Centenary of a unique Test double hat-trick
Do you know how many cricket records have remained unbroken for 100 years? I can think of only one.
Test records are meant to be broken but one stands untouched for a century. Exactly 100 years ago today, on 28 May 1912, Australia’s TJ (Jimmy) Matthews achieved a feat which remains unique in Test annals.
England had staged a novel triangular Test tournament on home soil between England, Australia and South Africa from May to August 1912.
And the unique feat was achieved in the first match of the triangular series — between Australia and South Africa at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Winning the toss, Australia totalled 448, with centuries from Charles Kelleway and Warren Bardsley. Leg-spinner Jimmy Matthews, pint-sized but “as tough as a piece of jarrah” shone with the bat with an unbeaten 49.
On the second day, 28 May, South Africa was dismissed for 265 and 95, Mathews taking a hat-trick in each innings.
This was the first, and so far the only instance, of a bowler performing two hat-tricks on the same day of a Test match. More remarkably, all his six wickets in the double hat-trick were taken without the help of a fielder.
In the first innings, he bowled one batsman and trapped two victims lbw. In the second innings the same day, he bowled one and caught & bowled two batsmen. South Africa’s wicket-keeper Tommy Ward bagged a pair in this match, the third victim of Matthews’ hat-trick deliveries in both innings.
In the “timeless final” in August, England beat Australia by 244 runs on the 4th day. But this was a virtual second Australian XI as five top-notch cricketers had boycotted the tour. They were Victor Trumper, Clem Hill, Warwick Armstrong, Vernon Ransford, Hanson Carter and Albert “Tibby” Cotter.
Hill was Australia’s first great left-hand batsman who scored 3412 runs at 39.21 in 49 Tests. Powerfully built, his footwork was nimble and he had all the strokes in the book.
But in early 1912 he showed his belligerent side as he was involved in an ugly fist fight. During the 1911-12 Ashes series, he was at the centre of growing tensions between a number of senior players and the Australian Board of Cricket over the issue of who was going to control Australian cricket.
These tensions were enhanced by a strong personal antipathy between Hill and Peter McAlister, an opening batsman and a Board member. It exploded on the issue of players’ share of gate money and of selection of the Australian squad to England in 1912.
The tension and bitterness we see among today’s players and the governing bodies is nothing new.
The animosity between Hill and McAlister came to a head at a selection meeting in the Board of Control’s Sydney office. Depending on which report is believed, Hill either slapped or punched McAlister, and a twenty minute brawl ensued, with Hill almost throwing his opponent out of a third-storey window.
A blow-by-blow account of the brawl was published in The Australian in 1911.
As a consequence of this fracas, six top Australian players, including the legendary Hill and Trumper, pulled out from the triangular Test tour of England in 1912.
This gave an opportunity to Matthews to perform his unique double whammy exactly hundred years ago.
Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.