Oamaru vs Australia
New Oamaru Cricket Ground, Oamaru, 17th January 1878

Oamaru 70 ( W.F. Neilson 18, Garrett 11-24, Spofforth 10-34 ) & 43-10 (A.C. Bannerman 4-0, Spofforth 3-0, Garrett 3-0 )
Australia 113 ( C. Bannerman 45, Lowe 6-56, Edwards 4-39 )
Match drawn
Scorecard for the match

Frederick Spofforth

Eight months after the very first test match, an Australian team containing no less than 7 of those that took part in that memorable event, took the field against the Oamaru Cricket Club in Oamaru. Of those who did not take part in that first test match, Frederick 'Demon' Spofforth, described as Australia's first true fast bowler, was selected but declined after fellow New South Welshman Billy Murdoch was controversially not selected for the match, and Frank Allan was also selected but opted to attend an agricultural show instead. Only 14 years earlier overhand bowling had been authorized in England, the Oamaru Cricket Club formed, WG Grace had made his debut in first class cricket and the Wisden Cricket Almanac had been first published. Only two test matches had been played before the Oamaru match, both at the Melbourne Cricket Ground eight months earlier, resulting in a drawn series at 1 all, while it would be another four years before the famous test at the Oval which saw the birth of the Ashes.

The Australians were taking part in a lengthy 14 month tour to New Zealand, Canada and England. The tour started with matches in Australia and New Zealand, then went through the season in England, and then went to Canada, before finally finishing with a second series of games in Australia. Cricinfo on the internet states that the tour included seventy-seven matches and was played by practically eleven men, as after Midwinter was 'stolen' by Grace and Bush in England, Midwinter did not take the field again for the Australians for the rest of the tour. However it should be noted that Cricinfo, in its description of the different countries that the team visited doesn't include New Zealand so it is unknown if the total of seventy-seven matches includes games in this country.

Billy Murdoch

Many famous players were members of the touring squad. There was Charles Bannerman who in that first test scored the first test century, when he recorded the score of 165 of Australia's 245 in the first innings, William (Billy) Midwinter, the first overseas player in the English county system, who would play for Australia, then England, and for Australia again before the end of his cricketing career and later on during this tour while in England was involved in what would be called "Midwinter's midsummer madness" when WG Grace and JA Bush convinced him to play for Gloucestershire in a county match rather than for the touring Australian team in a match against Middlesex at Lord's in June. After this incident Midwinter did not take part in the rest of the tour. The team was captained by Australian native Dave Gregory and every member of the team would at some stage represent Australia during matches against England.

According to research done by Roddy Brown in his book 'Whitestone City Cricket', the New Cricket Ground on which the match was played, was created in 1877 as an alternative to the Oamaru Cricket Ground (now called Takaro Park) with the old cricket ground seeing its 'mutilation' (as described) during the construction of school buildings and the straightening of the Oamaru creek. While the outfield of the new ground may have been a bit rough, the pitch met with approval. During its creation poplars were planted around the ground with evidence of them 80 years after their planting still being seen. The year after the visit saw the selling of four sections for two hundred pounds to pay for the Australian visit. In 1908 the pavilion at the ground (in 1908 the ground was known as the North Road Ground) was host to a polling booth during the General Election, around four years after the 1908 Election, the ground was broken up into sections and sold. Its location was to the land immediately to the north of the land now constituting the A&P Showground's.

Dave Gregory in latter years

As was tradition in those early games whenever a team played against another of significantly lesser skill the lesser skilled team had the option of playing more than the regular eleven players, as such Oamaru played with twenty two players against the Australian's eleven. In comparison to other teams efforts against the tourists during the tour an Invercargill XXII had been beaten by an innings and 139 runs (Charles Bannerman 125 not out), an Otago XXII match had been rained off after Otago had gained a first innings lead of 32 and set Australia a target of 126 to win, while a Canterbury XV had played a one innings match and lost by 8 runs. The only other match of the tour saw the Australian's play another one innings match, this time against an Wellington XXII with a win by five wickets after being set 92 to win.


