The first Test Match to be held at Lord’s was the fourth to take place in England.
The Oval got there first, hosting one-off matches in 1880 and 1882. In 1884, for the first time in England, a three-match series was scheduled between the teams and after the opening match at Old Trafford was predictably spoiled by rain, attention turned to Lord’s. The series opener had been a low-scoring affair, with Australia just edging it on the balance of play. But at Lord’s the tourists were soon in trouble, reduced to 93 for 6 by left-arm spinner Ted Peate. A last-wicket stand of 69 between Henry Scott and Harry Boyle got Australia up to 229 before the innings ended in an unprecedented manner.
WG Grace was off the field, perhaps getting ready to open the innings, and England lacked a 12th man. Instead, his place on the field was taken by Billy Murdoch, a great friend of Grace who just happened to be the Australian captain and had been Peate’s third victim earlier that day. In making his magnanimous gesture, Murdoch probably hadn’t expected to find himself helping England to take his own team’s final wicket, but when Scott sent a chance his way off the bowling of Allan Steel, Murdoch took it without hesitation.
The backbone of England’s response was a magnificent innings of 148 by Steel. Eight of the other batsmen reached double figures without any of them reaching 40. England achieved a total of 379 before Australia ended the second day on 73 for 4. The last action of the day was a thrilling catch by George Ulyett to dismiss the powerful all-rounder George Giffen. Giffen struck a thunderous drive straight back at the Yorkshire fast bowler, who stuck out a hand. “Damn fool,” said Grace later, “he was lucky to have any fingers left.” The catch stuck, one of the finest ever seen on the Ground.
Ulyett, his fingers intact, returned the next morning in destructive mood. He cut through the Australian batting to finish with 7 for 36 as England romped to victory by an innings and five runs. But even in defeat the Australians had a reason to feel pleased with themselves. Pre-tour negotiations had resulted in an agreement to award them 100% of the gate money from the Lord’s match. The 12-man party shared a pot of £1,334. England’s professionals, in contrast, were paid a meagre £10 each.