A six month investigation by the News of the World reveals for the first time that the corruption at the heart of cricket goes back to the very beginning of international matches. In March 1877 the first official Test match was played between the two countries in Melbourne with the victory by Australia by 45 runs at the time being considered something of a “boil-over”.
The exclusive investigation can now reveal that certain of the so-called “English gentlemen” were profoundly in debt from their excesses of “goodly colonial ales” and “sheilas of dubious virtue”. Thus they were ripe for the picking when approached by a former convict and prominent 19th century racing identity Billy “Break-Even” O’Sullivan.
Last year, a diary of one of the English gentlemen in question, Sir Arthur Holmes-Lytton, was found at a Shrewsbury car boot sale by Edgar Simpson. A life-long cricket fan, he was shocked and dismayed at the contents and took it to News of the World at once to ensure it didn’t become public knowledge and forever tarnish the image of the game.
One of Holmes-Lytton’s entries before the game is telling: “after plenteous ales and fortified spirits at the bar with ‘J’ and ‘S-B’, we were approached by a coarse looking ruffian calling himself ‘John’. He offered us promissory notes for 10 guineas apiece if we were to play like “gout-infested whore-mongers” in the match. ‘S-B’ would have nothing of it and stormed off but ‘J’ and I accepted the deal as to perform as such would not be a stretch for us.
History shows that with the MCC only requiring a mere 60 more runs for victory, both Holmes-Lytton and J (who we can reveal as Jenkinson) were both mysteriously run out within a ball of each other. It was thought odd at the time that both men chose to tie shoelaces in the middle of their runs. The MCC collapsed to be all out soon afterwards and lost the game to their eternal shame. It is now clear that match-fixing was responsible for this fiasco as it was in the Centenary Test in 1977 where Australia won by the exact same margin of 45 runs, a coincidence that beggars credibility to this day.