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One Test Wonder: Birthday Boy Tate

24th July 1867 was the birthday of Fred Tate, the One Test Wonder of England and the only test he played in the Ashes was famous as Tate's Test.

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Last updated: 24.07.2019
One Test Wonder: Birthday Boy Tate | Sports Social Blog

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24th July 1867 was the birthday of Fred Tate. Tate played only one Test for England during the 1902 Ashes but the Test was famous as ‘Tate’s Test’. It was a dramatic match involving Tate in the key moments and the prophetic words uttered by him after the match got over made this a special one in the cricket history.

The one Test wonder Tate was a medium pacer for Sussex who kept delivering good performances in the County cricket from 1897. The 1902 season was the special one for him as he picked 128 wickets at 12.63 in the first 14 matches including 15 wickets in a day against Middlesex. He finished the season with 180 wickets and in between also selected to play against Australia in the 4th Test of the Ashes.

Australians were already leading the series 1-0 thanks to their win in the third Test, post which English selectors brought two new faces in Fred Tate and Lionel Palairet and recalled KS Ranjitsinhji in place of C B Fry, Gilbert Jessop, and George Hirst. 

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It was a very interesting Test match. Australia batted first and Victor Trumper became the first man to score a century before the lunch on day one. It was a funny sort of scorecard as along with the century from Trumper there were fifties from Reggie Duff, Clem Hill, and the captain Joe Darling but rest seven players scored five or less and Australia were bowled out for 299. Bill Lockwood (6 for 48) and Wilfred Rhodes (4 for 104) shared all the ten wickets as Tate went wicketless in 11 overs.

England started poorly but a brilliant century from Stanley Jackson and good support from Len Braund took them closer to Australian total. England finished with 262, 37 runs behind. For them also only three batsmen reached double digit as two players scored seven, two players six and two players 5, one of them being Tate.

England hit early and reduced Australia to 10 for loss of three wickets and it looked like they could bundle them out cheaply and go for a win. Syd Gregory joined the captain Darling and fighting to survive. With the Australian score on 16, Darling hit straight to Tate at Square leg and Tate missed the catch! It was the key moment of the match. Once survived Darling and Gregory added 54 runs and although Tate himself broke the partnership it looked like too late. Australians were soon 85/8 when it started raining. In those days of uncovered pitches when the rain finally stopped the nature of the pitch completely changed and batting became difficult by manifold. Australia were all out for 86 giving England a target of 124 to chase in the 4th innings. But this target could have been below 100 if Tate would take that catch.

For England, Captain Archie MacLaren scored 35 and got support from Palairet and Tyldesley. At one stage they were 92/3 but wickets started falling regularly and when they lost the 8th wicket they still needed 15. Rhodes and Dick Lilley added seven runs to take them to 116 before Lilley was gone. The last man Tate entered but there was another rain break for 45 minutes. Finally when the match started Tate faced Saunders and hit the first ball to the boundary! With only four required crowds were on edge of their sits. The fourth ball moved slightly and kept low. It missed Tate’s bat to hit the wicket. England lost by three runs. Tate cried on the field. The missed catch and missing out despite getting so close broke him mentally.

And then he told Braund after the Test, “I have got a boy, at home who will put it all right for me.” The boy was Maurice Tate, aged seven at that time made his father’s prophetic words true: he played 39 Tests for England, picking up 155 and scoring 1198 runs with a Test hundred.


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