Third Test Match

ENGLAND v PAKISTAN 1954

R.J.H.

At Manchester, July 22, 23, 24, 26, 27. Drawn. Fate would have dealt unkindly with Pakistan had they been beaten in a match in which rain restricted cricket to the first and third days, when play occupied only ten hours and three-quarters. They experienced much the worse of the conditions.

In the continued absence of Hutton-injury kept out Simpson and Appleyard as well-Sheppard gained a distinct advantage by winning the toss and giving England first use of a pitch which was covered up to a few minutes before the start. In dull, cold weather England reached 293 for six wickets by the close. Compton again excelled in making 93 out of 133 and Graveney played another innings full of strong and elegant strokes. In his first Test, Parks lived up to his reputation as a young batsman of much promise who, with more experience, might be a regular Test cricketer of the future. Considerable credit went to Pakistan for keeping England so much in check. The field-placing and fielding showed much improvement upon that in the Nottingham Test, and the three bowlers, Fazal, Hussain and Shuja-ud-Din, upon whom Kardar relied almost entirely, allowed no liberties. In his first spell Shuja-ud-Din bowled his left-arm slows with the utmost accuracy from 12.30 p.m. to 5.15 p.m., his figures for that period being 37-11-77-2.

Bad weather washed out hopes of cricket on the second day and only through extraordinary efforts by the groundman, Williams, preparing his last Test pitch before retirement, was the resumption delayed no more than an hour on Saturday. As soon as torrential rain finished at 1 a.m., Williams began working by the light of hurricane lamps. His staff joined in at 7 a.m., and even the Lancashire C.C.C. chairman gave help in making the turf fit for cricket.

Sheppard naturally chose to continue batting to see how the pitch would react, and England increased their total by 66 in an hour to lunch, at which point he declared. The situation was ideal for Wardle, who added a third to the two 6"s he hit on the first evening and also registered five 4"s.

At the beginning of the Pakistan innings the turf played reasonably well and Hanif took the opportunity to make a number of dazzling pulls and hooks. Then the conditions became helpful to bowlers, and from that point to the end of the day the Pakistan batsmen deserved the utmost sympathy. Sometimes the ball flew from a length, at other times it squatted, and all the time the spin bowlers were able to make it turn sharply. Stronger sides than the inexperienced Pakistanis would have been in trouble against the off-breaks of McConnon, who began his Test cricket with three wickets for twelve runs in six overs, the left-arm slows of Wardle and the medium-pace cutters of Bedser. Between lunch and the close Pakistan lost fourteen wickets for 155 runs. Ten of their batsmen fell to catches close to the wicket from balls they could not avoid. From England"s viewpoint the most pleasing feature was the first-rate fielding of McConnon, three of whose four catches were brilliantly snapped up a few yards from the bat.

At the end of the day Pakistan faced defeat. With six wickets left they required 244 to make England bat again; but not another ball could be bowled in the match. Few people were sorry that the weather came to the touring team"s aid.

© John Wisden & Co