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'The Australian Cricketers' from The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News June 1882

an unknown artist

engravings on paper (each: 41.5 x 27.5)

The Australian cricket team of 1882 was the third side to tour England and the team whose defeat of England at The Oval in August of that year initiated the 'The Ashes' Test series. Captained by William Murdoch (1854-1911), the side was made up of seven players from NSW (Murdoch, Fred 'The Demon' Spofforth, Thomas Garrett, Samuel Jones, Hugh Massie, George Bonnor and Alick Bannerman); five from Victoria (Tom Horan, John Blackham, George Palmer, Henry Boyle and Percy Macdonnell); and one from South Australia (George Gitten). The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News declared at the start of the tour that 'we shall be slow to believe' the Australian side's ability to 'beat the best of our English elevens' but acknowledged that they 'proved themselves to be possessed of all of the qualifications necessary for success on the cricket-field'. The paper would no doubt have been as stunned as the rest of the cricket world when, several weeks later, the Australians defeated England in the ninth test match played between the two countries. It was the first time the English side had been beaten on home soil. Australia made only 63 runs in the first innings and 122 in the second, leaving England with a meagre run chase of 85 to win the match. Undaunted, the Australian fast bowler Spofforth declared that 'this thing can be done' and went on to bowl the English out just seven runs short of victory. A mock obituary later appeared in the Sporting Times lamenting the death of English cricket and stating that 'the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia'. When the English team toured Australia in 1882-1883, captain Ivo Bligh resolved to 'regain those ashes' and did so, winning the test series 2-1. A group of ladies, including Bligh's future wife, then presented the victorious English captain with a small urn reputedly containing the ashes of a stump or ball (or possibly a lady's veil). Now in the MCC Museum at Lord's, the urn and its disputed contents remain the so-called 'prize' in the biennial Test series still played between the two countries.

Frederick Spofforth (1853–1926), fast bowler, was a member of the Australian cricket team whose defeat of England at The Oval in 1882 brought about ‘The Ashes’ Test series. Born in Balmain, Spofforth started playing club cricket in 1871, was first selected for NSW in 1874, and made his Test debut in 1877. He earned the moniker ‘The Demon’ in 1878 when, as a member of the touring Australian side, he took 10 wickets for 20 runs in a match against the Marylebone Cricket Club. Selected for Australia again in 1880 and every year from1882 to 1887, Spofforth played 18 Test matches in all, finishing his career with 94 Test wickets at an average of 18.41. He is considered Australia’s first fast bowler, and is also credited with having taken the first ever Test bowling hat-trick (against England in Melbourne in 1879). After retiring from international cricket, he became a bank manager, married, and lived in England, where he contributed occasionally to cricket books and developed an interest in botany and horticulture. He was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2011.

Purchased 2009

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

The Australian Cricket Team 1882

Frederick Spofforth (age 29 in 1882)

Thomas Garrett (age 24 in 1882)

George Griffin

George Palmer

Charles Beal

Samuel Jones

John Blackman

T Horan

William Murdoch (age 28 in 1882)

George Bonner

Henry Boyle (age 35 in 1882)

Hugh Massie

Percy MacDonnel (age 22 in 1882)

Alexander Bannerman (age 28 in 1882)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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