The 1912 Triangular Tournament
was a Test cricket
competition played between Australia
and South Africa
, the only Test playing
nations at the time.
The ultimate winners of the tournament were England, with four wins in their six matches, but the tournament was deemed a failure, with disappointing crowds and uncompetitive cricket, caused in part by a weakened Australia team.
The tournament is one of only three tournaments in Test history to have been played between more than two nations, the others being the Asian Test Championships of 1998–99 and 2001–02.
The idea of a competition involving all three of the nations then playing Test cricket (Australia, England and South Africa) was proposed at the first meeting of the Imperial Cricket Council in July, 1909. The original proposal was for a tournament to be held every four years, with the first hosted by England in 1912.
For a variety of reasons, the tournament was not a success. The summer was one of the wettest since records began in 1766: rainfall in the three months of June, July and August was more than twice the annual average, and August, 1912, was the coldest, dullest and wettest August of the 20th century. At that time, pitches were not covered to protect them against rain, so the batsmen were at a distinct disadvantage on the proverbial sticky wicket. These problems were exacerbated since Tests in England were in those days played over three days rather than the five days that is now usual. Two of the matches between England and Australia were drawn due to the weather, with the final match being played on a pitch said to be "better suited to water polo".
In addition, disputes between the players and management in Australia meant that six leading Australian players refused to tour (including the captain, Clem Hill, and Victor Trumper, neither of whom played for Australia again), weakening a side that had otherwise been level with England in recent Ashes series. The leg spin and googly bowlers in the South African side were very effective on the matting pitches then in use in South Africa, but were less threatening on English grass pitches. As a result, England dominated, winning four of their six matches and drawing the other two.
Finally, the British public showed little interest: in the words of The Daily Telegraph: "Nine Tests provide a surfeit of cricket, and contests between Australia and South Africa are not a great attraction to the British public."
The tournament was so unsuccessful that it has never been repeated. The idea of a tournament of international cricket matches between more than two countries was not repeated until the invention of One Day International cricket and the first Cricket World Cup in 1975. The only other Test cricket tournaments in history were the Asian Test Championships of 1998/99 and 2001/02, which were also not great successes.
Perhaps the most notable incident of the series was Australian cricketer Jimmy Matthews taking two hat-tricks in the same Test match, one in each innings of the opening match against South Africa, this is the only time that a bowler has taken two hat-tricks in the same match in Test history.
First match: Australia v South Africa at Old Trafford, 27-28 May 1912
- Australia won by an innings and 88 runs.
- Australia batted first, completing their first innings score of 448 on the first day, with centuries for Charles Kelleway and Warren Bardsley. Sid Pegler took 6 wickets for 105 runs. South Africa were 16 for 1 at the close. South Africa were bowled out for 265 on the second day (with a century for Aubrey Faulkner and Bill Whitty taking 5 wickets for 55 runs), followed on, and were bowled out again on the same day for 95 (Kelleway taking 5 for 33).
- Australian bowler Jimmy Matthews took a double hat-trick, one in each of South Africa's innings, both hat-tricks being taken on the same day, 28 May 1912. Matthews took no other wickets in the match.
- South Africa's debutant wicket-keeper Tommy Ward was Matthews' 3rd victim in both innings. Ward's is the only known instance of a king pair on debut in Test cricket.
Second match: England v South Africa at Lord's, 10-12 Jun 1912
- England won by an innings and 62 runs.
Third match: England v Australia at Lord's, 24-26 Jun 1912
- Match drawn.
- In a rain-affected match, England made 310/7 (Hobbs 107) before declaring their innings closed. In reply, Australia made 282/7 before rain ended play. Charlie Macartney was the top-scorer in the match. He scored 99 runs before being caught out, becoming only the third player in Test cricket to be dismissed one run short of a century.
Fourth match: England v South Africa at Headingley, 8-10 Jul 1912
- England won by 174 runs.
Fifth match: Australia v South Africa at Lord's, 15-17 Jul 1912
- Australia won by 10 wickets.
Sixth match: England v Australia at Old Trafford, 29-31 Jul 1912
- Match drawn.
Seventh match: England v South Africa at The Oval, 12-13 Aug 1912
- England won by 10 wickets.
Eighth match: Australia v South Africa at Trent Bridge, 5-7 Aug 1912
- Match drawn.
Ninth match: England v Australia at The Oval, 19-22 Aug 1912
- England won by 244 runs.
- The tournament rules did not anticipate that two teams could complete their matches with the same number of wins and therefore contained no tie-breaking conditions. Therefore, to ensure an overall winner, the match was played as a timeless Test, with the 3-day time limit removed. Regardless, the match finished during the fourth day.
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