Fifth Test Match

A tarnished Test

Australia recovered some of their poise when England dropped eight catches in the first innings of a match marred by bad crowd behaviour. A stampede on the first day, when I. M. Chappell reached 100, left its mark on the pitch. Fully 2,000 spectators rushed the pitch, stealing Chappell's cap, Cowdrey's white hat and a stump. Their offensive attitude towards the visitors culminated in an unsavoury demonstration in the final forty minutes, when Boycott and Edrich batted against a continuous background of booing, handclapping in unison and the banging of empty beer cans. At one time the umpires conferred but allowed play to continue.

Cowdrey returned to the side because Fletcher was injured, and disastrously, for his four missed slip catches in the first innings cost England their chance. He missed I. M. Chappell off Snow before he scored and again off d'Oliveira when he was 14. Altogether he missed five in the match.

Australia's 493 was a remarkable innings, for all the main scorers were missed at least once and some of the batting was remarkably faulty. Walters scored a high proportion of his runs off the bat's edge, as he did again in the second innings. After settling down I. M. Chappell played strongly, hitting twelve 4's in an innings of just over four hours, and Redpath again batted well in a stand of 180 after Lawry had been struck on the hand and retired. The most robust batting was by the left-handed Marsh, who thumped the ball hard for three and a quarter hours, hitting twelve 4's. He gave two chances in the sixties, but otherwise played sterling cricket for his side.

Lawry long delayed his declaration into the evening of the second day and then astonishingly deprived Marsh of the chance to become the first Australian wicket-keeper to score a Test century. Lawry's captaincy indeed gave his side little chance of squaring the series. When he had a lead of 101 his second innings was geared so low that it lasted four and a quarter hours for 169 for four. He could not have expected England to attempt the task of making 102 more runs in fifteen minutes less time on a slow pitch taking spin, particularly as Luckhurst could not bat and d'Oliveira, who had a badly bruised toe, could have done so only with a runner.

Luckhurst broke the little finger of his left hand quite early in a grand fighting innings, which pulled England round after Thomson, in helpful conditions, had them reeling at 88 for three. Despite his handicap Luckhurst stayed nearly five and a half hours to score his second century of the series, in which he hit eleven 4's. d'Oliveira, his partner while 140 were scored inside three hours, and Illingworth again played fine parts in rallying the side. d'Oliveira batted five and three-quarter hours for 117, also hitting eleven 4's, and Illingworth made 41 out of a fifth-wicket partnership of 78.

In Australia's second innings Snow was warned about his use of the bouncer by the new Test umpire, O'Connell, although he bowled considerably fewer than Thomson. In the final innings Boycott and Edrich, with only a draw to play for, scored 161 in the four hours. After 45 overs they had made 133, but when the crowd made concentration difficult they inevitably fell back on defence. In conditions helpful to spin Australia's slow bowlers failed badly.

This match attracted 184,503 people and the third day produced world record receipts of £25,070 . Altogether the Test series was watched by 678,486 spectators who paid £248,354.

© John Wisden & Co