The 1878 Australians
Back/Middle Row:~J. McC Blackham, T. Horan, G. H. Bailey, D.W. Gregory (captain), J. McConway (manager), A. Bannerman, C. Bannerman, W. L. Murdoch
Front Row:~ F. R. Spofforth, F. Allan, W. Midwinter, T. W. Garrett, H.F. Boyle

A very detailed report on the match appeared in the Friday January 18, 1878 edition of the North Otago Times. The full report reads as follows:
With fine weather, but with the barometer ominously low - 29.23, the Eleven who are, according to a correspondent, to "bear the Banner of the Southern Cross through the evergreen cricket fields of England" met the 22 players of the Oamaru Club, on their ground yesterday to play the match, which had excited considerable interest among the people of this County. It had been looked upon that G. Millingan's bowling was the stuff upon which Oamaru would lean for victory, and when he failed to put in an appearance the friends of the local team gave up all hope of a successful result.
At 10.30 the umpires - Mr James Morrison for the Australian team , and Mr J.T. Evans for the New Zealanders - announced the preparations complete, and the Australians taking the field, Edwards and Lowe took their stations at the wickets to the bowling of Spofforth, with Murdoch as wicket-keeper. Lowe scored 1 off the third ball, and the last ball of the over went off Edward's arm, and being caught by Gregory he was given out. Rice took his place, and Garrett's over was played by Lowe without scoring. Spofforth's next over produced a bye, and then Rice was bowled by Garrett. Neilson next faced the formidable bowling, and after Lowe had played another maiden from Spofforth, made first run of Spofforth. Soon afterwards Lowe prependicularised one of that bowler's, and he was caught by the wicket keeper. The score stood at 4 runs and the men of Oamaru looked gloomy. Bennett took the place made by Lowe's misfortune, but haste to get back again, his wicket falling prey to the first ball - a Yorker from Spofforth. Nichols next joined Neilson, and that batsman played an admirable over from Garratt, and Spofforth sent down four trimmers to Nichols, and Garratt a ditto to Neilson. Spofforth took Nichols wicket with the first ball of the next over, and 4-0-4 stood the game when De Lautour joined Neilson who received another maiden over of Garratts. The Doctor drove Spofs first ball back to the bowler, the second and fourth to point, the third to long field off, but could not score, the fielding being very smart at this time. Nielson now pulled Garratt to leg for 3 amid much applause, and a 2 was made of a cannon shot from Garratt, which got past Horan, who was long stop. Spofforth then bowled his fourth successive maiden, and Garratt next produced a bye, and 10 at length adorned the blackboard. The Doctor then drove Spofforth to long field, but could only score 1 for it, and was soon afterwards caught by Murdoch at the wicket. 6-1-11. Picket now joined Neilson, who made 1, and Pickett 2 of Spofforth, but was nearly run out : then he made 1 to leg, a bye was scored, and Neilson slipped one of Garratts for 2, and then driving him splendidly for 3, 20 appeared on the board. He next drove Spofforth to long field on for 2, a bye was made off Pickett's hands, and a ditto for 2. Neilson made a fine cut for 2, and soon afterwards Pickett made a flunky 2 from one of Spofforth's. Neilson followed suit, and 30 went up. Now, Neilson, warming to his work, hit Garratt to long field on for 2, and then one of Spofforth seducers tempted his colleague from his ground, and Murdock stumped him cleverly. 7-4-32. Sumpter filled the vacancy, and took the balance of the over, but seemed to be troubled in mind about them, and rather uncertain as to the mode of meeting them. Neilson now scored 2 off Garratt, and then, to the regret of everybody, gently put the ball into Blackham's hands at mid-wicket, and his innings terminated with a well got score of 18, and the game stood 8-18-34. The Captain (F. Fenwick) now joined Sumpter, who took a maiden from the Sydney catapult, and Fenwick hit Garratt for a single, for which 2 should have been scored ; he drove Spof in the next over for 3, and Sumpter took an over from Garratt without increasing the tally, and lost his Captain, who was clean bowled by a clipper, making room for Booth, who played the ball neatly into slips for 1 ; Sumpter received a second maiden over from Spofforth, and Booth, after scoring one off Garratt, made one of the finest hits of the innings through the fence by Willie Maitland's booth for 3, and soon afterwards met his fate by a fine ball by Garratt. 10-5-42. McDonald now appeared on the scene, but his wicket was cruelly shattered by Garratt the first ball and his successor Robinson, met a precisely similar fate, and both gentlemen seemed sorry for it. Walls took the last ball of this fatal over without further mischief being done, and Garratt, as representative of the Sydney University, failed to get a wicket for every ball of the over, and then Sumpter broke the egg so long standing against his name by scoring 1 to leg. Walls stepping in to a tempter of Spofforth's hit it to the fence for 3, and then Garratt bowled him with a shooter, for which he was evidently unprepared. Davidson, his successor, fell to the next ball from the same hand, and to show of how demoniacal a character was the Sydney Schoolman's bowling at this time, we may say that Davidson's wicket was the fifth one taken in six balls, but A. Y. Smith next faced him, hit his next ball to long on for 2, and Sumpter having been missed by Murdoch at the wickets, was caught at leg by Horan, and the veteran retired with a score of 1, after seeing six or seven of his colleagues succumb to the