Today, England and Australia are due to start a series of one-day international cricket matches (although the rain my wipe out todays match). Official ODIs began in 1971, but one-day matches had been a staple of local cricket for years and in the Great War they were even pseudo-international matches.
The first official One Day International (ODI) took place between England and Australia in January 1971 in Melbourne. The format is current one 50-over innings per team, with the highest score winning the match. Prior to this, though, one-day games had been played in various different formats around the cricketing world.
The demise of first-class county and international cricket in 1914 did not mean that there were no more cricket matches. Some of the professional cricket leagues continued (somewhat controversially) and the public schools matches carried on, while military units played charity matches. Some of the latter drew large crowds at the big cricket grounds of England.
The Australian War Memorial have photos from one one-day match in which London cricketers did particularly well – and it was a game between England and Australia. Or rather it was between a British Army XI and the Australian Imperial Force. On 14 July 1917, raising money for St Dunstan’s charity for blind ex-service personnel, the two teams took the field at Lord’s before a large audience.
The full scorecard is available on cricket archive; the result is given as a draw at the top of that page because one-innings matches were unusual in those days, but it was a victory for the British team with the highest score after one innings. In summary – as described by the Daily Express:
Several first-class county cricketers and a few internationals participated in the match at Lord’s on Saturday between an English Army XI and the Australian Forces. The Englishmen won, scoring 165 for nine wickets against 130 [all out] for the Australians who batted first. Lieutenant Kelleway hit 53 out of 89 for the losers. Tyldesley (Lancashire) 38, Captain P.F. Warner (Middlesex) 34, and Lieutenant-Colonel J.W.H.T Douglas (Essex) 26 [sic] were the best-known English scorers. Private Lee, the Middlesex bowler, took five wickets for 23 runs.
We have met Londoner Harry Lee before in a previous post (here). Although he failed as a batsman in this game, his bowling clearly had an impact – and this was after he had been discharged wounded from the army! (The picture is captioned as being Lee and Tyldesley, but the scorecard lists Lee and J.W.H Makepeace as the openers; I cannot say for sure which it is in the photo)
J.W.H.T Douglas and P.F. Warner were also Londoners. Johnny Douglas (nicknamed ‘Johnny Won’t Hit Today’ Douglas by Australian fans in honour of his slow scoring) was born in Clapton, while ‘Plum’ Warner was a long-standing part of the Middlesex team and the MCC set-up in St John’s Wood, living in Chelsea and in Portland Place before the Great War. Both were Test captains for England and were Wisden players of the year – Douglas in 1915 and Warner (unusually) the single player of the year in 1921. Douglas also won the gold medal for middleweight boxing at the London Olympics in 1908. Kent’s David Jennings, who scored 26 runs, was also a Londoner – born in Kentish Town.
Charles Kelleway, the top-scoring AIF batsman, was an all-rounder who played in 26 Test matches (it’s not clear to me from the Express report whether he scored 53 from 89 balls or in a partnership of 89 with E.P. Barbour). The only other Test players in the team, Matthews and Macartney (another future player of the year), were dismissed cheaply.