Melbourne Cricket Ground - The Long Test of 1928-29
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The Long Test of 1928-29

Saturday, March 16, 1929

It was the match that ended timeless Tests in Australia. The longest Test ever played on Australian soil was fought out between Australia and England at the MCG on March 8,9,11,12,13,14,15, and 16, 1929. It was the fifth Test of a series England had already clinched, but Australia fought through to win by five wickets, the locals¦ only victory of the summer.

However, despite the home side being happy about the victory, Melbourne fans expressed their disapproval for the concept of timeless Tests. By the closing days the torrent of spectators into the ground had slowed to a trickle. It seemed that even sports-mad Victorians could have too much of a good thing.

A total of 213,794 patrons witnessed a genuine battle of attrition, with stamina rather than skill being the dominant attribute on display. By the close of play on the first day the visitors had dawdled to 4/240. By the end of day two England was 9/485.

Then came a rest day, before England was dismissed for 519 and Australia commenced its painstaking reply. The Aussies were all out just before stumps on day five for 491. On day six England was knocked over for 257, but it took two more days for Australia to post the 286 needed for victory.

Aussie debutants Tim Wall and Percy Hornibrook were quickly introduced to the rigours of Test cricket v they bowled 49 and 48 eight-ball overs respectively in England’s first dig. Mind you, England’s George Geary bowled 81 overs in Australia’s first knock.

Donald Bradman (aged 20) knocked up a ton in Australia’s first innings and was not out in the second, Jack Hobbs (aged 46) and Bill Woodfull scored centuries too, and a fellow called Douglas Jardine was fired out for a duck, no doubt embittering him towards his hosts no end.

Which was all very fine, but the progress by both teams throughout the match had been snail’s pace. Australia’s safety-first approach is demonstrated by the fact that not one but two nightwatchmen opened the second innings v Hornibrook and keeper Bert Oldfield. The English players were sick of being away from home and fretted when the match stretched into an eighth day.

The MCG patrons grew restless.

This was the match that killed off timeless Tests forever in this country.


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