SPORTING NEWS FROM MELBOURNE.
By Nunquam Doemio.
Melbourne, January 2. Cricket.
The late match between Victoria and New South Wales (the 53rd, the way I reckon, things up, seeing that the two matches between the Melbourne Cricket Club and Albert Cricket Club in 1863-64 were equally as entitled to be reckoned 'Intercolonial ' as were the M.C.C. fixtures of a few seasons back) turned out a curious anomaly — in that it was the worst match ever played between the colonies, and yet was the best win ever yet achieved, Positive fact '. You see it happened this way :
Last Saturday week was the perfection of a day for cricket, and the curator of the Melbourne Cricket Ground had provided a wicket quite in keeping with the weather. So that when the New South Wales captain (Harry Moses) won the toss, it was confidently predicted that they would put together 300 runs on it. For included in their ranks was the celebrated W. L. Murdoch, who, though not entitled to play for the colony according to the strict letter of the law regulating residential qualification, yet promised to prove too great a ' draw ' (from a purely 'gate' point of view) for the Victorian Cricketers Association to stand upon ' niceties ' about.
Well, on Alick Bannernman and Charley Turner going to the wickets the latter (took strike, and on playing the fifth ball into the slips Turner started to run but before he could get back Harry Graham whanged the ball back to the bowler (Trumble) and 1 — 0—0 appeared on the board. Then, Harry Moses joined Banner man, and the scoring was fearfully slow; 32 runs only being put on by luncheon time — an hour and twenty minutes after starting. When Alick Bannerman had been in 85 minutes his score was 6, and then he was well caught by Laver off Trumble, to the delight of all true lovers of cricket. Mind you, if the wicket had been a bad one there would have been every excuse for stone walling tactics ; but under the circumstances these were perfectly nauseating. Murdoch received a tremendous ovation from the public, but in over-anxiety to score he misjudged the capacity of Jack Harry as a fieldsman, and retired (run out) for the 'dreaded duck.' Iredale was the next in, and after putting 27 together very nicely he happened to snick a high one just lightly, and was snapped up by Black ham at the wickets. Callaway, who suc ceeded, cut a ball to cover point, started to run, and before he had time to rightabout face was numbered amongst the run-out slain. Tom Garvett knocked up 16 in quick sticks, but on attempting to lift one of Trott's over the chains he lifted it into Jack Carlton's mawleys instead. MacKenzie came, saw, and was conquered— three balls being sufficient to settle his hash; Harry Trott knocking up against his 'duck' house. After this Moses, who had been plodding along — principally with leg glances— until his score had reached 71, tried to drag a ball round, and, making a terribly bad stroke, was caught by McLeod off Trott. W. Moore did not shape over well, being too prone to drag balls to leg, but but he added a useful 19 to the score prior to being caught and bowled by Trott. M. Fierce experiencing the same fate after making 3 ; whilst Newell was not out with 9 to his credit; sun dries only amounting to 4, and the New South Wales first innings closing for the miserable total of 155.
I never was so much disappointed in cricket before; I really did think the New South Wales men would have put up 250 runs at the least ; but there was no life in their batting. Time after time, when a friend would come out squat himself alongside of me with the remark — 'Well, old man, what do you think of the exhibition of batting?' I would break out petulently with the ob servation that they were a set of duffers, and then my memory would revert to the deeds of your boys from the West on the self-same ground, and I would find myself murmuring the refrain —
Oh, for one hour of Bateman's might !
Or well-skilled North to rule the fight !
For there wasn't a man on the side of the Cornstalk who came within ' coo-ee ' of the dashing- F.D., whose batting performances are still green in our memories, I can assure you. With regard to the Victorian trundlers, Harry Trott came out on top with five wickets for 44 runs, Carlton taking one for 32, and Trumble one for 33. Charley McLeod bowled very well (sending down 144 balls for 8 maidens and 33 runs), but was not fortunate enough to snavel a wicket.
There were only a few minutes to play out time on Saturday; but Harry Stuckey and Jack Harry put up 13 between them and the match was adjourned until the following Tuesday. And on the Monday (Christ mas Day) it rained in real earnest. The New South Wales men had been awfully glum over their small total on Saturday, and on the Monday (I have it on the best of authority) their crack bowler, Charley Turner, went to church with old George Gibson; but when he heard the downpour on the roof, instead of thinking of his latter end he was evidently more intent on meditating on the latter end of the Victorian team, as he turned round to ' Gibby' in a most impressive part of the service and remarked gleefully— 'Listen to, the rain falling on the roof !'.
