, their cousin John Thomas Hearne also played in this match for England. This provided the first and only instance of four players from the same family appearing in the same Test.  

England's Harry Wood's unbeaten 134 against South Africa in Cape Town in March, 1892 was the first century scored by a wicketkeeper in Tests. It was incidentally his only hundred in his entire first-class career. 

England's Arthur Shrewsbury against Australia at Lord's on 17 July 1893 became the first batsman in Test history to reach the aggregate of 1000 runs. 

Andrew Stoddart became the first captain to declare a Test innings, when he declared England's second innings closed in the Lord's match in July 1893 against Australia. England's total was 234-8. However, rain prevented any play after lunch on the third day after Australia were set 300 runs for a victory.

The Oval Test match played in almost tropical heat in August 1893 between England and Australia, was awarded as a benefit to JM (Maurice) Read and produced takings of £1,200.  Read had last appeared for England in the previous Test of the series at Lord's just a month before this Test!

During the Oval Test match in August 1893, Alick Bannerman, the younger brother of Charles, became the second and the first Australian batsman to aggregate 1000 Test runs. He finished his Test career with 1108 runs in 28 matches, but without a single-three figure score. Twice in his career he was dismissed in the 90s.

To be continued…..

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