2 SEPTEMBER 1882, Page 12


IT would be superfluous to dwell on the details of Australia's "crowning victory" in the cricket-field. They are as familiar now as "household words," and very unpleasant "household words," in the mouths of every cricketer in the kingdom. No excuse that will hold water can be made for the English players' defeat. The battle was as feebly lost as it was gallantly won, and there is really no more to be said about it. But the feebleness of the English defence, at a time when the game was practically in their power, must not be allowed to detract from the astonishing pluck and skill with which the Australians saved themselves quite literally from the jaws of a disastrous defeat. Napoleon was fond of saying that in war moral force stood to physical force in the proportion of three to one. And, speaking broadly, it may be said that the English team had " moral force " in their favour. Their antagonists had done great things, it is true. They had proved their unmistake- able superiority to our very best counties. They had defeated the Gentlemen of England in a single innings, and no judge of cricket could doubt that their bowling and fielding were equal, and perhaps a little superior to any that the Old Country could show. But the Australians entered on the decisive contest with the shadow of two recent defeats over-hanging them. For not only had the Players of England defeated them with even more ease than they had defeated the Gentlemen, but in a match played at Portsmouth subsequently they had been van- quished by a mixed eleven of Past and Present Cantabs. The team which they had to contend with was notoriously stronger than either of those with which they had so recently striven un- victoriously, and so far, we may repeat," moral force" was on the side of their rivals, to begin with. This force was quad- rupled, of course, when the formidable invaders were all dis- posed of in their first innings for the paltry total of 63. And although the English players' total in their first innings was only 101, when the Australians entered on their second innings " moral force " was still against them. Finer and better cricket all round was never seen in the Oval than on Monday, and although " ball" unmistakably beat "bat," " bat " was defeated, but not disgraced. The play on Tuesday was not so correct, and far more sensational. Mr. Massie's brilliant innings of 55 put an entirely new face on the game ; and when he left, first wicket down, with the score at 66, or 28 in front of the English majority on the first innings, "moral force" was wavering in the balance. But the scales soon turned. The remaining nine Australian wickets fell for ten runs less than their first had made, and a team which numbered in its ranks ten of the finest bats that England, and we have no hesitation in saying that the world, can show, found themselves at a quarter to four on Tuesday afternoon, with only 85 runs be- tween them and a victory which they must have felt would gladden the hearts of their countrymen, from Sir Garnet Wolseley's camp in Egypt, to the remotest village-green in England and the most out-lying station in India. They began this apparently easy task with confidence. Their champion, Mr. Grace, and their captain, Mr. Hornby, reduced the number of runs to be obtained to 70 before they were separated ; and victory seemed now so sure, as Grace was playing with all his old power and skill, that the spectators felt amused, rather than anything else, when the greatest " sticker " in England, Barlow, was dismissed by Spofforth's first ball, and Ulyett by a splendid catch at the wicket by Blackham. Mr. Grace was the next to go, and when he left, the remaining six wickets had only 32 runs to get, and, as the world knows by this time, they failed to get them. Comment is superfluous, and might easily become un- generous,—for the wicket may have been more difficult than it appeared to the spectators. But to say that some of the bats- men—we shall name no one in particular, of course—did not show the white feather, would be as foolish as it would be to say that the same undesirable panache was not sported by some of the " heroes " of Majuba.

Great as are the uses of Cricket—great and invaluable as an exercise for the body—these are small, compared to its uses as

a discipline for the mind. It is a game for manly men, and no epicene pastime, like lawn-tennis. But we must not let the mortification which we feel carry us toc, far. A great mis- take has been made, for once in a way—though, as Mr. F. Gale says very pertinently, in Time, for August, it is "the public opinion that the Gentlemen Eleven, i.e., many of them, showed great want of pluck at the Oval in June last when at the wicket ' —let it be the last. No reasonable critic can believe that the seven runs by which the Australians won this match entitle their team to be considered more skilful exponents of the game than the team which they vanquished. But as regards the higher qualifications of cricketers, as regards the pluck and determination which lend so much real and important interest to a pursuit which philosophers might otherwise despise, and not undeservedly, as frivolous and childish, it is impossible not to admit, and it will be best to do so. in the frankest and sincerest way, that " the battle " on this occasion was distinctly " to the strong," and " the race " deservedly "to the swift." Our opinion is, that so far as mere. skill goes, the English Cricketers may still be deemed superior to• their antagonists. But skill goes for little, if not supported by far• greater nerve and determination than was shown by the men• who succeeded Mr. Grace at the wicket on Tuesday last. The " demon " bowler, as Mr. Spofforth is commonly called, was a tough nut to crack, no doubt, on a wicket which suited him; and were it not for the fact that Mr. Grace appeared to play him with consummate ease and confidence, we should not be in- clined to condemn the English "failures," so far as he was con- corned. But Boyle's deliveries, though beautifully true, were- treated with a great deal too much respect, considering the state of the score, by Messrs. Lyttelton and Lucas ; and as the• English captain Mr. A. N. Hornby's management of the• match for his side was in every other respect perfection, as her won golden opinions from every one by the chivalrous self-denial which he showed by putting himself in next to last on Monday, and by the presence of mind which he displayed in the admirable- manoeuvre which secured Mr. Murdoch's wicket in the second innings, we venture to express an opinion adverse to the course he took when Mr. Grace was out. To use the language of the- whist-table, he did not play to score. He ought then to have• sent in his best hitters, with orders to play as rapid a game as.

possible. The tedious and over-cautious defence adopted by the• gentlemen mentioned above resulted in twenty-nine mortar minutes of maiden overs, broken by a single run, and in restoring- to the Australians' bowlers that steadiness and confidence which Mr. Grace had almost shaken. Mr. Murdoch, the Captain of the Australian Team, we may remark, did not make this mistake ; and the course which he took deserves to be noticed all the- more, because in the present instance it was not crowned with' success. He changed the order of going in, and sent his great " slogger," Mr. Bonnor, in immediately after Mr. Massie, to complete, if possible, the impression which that gentleman's. brilliant hitting had made upon the enemy's bowlers. His manoeuvre, we repeat, was not successful, but it was none the• less a proof of that remarkable sagacity which renders him so worthy a captain of the splendid team who, under his guid- ance, have now de facto made themselves champions of the world, and must—till the third match between England and Australia is played—looking at this as the return match to the

One played in 1880, be regarded as such. We should ourselves•

concede that they are as good as any Eleven that England can put in the field ; and this was far from being our opinion on Mon-

day morning, when, before a ball was bowled, we thought that victory for England was a moral certainty. /18 ont chang6 tout cola, and although, we repeat, we still claim equality for our own players, we can go no further. We- presume that we shall have these victorious visitors back again in 1884, and we trust that we shall then be able to show them that the rough but wholesome " shaking-up " which they have given to our national game has not been thrown away upon us. The conclusion of the match was witnessed by some 20,000. spectators. There were not many units in that enormous' crowd who would not have preferred Mr. Hornby's victory to

Sir G. Wolseley's, accounts of which were being hawked about the ground ; but they bore their disappointment with dignity, if not with good-humour, and while refraining from any loud expressions of enthusiasm, acknowledged unreservedly that if the best men had not won, the men who best deserved to win, had ; and that, we think, is the moral and conclusion of the whole matter.