Test Cricket: a throwback to the 2-day wonders

Down the memory lane, a look at 2-day Test Cricket matches played at various times in the history of International Cricket

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Australia routing South Africa in a day and half in the Brisbane Test this Sunday is the inspiration behind this article on two-day Test Cricket.
This was the 23rd two-day Test in the 145 year history of Test cricket. The first such instance was between England and Australia at The Oval, England, from 28 to 29 August 1882; Australia winning the mini thriller by seven runs.
All three Ashes Tests in the 1888 series in England ended in two days. Australia (116 and 60) vanquished England (53 and 62) by 61 runs at Lord’s, but lost by innings at The Oval and in Manchester.
At one stage in Manchester, Australia was 6 down for 7 runs, the worst start in Test annals.
The first four Aussie batsmen made ducks. This was the shortest Test, England completing their 21 runs victory before lunch, at 1.55 pm, on the second day.
The next two Tests between South Africa and England at Port Elizabeth and Cape Town in March 1889 also ended within two days, England winning both times.
Thus five Tests in a row from July 1888 to March 1889 finished in two days!Fifteen of the 23 two-day Tests were played before 1947 when the pitches were not covered and rains made them batsmen’s nightmares.
For 54 years between 1946 and 2000 there were no 2-day Tests but the new millennium produced five such micro Tests.
  •  England beat West Indies at Leeds in August 2000·
  •  Australia beat Pakistan at Sharjah in October 2002·
  •  South Africa beat Zimbabwe at Cape Town in March 2005.
  • New Zealand beat Zimbabwe at Harare in August 2005.
  • Australia beat South Africa at Brisbane in December 2022.
The first four 2-day wonders were won by an innings.

Six of the best 2-day Tests are featured below:
1.      Spofforth grabs 14 (England v. Australia, The Oval, 28 – 29 August 1882)
Australia won the toss, batted first, were routed for 63 and yet won. England was dismissed for 101, ‘Demon’ Spofforth capturing 7-46. Despite 55 by opener Hugh Massie, Australia collapsed for 122. England needed a token 85 to win and was cruising at 2-51 with WG Grace on 32. But incredibly they lost their last 8 wickets for 26 runs to be shot out for 77, Spofforth bagging 7 more scalps to finish with 14-90. Australia won by 7 runs.
2-Day Test Cricket
After this Test the legend of Ashes was born when The Sporting Times carried a mock obituary notice stating that the body of English cricket would be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia.
2.     Martin’s amazing debut (England v. Australia, The Oval, 11-12 August 1890)
Frederick Martin (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
It was an action replay of the above Test but with a different result. Australia won the toss, batted and was all out for 92. Making his Test debut, England’s left-arm medium pacer Fred Martin took 6-50. England led by eight runs.
Martin struck again with a 6 wicket haul and a match figured of 12 for 102 and the visitors toppled for 102. Needing 95 to win, England was 8-93 and any of the four results were possible—a win, loss, draw or tie, but won by 2 wickets from an overthrow when Australian fielder John Barrett missed an easy run-out.
3.     Bradman (152) outscores Windies (Australia v. West Indies, Melbourne, 13-14 February, 1931)
Sir Don Bradban (Source : News.com.au)
Australia’s stout and awkward Herbert ‘Dainty’ Ironmonger was a left-arm medium-pacer who spun the ball. He took 7-23 and 4-56 in this intriguing Test and shot out the touring Windies for 99 and 107. Any suggestion that the pitch was unplayable was challenged by Australian skipper and opener Woodfull (83 run out) and Don Bradman (152) adding 156 runs for the second wicket. Australia declared at 8-328 and won by an innings and 122 runs. George Headley, the Windies’ master bat nicknamed ‘Black Bradman’, could manage only 33 and 11.
4.     ‘Tiger’ tames Kiwis (New Zealand v. Australia, Wellington, 29-30 March, 1946)
‘Tiger’ O’Reilly (Source: Twitter)

This was the first Test between Australia and New Zealand and they did not play another one till 1973-74. Perhaps the Kiwis’ mauling by an innings and 103 runs within two days was the reason. The home team erred in batting after winning the toss on a rain-affected pitch.

They were rolled out for 42 and 54, ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly snatching 5-14 and 3-19, bowling his fast spinners with fire and brimstone. Australian captain and opener Bill Brown scored 67, more than NZ in either innings, and declared the innings at 8-199.
5.     Caddick grabs 4 wickets in an over (England v. West Indies, Leeds, 17-18 August, 2000)
2-Day Test Cricket
Michael Vaughan (Source: YouTube)
This was the first 2-day Test in 54 years. The touring West Indians were dismissed for 172 and England took a 100 runs lead, Michael Vaughan top-scoring with 76. In an amazing collapse, the tourists were routed for 61, the lowest total at Leeds. The villain of the piece for the Windies was the tall seam and swing Somerset bowler Andy Caddick. His analysis read 11.2-5-14-5, capturing the last 5 wickets for 5 runs off 15 balls. This included four wickets in one over, a wicket off first, third, fourth and sixth balls. England won by an innings.
6.     Hayden beats Pakistan by an innings (Australia v. Pakistan, Sharjah, 11-12 October 2002)
2-Day Test Cricket
Matthew Hayden (Source: IMDB)

Pakistan won the toss and batted on a batting paradise on a neutral venue but was bundled out for their lowest ever total for 59. This record lasted for only a day as they were spun out for 53 in the second innings.

Shane Warne was the destroyer taking 4-11 and 4-13 with his slider deliveries. There was no devil in the pitch as Australia amassed 310, opener Matthew Hayden scoring 119 runs.

The temperature was 50°C and Hayden thought he was in an oven and wondered whether hell was any hotter! He reached his century with a six. As Pakistan totalled 112 in two innings, it can be surmised that Hayden (119) had beaten Pakistan by an innings and 7 runs off his own bat!  Back to the present.


The recent Brisbane Test was the second 2-day Test in Australia. The first such 2-day wonder was between Australia and the West Indies at Melbourne way back in 1931.

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Kersi Meher-Homji
Kersi Meher-Homji
Kersi is a virologist by profession and a cricket writer and cricket statistician by hobby. He is an author of 17 cricket books and over 17,000 cricket and scientific articles.

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