Third Test match

England v Australia 1926

Played at Leeds, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, July 10, 12, 13. Drawn. Outplayed on the first day when Australia - sent into bat - scored 366 for three wickets and finishing on the second evening 291 behind with eight men out, England on Tuesday retrieved their lost ground so handsomely that in the end they led by 54 runs and had seven wickets to fall in their second innings. Still the fact remained that the home side passed through a desperately anxious time and the conclusion could scarcely be avoided that, if the visitors' bowling had been up to the standard of most teams from Australia, England would have found themselves very hard put to it to escape defeat. The galling thing about the struggle was the way in which England courted trouble.

Carr won the toss and so could have taken first innings on a pitch which, while somewhat soft, was never difficult. He decided, however, to send Australia in. In excuse for the unhappy course taken it is only fair to England's captain to state that the ground had been practically under water on the previous evening and that for some hours prior to the start of the match the sun shone - if not with great power. The circumstances would, perhaps, have tempted other men to adopt a similar policy and, possibly, the risk taken might have been justified by results had the day continued bright. As it happened the sky soon clouded over and at no time did the ball really bite. If, however, the conditions in any way justified the sending in of Australia, that course most certainly demanded the inclusion in the home team of Parker, the best left-handed slow bowler in the country. Parker, however, was left out, the only changes from the team which played at Lord's consisting in the substitution of Geary and Macaulay for Larwood and Root. Collins being ill Grimmett was brought into the Australian eleven, Bardsley acting as captain and Ponsford being twelfth man.

Played upon a different pitch from that originally intended the game had a truly dramatic opening, Bardsley being caught at slip off the first ball sent down and Macartney off the fifth ball of Tate's over giving a chance in the slips to Carr. Thus the second wicket ought to have gone down with only 2 runs on the board. It did not fall until nearly two hours and fifty minutes later, and by that time the score had been raised to 235. The occasion was seized upon by Macartney to give one of the most glorious displays of his great career. The fact of having narrowly escaped from being out for two disturbed the famous batsman not at all. Going for the bowling at once, he was soon complete master of the situation generally and of Macaulay in particular. Driving, cutting and placing to leg superbly, he accomplished the remarkable feat of scoring a hundred before lunch - a performance previously achieved in a Test match only by Victor Trumper. His footwork was perfect and his off-driving magnificent. To such an extent did he overshadow Woodfull that he made 51 out of 64 and 100 out of 131 with never a false stroke - bar that at the start - until he skyed a short pitched ball to mid-off. Included in his 151 - an innings it was a privilege to witness - were twenty-one 4's. Andrews gave little trouble, being second out at 249, but there England's successes terminated for the day, Woodfull and Richardson in an hour and a half adding 117 runs and being still together when at twenty minutes past five rain set in and stopped play. The fourth wicket should have gone down at 283, Richardson, when 23, giving a chance to Geary in the slips. Still Richardson if also lucky more than once in snicking the ball past the leg stump, showed both vigour and determintion. Woodfull played a masterful game all day, offering an impregnable defence, making nothing like a mistake and bringing off numerous fine drives.

Monday brought about such a change in the character of the cricket that in less than two hours and a half Australia's seven wickets fell for 128 runs. England, indeed, bowling more skilfully and fielding more smartly than on Saturday, accomplished quite a good performance. Tate, very fittingly, had most to do with finishing off the innings. A smart piece of work by Macaulay disposed of Richardson, and Strudwick kept wicket in his finest form. Curiously enough Woodfull - fourth out at 378 - after playing with a beautifully straight bat for nearly five hours, hit across at the ball which bowled him. His 141, if not particularly attractive to watch, was a triumph of sound skilful batting. No one could have rendered better service to his side. Richardson as well as Woodfull enjoyed the satisfaction of making his first hundred in a Test match. Using his power to hit in front of the wicket, Richardson played a strong game for three hours with ten 4's as his chief strokes. Australia's innings extended altogether over seven hours and ten minutes.

Faced with the formidable task of making 345 to avoid a follow-on England went into bat after lunch. For a time all went well, Hobbs and Sutcliffe playing so steadily that they remained together for eighty minutes and raised the score to 59. However, just when the famous pair seemed thoroughly set Sutcliffe played too soon at one of Grimmett's slows and gave that bowler a simple catch. The 100 was reached with one wicket down, but then came such a change that the score with four men out was only 112. Hobbs, after playing extremely well, put a ball up to Andrews in attempting a forcing stroke, Hendren from a hard skimming stroke was taken by the same fieldsman, and Woolley ran himself out. Carr and Chapman, batting doggedly, stayed some time but both were out by the time the total reached 140, and although Kilner made some fine hits, including four 4's in one over from Mailey, the drawing of stumps found England with eight wickets down for 203 - a doleful position indeed.

England on Tuesday morning, wanted 142 more runs to escape a follow-on, and had only two wickets to fall so the prospects of making that number were remote in the extreme. Curiously enough, where so many leading batsmen had failed, Macaulay and Geary achieved pronounced success. The two men had come together with the total at 182 and they were not separated until it stood at 290, the partnership for the ninth wicket lasting nearly two hours and producing 108 runs. Macaulay, in scoring 76, hit ten 4's, played fine resolute cricket and might have done still better had he not received a blow on the hand from Gregory. Almost as valuable as Macaulay's vigour were the sound defence and untiring patience of Geary who kept up his end for two hours and a half. Grimmett carried off the chief bowling honours. Macartney was difficult to score from and Mailey did useful work.

Although England's arrears amounted to 200 runs, Hobbs and Sutcliffe in the follow-on batted with refreshing confidence as well as success, some worn places on the pitch notwithstanding. For nearly two hours and a half they remained masters of Australia's attack and they had raised the total to 156 when Hobbs brought a faultless innings to a close by playing a ball from Grimmett on to the stumps. In the course of his display Hobbs established a new record in Test match cricket by beating the aggregate of Clem Hill - 2,660. Sutcliffe, who also played splendid cricket, batted three hours and a quarter and helped to bring the score to 210. Woolley, exercising great restraint, shared in a partnership of 52 and to wind up with Chapman hit away in very bright fashion, making his first 40 runs in a quarter of an hour. The game at six o'clock was abandoned as a draw.

While on the first day 366 runs were scored for three wickets, fifteen wickets went down on Monday for 331 runs. On Tuesday only five wickets fell and 345 runs were registered. The total attendance for the three days was 75,800 of whom, 52,745 paid, the receipts being £8,815.

© John Wisden & Co