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ENGLAND VS SOUTH AUSTRALIA : First Class Cricket Test at Unley Oval 1903?

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This is photographic evidence is of the only First Class Cricket Match in SA played away from the haloed grounds of the Adelaide Oval. I stumbled upon this vision at Christmas 2013 in the Unley Council Chambers. A local resident had worked tirelessly to knit the separate glass panoramic plate images together digitally, housed at the magnificent Unley Museum. Assuming it was a local football game, local team Sturt vs Opponent X, I was surprised by the word “Cricket” in the title. 

(To draw a tenuous thread of "firsts", tonight Adelaide Oval is host to he first day/night Australian vs New Zealand Test 27-30 November 2015 trialling the experimental Pink cricket ball !)

South Australian Arthur Searcy 1859-1935

Lord Hawkes, Captain of Marylebone Cricket Club

A bit of search engine action and page turning later it was indeed       a little know local fact that in 1903 the enigmatic Lord Hawkes was on tour with and amateur cricket team, the Marylebone Cricket Club . They were scheduled to arrive in Adelaide in late March but found the usual venue, the Adelaide Oval was inconveniently pre-booked by the South Australian League of Wheelmen for an International Cycling Race Spectacular!  England cancelled the game from New Zealand and may not have visited South Australia but for Mr Arthur Thomas of the Sturt Cricket Club stepping up and offering Unley’s local oval as a worthy alternative. The Wheelmen feared the competing Unley Cricket test would distract cycle attendances, but the news paper reported that fans of each sport are unlikely to desert their favourite. The journalists were correct as both were resounding successes.

Victoian & South Australia Railways, Baderloo

Arthur Thomas

Arthur Thomas had founded the Sturt District Cricket Club in 1890."Thomas knew that theforming of this club would give the young men of Unley the chance to play cricket in their district. In the closing years of the 19th century it was obvious to Thomas that a football team was required in Unley to use the oval during winter, keep the cricketers fit in the off-season and allow young men who loved the sport to once again play in their own district." After all this active district support he saw a sterling opportunity - he telegraphed the English team in New Zealand who gladly accepted. The team traveled on THE OVERLAND train from Melbourne, booked into the South Australian Hotel, conveniently situated opposite the

Railway Station on North Terrace but sadly demolished in 1971. So it has been written into the tomes of history, and captured with the technology of the period, that Unley hosted a First Rate Cricket match due to the proactive vision of Arthur Thomas. It is also proof that “if you build it they will come”.

The cherry on the cake was the local Sturt Bowler, Henry Hay, bowls the hat trick enabling victory to the SA cricketers, now a State Team to a few years before being British Colonials.(The reconstructed panoramic is also on display at Sturt Social establishment, BarZar,) 

What would Henry Hay thought about bowling a Pink Ball? It is interesting that Stephen Fry on his excellent show QI reminded us that the baby gender colours were reversed in pre- twentieth century: Pink was the juvenile version of manly Red, and girls were serene pale blue as that is the colour of The Virgin Mary cloak.  Henry Hay would had no reservations in 1903 as the colour symbolism was very different. It was the Green Carnation tint that would have been cause for concern methinks! Today Pink it is more a symbol of a support for Breast Cancer Research

Advertiser, 1 April, 1903

ADVERTISER 1 April 1903 an article appears:






Phillip Hughes 27/11/2014: Last year SA, Australia, the World lost a brilliant Batsman, son and team-mate.


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