Jimmy Matthews took 16 wickets in 8 Test matches for Australia. Source: Wikimedia Commons
On May 28, 1912 Jimmy Matthews took two Test hat-tricks against South Africa on a single day. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the only occasion when a bowler took two hat-tricks in the same Test.
It was a mystery that Jimmy Matthews played only eight Tests — and not a single one after the series in which he managed to etch his name permanently in the history of cricket. The diminutive but durable leg-break bowler finished his career with only 16 wickets at 26.18 (one has to admit that he got to bowl only 135 balls or 22.5 six-ball overs per Test).
In the summer of 1912, the authorities, rather innovatively, tried to organise three series in England, which would also be a part of a Triangular Tournament involving the hosts along with Australia and South Africa. The plan should ideally have been a success, but weather played spoilsport, and the entire itinerary was in shambles.
28 of Matthews’ 67 First-Class matches were played on the 1912 tour, and accounted for 85 of his 177 First-Class wickets.
Day One: Australia dominate
It was the first of the Australia-South Africa matches, to be played at Old Trafford. The match has seven debutants — three for Australia and the rest for South Africa. Syd Gregory won the toss and elected to bat, and Claude Jennings and Charles Kelleway were soon underway.
The opening partnership added 62 in no time before the crafty Sid Pegler removed Jennings. Soon afterwards, Pegler ran through Charlie Macartney’s defence, which brought Warren Bardsley in the centre to join Kelleway. The duo batted with a purpose, and the landmarks passed by quickly.
Both batsmen scored quick hundreds: Kelleway was caught behind by the debutant Tommy Ward for a 195-minute 114, consisting of only five fours. In the process he passed both his Test highest of 70 and his First-Class best of 108. Bardsley followed soon, scoring 121 in only 145 minutes — an innings which comprised of 11 fours and two sixes. Gregory hit a few blows, but from 294 for two Australia were soon down to 385 for nine.
This brought out Billy Whitty to join Matthews. They added 63 in no time in what turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining partnership: Whitty eventually scored 33, while Matthews was left stranded on 49. Australia eventually scored 448 in 122.3 overs: Sid Pegler, with six for 105, was the pick of the bowlers, while Reggie Schwarz picked up three for 142.
There was still some time left, so South Africa went out to bat. Whitty immediately had the debutant Herbie Taylor caught behind by Barlow Carkeek, another debutant; the other debutant opening batsman, Gerald Hartigan, saw through the rest of the day with Dave Nourse. At stumps both batsmen were on eight, and South Africa were 16 for one, still 432 behind.
Day Two: The first hat-trick
Whitty ran through the South African top-order on the second morning, reducing them to 54 for four. Gordon White walked out and helped Aubrey Faulkner put up 89, but in another inspired spell, Whitty came back with left-arm fast-medium bowling and removed White and the captain, Frank Mitchell. Schwarz did not last, too, and at 200 for seven it was left to Faulkner to take South Africa as close to Australia as company.
He found another debutant, Rolland Beaumont, for company. Faulkner reached his hundred, 250 came up, and Beaumont, batting on 31 (the second-highest score of the innings), was facing Matthews. South Africa were 265 for seven, and Matthews’ figures read none for 16 from 11.3 overs.
Matthews ran in, and clean bowled Beaumont. Pegler walked out, and was trapped in front the very first ball. As the debutant Ward walked out, there was a murmur around the ground — could Matthews achieve the hat-trick?
He did! Ward was trapped leg-before as well! He had become the seventh cricketer, the third Australian (after Fred Spofforth and Hugh Trumble – twice) to achieve the feat in Tests, and the second bowler (after George Lohmann) to do it against South Africa.
South Africa were bowled out for 265 in 116 overs, leaving Faulkner stranded on a 255-minute 122 with 13 boundaries. Matthews finished with career-best figures of 12-3-16-3, but the real hero of the innings was Whitty, who picked up five for 55. With a lead of 183 runs and this being a three-day match, Gregory decided to enforce the follow-on.
Day Two: The second hat-trick
Faulkner, unbeaten and well-set, was sent to open batting with Hartigan. Gregory gave the new ball to Kelleway ahead of Gerry Hazlitt — along with Whitty. It turned out to be a shrewd move, as Kelleway sent both batsmen back to the pavilion with just 22 runs on the board. Whitty struck twice then, and at 43 for four, the match seemed all but over.
The debutant Taylor, batting at five, exercised some caution, and tried to put up a partnership with White. Gregory, keen on rounding up the match by Day Two, brought on Matthews to replace Whitty. The partnership meandered along till 70 when Kelleway found White’s edge.
It was the next over that really sealed it. The stocky Matthews ran in and ran through Taylor’s defence. Schwarz came, and with decided to break the shackles by being positive. The resultant stroke went straight to Matthews, who accepted it gleefully. 70 for seven now, and Matthews was on another hat-trick.
Mitchell, standing helplessly at the other end, watched Ward walk out. He had been the third wicket in Matthews’ first hat-trick. Born in Punjab, Ward was in the side mostly for his wicket-keeping skills, and wasn’t much of a batsman. He had even batted at eleven in the first innings. What will the poor debutant do now? Will he be able to keep Matthews out?
Using all his cunning, Matthews tossed one up, and a second later, Ward was walking back to the pavilion, caught-and-bowled. Matthews became the first — and so far the only — bowler in Test history to take two hat-tricks in the same Test. what was more, two of the six batsmen were bowled, two trapped leg-before, and the other two caught by Matthews himself, which meant that the feat was achieved without the aid of a fielder.
Ward became the first (and only known batsman till date) to register a King’s Pair on his Test debut. The Test was mopped up quickly. Mitchell fell for a duck, and Beaumont, who played a few strokes, was cleaned by Kelleway, who had bowled unchanged to pick up five for 33 (his best bowling figures), while Matthews had taken three for 38. South Africa were dismissed for 95 in 28.2 overs, and lost by an innings and 88 runs.
Australia 448 (Warren Bardsley 121, Charles Kelleway 114, Jimmy Matthews 49 not out; Sid Pegler 6 for 105, Reggie Schwarz 3 for 142) beat South Africa 265 (Aubrey Faulkner 122; Bill Whitty 5 for 55, Jimmy Matthews 3 for 16) and 95 (Charles Kelleway 5 for 33, Jimmy Matthews 3 for 38) by an innings and 88 runs.
(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ovshake and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)