Jessop's match


Gilbert Jessop with his hurricane century in the second innings helped England win the fifth Test in the 1902 series against Australia.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

SOME individual performances stand out so vividly in the context of a Test match that they get named after the player concerned. Cricket lovers will recall `Laker's Match' (1956), `Mankad's Match' (1952) and `Massie's Match' (1972).

But long before these great games there was `Jessop's Match' at the Oval in 1902. Gilbert Jessop, known forever as `The Croucher' because of his unusual stance, was a batsman of immense power who dominated first-class cricket in the early part of the 20th century with his explosive hitting. Jessop scored 26,698 runs in his career at an astonishing rate of 80 runs per hour. Wisden called him `the most remarkable hitter cricket has ever produced.'

In Test cricket though his record was more modest — only one century in 18 Tests. But what a century that was! Australia had already wrapped up the series. It won the third Test at Sheffield by 143. The next at Old Trafford was a thriller all the way, Australia getting home by just three runs.

England was thus only playing for pride as it sought to gain some compensation in a series that had begun so promisingly for the home side. Australia was routed for 36 in the first Test at Edgbaston in reply to England's 376 for nine declared and only rain saved it from certain defeat. But after that it was downhill all the way for England.

Joe Darling won the toss for Australia but it was only Hugh Trumble's top score of 64 not out batting at number nine that enabled it to post a reasonable 324.

Yorkshire stalwart George Hirst claimed five wickets with his left arm medium pace. But it was with the bat that he would play a dramatic role on the final day. Hirst was also top scorer with 43 in the first innings as England crumbled to 183 all out. Opening the bowling with his deadly off spin, `The Terror' Trumble grabbed eight wickets to demonstrate his all-round prowess.

Australia had gained a pretty handy lead of 141 runs. It squandered some of that advantage by collapsing to 114 for eight by stumps on the second and penultimate day.

It was one of the wettest summers on record and as with all the previous Test matches in this series, rain once again fell, this time on the second night. Australia was all out for 121 and England now had the very difficult task — made tougher by the damp pitch — of needing to score 263 for an improbable victory.

This time it was left-arm spinner Jack Saunders who inflicted the early damage on England. He wiped off the top order, grabbing the wickets of captain Archie MacLaren (2), Palairet (6), Tyldesley (0) and Hayward (7). With Trumble picking up Braund for 2, England's improbable task had just turned virtually impossible.

The score read a hopeless 48 for five when Jessop was joined by Stanley Jackson. There was still a mountain of 215 runs to climb. Now began the recovery and in great style too.

The Aussies had scant respect for Jessop, though he had scored 55 in the third Test at Sheffield. They considered him a crude slogger who would struggle against good, consistent bowling. This time at least they were way off the mark in their assessment.

There was 20 minutes to go for the lunch break when Jessop arrived at the crease. Despite England having its back to the wall, he decided to take the attack to the enemy camp in the only way he knew — all out attack.

In those 20 minutes, 39 runs were added with Jackson, 29 of them by Jessop alone. He even smashed Trumble onto the pavilion roof. But that only counted for four. In those days the ball had to be hit out of the ground for it to be considered a six.

There was no stopping Jessop after the interval. He carried on in the same vein and reached his half-century in only 43 minutes out of a total of 70. But both he and Jackson enjoyed reprieves.

Jessop was undaunted. In one over from Saunders he hammered 17 runs, including four boundaries. The occasional leg breaks of Warwick Armstrong managed to slow things down, but just for one over.

The century partnership was reached in a mere 57 minutes. Jessop's contribution was a mighty 75. The stand worth 109 was broken when Jackson's steady 49 ended, caught and bowled by Trumble at 157 for six.

Jessop, with his century in sight was joined by Hirst who survived a confident leg before appeal off Trumble. But he now suffered at the hands of Jessop who took 12 runs off one over to reach 96. The next ball from Armstrong was late cut for a four and Jessop had reached his century in 75 minutes. It remains the fastest century in an Ashes Test in terms of time.

The crowd was by now in a frenzy. It was `The Croucher' vs. `The Terror' and England's hero looked like carrying the day.

Jessop swept Armstrong for his 17th boundary the next ball but in trying to repeat the shot he gave an easy catch to square leg.

It was the innings of a lifetime. But with the total reading 187 for seven at his departure, would it be enough? Still 76 runs were required.

Hirst now took control. He added 27 nervy runs for the eighth wicket with Bill Lockwood whose contribution was only two. Wicket-keeper Dick Lilley added a precious 34 but Trumble picked up both their wickets and was once again threatening to run through the England batting.

