Fourth Test match

England v Australia 1926

Played at Manchester, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, July 24, 26, 27. Drawn. In its opening stage restricted to the sending down of ten balls, the Fourth Test Match, like the three preceding international encounters, resulted in a draw. No real progress being made with the game on Saturday, the shadow of a tame finish hung over all the play on Monday and Tuesday, and robbed the struggle of real excitement. Macartney and Woodfull, it is true, shared in another splendid partnership, but there was nothing else outstanding in Australia's batting, and England, with no special object to achieve, seeing that their innings did not begin until towards mid-day on Tuesday, were quite content to make runs steadily during the concluding hours of the contest. The match proved a very unhappy affair for Carr who, after leading his men into the field on Saturday found himself on Monday morning suffering from an attack of tonsilitis, and consequently unable to take any further part in the game. In the absence of the England captain, the leadership of the home team devolved upon Hobbs. Three changes were made from the side which had opposed Australia at Leeds, Chapman, Macaulay, and Geary being dropped in favour of G. T. S. Stevens, Root and Ernest Tyldesley, the last named of whom had been batting with such wonderful skill and consistency as to compel recognition. Parker, although present, was again passed over despite the probability of the match having to be fought out on a soft wicket. Collins, being still indisposed, Bardsley, as at Leeds, captained the Australian eleven, in which Ponsford at length secured a place - to the exclusion of Taylor.

Not until the first bell had been rung did the weather turn wet, but light rain then was followed by a series of heavy showers, and it was nearly a quarter to three when the players entered the field. Bardsley, who had won the toss, took Woodfull in with him, but after an over from Tate, and four balls from Root, there came such a downpour that everybody had to dash for shelter. Soon the ground had become so saturated that further cricket was out of the question. Australia scored 6 runs for no wicket.

Showers on Sunday prevented the turf recovering from the drenching to which it had been subjected, but the weather being pleasant on Monday morning, conditions allowed of the game being proceeded with, half an hour after the appointed time. The score had only been increased to 29 when Stevens, called upon as a change, got rid of Bardsley with his second ball - a long hop which Australia's captain placed into the hands of short square leg. No other success attended England for three hours, and during that time, Macartney and Woodfull put on 192 runs. Experiencing some difficulty in getting a proper foothold, the English bowlers on the lifeless pitch, caused the two Australians little trouble, except that Macartney, to begin with, did not time the ball with quite his usual accuracy, and was thrice appealed against for leg before - on the first occasion to the first ball he received. Still, Macartney accomplished the remarkable feat of registering his third 100 in three consecutive Test match innings. He was not so audacious or brilliant as at Leeds, but his footwork had all its exceptional quickness, and altogether he gave a delightful display, which, marked throughout by high skill and determination, was marred by very few false strokes and was certainly free from any actual chance. His hits included fourteen 4's. Woodfull began in his usual cautious style, taking nearly two hours and a half to make his first 50 runs, but he played a highly meritorious innings, which extended over four hours and twenty minutes. Only six times during his long stay did he send the ball to the boundary. A glorious catch by Chapman disposed of Andrews, and when the sixth wicket fell, the total had only reached 266. Ponsford showed sound defence, while Gregory, after making a few drives, settled down in strangely restrained fashion. For all that, eight wickets had fallen at the drawing of stumps for 322.

On Tuesday morning, Bardsley - rather to the general surprise - did not declare, but Tate soon finished off the innings for 335, the last eight wickets having gone down for 114 runs. Under the conditions which prevailed, this - after the heart-breaking experience against Macartney and Woodfull - was no mean achievement on the part of the England bowlers. Altogether Australia batted for six hours and twenty minutes.

Hobbs and Sutcliffe gave England quite a useful start by resisting the Australian bowling for an hour and a quarter, and raising the score to 58, before Sutcliffe was taken at the wicket. They had nothing to gain by forcing the pace, and their batting was - for them - undistinguished. Still, it served its purpose. Sutcliffe confined himself almost entirely to defence, and Hobbs, if playing most of the bowling easily enough, never seemed comfortable with Mailey, who like Grimmett made the ball turn a good deal and quickly. Hobbs afterwards was quite himself, but Tyldesley began very shakily, and after some good hits, had two narrow escapes from being caught off Grimmett. As it was, the second wicket produced 77 runs, the total being up to 135, when a catch at- mid off disposed of Hobbs, who, playing with exemplary care, had withstood the Australians attack for two hours and forty minutes. Joined by Woolley, Tyldesley, while batting in attractive fashion, enjoyed further luck, Oldfield missing a chance of stumping him off Grimmett. The third partnership in an hour and a quarter had added 90 runs, when Macartney, called upon to bowl for the first time, promptly got Tyldesley caught at the wicket. Putting together the highest innings for the side, Tyldesley played bright cricket, but he was much favoured by fortune. Woolley, fourth out at 243, showed more freedom than any of his colleagues, making his 58 in an hour and a half, and scoring two 6's and five 4's. Stevens hit hard, but Hendren was strangely quiet until the last few minutes. At the close, England, with nominally five wickets in hand, had got to within 30 of their opponent's total. During the three days, over 55,000 paid for admission, and the takings, after Entertainment Tax had been deducted, amounted to £8,700.

© John Wisden & Co