Australia’s Jimmy Matthews is considered as one of the finest spinners in the history of Test cricket. The year 1912 was very good for the spinner as he scalped 85 wickets with a run rate of 19.37. It was on this day in 1912, he got his name written in the record book by taking two hat-tricks in a single day.
The feat was achieved during the first Test match of the ill-fated triangular tournament that included Australia, South Africa, and England. The match was played at Old Trafford in Manchester between Australia and South Africa. There were seven debutants in the match - four from South Africa and three from Australia.
Batting first, Australia posted a mammoth total of 448 runs in 122.3 overs courtesy centuries from Warren Bardsley (121) and Charles Kelleway (114). Sid Pelger from South Africa took six wickets and gave away 105 runs in 45.3 overs.
When South Africa came to bat, they struggled.
On Day 2, Aubrey Faulkner waged a lone battle and found some support from the tail-enders. His unbeaten century took South Africa past the 250-run mark. With two set batsmen on the crease, SA were at 265/7, aiming to cover as much difference as possible.
However, Matthews came in and cleaned the South Africa side in three successive deliveries by trapping Beaumont, Pegler, and Tommy Ward.
SA were asked to follow on and the team was trailing by 183 runs on Day 2 itself. They were reduced to 70/5 struggling to make runs. And once again Matthews came in and with his magical bowling took away Herbie Taylor, Reggie Schwartz, and Tommy War in three consecutive deliveries for his second hat-trick in the same day.
There have been multiple instances in first-class matches, where bowlers have taken two hat-tricks. But this has never happened in a single Test, let alone within a day.
However, the reason is unknown why the Australian spinner did not resume playing after the war. In total the leg-break bowler played just 8 Test matches in his international career and took 16 wickets in them.
Matthews had a brief Test career, but he managed to leave an everlasting impression.