Sussex v Australia

19, 20 and 21 July 1888

A First Victory over the Tourists

Sussex had achieved a moral victory against the Australian team in 1884 for when stumps were drawn  Sussex needed just 33 more runs. Four years later, the Sussex side against Australia was captained by Aubrey Smith and included five of the 1884 team.

Aubrey Smith won the toss and decided to bat – a decision that was popular with the large crowd but after Walter Quaife, Francis  Gresson and Jesse Hide had been sent back to the pavilion cheaply by Charles Turner, one of the ‘twin terrors’ of Australian fast bowling (the other being Jack Ferris), it seemed  Sussex would be skittled out for very few. Billy Newham though steadied the innings and refused to be intimidated by the Australian attack and with the support of Freeman Thomas and George Brann took Sussex total to 9with Newham undefeated on 44.

Billy Newham

Few men have served Sussex for as long as Newham. He had first played for Sussex in 1881 and was the mainstay of the batting throughout the 1880s. Of medium height and well built he was an excellent cutter of the ball and good on the leg-side as well. He was also an excellent fielder. He became both secretary and captain in 1889 and led the side again in 1891 and 1892 before handing over the Billy Murdoch. Newham was good enough to be selected for the England side that toured Australia in 1887/9, playing one Test in Sydney. In 1902, aged 42, Newham added 344 with Ranjitsinhji for the seventh wicket against Essex at Leyton, a record which stood until the 1954/5 season. When he finished playing in 1905 Newham had scored 13,739 runs (average of 25.26) with a top score of 201 not out. He continued to be secretary until 1909 and then remained as an assistant for many more years. The Sussex Daily News described Newham’s contribution to the Sussex victory over Australia as ‘deserving of the highest praise and forming an important feature in the succession of events leading to the ultimate victory.’

The Australians sensed Victory

The Australians applauded Newham back to the pavilion, no doubt thinking that they would be able to establish a good first innings lead as the basis for another routine victory. They were soon consigning any hope of a quick victory to the back of their minds as Arthur Hide bowled Bannerman with the first ball of the innings.. The Australian wickets soon began to tumble with only Trott putting up any resistance with his innings of 24. The last five batsmen made just fourteen runs between them as Australia made 68. The innings had lasted just ninety minutes. Both Arthur Hide and the lob bowler, Humphreys, took five wickets and the thrill of the occasion was enough to cause many in the crowd to rush towards the professional dressing room to cheer the two bowlers who had humbled Australia.

Hide struck early

Sussex went in for their second innings and were 74 for three at the close of play. Overnight there was heavy rain, and the following day the uncovered wicket wore quite quickly. The hundred was up after thirty minutes but the tail failed to wag, and Sussex were all out for 116. The Australians needed 147 to win.

Hide struck early for Sussex, bowling the Australian captain, Percy McDonnell, for a duck, but Bannerman and Trott began to score quickly until Humphreys was brought on to bowl. When rain brought an early close to the day’s play Australia were six for 35.

When play resumed on a damp Saturday, Trott and Turner were playing so well that an Australian victory seemed quite likely. The Sussex bowlers stuck to their task though and once the overnight pair had been got out, Australia collapsed with Sussex winning the match by 58 runs. Arthur Hide (four for 23) and Humphreys (four for 19) again did the damage. The Sussex Committee were delighted and added a sovereign to each professional’s customary fee, while Arthur Hide received a silver cup for his match performance of eight wickets and five catches.

Albert Craig, who composed ditties on Sussex cricket, was moved to write the following about the match he witnessed.

‘Then here’s to our cracks

To the men of renown

Who without chance or luck

Took Australia down

I’ll warble their praises

Wheresoever I rove

And wish them success

In each contest at Hove