|Ground:||North Inch, Perth|
|Scorecard:||Scotland v Australians|
|Event:||Australia in British Isles 1912|
DateLine: 31st January 2013
After the failure of the Scottish batting against the Australians at Edinburgh in the early part of the week, it was a welcome relief to see the eleven which did duty at Perth yesterday making a great show against the Colonial bowlers, six of whom were tried before the Scottish innings was brought to a close.
To have the first eight men in a Scottish eleven against the Australians getting into double figures was indeed an extraordinary state of affairs, and a pleasant change from what has come to be regarded as the usual happening in these engagements; it was equally remarkable that a Scottish eleven should bat all day until half-an-hour from closing time; and not less noteworthy that the grand total should have been 289, one of the biggest ever recorded against first class visitors.
It was a notable day for Scottish cricket, and atoned in considerable measure for the recent disappointing displays at Partick and Edinburgh. Perhaps the Colonials were not "all out" in the early part of the day, there was now and then a suspicion of "slackness" about their work in the field; but that did not continue long. In any case, it did not alter the fact that the Scottish batsmen put in a most creditable day's work, and the wonderful steadiness of the batting, and the freedom with which runs accrued, made it practically certain that the match will continue well into the Saturday afternoon, when judging by yesterday's excellent attendance, a great crowd of Perthshire enthusiasts will turn out to see the finish, provided always there is a prospect of good sport.
Three changes were made on the Scottish side that had been previously announced for the match, Murray (Edinburgh Academicals), Fergusson (Perthshire), and Ringrose (Forfarshire) standing down, and being replaced by Orr, Joe Anderson, and Benham, and, as compared with the side that did duty at Edinburgh, the Australians had Gregory and Matthews playing in the place of Hazlitt and McLaren. Only four of the Scottish side which was beaten at Raeburn Place were in the Perth eleven, namely, Dickson, Tait, Sievwright, and Benskin.
There was yesterday, it is pleasing to record, no idea of a "one-man show" about Scotland's innings, for if Benskin, the home club's professional, was an easy top scorer, and was still undefeated at the close of the day's play, no fewer than eight men got double figures, and six of them had more than twenty. And the batting in every case was good, the players went into their work with coolness and confidence, and each and all of the early men seemed to have found the necessary qualities to enable them to stand up to the colonial attack.
When one thought of what had happened just the day before at Raeburn Place, when the whole Scottish team were bundled out on a perfect wicket by the same bowlers for 52, one was at a loss to know how to account for the change of front, or to determine where the "big" match temperament and the good "form" that came in its train had been found.
Not one of the men who got runs, however, showed the least suspicion of being "nervy," and therein, doubtless, lay the secret of the side's success. Not many "lifes" were going, though Dickson had one at 20, from Jennings, who misjudged the flight of a high hit, and attempted to take the ball when standing so awkwardly that it was little wonder he missed the catch. The Scottish captain played free, stylish cricket, if he were hardly so safe as at Edinburgh on Tuesday, and in his 49 were eight 4's.
Again he hit all around the wicket, and had hard luck in not reaching a coveted figure. At Edinburgh he was two short of the 100; at Perth he only required one run to complete his 50. He got his score in five minutes under an hour, and his ill-luck was all the greater in that he was dismissed by Smith, who is more a batter than a bowler, and who beat Dickson after sending down a wide.
The second wicket, that of Anderson and Dickson, added 72. An outstanding feature of the innings was the number of 4's recorded by the Scotsmen, almost every man who got runs at all having a good proportion of boundary hits to his credit. So rapidly did the Carlton pair make runs while together that their partnership, which realised 51, lasted less than half an hour, so that their rate of scoring worked out at about 2 runs per minute, and they indulged chiefly in 4's, of which each had five.
Benskin and Orr made 84 for the seventh wicket in about one hundred minutes, not bad going when it is considered that the Grange man played a characteristically cautious innings. A very useful one it was, and in future engagements Orr is likely to be more thought of as a likely candidate for a place in the Scottish side than has been the case in the past.
He gave a hard chance when 24 to Matthews, who was the bowler at the time, but the catch would have been a brilliant one had it come off, and the fieldsman certainly made a great effort to get hold of the ball. He reached it with one hand, but the impetus of the body in falling caused the ball to be thrown in the air.
That was the only "life" Orr had. Both he and Benskin, however, had a risky stroke or two, but, like the amateur, the Perthshire professional only gave one actual chance, just before reaching his 50, and it too, would have been a wonderful effort had the ball been held.
Benskin's success, as was only to be expected, greatly delighted the crowd, and he had a tremendous reception on carry out his bat. He was at the wicket for over two hours, and had 79 of the 130 runs scored while he was in. His cricket was for the most part sound and far ahead of that shown by him at Edinburgh, and if he were a trifle reckless now and then towards the close his carefulness and steadiness at a more critical stage in the innings helped materially, apart from the number of his runs, to enable Scotland to compile such a handsome aggregate, and to stay at the wickets for some four and a quarter hours.
