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Beating England in an innings with 39 runs to spare, Australia won the rubber and so regained possession of the Ashes they had lost four years previously on the same ground. Each side having proved successful once and the other two games being drawn, the concluding Test match had to be played to a finish irrespective of the number of days involved. Including the Thursday when, owing to rain, not a ball could be bowled, the encounter was spread over six days - a longer time than had ever before been occupied by a Test match in England.
Australia won the match fairly and squarely, replying to England's first innings of 405 with a total of 695, and then getting the Englishmen out for 251, but just as rain had assisted England in the First Test Match at Nottingham, so it operated against them at the Oval. England had to play their second innings on a pitch so entirely suited to bowlers that in the circumstances they actually accomplished a good performance in scoring as many runs as they did on the last day. Still, Australia had outplayed their opponents on the first innings and, even if rain had not fallen they would, most probably, have won the match. They definitely carried off the honours and deserved their success. Admitting the weather bore hardly upon the losers, it is but proper to observe that England contributed to their undoing by faulty work in the field. To stress the mistakes of any particular individual is never a congenial task, but as a matter of history it must be set down that Duckworth, who, usually so dependable a wicket-keeper had gone through the previous Australian tour in brilliant fashion, failed badly. At the very outset of the Australian innings he missed Woodfull, let off Ponsford twice before that batsman had made 50 and, on the Tuesday, failed to catch Bradman at the wicket. Between them these three Australian cricketers made 396 runs, so it can easily be realised what a tremendous difference these blunders made to England's chances.
Once more Australia owed a great deal to Bradman who followed up his previous batting successes at Nottingham, Lord's and Leeds with an innings of 232. As usual he scored well in front of the wicket but he obtained a large number of runs on the leg side, while from start to finish his defence was altogether remarkable. All the same he did not play in anything like the attractive style he had shown at Lord's; indeed, there were periods when he became monotonous. Scoring so heavily as he did, Bradman again overshadowed everyone else, but his task was made the easier by the good work accomplished, before he went in, by Ponsford and Woodfull, who once more wore the bowling down by their workmanlike and steady cricket.
Australia made one change in their team, Richardson being dropped for Jackson, while in the English side, RES Wyatt, Whysall and Larwood took the places of APF Chapman, Goddard and Nichols. The passing over of Chapman, in whose stead Wyatt captained the side, raised a storm of protest. The Selection Committee no doubt felt that a steadying influence on the middle batting was required. Wyatt certainly played his part in the first innings with a fine exhibition at a critical period and, with the bowling at command, Chapman could have done little, if any, better than Wyatt in his management of it. There can be no question, however, that the absence of Chapman's inspiring influence in the field was felt. A much greater mistake was made in bringing in Whysall, who not only failed as a batsman but was obviously much too slow as a fieldsman for a Test match. Even at the risk of weakening the batting Parker, who had been asked to be present, should have been included, for there was nobody on the side able to bowl the ball going away from the batsman which, as was shown time after time during the tour, was the one best calculated to cause trouble to Bradman. As in all the other games, the England batting, despite the fine total put together, was inconsistent, weakness being developed where strength should have existed. The bowling, too, apart from that of Peebles, never looked really good enough to get Australia out at reasonable cost.
Wyatt winning the toss, England stayed in for the whole of the first day and scored 316 for five wickets but at one point - to be exact just before the tea interval - they were in a bad way, the fifth man leaving when the total was only 197. Then Wyatt went in and played well. To begin with, Hobbs and Sutcliffe put on 68 for the first partnership, Hobbs being caught at short-leg just before lunch, while at 97 Whysall left. There came some delightful batting by Duleepsinhji who, driving, hooking and cutting in dazzling style, actually scored 50 out of the next 65 runs in fifty minutes. To some extent the situation had been retrieved but the quick dismissal of Hammond and Leyland threw England back again. After tea, Sutcliffe, who had been in four and a quarter hours for 66, batted beautifully and was not out 138 when play ceased. He and Wyatt had added 119 and before Sutcliffe was out on Monday morning at 367 the stand had realised 170 runs in two hours and thirty-five minutes.
Sutcliffe batted for six hours and three-quarters and scored exactly the same number of runs as he had done in the corresponding match four years previously. The situation compelled him to play a restrained game until he and Wyatt had definitely settled down together but from tea time on the opening day his cricket was first-class. Naturally, the Australian bowling had lost some of its freshness on the Saturday afternoon but that did not detract from the merit of the innings. Sutcliffe brought off some splendid hits to square-leg and to the on, while his off-driving was admirable. As far as was seen he did not give a chance but just before the partnership ended Wyatt was missed at slip by Hornibrook. Eighth to leave at 379, Wyatt was in for three hours for a most valuable 64, in which he hit hard in front of the wicket. On the Monday morning, five England wickets fell for 89 in about an hour and fifty minutes, the innings having lasted seven hours and forty minutes.
