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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83

Cricket Almanac

Cricket Almanac.

The finish of the cricket season affords the best opportunity for gauging the Australian Eleven.

Spofforth still maintains his pride of place, as the bowler par excellence. Palmer, also, is indispensable. Beyond these two, the team may perhaps be fairly debateable, although hardly anyone will object to the inclusion of Scott and M'Donnell. Murdoch may retire when the Australian team for England is made up in 1886. Yet we cannot afford to leave him out. Boyle will probably be an absentee, though he has habitually been more effective on British than Australian wickets. A. Bannerman must surely be kept in. Blackham is regarded as a little off in his wicket keeping, through disablement. However, his batting, in 1884-5, was better than ever. G. Giffen maintains his indisputable claim to a place in the Australian Eleven. Bonnor's may be somewhat doubtful, in view of the rising players.

Well, then, for the Australian team, we nominate: First, Spofforth; second, Palmer; third, Murdoch; fourth, Scott; for both as batsman and bowler he is bound to come forward. As fifth we place G. Giffen, another double-handed man, in the two most important departments. Sixth and seventh come Blackham and M'Donnell. Eight, we would undoubtedly place Bruce, of Melbourne, and chiefly for bowling, of which there can never be too much. He is a splendid bat, too, unequalled in the Melbourne Cricket Club. There must be new blood sent to England. Cricketers are something like play-actors. The English public want change. The faces of Murdoch, Spofforth, Bonnor, and Bannerman, are as familiar as those of W. G. Grace, Ulyett, and Emmett. Besides, look how grandly Scott came off. Victoria urges the claims of its Bruce, Worrall, Trumble, Walters, Lewis, M'Shane, Duffy, Trinnick, and Morris, while New South Wales has to advance Moses, Pope, and ever so many crack players, eager to drive their virgin bats into long English scores. That praiseworthy little paper Cricket tells us how Australian doings are watched in England.

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Among the Australian veterans who have been in England, but stood out of the last eleven, Horan is the only one with any claims, but he is not likely to take the trip again. Ninth on our list of the champion team, we place A. Bannerman, whose steadiness cannot be dispensed with. He puts a little more steam into his batting now-a-days, and it becomes less of a dismal business with this obstinate sticker. After all, cricket is a play-game. We relish the flashes of a Bonnor, Massie, or M'Donnell, even if there is an extra run out, or catch out, now and again.

Tenth and eleventh must come, Bonnor and Moses, who has fairly earned his place, by century scores, and the kind of play which is most attractive. Twelfth, we throw in Walters, just the kind of man who would come off on an English tour. Like Bruce at the Melbourne Club, he caps the whole South Melbourne Club both in batting and bowling, and further, last season, he took the prize for fielding. We have not the slightest hesitation about putting him in. Thirteenth is Worrall, who would infallibly rise to the situation in England. For fourteenth and fifteenth we say Trumble and Pope.

The team thus consists of Murdoch, Spofforth, Palmer, Scott, Giffen, Blackham, M'Donnell, Bruce, A. Bannerman, Bonnor, Moses, Walters, Worrall, Trumble, and Pope. We are not afraid to trust the honour of Australia to a party like that. There would be plenty to come and go upon, in every line of the game. For dashing bats there are Murdoch, Scott, M'Donnell, Bonnor, Moses, Pope, Giffen, Blackham, Bruce, Bannerman, and Walters. Your bowling would be safe with Spofforth, Palmer, Bruce, Giffen, Trumble, Scott, and Worrall.

Meanwhile the winter game of football monopolises the attention of our athletic youth. Attendances of 10,000 and over pay to witness the contests, in the Melbourne environs, between clubs like the Geelong, Carlton, Essendon, South Melbourne, Melbourne, Hotham, Fitzroy, Richmond, University, and Williamstown. Instead of Murdoch and Blackham we hear of Baker, Kerley, Aitken, Lawlor, Young, Muir, and all the hosts of forwards and backs.