Left: The Englishmen. Clockwise from top left: Dick Barlow, Arthur Shrewsbury, Ted Peate, Billy Midwinter, Harry Pilling, George Ulyett, William Scotton, James Lillywhite, John Selby, Tom Emmett, Billy Bates, Alfred Shaw (centre) Right: The Australians. Back, from left: Joey Palmer, Harry Boyle, Billy Murdoch, Percy McDonnell, Fred Spofforth, Tom Horan, Sammy Jones. Front, from left: CW Beal, George Giffen, Alec Bannerman, Tom Garrett, Hugh Massie, George Bonnor.
Left: The Englishmen. Clockwise from top left: Dick Barlow, Arthur Shrewsbury, Ted Peate, Billy Midwinter, Harry Pilling, George Ulyett, William Scotton, James Lillywhite, John Selby, Tom Emmett, Billy Bates, Alfred Shaw (centre)
Right: The Australians. Back, from left: Joey Palmer, Harry Boyle, Billy Murdoch, Percy McDonnell, Fred Spofforth, Tom Horan, Sammy Jones. Front, from left: CW Beal, George Giffen, Alec Bannerman, Tom Garrett, Hugh Massie, George Bonnor.

In his book Silent Revolutions: Writings on Cricket History, Gideon Haigh quotes from a letter from the well-known cricketing entrepreneur John Conway inviting another English team on a tour to Australia for the 1881-82 season (the sixth in chronological order), as follows: If you bring a strong XI with the best new blood, there is a cartload of money waiting for you. Although Conway s prediction did turn out to be partially true, the takings from the 1881-82 tour of Australia by Alfred Shaw s XI, estimated to be about 700 in overall profits, may have left the organisers a little disappointed, given that the USA leg of the expedition prior to the Australian tour had not made the tourists any profits to speak of.

The tour party had been selected by the triumvirate of James Lillywhite Jr, Alfred Shaw, and Arthur Shrewsbury Sr, and comprised 11 professional cricketers with Shaw acting as the captain. Lillywhite was not a member of the team, though he was very much in evidence as the manager and promoter.

The team had assembled at Nottingham to play VIII of Nottingham Castle between on September 15. On the 18th, the tourists were found sailing out on the Algeria from Liverpool via Queenstown to America. At the conclusion of the games in America, the party left San Francisco on SS Australis on October 22, going via Honolulu, arriving at Auckland on November 12. From there they proceeded to Sydney, reaching at about noon of the 16th. A short drive brought them to the Oxford Hotel, where members of the New South Wales cricket Association gave them an official welcome to Australia. The tourists had, unknown to themselves, been part of a record while in transit from San Francisco to Auckland, making the trans-Pacific crossing in 22 days and 21 hours, the quickest at the time.

The English team played a total of 18 games in Australia, although only 7 of these matches, including the 4 Tests, were of First-Class status. There were a total of 10 First-Class matches played in Australia in 1881-82, 7 of them involving the tourists.

The season got underway with a game between the tourists and New South Wales (NSW) at Sydney in December. The Englishmen batted first. The first three in the order batted well enough: Dick Barlow (75), George Ulyett (47) and John Selby (56). The total reached 272. Tom Garrett (4 for 86) was the pick of the bowlers.

NSW responded with 210, Hugh Massie scoring 56 and skipper-wicketkeeper Billy Murdoch 58. The principal wicket-takers were Ted Peate (3 for 64) and Billy Bates (4 for 51). The visitors were dismissed for 162 in the second innings, Billy Midwinter switching allegiance and top-scoring with 48. Ted Evans took 6 for 60.

NSW were all out for 156 in response, losing the match by 68 runs. Massie gave another good account of himself by scoring 76.

The party then moved on to Melbourne where they took on Victoria. The hosts put up 251, with fifties from Percy McDonnell (51), wicketkeeper Jack Blackham (66) and Jack Edwards (65). Shaw s XI managed only 146, Bates contributing 42 and Joey Palmer taking 4 for 53.

Shaw s XI followed on, scoring 198, with Shrewsbury remaining undefeated on 80. Palmer was outstanding again, and had figures of 7 for 46.

Needing 94 runs to win, VIC were all out for 75, skipper Harry Boyle scoring 43 of them. For the visitors, Peate had 6 for 30, enabling his team to achieve an unlikely win by 18 runs.

The next engagement of the season was the first of the reciprocal games played between Victoria and NSW, played at Melbourne in end-December. Victoria s 232 was built around a sound 95 from Tom Horan and 43 from Edwards. Garrett and Alec Bannerman took 3 wickets each.

NSW managed 146, mainly because of superlative bowling from Palmer (5 for 44) and Frank Allan (4 for 38). They scored 215 when they batted again, the only fifty of the innings coming from Jonas Davis (53). Allan, Palmer, and Boyle took 3 wickets each. Set 130, Victoria won by 2 wickets. Garrett almost pulled it off, taking 5 for 46.

The decks were now cleared for the first Test of the season, and the English team was confronted with an Australian group of mainly Victoria and NSW players, George Giffen being the lone representative from South Australia (SA). There was a definite preponderance of NSW men in the home team as England won the toss on decided to bat first at Melbourne. There were 10 Test debutants in this game, 6 from England.

