September 7, 1905 – Australian captain asks for a wrestling bout instead of toss

Darling was tired of losing the toss to his counterpart Jackson.

Joe Darling, South Australia and Australia, circa 1905. (Photo by George Beldam/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

The 1905 tour of England turned out to be a luckless one for Australia as they lost the five-match Ashes series by 2-0. The home team won the first Test at Trent Bridge by 213 runs and sealed the series by an innings and 80-run win in the fourth game in Manchester. Adding to the misery of the Aussies, England won tosses in all the five matches during the Test series and elected to bat first. Thus, Stanley Jackson of England became the first captain to win all tosses in a 5-match Test series.

The Aussie skipper Joe Darling was at the receiving end of this record as he became the first captain to lose tosses in all matches of a five-match Test series. The interesting fact about both the captains was that they were born on November 21st in 1870. The touring side stayed back for a month post the Test series playing against County teams. Between 7th and 9th September, the Australians were part of the Scarborough festival match against the CI Thornton’s XI in Scarborough.

Let’s scrap the toss:

The Rt,Hon Sir Frank Stanley Jackson. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Darling’s nightmare returned when he found that he will be facing Jackson in these matches as well. Having lost the toss on each of the previous five occasions on that tour, he decided to move away from the toss. He tied a towel around his waist and went towards the opposing team’s dressing room. Darling then met Jackson coming out for a toss and insisted to have a wrestling bout instead of the coin toss.

An amused Stanley Jackson agreed on the condition that George Hirst will take his place in the bout. Darling then decided that he will stick to the old-fashioned toss after looking at Hirst, a powerfully built all-rounder. Darling and Jackson walked out for the toss for the 6th time on the tour and the same repeated for the 6th time in a row as Jackson won the toss and elected to bat first.

George Herbert Hirst, Yorkshire and England, circa 1905. (Photo by George Beldam/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Darling hoped to avenge for the tosses by winning the game but his counterpart put CI Thornton’s XI in a safe position with a 123-run knock. Thornton’s XI finished on 282 in their first innings on the back of their skipper’s brilliance. The Australians responded strongly as Clement Hill scored 181 to help his team take a 110-run lead. Their total of 392 wasn’t enough to push for a victory as the home team reached 176/5 in their 2nd innings before the game ended in a draw.

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