Before lunch, Woodfull and Ponsford scored 36 but both should have been out, Woodfull being missed at the wicket when six and Ponsford at 23 giving a chance of stumping. Later on Ponsford, at 45, was let off again and for these mistakes England had to pay a heavy price. Altogether the two men scored 159 runs in two hours and forty minutes before Ponsford was bowled third ball after tea. He batted extremely well, if not perhaps quite so skilfully as at Manchester, the manner in which at the start of the innings he dealt with Larwood clearly disproving the idea that he could not face the Notts fast bowler. Scoring at the start chiefly on the leg-side, he afterwards cut and drove beautifully. Before Bradman reached the wicket there was a delay through defective light and a little while afterwards came a further break from the same cause. With the score up to 190, Woodfull was out, his stay having extended over three hours and a quarter. He hit only three fours but played a most valuable innings. When play ceased, Australia, with two men out for 215, were only 190 runs behind. In all, Bradman and Kippax added 73 for the third wicket. Then came the big stand of the innings, Bradman and Jackson not being separated until Wednesday at one o'clock, by which time they had put on 243 runs in four and a half hours. Jackson was nearly run out before he had scored and almost bowled when five, while Bradman, at 82, gave a chance at the wicket. Rain came on during lunch time on the Tuesday, the score then standing at 371 for three wickets, and, play being resumed soon after three o'clock, a further break through rain and bad light just about four o'clock occurred with the score at 402. It looked as though there would be no more cricket that day but the players went out at twenty-five minutes past six and in the five minutes one more run was obtained.
On the Wednesday morning the ball flew about a good deal, both batsmen frequently being hit on the body. The partnership might have ended at 458 had Leyland returned the ball to the right end and on more than one occasion each player cocked the ball up dangerously but always, as it happened, just wide of the fieldsmen. caught at length, at extra-cover-point, Jackson played nothing like as well as those who we saw him in Australia knew he could. For the most part he was very restrained and, except that it helped in a record Australia stand for the fourth wicket, his innings was hardly worthy of his reputation. Bradman all this time had gone steadily on but when joined by McCabe was overshadowed, the latter driving brilliantly. Another 64 runs were added and then Bradman, at 570, was caught by Duckworth standing back. In seven hours he made 232 out of 411 with sixteen fours, ten threes and twenty-eight twos as his chief hits. McCabe, hitting nine fours, left at 594, but the tired England bowlers came in for further punishment, Oldfield and Fairfax putting on 76 in sixty-five minutes. In the end, Australia were all out just before half-past five, their innings having occupied twelve hours and five minutes. Fairfax was in for nearly two hours and a half. After tea the last three wickets fell in thirty-five minutes for 23 runs. Bowling seventy-one overs, Peebles took six wickets but had 204 runs hit from him. Although expensive he did fine work while Hammond - the only one who got real nip off the pitch - bowled much better than his record would suggest.
England, 290 behind, went in again at a quarter to six. When Hobbs and Sutcliffe reached the wickets, the Australians gathered round Hobbs and gave three cheers as a tribute to the great batsman playing presumably his last innings for England. A quiet start being made, Sutcliffe had scored only six out of the eight runs on the board when he was missed at the wicket off Fairfax. This was indeed a great piece of luck for England, but when the score reached 17 Hobbs played on. Defective light causing play to be stopped at a quarter past six, England, with nine wickets to fall and 24 runs scored, required 266 to save the innings defeat.
No play took place on the Thursday owing to rain. On Friday the sun shone and everyone realised that only a miracle could save England. Whysall was out at 37 but Sutcliffe again batted well and Duleepsinhji gave another fine display. These two added 81 in ninety-five minutes before Sutcliffe was caught at second slip from a ball which popped up and went off the shoulder of his bat. Lunch-time came with the score at 126 for three wickets, and afterwards Duleepsinhji, who had not been very comfortable, was caught at forward-short-leg at 135. With Leyland as his partner, Hammond went for the bowling in rare style, hitting five fours in three overs off Hornibrook and 54 runs were added in forty minutes before Leyland left. With his dismissal, England's hope of saving the innings defeat disappeared. Hammond went on hitting but received no support. With the last man in Hammond was missed at long-off by Bradman but three runs later he fell to a catch in the slips and at ten minutes to four the match was all over. Batting an hour and forty minutes, Hammond gave a brilliant display, hitting a 6 and eight fours.
Except towards the end of the first day, the Australian fielding in both innings was uncommonly good. Nobody did better than Bradman who, whether at fine-leg or long-off, covered so much ground, picked up and returned so swiftly that many a possible four was turned into a single.
The bowling honours in the last innings went entirely to Hornibrook who, on a pitch completely suited to his bowling, obtained seven wickets for just over 13 runs apiece. Given a second spell when England had scored 106 for the loss of two batsmen, he sent down twenty-four overs and two balls - eight of which were maidens - for 72 runs and seven wickets. After lunch he took six wickets for 66 runs. Now and again he was freely punished but for the most part he kept a fine length and all the time he was on made the ball turn and get up in disconcerting fashion. Well was it for Australia that he should have risen to the occasion in such splendid fashion, for Grimmett, hitherto - except at Manchester - the successful bowler of the side, came out of the second innings with a record of only one wicket at a cost of 90 runs.
In the course of the match, more than 110,000 people witnessed the cricket, the sum taken at the gates amounting to over £13,000. Very appropriately, the day on which Australia, regained the Ashes with this victory coincided with the birthday of Woodfull, their captain, who was then 33.