First Test Match

England v Australia

At Manchester, June 6, 7, 8, 10, 11. Australia won by 159 runs. Few people, except the Australians themselves, believed this success was possible before the match began, but in the event Lawry's men rose to the occasion and made the most of their opportunities whereas England generally offered feeble opposition.

Lawry gained a big advantage for Australia when he won the toss, but more important were the final team selections. Australia preferred a wrist spin bowler in Gleeson to Inverarity, a batsman, but England, from fourteen, omitted three bowlers, Brown, Cartwright and Underwood.

It meant that the attack rested on Snow, Higgs and Pocock, plus Barber and D'Oliveira, the last pair having taken only seven wickets between them at that stage of the season. Undoubtedly, England's strength was sapped by the withdrawal of Barrington, who was replaced by Barber. Moreover, Amiss, who virtually filled Barrington's position, failed in both innings through not playing in his normal attractive way; instead he tried to imitate Barrington's grim defence.

Not for the first time the Old Trafford pitch came in for much adverse criticism. Indeed, the Board of Control considered it unsatisfactory, but is lasted the five days and D'Oliveira played well in the fourth innings when he took out his bat for 87.

England began well, Snow dismissing Redpath, leg before, and Cowper, who chopped a ball into his wicket, for 29. Lawry, resolute when necessary, later scored freely from Pocock and in three hours forty minutes hit two 6's and seven 4's.

Walters showed his class in his first Test innings in England and in under two and a half hours hit 81, including thirteen 4's, but both fell to Barber, who was effective with mixed spin, though his length was erratic. Sheahan and Chappell took charge for the remainder of the day, Australia finishing at 319 for four.

England made a surprising recovery on Friday when after ten fine days in Manchester the weather broke and lopped off two hours' cricket. Australia soon collapsed in amazing fashion, their remaining six wickets going down for the addition of only 38 runs in the space of ninety minutes.

It began when Sheahan played Snow towards Boycott at cover and surprisingly set off for a single; Chappell had no chance and although Boycott's return was wide, Knott gathered it and ran five yards with ball in hand to break the wicket. Sheahan never regained his composure after an impressive display for the top score of the match, 88, in three and a half hours. He hit seven 4's.

Boycott and Edrich began quietly for England in the twenty-five remaining minutes before lunch, scoring only five; afterwards the weather deteriorated. Both batsmen survived difficult conditions including poor light before the umpires intervened at 5.15 when England were 60 for no wicket.

So England resumed on the third morning, having extricated themselves from a poor position, but just as Australia had collapsed following a run-out so did England. Boycott and Edrich had served their side splendidly by taking their stand to 86, but going for a third run, Edrich reckoned without Walters' brilliance in the field and paid the penalty.

Thereupon the innings disintegrated and only a final stand by Snow and Pocock robbed Lawry of the option of enforcing the follow-on. Australia fielded excellently for the most part and McKenzie and Cowper relied mainly on steady length and direction while Connolly, with varied swing, always commanded respect.

Australia spent a happy week-end; with two days left they led by 252 runs with eight wickets standing. They had lost Redpath and Lawry trying to force runs on an uncertain pitch, but Cowper and Walters settled to resolute defence. Altogether, Walters stayed three and a half hours for his second eighty of the match. Jarman consolidated a strong position by using the long handle when Pocock had taken charge and in fifty minutes, using his feet to get to the ball, he hit 41, including one 6 and five 4's.

England wanted 413 to win. They had nine and a quarter hours at their disposal, but never had they accomplished such a task; their best being 332 for seven at Melbourne in 1928-29. Disasters soon overtook England as Boycott tried to seize the initiative from the start of the innings. Again McKenzie and Cowper caused most trouble, Cowdrey falling to a horrible ball which turned and lifted from a good length.

Five wickets fell for 105 before Barber and D'Oliveira made a stand and saw the total to 152 at the close. The partnership realised 80, but on the last morning D'Oliveira alone worried the Australians. He demonstrated the value of the straight bat and drove cleanly, but with the issue a foregone conclusion the value of his belated effort was difficult to appraise. England needed him as an all-rounder and he had failed as a first-change bowler.

By winning the first Test, Australia were already practically assured of retaining the Ashes, for never had England won the rubber in the past seventy years after being beaten in the opening match in England.

The unsettled weather coupled with the depressing state of Lancashire cricket resulted in only moderate attendances during the five days. Official attendance 52,037; receipts £24,687.

© John Wisden & Co