The first wicket, of Barlow (0), fell at 5. Then Ulyett (87) and John Selby combined in a second-wicket stand of 137 before Selby was run out. Bates scored 58, and the first day s play ended with England being all out on 294. Midwinter made his Test debut for England in this game, having already played 2 Tests for Australia. He scored 36. Palmer and Evans took 3 wickets each.

The main feature of the Australian response was a wonderful 124 by Horan, his maiden Test century. The Australian innings ended on Day Three, on 320. Midwinter, Bates, Emmett, and Ulyett took 2 wickets each.

The visitors were bowled out for 308 on Day Four, Selby top-scoring with 70, William Scotton scoring 50 not out and Shaw 40. The star performance with ball was from William Cooper (6 for 120). The match ended in a draw (by arrangement) with Australia scoring 127 for 3 in the time remaining.

The Almanac report for the match states: The departure of the steamer which was to take Shaw’s team to New Zealand was delayed by the steamship authorities from the morning of January 4 till 3.45 in the afternoon in the hope that this very important match might be concluded. But all to no purpose, as the heavy scoring all round necessitated the game being drawn when the Australians had scored 127 out of 283 required to win. The Englishmen had the advantage of batting first on a splendid wicket, an advantage which was increased when the weather became uncertain after the opening day.

An epochal Test at Kingsmead, Durban between England and South Africa in 1939 would come to an end by a similar agreement after 10 inconclusive days of play for a similar reason.

The visitors then boarded the Arawata from Melbourne on the evening of January 4 and sailed to New Zealand, arriving at the port of Bluff on January 10, reaching Dunedin next day. In New Zealand, the tourists played 7 games of Second-Class status.

Having completed their scheduled engagements in New Zealand, the team boarded the City of Sydney on February 7, arriving at Sydney harbour on the 11th. It is reported that the tourists had been keen to stop at Society Islands, a part of French Polynesia in the South Pacific Ocean, but the request had been turned down by the Captain of the ship on account of the delay that the stopover would cause in the schedule of the voyage.

Meanwhile, the match between NSW and Victoria had begun at Sydney on February 10. NSW took strike, and batted well into the third day (this being a timeless Test). Murdoch was dismissed on Day Two for 321 (in 495 minutes, with 38 fours). It was the first individual triple-century in Australian domestic cricket. Sammy Jones was dismissed for 109. Garrett joined the party scoring 163. The innings ended at 775. It was the first instance of a 700+ team total in Australian First-Class cricket.

The Illustrated Sydney News reported: The great feature of the contest was Murdoch s score of 321, which, although it has been exceeded on two or three occasions in England, has never been equalled in Australia. It was composed of 38 fours, 9 threes, 41 twos, and the rest singles, and with the exception of the one chance, given when the batsman was 120, the innings was faultless from the beginning to the close. In the pavilion, at the termination of his innings, several gentlemen initiated a subscription for the purpose of raising a testimonial to him for his brilliant performance, and in a quarter of an hour 120 was subscribed and a promise made that the amount would be raised to 200 guineas.

Somewhat nonplussed in the face of this onslaught by the NSW batsmen, Victoria skipper Boyle felt compelled to call on all of his troops barring keeper Blackham to the bowling crease. Frederick Baker was the most successful with 3 for 109.

Victoria, demoralised before their innings began, were bowled out for 315, Palmer remaining not out on 76, Baker scoring 50 and McDonnell 48. Fred Spofforth (6 for 122) and Evans (3 for 78) caused the most damage.

Following on, Victoria were bowled out for 322, Horan posting a defiant 102. Blackham scored 96 and shared a 169-run third-wicket stand with Horan. NSW won by an innings and 138 runs. It is reported that about 30,600 people had witnessed the contest over the 5 days of play, with a peak of 17,000 on Day 2 when Murdoch had been in a punishing mood.

It was now time to move on to the 2nd Test of the series, to be played at Sydney. This was the first ever Test played at Sydney. England s first-innings total of 133 was a poor effort, given that the chief tormentor of the English batsmen, Spofforth, was not playing in this game; neither was Bannerman. The first-wicket stand between Ulyett (25) and Barlow (31) had realised 39, but after that, the innings just fell away. For the hosts, Palmer (7 for 68) and Ted Evans (3 for 64) bowled unchanged.

Opening batting, Massie (49) and Blackham (40, playing in this game purely in the role of a batsman) put up a 78 before Massie was dismissed after being dropped at slip on nought. Australia reached 197. Bates, with 4 for 52, was the most successful bowler.

Barlow (62) and Ulyett (67) batted magnificently, putting up a first-wicket stand of 122. The other significant contribution was the 30 from Shaw. The innings finished at 232, Palmer and Garrett taking 4 wickets each. Chasing 169, Australia finished Day Three on Australia 35 for 2.