forces. Taylor now joined Smith, and obtaining2 by a straight hit over the wicket, enabled 50 to be shown outside. He added a single and running a bye, Smith made another past point off Spofforth, and followed it up by beautifully playing an over of Garratt's scoring 1 off the last of them. He then lifted one rather spoonily, but no being there, a single was scored, and he played all Garratt's next over without affecting the score. Then Taylor drove Spofforth for 2, his associate scored Garrett similarly to long field off, and Taylor added 1 at long field for a fine hit, which good fielding only prevented being 3, and 60 was mounted on the indicator,, Smith next made twos off two succeeding balls, and the play was lively and interesting at this time, and the prospects of Oamaru more bright than they had been - but delusive hope - this was just the time that Smith's wicket was to fall, and fall it did to a trimmer form the redoubtable Garratt. His 11 was made credible play, and his return to the Pavilion was amid applause from the team and spectators. The game now stood 16-11-65. His successor McJannett lost his coadjutor by a Spofforthian trimmer Atherton quickly retired in obedience to a bailer of Garratt's. 18-1-66. George Fenwick filled the vacancy, but hardly had done so ere he lost the company of McJannett, who returned to the Pavilion scoreless, being caught by A Bannerman. Tempest then hit Spofforth well for 2, and Fenwick played a maiden over of Garratt's. Tempest then made a single off Spofforth's first ball, and the third took Fenwick's wicket. Maude next appeared with the bat, but a Yorker from Garratt scattering Tempest's stumps induced to take it out again, without having greatly distinguished himself. The innings ended with a score of 70, and the players adjourned to the Pavilion for lunch.
We may here remark that the bowling of the visiting team is excellent and fit to take wickets among the County clubs in England. The fielding seemed to us to be certainly not better than we expected, although doubtless it is very good, and they seem to have a knack of knowing where the ball hit must come. The batting of Oamaru indicated a tremulousness resulting from want of practices, and some of the best batsman had misfortunes. Edwards accident was especially regrettable, because he had been playing well all the season. He had practiced most industriously for this match since it was first talked of, and then after all he was disposed of by a mistake.
After lunch a considerable increase took place in the number of spectators among them were a great number of ladies, whose gay costumes lent a charm to the scene, and added to the interest of the game. It was quite interesting to listen to their comments on the play, and it looks well for the future of cricket in Oamaru ben(?) ladies fair have taken the trouble to learn the rules of the game, and talk learnedly to their cavaliers of byes and bowling creases.
The innings of the visitors commenced with the brothers Bannerman at the wickets, who they took their places amid cheers from the spectators. Edwards bowled at the north end, and from his first over a 3 was made by Bannerman minor. G Fenwick bowled at the south end. During the first six overs only a single was added to the score, and it seemed as though the bowling of the pair must be pretty good. C. Bannerman was a good while before he could get one away, but in Fenwick's 4 th and 6 th overs nine runs were made, and a change was tried by the substitution of Lowe, and although now and then both he and Edwards for hit out by Bannerman major we think the captain exercised a wise discretion in continuing them through the innings.
When 49 had been put together, a breach was made, Lowe bowling A Bannerman. When Horan - a very fine bat - was bowled by Edwards 60 was the score. Spofforth's wicket fell to Lowe for 2. Murdoch was sent back without scoring, and when at length Edwards took the leviathan's bails he was rewarded with loud cheers, as was Bannerman on his return home. His innings was a very fine one, but he gave a chance or two, though difficult ones. Gregory was at the wicket when Bannerman retired, and during his innings he made a tremendous hit to long field on, but Taylor, to whom it went, missed it in a way which showed want of practice on the part of that promising young player. Blackham played carefully and in good style, but when 9 graced his name he also fell before Edwards. 6-2-87. Garatt stood at the vacant wicket, and Gregory was soon afterwards caught by Sumpter off Lowe. 7-9-93. Bailey followed, but soon lost Garratt, who was well caught Tempest at long-field. Boyle succeeded, and when his wicket fell to Lowe, the score stood 9-6-12. Kendall, the Scarvlous of the team was last man, and when Bayley was bowled by Lowe, the innings ended for 113.
We may remark that, considering the absence of Millington, the Oamaru bowling was good ; the wicket keeping was of course so, for the Captain was there ; and the fielding of G. Fenwick, Walls, Robinson, Atherton, Booth (except in one instance), and especially Lowe, was commendable, many of the team were not quite so good as we should like to see them, or as they are capable of becoming.
Oamaru's second innings was principally characterized by the excellent batting of Lowe and Taylor, and the remarkable four overs of A Bannerman - the results the appended scores and analysis will show. The attendance on the ground throughout the day was much larger than at any other cricketing event that has yet occurred in this district, and during part of the afternoon could not have been far short of 1000, among whom was a goodly number of ladies.


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