To get practically 300 runs in that time spoke eloquently of the nature of the Scottish batting. So difficult a matter indeed was it to break up the association of Benskin and Orr that Macartney, who was evidently not intended to do any bowling, was called up at 225 not only for the first time in the match but for the first time during the present visit to Scotland.
He did not meet with immediate success, but not many runs were hit off him, and towards the close he got three wickets in two successive overs, all bowled. He it was who broke up the most troublesome partnership of the Scottish innings, and once that were done it was a comparatively easy thing to bring the innings to a close.
The Australians had less than twenty minutes batting, and in that time no risks were taken with the bowling of Benham and Sievwright, and no wickets were captured. Benham bowled a wide with the first ball of the innings.
The money taken at the entrance yesterday amounted to £106. Including boys, of whom there were a large number present, the attendance would be close upon 3000.
In the "Test" match at Perth between Scotland and the Australians, the Scottish representatives followed up yesterday in the field the advantage they had gained on the first day of the contest by their sound and consistent batting display.
The Colonials, as a matter of fact, were struggling uphill all the day, and, with the bowling of the Scotsmen always good, and the fielding as safe as it could possibly be, not a chance was thrown away, they had to fight for every run they obtained. If there had been a suspicion of slackness on their part on Thursday, they were certainly "all out" yesterday, but the matters would not go well with them and their "crack" batsmen got out cheaply, it was all they could do to save the follow-on.
As it is, the match is in a most interesting position and the Scots should leave the Australians something substantial to do in the fourth innings of the game, by which time the wicket may be showing considerable signs of wear and tear. The Scotsmen had a lead of 137 on the first innings, and increased that to 166 by the close of play for the loss of but one wicket.
With such an advantage it is only reasonable to expect that at least a draw will be the result. As on Thursday, all the honours of the day went to the Scotsmen, who, however, it is but fair to say, have had up to now the best of the weather and the best of the wicket. They batted under perfect conditions on the first day, whereas yesterday, even granted that the wicket was never really difficult, it was at no time suitable for fast scoring, such as Australian cricketers are used to, and late in the Colonials innings, under the influence of a warm sun after rain, it was not easy.
Thereafter it rolled out well for the opening batsmen in Scotland's second innings, and the rain came on before it had time to get tricky again. Against that, however, has to be placed the fact that Tait and Anderson batted for a time in wretched light, which was by no means good when play was resumed, and Anderson was disposed of.
But even if the Australians had not the best of conditions, their batting, it must be confessed, was disappointing in the extreme. Unless it were patience and safety play of Kelleway, it was almost featureless; and indeed, the only features of a praiseworthy character that the match has revealed have come from the Scottish players, who took a pretty firm grip of their opponents on the afternoon of the first day, and tightened up that grip very considerable yesterday.
Whatever happens on the last day, some excellent sport may be looked for, and the officials of the Perthshire Club and of the Scottish Cricket Union will be much disappointed if the people of the district do not come along in their thousands to see the final stages of one of the best, probably it will prove to be the best, appearance a Scottish representative side has ever made against really first-class opponents.
Scotland may yet be beaten, but, even so, enough has been done to save the side from suffering any discredit should the game end in such a way. A fine day for the finish is eagerly hoped for. There was a lot of rain yesterday evening after the stoppage, and on the previous night and early yesterday morning the wicket got a bad soaking. It was now, however, until well after lunch that the bowlers got any real assistance, and in the forenoon sawdust had to be freely used, an indication that the bowlers were working under handicap.
In the Australian innings, one disaster followed another in quick succession. Jennings was the first to go at 20, then Macartney flattered for a little only to deceive the spectators, and perhaps the enthusiasts among them did not know whether to be sorry or glad or sorry over his early dismissal. Some of them would have liked to have seen a little more of his play.
Prior to a shower of rain, which caused a stoppage of ten minutes, he played most attractively, and showed wonderful smartness on his feet. Immediately on resuming, however, in cutting a ball from Sievwright, he seemed to get under it, and it went straight to Tait, usually the safest of fielders. Tait did not take the wet ball cleanly, but, after juggling with it for a little, he managed to get a firm grip, and once more the top scorer of the season in England had not come off.
Bardsley also failed, and so did Minnett. Both hit out at Sievwright, and not getting the strokes cleanly, put the ball up for simple catches, Bardsley at mid-off and Minnett at leg. Four of the best wickets were thus down before lunch for 74, and Sievwright had secured three of them, those of Macartney, Bardsley, and Minnett.
On the resumption of play, the cricket was very slow for a time, and the first half hour following the lunch interval only produced sixteen runs. The Scottish fielders were maintaining their reputation for smartness, and twice in quick succession Tait at point had Kelleway nearly run out from quick returns.
