Remembering the 1977 Centenary Test

Jason Cave Roar Rookie

By Jason Cave, Jason Cave is a Roar Rookie

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    The 1977 Centenary Test played at the MCG between old rivals Australia and England is regarded as one of the all-time great test matches in cricket history.

    Australia had come off a 2-0 away series win over New Zealand, while England, under Tony Greig, did the unthinkable by winning a series in India, 3-1.

    More than 30 years later, memories of the match come flooding back:

    – More than 200 legends of Ashes cricket – from Bradman to Larwood, from Benaud to Compton were present at the game

    – Australia was all out for 138.

    – Rick McCosker being hit on the jaw by a bouncer from England’s Bob Willis.

    – England being dismissed for 95, Lillee taking 6 wickets.

    – The late David Hookes hitting Tony Greig for five fours off one over, which turned the match on its head.

    – Rod Marsh scoring 100 in the second innings.

    – The courageous reappearance of Rick McCosker, head swathed in bandages, and the crowd singing ‘Waltzing McCosker’.

    – England’s Derek Randall scoring 174 that almost won the game for England.

    – Marsh recalling Randall who was thought to be out on 161, when Marsh indicated to the umpire that he didn’t catch the ball.

    – The gripping battle between Lillee and Randall.

    – England’s Alan Knott being judged lbw to Lillee, which saw the match end in Australia’s favour by 45 runs – the same result as in the first test in 1877.

    It was one of the great test matches of all time.

    Little did people know when they left the MCG after the last day’s play that a revolution was on the horizon that would change cricket forever.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • Roar Guru

      November 1st 2009 @ 8:00am
      Vinay Verma said | November 1st 2009 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      Jason…it was a great endorsement of Test Cricket and it was a credit to Cricket Australia that so many past legends were invited ( see I dont criticise administrators all the time!)

      Harold Larwood had to be coaxed to come to the MCG from Sydney because he did not like crowds and was shy. The Bedser twins were dressed identically and Godfrey Evans was there with his mutton chop whiskers.It was a gathering of the good and the great.
      I am delighted that you chose to remind readers of the occassion.

    • November 1st 2009 @ 8:16pm
      Jason Cave said | November 1st 2009 @ 8:16pm | ! Report

      One of the enduring memories from the Centenary Test was the reception the major players from the 1932-33 Bodyline series, Harold Larwood & Bill Voce got from the crowd as they strolled out to the ground. It was a case of ‘forgive and forget.’ I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like what happened in Melbourne during that Centenary Test. It wasn’t just the cricket that was memorable but also to have 200 players from past Ashes battles being there as well. But as I pointed out in my article, no-one had any idea that one of the biggest bombshells of all time was about to be dropped on the peaceful world of cricket.

    • November 1st 2009 @ 8:22pm
      Jason Cave said | November 1st 2009 @ 8:22pm | ! Report

      Interestingly, one G.Boycott was there but not with the England side. Boycott was still sitting out Test cricket and being part of the ABC TV commentary team. Tony Greig has never to this day forgiven Boycott for not being in the England side and probably costing England a win. Seeing that Boycott later returned to the England team for the 1977 Ashes series, it’s not hard to think what might have been in that Centenary Test.

    • November 1st 2009 @ 9:59pm
      Whiteline said | November 1st 2009 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

      Nice work Jason. This was the first game I ever watched and I remember it like yesterday. Let’s all thank our lucky stars that Boycott wasn’t there…..

    • November 2nd 2009 @ 2:42pm
      chris mackinnon said | November 2nd 2009 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

      centenary test was a great match to show the world what test cricket was about, but it was the last real test before the cricket revolution of world series cricket. things that show up from this game are such

      the commentating of the game was rubbish abc’s televison coverage of the game was rubbish who wanted to see the game from the batsmans behind, thank god world series cricket came along

    • November 2nd 2009 @ 8:59pm
      sheek said | November 2nd 2009 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

      Jason,

      Great memories. I turned 21 during this test, so it was a wild time for me!

      After dismissing Australia for 138, Grieg made a comment along the lines of, “if I live to be 95, I’ll remember this”.

      It turned out to be a prescient comment, because that was England’s first innings total – 95!

      And both tests 100 years apart finishing in the same winning margin, how spooky was that.

      Chris Mac,

      I always enjoyed watching the players as they changed ends, & during wicket & drinks breaks. I often wondered what the players talked about sometimes? Perhaps about the chicks they chatted up the night before, or the big drinkathon, or cards game that was held?

      Rod Marsh gave some insights occasionally into the banter that went on in the field, & often it wasn’t tactics!

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