Fifth Test match

England v Australia 1934

Toss: Australia. Test debuts: H.I.Ebeling.

Each side having won once with two games left drawn, the fifth and concluding Test match was entered upon without any restrictions as to the time involved in reaching a definite result. As it happened four days proved sufficient for Australia to win by 562 runs. Thus they regained The Ashes. Being successful in the rubber by two victories to one, they brought their number of wins in the whole series of encounters between the two countries to 52 as against 51 by England. Under conditions which, apart from the winning of the toss, favoured neither side unduly the result was a fitting tribute to the superior all-round skill of Australia. They batted, bowled and fielded better than England and in every way thoroughly deserved what was, after all, a notable achievement. England in the course of the match laboured under a disadvantage when Ames, on the third day, had to retire with a strained back and took no further part in the game and Bowes was compelled to undergo a slight operation which prevented him batting but was not sufficiently serious to hinder his return and bowl on the fourth morning.

Still, making every allowance for these incidents, there can be no doubt that everyone who saw the match from beginning to end must have been convinced of the all-round superiority of Australia. They made two changes. Kippax and Ebeling were brought in for Darling and Wall and thus made their first appearances of the tour in Test matches. The England team also was altered. Sutcliffe returned to the exclusion of Keeton; Hopwood and Mitchell, both having been twice tried and found wanting, gave way to G. O. Allen and Clark; while in the other case a daring experiment was tried, Frank Woolley, the famous left-hander, taking the place of Hendren, when it became known that Hendren did not feel justified in accepting an invitation owing to an injury he had sustained just previously. Gover of Surrey and I.A.R Peebles - the latter an extraordinary choice having regard to the comparatively little cricket in which he had taken part - were both in the list of names from whom the team was to be chosen but neither was selected. Woolley was brought in on the strength of his wonderful batting for Kent, but as events proved it was a sad error of judgment on the part of the selectors to fall back on a man, no matter what his county record may have been, who had not played in a Test match against Australia for four years and who, moreover, was 47 years of age. Dismissed for four and nought, Woolley failed in both innings at the very part of the order which previous experience during the summer had proved to be England's most vulnerable point in batting.

The law of averages suggested that it was Woodfull's turn to win the toss. This he did and when Clark, coming on at 20, bowled Brown at 21 with the best ball sent down all day long, it seemed as though the England attack on a hard wicket was about to come into its own. Never were hopeful anticipations more rudely dispelled. Between them Ponsford and Bradman gave another glorious display of batting, staying together until nearly half-past six and engaging in a partnership which left that of Leeds far behind and produced 451 runs in five hours and a quarter. This time Bradman was the first to leave, hitting over his head at a bouncing ball and being caught behind the wicket at 472. McCabe went in and played out time, Australia, as the result of the first day's cricket, having 475 runs on the board with only two men out. It would be hard to speak in too high terms of praise of the magnificent displays of batting given by Ponsford and Bradman. Before Bradman joined him Ponsford had shown an inclination to draw away from the bowling of Bowes but he received inspiration afterwards from the example of his partner, who from the very moment he reached the centre and took up his stance was coolness and mastery personified.

The pitch did not help bowlers at all. Those with a command of spin found it extremely difficult to make the ball turn in the slightest and only by dropping it short could the fast bowlers make the ball rise above stump high. Clark tried leg-theory with a packed leg-side field but as, for the most part, he maintained a good length, his bowling, even if he now and again dropped the ball short, scarcely came under the category of what is known body-line. Incidentally Clark and the others tried all sort of theories but they had no effect on Bradman who, as the afternoon wore on, invested his batting with increasing daring. He drove, and cut with the utmost certainty and power and when the ball did bounce he just stepped back and hooked it. Included in his hits were a six and thirty two 4's and, having regard to the rate at which he, as well as Ponsford scored, a better display has rarely been seen. Ponsford was not quite so sure as Bradman and he frequently turned his back to the ball to receive blows on the thigh. All the same, he drove with great power and was clever in getting the ball away between the fieldsmen placed close in. Just after the new ball was brought into use at 200 the England bowling was at its best but generally speaking it never looked quite good enough for the task at hand and it was noticeable that scarcely a single yorker was sent down all day long while the bowlers of pace failed to keep their deliveries just that little bit short of a length to compel batsmen to play the forward defensive stroke. As during the day about 80 runs an hour were obtained it can be realised that too many long-hops and half-volleys were sent down. This great partnership meant that in consecutive representative encounters Bradman and Ponsford in two stands scored 839 runs in ten hours and three-quarters. Ponsford offered three very difficult chances and one when 115 comparatively easy; Bradman's batting, as far as was seen, was flawless.

