During the Australian team's tour of England in 1899, Hill required surgery to remove a growth in his nose. The after-effects of the operation were more serious than expected; Hill lost an alarming amount of weight and strength and missed around half of the tour. Before this, Hill was recognised by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack as the best of the Australian batsmen that English summer. He scored 301 runs in three Tests at an average of 60.20, and was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year. His best performance of the series was in the Second Test at Lord's. Hill scored 135, sharing a partnership of 82 with Victor Trumper, who was playing only his second Test match. Trumper went on to score 135 not out. Hill, who was dropped by Ranjitsinhji fielding at slip when he had made 119, batted for 4 hours and hit 17 boundaries. Australia won the Test, the only one to have a definite result, by 10 wickets and retained the Ashes.
Hill standing in front of the Adelaide Oval scoreboard after scoring 365 against New South Wales in 1900–01
In 1900–01, Hill made a then record Sheffield Shield score for South Australia against New South Wales at the Adelaide Oval. He batted for 8 hours and 35 minutes for 365, including 35 boundaries. The record stood for 27 years until beaten by Bill Ponsford. Hill averaged more than 100 runs for the season. England returned to contest the Ashes in 1901–02, under the captaincy of Archie MacLaren. The English team was weakened by the unavailability of players such as Ranjitsinhji, Hirst, C.B. Fry and Wilfred Rhodes. The surprise selection was Sydney Barnes, who had played most of his cricket in the Lancashire League. Repeating the result of the series three years earlier, Australia lost the First Test but won the next four comfortably to retain the Ashes. Hill was the leading run scorer in the series, with 521 runs including 99, 98 and 97 in successive innings. He is still the only person to achieve this most unusual feat.
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