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England become only nation to appear in two simultaneous Test matches

The only instance when one nation appeared in two simultaneous Test matches

Maurice Allom took four wickets in five balls against New Zealand in 1930. In his later years, he became the President of the MCC, responsible for inviting the South African cricket team to tour England. This 1970 picture of Allom shows him talking to reporters outside the Home Office, London, after attacks on 12 county cricket grounds around the country by anti-apartheid demonstrators condemning the tour © Getty Images

On January 13, 1930, England cruised to an easy win against Test debutants New Zealand. However, on another side of the world, another England side had a much tougher time against a strong West Indian team. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the only instance in Test history when the same nation appeared in two simultaneous Test matches.

The second day of the three day Test was washed out by rain, but England managed to clinch it with 55 minutes to spare on the last day. That Monday at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, the English bowlers competed against each other to grab the wickets. New Zealand, playing in their first-ever Test match, did not have the experience or technique to survive the day, and collapsed to 131 all out.

After losing Eric Dawson and captain Harold Gilligan early in the second innings, Frank Woolley and Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji rattled off the required 60 odd runs.

The Test was indeed one-sided, but the first day witnessed a remarkable feat by debutant Maurice Allom. The Surrey medium-pacer attained immortality in the cricketing annals within the space of one incredible over.

Allom’s eighth over started with a huge appeal for leg before against Roger Blunt, ending with the batsmen pinching a leg bye. The next ball clean bowled Stewart Dempster. Skipper Tom Lowry, played and missed one delivery before falling leg before to the next. Ken James snicked the fifth ball to wicketkeeper Tich Cornford crouching right up at the stumps. The last ball uprooted the woodwork of Ted Badcock. From the stands, the hat-trick was watched by a 62- year old Hugh Trumble, that famous Australian off-spinner who had himself scalped two hat-tricks during the early days of the century. The resulting four wickets off five balls had reduced the Kiwis to 21 for seven.

The home team had recovered somewhat to score 112, but it was hardly enough to make a match of it.

What makes the Test even more extraordinary is that the day after it started, on another side of the globe, another English team began a Test match against West Indies. At Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Hon. Freddie Calthorpe led a second England side in a five-day Test, and found the home side with George Headley, Learie Constantine, Derek Sealy, Clifford Roach and Hermann Griffith considerably more formidable than the New Zealanders.

Gilligan and his men – Duleep, Woolley, Allom, Maurice Nichols, Stan Worthington and the others – winded up operations on January 13. However, George Gunn, Patsy Hendren, Les Ames, Andy Sandham, Bill Voce, Wilfred Rhodes and the rest of them did not have it so easy. They had to carry on for three more days, trading largely equal blows and being sent on a leather hunt by a brilliant Headley before the match ended in a draw.

Both the series involved four Test matches, but the dates of the next Tests in the two distant parts of the world did not coincide. The Christchurch and Bridgetown games remain the only instance in the history of Test cricket when the same country played two Test matches on the same days.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

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