Fourth Test match

England v Australia 1934

Just as at Lord's rain came to damage the wicket and ruin Australia's chance of making an even fight of it, so in the fourth Test match on the Headingly ground at Leeds did one of the shortest but heaviest rainstorms seen at a cricket match for years arrive just in time to rob Australia of victory and enable England to draw a game in which they were completely outplayed. Escaping defeat in the luckiest manner possible, the England team accomplished nothing in the match on which they could congratulate themselves. In their unavailing efforts to get together a side which balanced the selectors made further changes from those who had represented England at Manchester. A strained leg compelled Sutcliffe to stand down, Keeton of Nottinghamshire thus getting the opportunity of making his first appearance for his country; G. O. Allen and Clark were left out and Bowes and Mitchell of Derbyshire reintroduced. James Langridge and Nichols attended and it was decided not to include Langridge and to make Nichols - for the third time - twelfth man.

His good fortune in the matter of winning the toss again attended Wyatt and for the third consecutive game England enjoyed the advantage of batting first. Wyatt himself described the wicket as being like a feather-bed, whatever that may have meant. The assumption at the time was that it would be slow and easy. There was nothing in the way it played during the first day to suggest that it was otherwise, yet England, giving one of the worst displays of batting probably ever seen under similar conditions were all dismissed between twenty-five minutes to twelve and twenty-five minutes past five for a paltry total of 200. It can be said that O'Reilly, Grimmett and Chipperfield bowled very well, but nothing they accomplished with the ball was quite sufficient to account for the shocking exhibition of weak and hesitant batting given by the Englishmen. Even Walters, who with 44 made top score, did not, after Wall had been taken off at 30, show anything of the brilliance that characterised many of his strokes at Lord's and Manchester. Keeton made two good cuts and a square drive in scoring 25 out of 43 in fifty minutes and although, after Walters' dismissal at 85, Hammond and Hendren put on 50 in an hour none of the rest, equally with those who had gone before, played in form worthy of the occasion.

Before cricket ended, however, further surprises were in store for the crowd. Bowes and Hammond started the bowling for England and both Ponsford and Brown played them so easily that there seemed no reason to expect any pronounced success for the England attack up to half-past six. Bowes, however, changed ends and, coming on again at 37 from the Pavilion wicket, bowled Brown at 37 and two runs later sent back Oldfield and Woodfull in one over. Stumps were then pulled up, Bowes having sent down ten balls from the Pavilion end and dismissed three batsmen without conceding a run. Australia, therefore, finished the day 161 runs behind with seven men to be disposed of and the situation had thus completely changed. Those, however, were the last crumbs of comfort England were destined to enjoy in this disastrous match. Bradman joined Ponsford the next morning and not until ten minutes to six on Saturday evening did another wicket fall. Giving a great display of batting, the two famous Australian run-getters beat all previous partnership records in Test matches. They carried the score in five and a half hours to 427 before Ponsford, hooking a short ball from Verity, trod on his wicket, knocked the leg bail off and was out. Altogether their stand realised no fewer than 388 runs. They always scored at a good rate but, as usual with Australians, unless the bowling is exceptionally steady, pushed along very quickly after tea when, in an hour, 98 runs were put on. Up to lunch time they scored 129 in two hours and twenty-five minutes and between lunch and tea 161 in two hours and five minutes.

Ponsford's innings was very good indeed. In the course of the partnership each batsman gave a chance, for Ponsford when 70 should have been caught by Mitchell at cover-point while Bradman at 71 was let off by Hopwood. Ponsford obtained many of his runs by late cuts and turning the ball to leg and all through his innings, which lasted six and a quarter hours and included nineteen 4's, he hit the ball hard and placed it well when scoring in front of the wicket. Moreover, his defence was rock-like in its steadiness and accuracy. For the greater part of the day Bradman, who unlike Ponsford obtained most of his runs in front of the stumps batted with the utmost certainty but during the last thirty-five minutes when he and McCabe were raising the score to 494 he played in a more light-hearted spirit. Twice he lifted the ball over the ring for six, and hit Hopwood for 15 runs in one over.

Australia, therefore, began the third day in a most comfortable position being 294 runs on with six wickets to fall and altogether Bradman and McCabe added 90 in an hour before McCabe was out. Thanks to some most effective bowling by Bowes Australia's innings was finished off in a hundred minutes, the last six wickets falling on Monday morning for 90 runs. Bradman, sixth out at 550, made his 304 in six hours and fifty-five minutes. Going in third wicket down, he took the leading part in adding 511 runs while as many more wickets fell. Not out on Saturday with 271 he was perhaps lucky in reaching 300 because when 280 he was missed at third slip by Verity. He did not play so well during the fifty minutes he was in on Monday morning as he had done previously but all the same his innings was a masterly affair. He hit the ball very hard and placed his strokes beautifully while until joined by McCabe on Saturday evening he rarely sent the ball into the air. He hit two 6's, forty-three 4's, one 3, fifteen 2's and eighty-seven singles.

Bowes was responsible for the Australian innings being wound up so quickly and in the end he came out with what was a really good record of six wickets for 142 runs. Yet on the Saturday when Ponsford and Bradman were scoring so readily Bowes, like the rest of the England bowlers, looked quite innocuous. His analysis was interesting enough to bear dissection. After going on at 37 on Friday he took three wickets for no runs. On Saturday he bowled over twenty-eight overs, did not take a wicket and had 81 runs hit from him while up to the time he dismissed Darling at 551 he took three wickets on Monday morning in nine overs and four balls for 25 runs. Verity was the only other man to get a wicket but his three cost him 113.

England went in again at one o'clock 384 runs behind so that the most they could hope for was a draw. Keeton fell just before lunch at 28 and afterwards Hammond played better than in any other Test match during the season. He was seeing the ball well, hitting it hard and accurately and seemed likely to put together an innings in his best style. With the total up to 70, however, a dreadful disaster occurred, for Hammond, responding to the call of Walters for a foolish run and then checking himself, lost his wicket. From that blow England did not recover. Walters left at 87 but by dint of very hard work and much watchful batting Hendren and Wyatt added 65 in rather less than two hours. During this stand Bradman, trying to stop the ball in the long field with his foot, strained his leg and had to retire. Hendren and Leyland, both entirely on the defensive, stayed together for the last fifty-five minutes and added 36, Hendren having been in for three hours and a quarter when stumps were pulled up. Coupled with the rain which fell on Tuesday this stand saved England but they began the last day with only 188 on the board and still wanting 196 to save the innings defeat. Heavy rain fell in the night and the wicket was very wet, while a further shower caused a delay soon after cricket had been resumed. Then Hendren was out at 190 and when Ames left at 213 the end seemed very near. Just before one o'clock a thunderstorm broke over the ground and, although it lasted only ten minutes, the downpour was so severe that no further cricket was possible. Not until six o'clock, however, was the decision to abandon the match arrived at. Not only the pitch but parts of the outfield and especially that in front of the Pavilion was, even then, far too wet for cricket to be proceeded with.

© John Wisden & Co