In the 141 years since England first played a Test match against Australia there have been many occasions, as Paul Dyson states, when Yorkshire’s players have produced match-defining performances. The photo of Willie Bates’s mounted emu’s egg was taken on the day of its presentation to Yorkshire CCC’s Museum almost five years ago.
It was a Yorkshire bowler who took the first wicket in the very first Test against Australia and it was a Yorkshire fielder – the same player, in fact – who took England’s first Test catch. The setting was Melbourne Cricket Ground and the date March 15th 1877. England’s team contained no fewer than five Yorkshire players and it was Kirkheaton’s Alan Hill who was the first to be involved with that wicket and that catch. The other members of this illustrious quintet were Halifax’s Tom Emmett, Huddersfield’s Andrew Greenwood together with Tom Armitage and George Ulyett, both from Sheffield.
Fast forward six years to events at the same ground and there was only one Yorkshire player in England’s eleven. He made, however, a bigger all-round contribution than any cricketer had in any of the first ten Tests. A score of 55, batting at number nine, and then seven for 28 as Australia were dismissed for 114, was followed by seven for 74 and England had secured Test cricket’s first innings victory. It was Willie Bates who accomplished this feat, becoming the first player to score a half-century and take ten wickets in a Test. His first innings analysis included England’s first hat-trick as he dismissed Australia’s numbers five to seven and so impressed were the authorities with his performance that he was presented with a mounted emu’s egg and this fine-looking and valuable piece of memorabilia is on permanent loan to the museum.