So slow had been the play that the hundred was not hoisted until the innings had lasted over two hours, and Mayne, who had played subdued, if correct, cricket, the feature of which was his leg play, was at the wicket an hour and forty minutes for his 47. It was, however, in the circumstances a valuable innings. He left at 79; so did the father and captain of the side, Gregory, who only received three balls, and did not open an account.
Then seven runs later Smith was all at sea with a good one from Sievwright. Matthews and Kelleway put on 21 runs for the eighth wicket by patient, steady cricket, both men displaying the utmost caution, and it was only when the former got tired of that game that the partnership was dissolved by Matthews being caught at point.
With Whitty in, and the position of the Colonials getting desperate, an attempt was made to steal runs, and several short ones were cleverly taken, but that was a risky game with the fielding good, and Whitty ultimately paid the penalty, Tait throwing down his wicket with that total at 115.
From just the ball before, the same batsman should have been out. Kelleway at first declined his call for a run, and then went for it, and had Tait thrown to the proper end the batsman could never have been back in time. And even if Chalmers had gathered the ball, and sent it to the bowler, the wicket would have been captured.
The let-off, however, meant nothing. But one wicket was in hand and the Colonials were in the position of still needing 25 to save the follow-on. By steady tactics, and by waiting for the loose balls to hit, the batsmen, however, were able to achieve their purpose, though they were a trifle lucky to do so, Webster being more than once beaten, notably by Sievwright, who on one occasion just shaved the stumps.
Immediately before the follow-on was saved, and with the total at 132, Sievwright, who had bowled since the beginning of the innings, in all 30 overs, was relieved by Benskin, and the crowd showed their appreciation of the change by cheering the handing over of the ball to the local professional.
The change, however, had no effect, but immediately the Colonials had saved themselves from the indignity of having to go in again Benham had hard luck in being no-balled with a ball that hit Kelleway's wicket.
Next Lovat Fraser had a brief turn with the ball, and at last the bothersome partnership, which had realised 37 runs came to an end, and it was the safe and sure Kelleway who had to go. He had been at the wickets almost exactly two hours for his 34, and that the follow-on was averted was largely due to his carefulness and dogged defence.
Scotland had an hour and a half to bat, but after an adjournment for tem minutes, and a resumption for quarter of an hour or so, play was stopped owing to heavy rain just after Anderson had been taken at the wicket from a palpable snick. The 29 runs scored were obtained in just about half an hour's time.
The drawings at the gates yesterday amounted to £129, which with £106 on the day previous, makes £235 for the two days. The attendance would be about 4000 all told.
It was confidently anticipated that the finish to the game at Perth would be a keen and interesting one. Such, however, was not the case, and for that the Australians were wholly responsible. They made no effort to win after the Scottish captain had given them a sporting chance to do so, preferring to play a safe game than to risking a little for the sake of victory, and to please the fine Saturday afternoon crowd of 6000 people, who had come out to see the concluding stages of the match in the expectation that there would be some good sport.
There was never any excitement, and the spectators waited in vain for the time when the spurt was put on by the Colonials in order to hit off the runs. It was a disappointing ending to what, from a Scottish point of view, had been a notable game, notable chiefly because, Scotland were in the position on Saturday afternoon of declaring their innings closed, an unprecedented occurrence against such opposition.
The Australians were left with ten minutes less than three hours for actual batting and what they had to do was to make 264 runs to win. By cricket of the most careful and steady order they managed to put together a total of 200. No effort was ever made to force the pace, and it was an inglorious ending to the match.
The Scottish captain took a big risk in closing so early, but the Colonials would not respond in the same spirit. Yet if the crowd did not get exciting sport, they saw lots of real good batting of a sort, even, if it lacked sparkle, for both Mayne and Bardsley, lacking in enterprise though they were, played high-class cricket.
Mayne only gave one chance to Jupp low down in the slips when 73, and he was out five minutes from the close of play from a hot return to Sorrie in the Carlton man's first and only over. Bardsley's innings was a faultless one, and it took him an hour and fifty minutes to make his 70.
Mayne was at the wickets three quarters of an hour longer. Had the Scottish batsmen adopted the same attitude early in the day there would have been a greater excuse for them, but they did not, for the order from the start of the innings was to get runs quickly, and wickets were lost in consequence. Dickson took no trouble to play himself in, but drove at the second ball he received, and Tait, Benskin, and Jupp were all out to mis-hits in attempting to force the game with a view to applying the closure as soon as possible.
Jupp played another characteristic innings, and got his 56, in eighty minutes, which compared favourably with the times of the two Australian batsmen. Nor did Jupp give any chance, though he ran risks. The Scottish captain closed the innings immediately Jupp was taken at point, with the total at 126 for seven wickets, and with his side 263 runs ahead.
The drawings on Saturday amounted to £173, and the total for the three days was £408 odds.
(Article: Copyright © 2013 Cricket Scotland http://cricketscotland.com)