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08-July-2014
08-July-2014

Photographs supplied by Tom Bird
A monument commemorates the first defeat of an English cricket team in Victoria at Wattle Flat in 1862.

In March 1862, when a team of cricketers from Castlemaine defeated the first All-England XI to tour Australia, little would the local lads have expected they'd still be feted in their home town 150 years later.  But local author and historian Richard Mack has ensured the story of the 22 part-timers from central Victoria who bested the Brits will not be forgotten with the publication of his book Triumph at Wattle Flat: When Castlemaine Beat the Poms. 

“The nearest equivalent would be the English Test team of the time,” Mack said of the tourists. “There were a few of the top players who weren't able to make it, but you'd say that the XI who came probably were all in the top twenty of English professional cricket players of the time. 

It was the first tour of Australia and they played a few matches in Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmania and they also went around all the goldfield centres, playing against 22 locals, and most of them they won very easily by an innings or so, but they got to Castlemaine and they got beaten.” 

While it could well be argued that Castlemaine had a decided advantage — given it had twice as many batsmen and fielders than the English — Mack said the fact the professionals had yet to be beaten on any Victorian field during their tour showed just how superior they were. 

“The English lost [only] one other match, against 22 men from the New South Wales and Victorian sides in Sydney, so the Castlemaine match was the first defeat of England on Victorian soil.” Mack said that the local team had one big factor in its favour. “Castlemaine's captain was Ben Butterworth, a local draper who played several inter-colonial matches for Victoria and was regarded as the best backstop in the colony. 

The backstop was a very important position in those days, as the keeper was expected to stand up at the stumps for a possible catch or stumping. It was the last days of underarm/roundarm bowling and the law was changed the following year to allow the bowler to raise his arm above shoulder height in the delivery stride.” 

From all reports it was an exciting encounter, with wickets falling faster than a domestic Twenty20 match. England batted first and were all out for 80, with Castlemaine replying with 21 out for 54. England was rolled for 68 in its second dig as the locals hammered home their numerical superiority to win with an heroic 18-96. 

The 100th anniversary game was previously marked in 1962 with the unveiling of a memorial plaque by the English cricket captain Colin Cowdrey at the scene of the match at Wattle Creek. 

The book on this little slice of Victorian sporting history can be purchased by contacting the author on email: skills@impulse.net.au
Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April 2012. 

Location

Address:Richards & Muckleford-Castlemaine Roads, Wattle Flat Recreation Reserve, Castlemaine, 3450
State:VIC
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.04643
Long: 144.20705
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Culture
Sub-Theme:Sport
Approx. Event Start Date:March-1862
Approx. Event End Date:March-1862

Dedication

Actual Monument Dedication Date:Monday 10th December, 1962
Front Inscription

THIS PLAQUE
Commemorates The First Defeat
Of An English XI In Victoria
Wattle Flat.  March 1862

Castlemaine XXII  150
England          XI     148

Unveiled 10-12-1962

S. C. Griffith (Sec. M.C.C.)  Mngr.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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