Windies got one of their biggest test victories against England over the weekend. In the first innings, England were blown away by the pace of Kemar Roach and got all out for just 77 runs. Looking back, this is the 35th time England were bowled out in a test match for a sub-hundred team total.

The interesting fact about 28th January is that 132 years back on 28th Jan 1887 England were bowled out for their lowest test total ever.

It was the first test match of England of the 1886-87 tour of Australia played in Sydney Cricket Ground.

George Lohmann (Image- ESPNCricinfo)

Earlier the tours were organized by private groups with some support from MCC. In this tour, the England team was also known as ‘Alfred Shaw’s XI’. The tour party combined of 13 members. In those days of segregation between Armature and professionals, this team was combined with only professional players.

It consisted of A. Shrewsbury, W. Barnes, W. Gunn, W. Scotton, W. Flowers, M. Sherwin and A. Shaw (Notts), R. G. Barlow and J. Briggs ( Lancashire), G. A. Lohmann and M. Read (Surrey), W. Bates (Yorkshire), and James Lillywhite (Sussex).

Like the trend, the tour lasted from late October 1886 to Late March 1887 and team played a host of first class and non-first class matches. Some of those non-first class matches included the team taking on Parramatta, where 18 players batted for Parramatta. The scorecard read 67 and 78 for Alfred Shaw’s XI against 73 and 49 from Parramatta XVIII’s. This gives us some indication about the pitches in some of those matches that were not up to the mark.

Deemed as ‘one of the strongest that ever left England for the Colonies’ by Wisden, the team played ten First-class matches in the tour winning six, losing two and drawing two. Except for the test matches, other first-class matches were against Victoria, New South Wales, and Melbourne Club’s Australian team. Their two losses came against New South Wales.

Coming back to test matches, the combined Australia team for the first test was a strong outfit. Captained by brilliant attacking batsman Percy McDonnell the team had bowlers like Fred Spofforth, J J Ferris, and Charlie Turner. Both Ferris and Turner were making their debuts. They also had Billy Midwinter, who after making his debut for Australia, played four tests for England in between and again went back to play for Australia.

McDonnell won the toss and put England in a difficult pitch. These days there used to be only four deliveries each over. Turner and Ferris opened the bowling. It is to be noted that the 11 run partnership between Captain Arthur Shrewsbury and Billy Bates were the second highest in the innings. Ferris got Bates first and immediately Turner got the new man Barnes. England lost two wickets on the score of 11 and three more with the score on 13. There was a 12 run partnership for the 9th wicket as George Lohmann became the only player in the line up to reach a double-digit score and ended with 17. The duo bowled unchanged and Turner finished with 6 for 15 and Ferris with 4 for 27. England were all out in 35.3 overs in just more than two hours.

Billy Barnes (Image- ESPNCricinfo)

The test match remained a low scoring one and despite scoring their lowest ever total, England came back to win the test match. Australia could only score 119 in their first innings and England responded with a ‘massive’ 184. Defending 111 in the fourth innings, Billy Burns and George Lohmann ran through the innings and got Australia out for 97 to give England a win by 13 runs. The test match lasted for three days and one of the most memorable from that era.

Interestingly, on the 125th anniversary of that day, on 28th January 2012 England were again out for a sub-hundred total. This time the opponent were Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and England were skittled for 72 chasing 145 with Pakistani spin duo Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal being the chief destroyers.


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