Australians all out for 18

Dick Pougher (left) and Jack Hearne. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

The touring Australians were bowled out for 18 on June 11, 1896 at Lord’s. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the lowest score by a touring representative team in the history of First-Class cricket.
There have always been upsets. Some of them have been acceptable; some others so terrible that they have been best left shrouded in mystery. The tour match of the Australians at MCC during the 1896 Ashes was an example.

The Australians had started well. They had beaten Essex at Leyton, CE de Trafford’s XI at Crystal Palace, Yorkshire at Bramall Lane, Lancashire at Old Trafford, Oxford University at Oxford, Gloucestershire at Bristol, and Wembley Park at Wembley; they had remained unbeaten till then.

The England innings

WG Grace walked out himself with Andrew Stoddart for company. Hugh Trumble, bowling seam-up the way he almost always did at the beginning of an innings, picked up both ‘The Doctor’ and KS Ranjitsinhji in quick succession. It was then that Stoddart and Stanley Jackson carved out a 76-run partnership.

After both fell — Stoddart for 54 and Jackson for 51 — Billy Gunn was the only one to put up resistance of any kind; Trumble (six for 84) and Tom McKibbin (three for 51) bowled them out for 219.

The Australian first innings

Harry Trott went out to open the innings with his namesake Harry Graham. Grace brought on Jack Hearne; the Middlesex bowler found Graham’s edge, but the ball sped through the slips for a four. However, he was bowled the next ball.

Trott managed to score six before being bowled by Hearne, as was Syd Gregory; John Kelly, the wicketkeeper, hit two boundaries. Little did he know that his eight would go on to become the highest score in the innings.

The tourists were 18 for three when Grace replaced William Attwell and brought on Dick Pougher. Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (New South Wales) wrote: “The cricket that ensued was as sensational as anything ever seen on Lord’s ground. [Dick] Pougher put tremendous work on the ball, and assisted by the state of the ground, was absolutely unplayable.”

Pougher had Kelly caught-and-bowled off his very first ball. An extremely anxious-looking Clem Hill was bowled by Pougher the next ball. Hearne then bowled Iredale, and two maiden overs followed.

Trumble played-on to the second ball of Pougher’s third over; Pougher followed it by yorking Charlie Eadythe next ball. He missed out on the hat-trick, but polished things off by having Tom McKibbin caught by George Davidson at mid-wicket with the ball that followed.

Hearne bowled unchanged from one end, eventually finishing with figures of 11-9-4-4 (9.1 six-ball overs).Pougher finished with an even more impressive 3-3-0-5 (2.3 six-ball overs). George Giffen did not bat due to sciatica, and the last seven Australian batsmen had failed to score. From 18 for three they were all out on the same score!

The innings remains the lowest total by any representative side on a tour. The dumbfounded tourists sat dumbfounded, unable to fathom what was going on. Pougher led his side off the ground amidst a hugeovation from the 12,000-strong Lord’s fans.

The Australian second innings

Hearne removed both openers before the players left for stumps on Day One. The Australians were 25 for two, still trailing by 176 runs. The next morning he bowled tirelessly, sending down 50.3 overs (42.1 overs), bowling almost unchanged, picking out the wickets one by one.

Sixteen thousand spectators had been to Lord’s to witness the tourists being defeated by an innings. The MCC fielders were outstanding to begin with, and Trott was caught behind after adding only two runs to his overnight score. Wickets kept falling to Hearne, and when Gregory was caught behind by the alliteratively named Gregor Macgregor things looked slightly precarious at 62 for seven.

Earlier, Gregory had been dropped by Hearne — a man the Australians simply could not help bumping into. It remained the only fielding blemish by the hosts throughout the match.

Eady joined Darling at this point. Eady batted with extreme caution for the first thirty minutes, beaten twice as the ball went past him, precariously close to the stumps. He then opened up, and scored 42 before being caught by Grace off Hearne. The pair had put up 112 runs in two hours.

Then, with the score on 183, Darling hit a skier off Hearne as Stoddart completed the catch. Darling’s 76 was the highest score of the match: he had batted for two hours and 45 minutes, and had hit eight fours. Giffen did not bat, the tourists lost by an innings and 18 runs, and Hearne returned figures of nine for 73 to go with his four for four.

In a way it was sweet revenge for MCC. Back in 1878, Fred Spofforth and Harry Boyle had bowled out MCC for 19 at Lord’s. It had been a low-scoring affair that the Australians had won by nine wickets; MCC had scored 33 and 19 while the visitors had scored 41 and 12 for one.

What followed?

  • Ten days after the encounter, Australia were bowled out for 53 in the first Test at the same ground (after the selectors had decided to leave out Ranji) by Tom Richardson and George Lohmann. They had recovered to 283 for three after England had acquired a 239-run lead; then Hearne ran through them, bowling them out for 347. England won by seven wickets.

 

  • Ranji scored 62 and 154 not out on debut in a defeat in the next Test at Old Trafford, but England won comfortably in the third Test at The Oval, bowling out Australia for 119 and 44. The wrecker-in-chief was, of course, Hearne, who picked up six for 41 and four for 19.

Brief scores:

MCC 219 (Andrew Stoddart 54, Stanley Jackson 51; Hugh Trumble 6 for 84, Tom McKibbin 3 for 51) beat Australians 18 (Jack Hearne 4 for 4, Dick Pougher 5 for 0) and 183 (Joe Darling 76, Charlie Eady 42; Jack Hearne 9 for 73) by an innings and 18 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