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Leading off in fine style in the series of Test Matches, England won this, the first, early on the fifth day by ten wickets.
The bowling of Larwood, who in the two innings dismissed ten men at a cost of 124 runs - five of them in the second innings for less than six runs apiece - and the batting of Sutcliffe, Hammond and Pataudi stood out as the prominent successes of the match from the English point of view.
At the same time the encounter brought great fame to McCabe, the young Australian cricketer, who, with an innings of 187, obtained his first century in Test Matches and scored off Larwood's bowling in a style which for daring and brilliance was not approached by any other Australian during the tour. Later in the game the displays of the three Englishmen discounted considerably the fine work done by McCabe. Sutcliffe gave a typical exhibition, being wonderfully sure in defence and certain in his off-driving; Hammond, if not quite so dashing as a little time previously at Melbourne, was eminently good, but Pataudi - like two other famous Indians, Ranjitsinhji and Duleepsinhji, reaching three figures in his first Test match - was, for the most part, plodding and rather wearisome to watch. He did not show the Sydney public anything like the great array of strokes of which he is known to be capable of executing and seemed on the whole disinclined to take the slightest risk with balls which apparently were quite safe to hit. Still, it was a great performance on the part of England that their first three wickets should each have produced over a hundred runs and for Sutcliffe to have taken part in all three stands.
Woodfull won the toss for Australia who, before lunch on the first day, scored 63 for the loss of their captain at 22. Following the interval Larwood, bowling at a great pace, met with astonishing success for in his first, third and fifth overs he sent back Ponsford, Fingleton and Kippax, the score in the meantime being advanced only to 87. Larwood obtained these three wickets for 15 runs. Then came another dramatic change, McCabe finding a valuable partner in Richardson who in just over two hours, helped to add 129 runs. Both men took chances against the high-rising balls delivered at them, but everything came off, McCabe's hitting on the on-side being marvellous. Later on Grimmett gave trouble so that in the last three-quarters of an hour, 59 runs were put on.
Australia finished up with six men out for 290 and all things considered they had no great reason to be dissatisfied, but England, having on the next day polished off the innings for 360, proceeded to place themselves in a strong position. McCabe took out his bat, scoring 60 of the 70 runs added by the last four Australian wickets. Altogether he and Grimmett put on 68, and when Wall was in with him 55 runs came in about half an hour. Except that he was nearly caught by Larwood at 159, McCabe gave a faultless display; in just over four hours he hit no fewer than twenty-five 4's.
England batted for the rest of the day, scoring 252 for the loss of one wicket - that of Wyatt. Sutcliffe and Wyatt made 112 together and then Hammond stayed with Sutcliffe for the rest of the afternoon, both men batting gloriously. England remained at the wickets the whole of Monday and, adding 227 runs for the loss of five more wickets, wound up 119 runs ahead with four men to be disposed of. The Australian bowling and especially that of O'Reilly, remained very steady, but the Englishmen did not attempt to force the pace, being more concerned in consolidating a sound position already gained. Hammond was second out at 300 after helping to add 188, but he did not quite approach the brilliance he had shown on Saturday. Still, his innings was a very fine one and then, shortly after tea, Sutcliffe was third to leave at 423, when he and Pataudi had increased the score by 123. In his highest Test innings against Australia Sutcliffe batted seven hours and a quarter, but he hit only thirteen 4's. He had one great piece of luck when he was 43, playing a ball on to his wicket without however, removing the bails. Otherwise his defensive strokes were perfect. For the rest of the time Pataudi dominated the proceedings and when on the fourth day the innings closed for 524, or 164 ahead, he was last out. He stayed for five hours and a quarter, scoring chiefly by leg glances and strokes on the off-side, but he hit only six 4's.
Going in a second time, Australia collapsed badly. Larwood, again bowling at a great pace, and well backed up by Voce, carried everything before him and when play ceased Australia had lost nine wickets for 164 runs. Thus they had exactly cleared off the arrears. Larwood's speed was tremendous and nobody faced him with any confidence, but after eight men were out for 113 there came unexpected resistance from Nagel and Wall. Of the previous batsmen only Fingleton and McCabe stayed any time. The match being as good as over, there were less than a hundred people present to see the finish the next morning. Wall was out without addition and, going in again with Wyatt, Sutcliffe at once obtained the one run necessary to win.
Reference to the fact that Bradman, owing to illness, was unable to play in the match must not be omitted, although in view of subsequent events it is, to say the least, questionable, if his presence would have staved off disaster.