Trivia on Test cricket - Pre-1900s: Part 4

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27 Apr 2020 | 10:56 AM
authorMohandas Menon

Trivia on Test cricket - Pre-1900s: Part 4

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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The Ashes Test in Sydney was the first Test match to involve six playing days from 14 to 20 December 1894.

- Syd Gregory, whose father Ned and uncle Dave, played and captained Australia in the inaugural Test match in Melbourne in March 1877, became Test cricket’s only second double centurion when he made 201 in Sydney. He did so while batting at #6, which incidentally, was the first-ever 100-plus individual score at this position in Test cricket! 

- The Ashes Test in Sydney in December 1894 provided the first instance of a team winning a Test after following-on. England forced to follow-on after conceding a lead of 261 runs fought back to beat the home side Australia by 10 runs!

- Australian George Giffen against England in Sydney in December 1894 became the first allrounder in Test history to aggregate 201 runs (161 and 41) and capture eight wickets (4+4) in a match. Despite this performance, his team lost the match!

- Australia’s first innings total of 586 in Sydney was the highest total in Test cricket in a losing cause. This remained a record for nearly 123 years until Bangladesh in Wellington made 595/8d in January 2017 only to lose the Test by seven wickets!

- The match aggregate of 1514 runs in the above Sydney Test was then a record for all first-class cricket.

- Australian debutant Arthur Coningham took a wicket off Englishman Archie MacLaren off the first ball he bowled in Test cricket in Melbourne in December 1894. Incidentally, it came off the very first ball of the match. Both these instances were happening for the first time in Test history. 

- Andrew Stoddart's 173 at Melbourne in January 1895 was then the highest by an English captain in Australia until 1974-75 when Mike Denness scored 188 at this same venue.  

- During England's second innings total of 475 runs in Melbourne against Australia in January 1895 all eleven batsmen reached double figures - an occurrence that happened for the first time in Test history. 

- The Adelaide Test between Australia and England in January 1895 which was played in temperatures that reached 155F in the open, was notable for the all-round performance of Australian Albert Trott who on debut aggregated 110 runs (38* and 72*) without being dismissed. He then bowled unchanged virtually throughout in the second innings to take 8 for 43, which still remains the best analysis by a bowler on Test debut. 

- The Adelaide Test match provided the first instance of a team winning a match by a margin in excess of 300 runs when Australia beat England by 382 runs. 

- English captain Andrew Stoddart who became the first captain to declare a Test innings closed July 1893, again became the first English captain to put the opposition to bat after winning the toss against Australia in Sydney in February 1895. Despite this England lost by an innings and 147 runs. 

- England’s Johnny Briggs against Australia in Sydney in February 1895 became the first bowler in Test history to claim 100 wickets. He was playing in his 25th Test match. Then in the same match three days later, Charlie Turner became the first Australian to claim 100 Test wickets. He did so in just 17 Tests, still the quickest by an Aussie bowler in Test cricket. 

- With the 1894-95 Ashes series level at two-all, the final match in Melbourne from 1-6 March 1895 was termed ‘the match of the century’. The match attracted vast crowds and even caught the interest of Queen Victoria. 

- In the Melbourne Test match, England’s John Brown smashed a 140 in 145 minutes. His 50 came in 28 minutes, while hundred was reached in 95 minutes. In terms of minutes, his fifty was the quickest in Test cricket until May 2007. 

- Brown, meanwhile, also became the first batsman in Test cricket to register a century while batting in the fourth innings of a match. This knock also meant that the first time a side successfully chased a target of over 200 to win a Test match. England was set a target of 297.

- During the 1894-95 Ashes series, Australian allrounder George Giffen achieved what is still the best all-round performance by a player in a Test series by scoring 475 runs (avg 52.78) & taking 34 wickets (avg 24.12) in five matches.

- England in Port Elizabeth dismissed South Africa for 30 runs in just 94 balls in February 1896. It remained Test cricket’s lowest total until 1954-55. Incidentally, a record number of batsmen (23) were dismissed ‘bowled” in this match, the last time this happened in Test cricket.

- England’s pace bowler George Lohmann had figures of 9.4-5-7-8 when South Africa was dismissed for just 30 runs in Port Elizabeth in February 1896. This performance was then the best in Test cricket. Incidentally, 12 of Lohmann’s 15 victims were dismissed ‘bowled’.

- England’s George Lohmann in successive Test matches in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg respectively against South Africa had figures of 9.4-5-7-8 and 14.2-6-28-9 in February-March 1896. Both these figures were then the Test bowling record until 1956 when Jim Laker took ten wickets in an innings. 

- England George Lohmann took his 100th Test wicket in Johannesburg in March 1896. It came in his 16th Test match - still the quickest by any bowler (in terms of fewest matches) in Test history.  

- When English captain Lord Hawke arrived at the Old Wanderers in Johannesburg for the second Test match against South Africa in March 1896, he found the club buildings filled with injured survivors from a dynamite explosion nearby.  

- Englishman Audley Miller who made his first-class and Test match debut in the same Test in Port Elizabeth in February 1896, made his umpiring debut in the next Test in Johannesburg in March 1896.

- The final Test of the series in Cape Town was won by England in two days. Interestingly, when stumps were drawn at 5:30 pm on the second day, South Africa in the second innings was on 111/9, still, 39 runs short to make England bat again. However, the local crowd demanded a finish on the same day. The request was acceded by both teams to enable England to win by an innings and 33 runs.

- By claiming 35 wickets in the series in South Africa in 1895/96, Englishman George Lohmann’s tally is still the highest by a bowler in a three-match Test series.

- On the opening day of the Ashes Test series at Lord’s in June 1896, WG Grace completed his 1000 runs in Test cricket in front of 30000 spectators after Tom Richardson and George Lohmann bowling unchanged to dismissed Australia for 53 in 75 minutes. This incidentally was the 50th match that has been given Test match status since the first in March 1877.

- The Lord’s Test in June 1896, was the last Test match of George Lohmann’s career. He finished with a tally of 112 wickets in just 18 Tests, while averaging 10.76 runs per wickets and with a bowling strike rate of 34.20 balls per wicket – both still a record by a bowler with minimum 100 Test wickets! Unfortunately, in less than five years, he died of tuberculosis in South Africa, aged 36.

Indian born KS Ranjitsinhji (aka ‘Ranji’) became the first Asian to appear in a Test match at Old Trafford, Manchester in July 1896. He batted at #3 while making 62 and 154 not out. He thus became the second batsman, after WG Grace to score a hundred on debut! On the third day, he became the first batsman in Test cricket to register a 100 before lunch. He took his overnight score of 41 to 154*, while adding 113 runs in 130 minutes.

- Australian George Giffen in Manchester in July 1896, became the first player in Test history to do the all-rounders double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets when he claimed his 100th Test wicket. It was the 30th and penultimate Test match of his career. All his Test appearances were against one opponent – England! He completed his Test career in the next Test match at the Oval to finish with a tally of 1238 runs and 103 wickets.

- In the Ashes decider at the Oval in August 1896, five England players threatened to strike just before the start of play because of a dispute over match fees. Although three players relented, Billy Gunn and George Lohmann refused to play. England’s left-arm slow bowler Bobby Peel ended his Test career with figures of 6/23 as Australia were dismissed for 44. The fifth-wicket gave Peel his 100th Test wicket in just 20 matches. 

To be continued…

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