Australian XI vs Rest of Australia (lost radio coverage of Test cricket match; 1925)

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4th December 1925 issue of The Argus previewing the match.

Status: Lost

Between 4th-8th December 1925, the Australian XI and Rest of Australia teams competed in a single Test match held at Sydney Cricket Ground. Promoted as "Australia vs The Rest", and intended as a trial prior to the 1926 Ashes Series in England, the Rest of Australia won the encounter by 156 runs. Local Sydney station 2FC is known to have provided ball-by-ball radio coverage of the match, the first to be conducted in the city.


Months following their 4-1 1924-1925 Ashes Series victory against England, the Australian national cricket team were gearing up to defend the Ashes for the following year.[1][2][3] To ensure the best possible team travelled to England, it was announced that a match pitting the top eleven players, Australian XI, would play a single Test match against the hopefuls, the Rest of Australia.[2][3] Herbert Collins, who captained the Ashes squad and represented New South Wales, provided selection duties alongside Queensland's John Ryder and South Australia's Clem Hill.[2][3] The selections were praised by the 20th November 1925 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald, who felt both teams were well-balanced and so could provide a compelling match.[2] Naturally, not all players could be selected, with two Queensland players expressing frustration at being left out, almost completely reducing their chances of making the final squad.[3][2] David Pritchard was also originally overlooked, though became the reserve 12th player for both sides.[4][3]

Still, while the 4th December 1925 issue of The Argus reckoned at least six players, including Collins and Ryder, were almost certain to be included for the Ashes, many other spots were clearly obtainable, such as for the second wicketkeeper position.[3] The Sydney Morning Herald believed that the Australian XI, known simply as Australia, were the slight favourites because of their superior bowling performances and for containing nine first-class batsmen boasting significant Test cricket experience.[2] However, it argued that the Rest of Australia, or simply, The Rest, had decent batsmen and were more than capable of providing an upset.[2] The match would be held between 4th-8th December at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with a rest day on the 6th.[2][3][4] A second fixture was proposed for January 1926 in Melbourne.[2]

This fixture occurred during the early years of radio cricket.[5][6][7] As the match was held in Sydney, it enabled radio station 2FC to provide live local coverage.[6][7] The two commentators on hand were H.C. Williams and Len Watt, the latter notable for providing the first ever radio cricket commentary during the 1922 Charles Bannerman testimonial match.[6][7][5] Unlike the Bannerman match broadcast, which provided coverage in intervals, 2FC decided to conduct ball-by-ball commentary for the Australia-The Rest match.[6][7][5] Some sources like ESPN believe 2FC provided the first ever ball-by-ball radio coverage.[5][7] In actuality, Adelaide station 5CL provided full coverage of the third Test for the 1924-1925 Ashes, courtesy of Bill Smallacombe.[6] Nevertheless, 2FC's broadcast was most likely the first of its kind in Sydney.[5][7][6] No-Balls and Googlies: A Cricket Companion also claims that the term "ball-by-ball" originated during this broadcast, with Watt and Williams commentating through a microphone attached to a boundary fence at the ground.[7]

The Match

The match began on 4th December, with The Rest winning the toss and electing to bat first. XI took two wickets in quick succession to leave The Rest on 35/2. However, Charles Macartney scored 84 runs to properly kickstart The Rest's campaign, eventually being run out. Charles Kelleway proved his side's biggest scorer, narrowly missing out on a century by one run, his campaign stopped only by the fact his teammates were all caught after 380 runs. Arthur Mailey took three wickets to limit The Rest's, and contributed to the elimination of two other batsmen. In XI's first innings, Collins carried the side by providing the match's first century, ultimately being caught by Warren Bardsley. However, his team failed to build upon his 102 runs, with none reaching the 30-mark. This led to wickets quickly tumbling, with Arthur Richardson taking four wickets. XI collapsed to 226 all out after 64.2 overs.[4]

For their second innings, The Rest produced a solid, if unspectacular score. Bardsley and Hammy Love were the highest scorers with 54 runs each, before Bardsley was caught by Collins and Percy Hornibrook bowled out Love. Stork Hendry took three wickets as The Rest reached 298/9. After 346 minutes and 95 overs, The Rest opted to declare, leaving XI with a 453 target. In comparison to The Rest's innings, XI's overall performance was inconsistent. Collins again performed strongly, earning 81 runs, while Jack Gregory achieved the second century of the match. Collins was bowled and caught by Don Blackie, while Gregory was caught by Clarrie Grimmett. However, six players failed to reach more than ten runs, with two out for ducks. XI ultimately could not handle Grimmett and Blackie, who took nine of the wickets between them. While Bill Woodfull and Ryder scored 42 and 43 runs respectively, the team collapsed to 296 all out. The Rest won the match by 156 runs.[4] Australia then travelled to England to play five Tests between 12th June to 18th August 1926.[8] In a squad including a mixture of XI and The Rest players, Australia drew the first four games before ultimately losing the Ashes by 289 runs in the fifth.[9][8]


2FC's coverage occurred when radio recordings seldom happened due to the cost and impracticality of recording output outside studios.[10] While some 2FC output in 297 and 1928 was preserved courtesy of Columbia Records, these were rare exceptions.[11] Ultimately, no coverage of the Australian XI-Rest of Australia match is known to have survived.

See Also


  1. ESPNcricinfo summarising the results of the 1924-1925 Ashes Series Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 20th November 1925 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald reviewing the selection choices and previewing the match itself. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 4th December 1925 issue of The Argus previewing the match and speculating who could make the final Ashes squad. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Association of Cricket Statisticians providing the results and other statistics of the match. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 ESPNcricinfo summarising early radio cricket history, including claiming the Australia-The Rest match was the first to receive ball-by-ball coverage. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Radio's Changing Relationship with Australian Cricket: 1932-1950 noting Smallacombe pioneering ball-by-ball coverage, which was initially intended to merely provide regular updates. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 No-Balls and Googlies: A Cricket Companion summarising the coverage, and noting the "ball-by-ball" term was first coined there. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  8. 8.0 8.1 ESPNcricinfo summarising the results of the 1926 Ashes Series. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  9. ESPNcricinfo summarising the fifth Test of the 1926 Ashes Series, the Australian squad including XI and The Rest players. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  10. Ngā Taonga noting most early-1920s airings were never recorded. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23
  11. Greg Poppleton detailing 2FC's only recorded instance of formal programming. Retrieved 22nd Jun '23