When he had Lilley (16) caught by a diving Darling at mid-off, the scoreboard read 248 for nine. Hirst was joined by last man and fellow-Yorkshireman Wilfred Rhodes with a further 15 runs needed. Tension was reaching feverish pitch right round the ground.

Rhodes' batting talents would come to the fore within a year. But now both he and Hirst lived dangerously as the runs came in a trickle. Hirst had reached his 50 but the Aussies were scrapping every inch of the way. When Hirst finally scampered a single to level the scores, the ground erupted as much in relief as in joy. One priest in his excitement ran howling onto the ground!

It was Rhodes who got the winning single and for the first time a Test had ended in a one-wicket victory. As the crowd surged on to the ground, they lifted Hirst on to their shoulders and carried him off in triumph. He had played a vital hand in the match with six wickets, 43 and now a nerve-shredding 58 not out.

Thirteen of his last 14 scoring strokes were singles. But in the end it was `Jessop's Match'.

The scores

Fifth Test, England v Australia, Kennington Oval, August 11,12,13, 1902. England won by one wicket.

Australia — 1st innings: V. T. Trumper b Hirst 42; R. A. Duff c Lilley b Hirst 23; C. Hill b Hirst 11; J. Darling c Lilley b Hirst 3; M. A. Noble c & b Jackson 52; S. E. Gregory b Hirst 23; W. W. Armstrong b Jackson 17; A. J. Y. Hopkins c MacLaren b Lockwood 40; H. Trumble (not out) 64; J. J. Kelly c Rhodes b Braund 39; J. V. Saunders lbw b Braund 0; Extras (b 5, lb 3, nb 2) 10; Total 324.

Fall of wickets: 1-47, 2-63, 3-69, 4-82, 5-126, 6-174, 7-175, 8-256, 9-324.

England bowling: Lockwood 24-2-85-1, Rhodes 28-9-46-0, Hirst 29-5-77-5, Braund 16.5-5-29-2, Jackson 20-4-66-2, Jessop 6-2-11-0

England — 1st innings: A.C. MacLaren c Armstrong b Trumble 10; L. C. H. Palairet b Trumble 20; J. T. Tyldesley b Trumble 33; T. W. Hayward b Trumble 0; Hon.F. S. Jackson c Armstrong b Saunders 2; L. C. Braund c Hill b Trumble 22; G. L. Jessop b Trumble 13; G. H. Hirst c & b Trumble 43; W. H. Lockwood c Noble b Saunders 25; A. F. A. Lilley c Trumper b Trumble 0; W. Rhodes (not out) 0; Extras (b 13, lb 2) 15; Total 183.

Fall of wickets: 1-31, 2-36, 3-62, 4-67, 5-67, 6-83, 7-137, 8-179, 9-183.

Australia bowling: Trumble 31-13-65-8, Saunders 23-7-79-2, Noble 7-3-24-0.

Australia — 2nd innings: V. T. Trumper (run out) 2; R. A. Duff b Lockwood 6; C. Hill c MacLaren b Hirst 34; J. Darling c MacLaren b Lockwood 15; M. A. Noble b Braund 13; S. E. Gregory b Braund 9; W. W. Armstrong b Lockwood 21; A. J. Y Hopkins c Lilley b Lockwood 3; J. V. Saunders c Tyldesley b Rhodes 2; H. Trumble (not out) 7; J. J. Kelly lbw b Lockwood 0; Extras (b 7, lb 2) 9; Total 121.

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-9, 3-31, 4-71, 5-75, 6-91, 7-99, 8-114, 9-115.

England bowling: Lockwood 20-6-45-5, Rhodes 22-7-38-1, Hirst 5-1-7-1, Braund 9-1-15-2, Jackson 4-3-7-0.

England — 2nd innings: A. C. MacLaren b Saunders 2; L. C. H. Palairet b Saunders 6; J. T. Tyldesley b Saunders 0; T. W. Hayward c Kelly b Saunders 7; Hon.F. S. Jackson c & b Trumble 49; L. C. Braund c Kelly b Trumble 2; G. L. Jessop c Noble b Armstrong 104; G. H. Hirst (not out) 58; W. H. Lockwood lbw b Trumble 2; A. F. A. Lilley c Darling b Trumble 16; W. Rhodes (not out) 6; Extras (b 5, lb 6) 11; Total (for nine wkts) 263.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-5, 3-10, 4-31, 5-48, 6-157, 7-187, 8-214, 9-248.

Australia bowling: Trumble 33.5-4-108-4, Saunders 24-3-105-4, Noble 5-0-11-0, Armstrong 4-0-28-1.