And when operations were resumed on Tuesday the Victorians had a picnic, I promise you. But, luckily for them, Turner has a terrible dislike to bowling from north to south (from the pavilion end downwards) on the M.C. Ground and so our fellows had to meet him on, much tha drier wicket of the twain. Had he changed ends, Harry Boyle assured me, we were not worth a hundred runs against him. Even Jack Blackham (the Victorian skipper) Whispered to me that if we scored 100 we would do jolly well; and, by golly, when that worthy went in himself (last man !) there were only 101 runs on the scoring-board. Of these Stuckey (caught and bowled Turner) had scored 29 ; Jack Worrall (caught Iredale, bowled Newell), 21 ; Billy Bruce (caught Iredale, bowled Turner), 26; J. Harry (caught Moore, bowled Newell), 6; Harry Graham (run out), 6, after being missed in the long-field by Alick Bannerman ; H. Trumble (bowl ed Turner), 5 ; Frank Laver (bowled Newell), 1 ; whilst Harry Trott (caught Turner, bowled Newell) and Charlie McLeod (caught Pierce bowled Turner) had both been ' scooted ' out for a pair of spectacles between them. Under these circumstances nobody dreamt of giving the two ' Jacks ' — Blackham and Carlton — a chance of making any sort of a stand; but once again the improbable was the most certain, as the pair of them began laying on the wood in most approved fashion, the spectators getting perfectly wild with ex citement the while the tens kept popping up on the board. Eventually when his own score stood at 17, and the Victorian tally at 126, Carlton made a swipe to leg at a full toss from Turner, and was adjudged out leg-before-wicket. Blackham being not out with 11 and the Victorians first innings reaching 126, or 29 runs in a minority.
The special feature of the New South Wales fielding was the marvellous dexterity of a young colt named Moore behind the wickets, only 5 sundries being scored against him (and these mostly leg byes), whilst the style in which he disposed of Harry was worthy of Blackham in his best day. The beauty of Moore's wicket keeping is that there is no show or "fluster" about it, though he gets there just the same. This lad has a great career before him as custodian of the sticks. Turner took the lion's share of the wickets for New South Wales, capturing five for 58 runs, whilst Newell secured four for 43.
Towards the finish of the Victorian innings the ground dried splendidly, and on the "Cornstalks" going in for their second venture they had the luck to have a very fair wicket to play on. Bannerman and McKenzie commenced hostilities, but after the former (who has got so terribly stout since he visited England) had scored 4 he was magnificently caught by Blackham at the wickets off Trumble, the same bowl er securing Tom Garret (caught by Trott at point) for 3, and Harry Moses (caught and bowled) for 4. But when McKenzie and W. S. Murdoch got together a change came o'er the spirit of the scene, the former — a splendid specimen of Muscular Christianity, being a veritable ' Son of Anak' — playing like a book until he had amassed 33, when he bit a ball up behind the wicket, and was caught by Blackham off Carlton. After he depart ed P. Iredale gave a nice exhibition of batting for 87, his dismissal being brought about by "long Hughey" (Trumble, 6ft. 4½in.) in the slips off Carlton. Charley Turner was snapped up by Trott off McLeod for 8 ; Callaway caught by the same fields man off Carlton for a 'duck;' Newell caught Trumble, bowled McLeod, for 4: and W. Moore, after playing an excellent innings for 12, was caught by Worrall (at mid-on) off Trott for 12, after being previously missed there by the same fielder. M. Pierce was in a long time for his 4 runs, but at last he lifted his " left hind leg " just outside the popping crease to play for ward to Trott and in the twinkling of a sheep's tail, Blackham had his bails off, and straightaway marched off into the pavilion without waiting to hear the umpire's decision. All this time W. L. Murdoch was playing a sound game, but not scoring over rapidly; in fact at times it took him all he knew to keep his stumps intact, an easy chance of getting him being missed by Carlton (in the slips, off Trott) when he was 52. Outside this he gave no other distinct chance, albeit Blackham went desperately close on one or two occasions to catching him at 'draw.' Eventually the erstwhile New South Wales man carried out his bat for 64, his exploit receiving due recognition as he returned to the pavilion. In this innings there were only 5 sundries, the total reaching 174, which left the Victorians 201- to get to win.
