ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1950-51

Third Test Match

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1950-51

The score-board alone could not show how big a part Miller played in Australia's third successive Test win, which ensured their retention of the Ashes.

After Brown won the toss for the only time in the seven Tests on tour, England's first pair, with Hutton resuming as partner to Washbrook, survived Australia's opening attack so easily on a perfect pitch that the way looked clear for a huge total. Then Washbrook slashed at Johnson. Miller, fielding at second slip, made ground as he anticipated the stroke and threw himself to his right. With both feet off the ground, he made a gorgeous one-hand catch. For a time Simpson could not fathom Iverson, but eventually he settled his problems, and when the total reached 128 just before tea he and the classical Hutton were still together.

With only ten minutes left before the interval and the new ball available soon afterwards, Hassett unexpectedly summoned Miller from the boundary to join the attack. At once the scene changed. Miller bowled at his fastest. Hutton parried two balls. To the third he so hurried his stroke that he struck his pad, missed the ball, and was leg-before. Compton stopped two, but dragged the third on to his wicket. Parkhouse knew so little about the remaining two balls of the over that either might have dismissed him. A few minutes after tea Miller struck again, Simpson giving backward short-leg a catch. Thus the total changed from 128 for one to 137 for four, Miller taking three for 5 in 3.7 overs.

As at Melbourne, Brown came to the rescue. He drove the new ball with a full swing of the bat, cut and hit to leg with fine weighty blows. The spirit of his batting aroused genuine admiration. Most of his nine 4's were from thudding strokes which flashed past the fieldsman. His 79 was the highest score to this point in the three Tests. Parkhouse helped in a stand of 50 in under forty minutes, and Bailey stayed with him while 71 were added for the sixth wicket. A burst of speed by Lindwall then did considerable damage. Besides clean bowling Brown and Bedser, Lindwall delivered a very fast ball which rose over the leg stump and fractured Bailey's right thumb. Bailey twice resumed, the second time with his hand in plaster after a hurried journey to hospital, but he was able to do little and the injury prevented him from bowling a ball in the match.

England were deprived also of the bowling of Wright, who tore a groin muscle in a desperate but unavailing effort at a run. This meant that the burden of attack fell on Bedser, Warr and Brown. All three responded gallantly. Apart from six overs by Compton towards the end of Monday, they took turn and turn about with the ball from 3.30 p.m. on Saturday until the Australian innings ended at lunch time on Tuesday. Through scorching heat, between them they bowled 123 eight-ball overs with scarcely a sign of flagging, although Brown was limping painfully long before the end. Moreover, at one stage they had so staggered Australia that at the fall of the sixth wicket Australia were 38 behind, Bedser having dismissed Morris cheaply for the fourth time in five Test innings.

England stood on level terms and the swift capture of another wicket might well have changed the course of the match. Instead Miller found an apt partner in Johnson, who shared in a seventh-wicket stand of 150, which made the position almost hopeless for England. After losing Johnson, Miller batted with something approaching the freedom usually associated with him, but for the most part he was caution itself in his devotion to the task of taking his side towards another victory. The English policy of attacking his leg stump with slightly short of length bowling also contributed to his slow scoring. Miller spent nearly five hours in reaching 100. His 145 took exactly six hours and contained one 6, late in the innings, and six 4's. On the fourth morning Brown reverted to leg-breaks, and the amount of turn he gained from the turf foretold the nature of ensuing events.

Hassett gave Lindwall and Miller only a brief spell before calling on his spinners. In his seven overs Iverson rapped Hutton four times on the pad and Washbrook could make little of him. The end was in sight. Iverson flicked his off-breaks and occasional straight through ball to an unvarying length. His spin was sharp, he made speed from the turf and bounced high. In his first seven overs he sent back Hutton (out to a remarkable juggling act between Tallon and Johnson), Simpson and Washbrook for two runs and, after a rest, bowled Brown, Bedser and Warr in ten balls. Compton battled skilfully against Iverson for nearly an hour in his highest innings of the Australian Tests before mishitting a half-volley.

© John Wisden & Co