It is Saturday 10th February 1912. Archduke Franz Ferdinand is safely tucked up in a bed somewhere. Waves are gently lapping on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsular. Tension is mounting.
It is the morning of the second day of the fourth Test between England and Australia who are two one down in the series having won the first test but lost the next two.
After heavy rain earlier in the week the Melbourne wicket was drying out on the first day but still yielding slightly to pressure. England winning the toss had already decided to put the Australians into bat and had bowled them out just after five for 191, Barnes and Foster taking nine wickets between them.
The wicket had flattened out by the time Hobbs and Rhodes went out to bat that evening and with some beautiful shots and well judged running they had put on 54 runs by close of play.
Felix takes up our story on this second day.
“As I walked down to the ground, lovers of cricket were streaming from all quarters through Yarra Park to the entrance gates. By train and tram and cab they came, and the glorious elm walk in Fitzroy Gardens seemed alive with people, many of them bronzed men from country parts beyond Benalla to the Murray …
“Never before was deeper interest taken in a Test Match. It was Australia’s last chance this time to keep the ‘ashes here …
“In the full height of the great gathering the scene was simply splendid. In the centre of the arena were two English batsmen, Hobbs and Rhodes, holding their positions hour after hour with a grim tenacity of purpose which made us feel proud of them as our kith and kin …
“Chasing the leather everywhere over the beautiful expanse of green turf were our own men, never once relaxing their activity and energy during that protracted and exceedingly productive partnership between these two able representatives of the famous counties of Surrey and Yorkshire.
“From the public entrance gates the whole crescent of grand-stand and ladies’ pavilion is filled with watching eyes, tier on tier, up to the summit … All the seats in front of the pavilion are packed. So is the balcony, and even the pavilion roof, where long ago I watched ‘an orange sunset waning low’.
In putting on 323 runs for the first wicket, Hobbs and Rhodes went on that day, to beat all previous Test Match records. It took them four and a half hours. Hobbs was caught behind down the leg side for 178, his third hundred in successive Test Matches. Rhodes on Monday, after the rest day, was later caught Carter bowled Minnett for 179 in England’s total of 589 all out. England went on to win the match by an innings and 225 runs.
The attendance that Saturday was 31,795 with the total gate money reaching £1,442.
In Zagreb, a young Bosnian, Gavrilo Princip, was asleep in his brother’s house.