Had the atmospheric conditions kept favorable this would have been a comparatively easy task; but— just as bad luck would have it ) — no sooner was the second innings of New South Wales concluded than the wind suddenly shifted to the South, and a terrific dust storm swept over the ground. Anxious to force the game before the rain came down, but not wishing to sacrifice any of his good bats in the uncer tain light Blackham deputed Bruce to accompany him to the wickets, and immediately commenced to score, hitting the first ball to the boundary for 4. Unfortunately before Bruce got properly started he managed to just tip a high ball from Turner, and enabled Moore to secure a meritorious catch at the wickets. Blackham did not long survive the disaster, as after scoring 12 he put his leg where his bat should have been (his old, old failing !) and retired l. b.w. to Newell. Two wickets down for 21 runs was a terribly inauspicious start which was not bettered when Worrall was bowled by Turner for 10; but then the 'two Harries ' — Graham and Trott — got together and made things 'hum,' the total being, 71 for the loss of three wickets when play ceased on Wednesday; Trott being then 44 and Graham 10.
Rain precluded play on Thursday and Friday, and at 12 o'clock noon on Saturday Trott and Graham resumed their positions on a sodden wicket, the Victorians then wanting 133 runs to win and having seven wickets to fall. It looked any odds in the world against them ; but fortunately for us— Turner repeated his error of judgment of the first innings, and went on at the south end, where the turf was so slippy that he could not obtain a foothold. In consequence he couldn't put on, any pace, and the two batsmen quickly settled down to the work of scoring. From 71 the total was brought to 100; when Trott made a miss-hit off Garrett, and was caught by Bannerman at mid-off for 54. Then Stuckey came on the scene, and playing very steadily brought the score along to 165, when Graham, who had played a masterly innings for 68, was caught by Newell off Turner.
At this particular time Turner was bowling like a demon, the 50 minutes adjournment for luncheon having made the playing ground comparatively firm. With only 39 runs wanting to win Jack Harry joined Stuckey, but immediately gave a couple of chances at square-leg, where, however, there was no fielder. Seeing the disability, Captain Moses placed a long-leg and square leg, which brought about Stuckey's downfall, McKenzie catching him (at leg) off Turner, whilst H. Trumble, who succeeded, was im mediately afterwards disposed of by Iredale (off Turner), at square-leg likewise for ' nixey.' So deadly were the deliveries of Turner and Callaway that victory still hung in the balance, but Harry settled down steadily, and when a lucky bump re sulted in a couple of byes there was only one run wanted to make a ' toi.' The very next ball, however, Harry tried to place to leg, instead of which it went up in the air, but fortunately fell between point and slip and out of the reach of either. After this lucky escape Harry cut Callaway's next delivery for 2, and Victoria won a remarkable victory by three wickets, Harry being 22 not out, and Carlton 0.
I had forgotten to mention that in the second innings of New South Wales Trott took two wickets for 41 runs; Trumble, three for 28; Carl ton, three for 60 ; and McLeod, two for 25 ; not a solitary wicket being clean bowled. In the second innings of Victoria, Turner captured five wickets for 84 runs ; Newell, one for 30; and Garrett, one for 33.
This victory makes the respective tallies stand thus :— Victoria, 29 victories; New South Wales, 24. 'The receipts for the match totalled £1,283 4s.; or £688 less than the amount taken last year— which was phenomenally large.
It was extremely gratifying to Captain Blackham to win this match, as with it closes his career as an 'Intercolonial' cricketer. "I had a good mind to play in another one" he remarked to me as he conveyed the intelligence I have just furnished you with; "just to top Tommy Horan's re cord of 27 intercolonial matches against New South Wales; but as we have both engaged in the same number of contests now I shall let it rest. Not that I feel done, by any means, old fellow," he continued; '' but a certain section of the Victorian public fancy I lag superfluity on the cricket stage, and I have determined to turn it up for ever, that is, so far as intercolonial matches are concerned." And, my word, we will miss him.
Inquirer and Commercial News Friday 12 January 1894 pages 2 and 3