On Monday England had further trouble before the innings which lasted nearly ten hours closed at twenty minutes to five for 701 runs - the second highest in the history of Test matches between England and Australia. On this day 226 runs were made in four and a quarter hours for eight wickets - evidence of an improvement in the England attack. Of the fast bowlers Clark was the best from the point of sustained effort and real class but he had no luck. Allen was faster and more virile and Bowes had an inspired period when, going on at 605, he took three wickets in five overs and a ball for 19 runs. McCabe was out early at 488 and Ponsford gave another chance before once more hitting his wicket in drawing back to Allen. Fourth out at 574, he batted seven hours and thirty-five minutes for his workman-like innings of 266 and he hit a five and twenty-seven fours. Woodfull gave a plodding display which lasted two hours and a half, Kippax was in for just over fifty minutes and none of the batting approached in class that of the opening afternoon. It was curious that six of the Australians were clean bowled and in this connection it is proper to observe that Bowes, who started the day trying to bounce the ball, met with success directly he bowled normally. The England fielding fell much below the standard demanded in Test cricket. On the dry ground the ball sometimes shot off at an awkward angle but the catching was poor.

An hour and a half remained for cricket when England went in and anything might have happened, but Walters and Sutcliffe, scoring at a fine pace, made 90 together without being separated. Walters once nearly played on: he looked to give a chance at 36, and at 41 was nearly caught at mid-on. Just about six o'clock the pace of the run-getting decreased which, in the circumstances, was a wise policy. Still, England were still 611 runs behind at the end of the day.

Tuesday was a black day for England and except for a superbly aggressive display by Maurice Leyland the batting proved deplorable. Sutcliffe and Walters were separated at 104, Sutcliffe being out to a good catch at the wicket on the leg-side when the partnership had lasted an hour and fifty minutes and then followed a series of disasters. Walters and Woolley left in one over at 108 and 111; Wyatt playing on at 136 gave Grimmett his 100th wicket in Test cricket and Hammond went at 142. Leyland and Ames put a better appearance on affairs but when they had added 85 in less than an hour, Ames retired with a strained back. After that Leyland dominated the proceedings. He drove splendidly and when at length bowled at 321 he had made 110 out of 185 in two hours and forty minutes. He hit a six and fifteen fours, nearly all drives. Bowes being absent, the innings closed with Leyland's dismissal at four o'clock, the last three wickets having put on 179 runs. The Australian bowling was always good and their fielding accurate.

Australia, 380 ahead, scored 186 for two wickets before the end of the day, Brown leaving at 13 and Ponsford at 42. Woolley kept wicket and Gregory and McMurray of Surrey acted as substitute fielders. Incidentally the work of these two men was brilliantly accurate. Nobody on the England side, except Leyland, did so well in the outfield in any of the Test matches. Bradman and McCabe scored at a fine pace, making 144 together in ninety minutes. Light rain fell during the night but the wicket the next morning was not greatly affected. Ames was still away but Bowes returned and went on to bowl. He soon dismissed Bradman who, with McCabe, had added 150 in ninety-five minutes and then for the first time England's bowling got really on top so that, although the last partnership between Ebeling and O'Reilly produced 55 in forty minutes, Australia were all out by half-past two for 327, the last eight wickets having produced 141 in two hours and ten minutes. Clark and Bowes shared the wickets, both bowling extremely well. Woolley kept wicket and made a catch standing back.

England were thus left with no fewer than 708 to get to win - only 34 short of the number England had set Australia in the first Test match at Brisbane during the 1928-29 tour. England made a shocking start, Walters leaving at one and Woolley at three but Sutcliffe and Hammond added 64 in sixty-five minutes. Hammond was fourth to leave after tea at 89 and following that it only became a question as to whether the match would be over or not before half-past six. Apart from an easy chance of stumping, Hammond certainly played very well but the tea interval proved his undoing. Leyland left at 109 and Wyatt at 122 and shortly before six o'clock with Allen stumped the innings was all over for 145 and as was the case four years previously Australia won the rubber on the anniversary of Woodfull's birthday. Grimmett bowled superbly.

© John Wisden & Co