One of the greatest test matches between England and Australia reached its conclusion on 13th August 1902. This match was remembered as ‘Jessop’s match’ and also there is a long-standing myth of a conversation between the English all-rounders George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes. But let’s start from the beginning. Australia already won the series 2-0 but still, the final match was important. At the Oval, both the teams were keen to win it.
On day one, Australian first innings was completed for 324 runs. Hugh Trumble and Monty Noble scored fifties for them as Hirst took five wickets. It rained overnight and the pitch condition worsened quickly. England were in trouble on 83/ 6 but Hirst scored 43 and Lockwood 25 as England saved the follow on and reached 183. Trumble finished with eight wickets for 65 runs.
Australia did not have a great start in their second innings. Victor Trumper was run out for two and they never recovered from that blow. Clem Hill top-scored with 34 as Australia could only score 121. Lockwood took 5/45 and now England’s target was 263 runs.
In such a crumbling pitch against Trumble and Jack Saunders, it was a tricky target. England started terribly and their first three wickets fell within 10 runs. They lost their 4th wicket on 31 and 5th wicket on48 run. Then entered Jessop, he was always known as a ferocious hitter but in this match, he chose to show his full range. He did not care about the pitch condition or match situation as he kept playing his shots and recorded his hundred in 75 minutes. It was his only test century but many considered it as one of the best test innings ever. Jessop also added 109 runs with Stanley Jackson and 30 runs with Hirst before getting out for 104.
Hirst then took over. He and Lockwood added 27 runs with later contributing only two runs. Hirst and Dick Lilley then took the score to 248 before Lilley was out for 16. nine wickets were down and England still required 15 runs. Wilfred Rhodes joined Hirst and as the story goes he welcomed his Yorkshire colleague saying, “We will get them in singles”. One by one, they scored the remaining runs. 12 singles and one double were scored among intense tension and drama. Finally, the winning run was scored by Rhodes and England completed one of the tightest test matches ever.