On the last day of the game, Murdoch survived two chances before he was dismissed for 49, the top score of the innings. They lost 2 more wickets, of Horan and McDonnell, before Jones (13*) and Garrett (31*) saw them home to a 5-wicket victory. Wisden reports that Murdoch was presented with a gold watch and a gold Maltese cross in recognition of his stupendous 321 in the previous game. Barlow and Ulyett of England each received a Maltese cross set with diamonds for their resolute batting for the tourists, while Blackham received a silver service for his outstanding fielding.

The next game of the season was the match between the tourists and Victoria at Melbourne. Victoria batted first, the first-innings total amounting to 249. Though 9 of the batsmen got into double-figures, no one went past 36.

The Englishmen then scored 285, Bates (84) and Shrewsbury (72*) doing the bulk of the scoring. Cooper (4 for 84) and Boyle (3 for 51) had impressive figures. The Victoria second innings ended at 92. Bates had 5 for 17, a magnificent bowling effort. The visitors won the game by 8 wickets.

The stage was now set for the third Test, also to be at Sydney. Spofforth and George Bonnor were not available for this game as England batted first. The 5th wicket went down on the score of 56 and the prospects for England began to look bleak. It was Give me Arthur Shrewsbury who stood tall among the ruins. Indeed, Wisden reports that his batting was described as being absolutely free from fault. Shrewsbury s 82 was the backbone of the team total of 188. Palmer (5 for 46) and Garrett (3 for 85) were the reasons for the early misery of the England team.

Australia limped along to 24 for 3 at stumps on Day One. Much of the second day was lost to rain. The third day saw the fall of 16 wickets, and some brilliant batting from McDonnell. The Australian innings ended on 262, Bannerman being dismissed for 70 and McDonnell 147. This was to be the highest of the 3 Test centuries by the London-born McDonnell. The interesting thing about this innings is the fact that apart from Bannerman and McDonnell, there was only one other double-digit contribution. The fourth-wicket stand between Bannerman and McDonnell had realised 199. It was reported that McDonnell had been reprieved thrice during his innings.

For England, Peate and Bates captured 5 for 43 and 3 for 67 respectively. The England innings ended on 134 all out on the last day, Day Four. Shrewsbury again played a lone hand, with 47, and confirming his undoubted stature as a batsman. Opening the bowling for a second time in the match, Palmer (4 for 44) and Garrett (6 for 78) took all the wickets.

Well, batting was not easy on the fourth-day wicket, and Australia batted for 49.3 overs and lost 4 wickets in scoring the requisite 64 runs to win. Peate and Bates, bowling unchanged, tormented the Australian batsmen to the extent possible. Australia won by 6 wickets.

Three days after the conclusion of the third Test, England were winning the toss at Melbourne in the fourth Test, and opting for first strike. The bare statement that England had ended the day on 282 for 7 says nothing of the supreme quality of the batting that had been witnessed by those present on the ground. Ulyett, opening the innings, had scored 149 runs in 240 minutes with 13 fours, the first Test century by an English batsman in Australia. As it turned out, Ulyett s 149 also remained the highest individual score for England on Day One of a Test in Australia until Bob Barber bettered it with his 185 in 1965-66 at Sydney. When Ulyett had been the sixth man dismissed, he had scored 149 out of the 239 scored. He had offered only one chance, at the personal score of 132.

The innings ended next day on 309. Garrett took 5 for 80. Australia scored 300 in response, Murdoch leading the way with a fine 85 and Midwinter taking 4 for 81. England went in at stumps of Day Three on 234 for 2 with Selby on 48 and Bates on 52. Ulyett had followed his 149 of the first innings with a splendid 64 in the 2nd.

Rain, however, washed out the whole of what turned out to be the last day as the Test was declared to be drawn by agreement . This match turned out to be last Test to end in a draw in Australia till the 3rd Test between Australia and England at Melbourne in 1946-47. An interesting feature of all 4 Tests of the series was the fact that Lillywhite, one of the three men who had originally selected the English touring party and a qualified umpire, had stood in all the Tests.

The last match of the season was played at Adelaide between SA and Victoria. SA batted first, putting up 119, George McShane capturing 6 for 43. The VIC reply was restricted to 106, with 34 from Edward Turner. He received some support from Sam Morris (28), born of a Barbadian father and a Tasmanian mother of West Indian descent, who was to become the first man of West Indian heritage to play Test cricket for Australia, doing so under unusual circumstances. The outstanding hero for SA was the 22-year old left-arm bowler John Quilty, who captured 9 for 55, till date, the best bowling performance by an Australian cricketer on First-Class debut.

SA did better in the second innings, scoring 200. The first wicket had realised 94, with both John Noel (61) and James King (34) providing cricket trivia enthusiasts an early instance of both opening batsmen being not only stumped but off the same bowler in an innings. The bowler in this case had been the Turner, taking off his pads to bowl, and the stumper had been Charles Foot, who had been holding the fort behind the stumps while the designated keeper had been tuning his arm over, the pun very much intended.

SA won the match by 31 runs after Victoria were dismissed for 182. The only fifty of the innings was from William Stokes (58).

That brought the curtain down on the 1881-82 domestic season in Australia.

(Pradip Dhole is a retired medical practitioner with a life-long interest in cricket history and statistics)