Third Test match

England v New Zealand 1937

At Kennington Oval, August 14, 16, 17. Drawn. A break in the weather ruined the last of the three Test matches. Continuous rain limited cricket on the opening day to half an hour and although once during Tuesday's play New Zealand looked in danger of defeat England could not seize their opportunity. As at Lord's, Hardstaff had the distinction of playing a three-figure innings but England's bowling, apart from that of Hammond, never looked more than ordinary. New Zealand, when their sixth wicket fell shortly before the tea interval, were no more than 102 runs to the good; stern batting by Moloney remedied the position and the innings did not end until close upon ten minutes to six. Thus, it was merely a formality for England to go in with a task of 183 before them.

The England selectors caused a good deal of surprise by choosing Matthews, the Glamorgan medium-paced bowler, formerly with Northamptonshire, but the inclusion of Compton, of Middlesex, had been generally expected. Washbrook was asked to play when Paynter, his Lancashire colleague, withdrew owing to injury, and Gover came in for K. Farnes, another of the original choices for the match. Page won the toss for the first time during the series.

During Saturday's short spell of cricket Vivian and Hadlee scored 20 runs, but on the Monday when fully 16,000 people were present, England got down the first four wickets for 27 further runs. Washbrook threw out Wallace in superb style; when Weir played a ball to short leg Washbrook ran several yards before picking up and returning to the wicket-keeper with amazing celerity and accuracy. The batting resistance stiffened and the fifth, sixth and seventh partnerships produced in all 175 runs. To a large extent this was due to the confident innings of Donnelly, who after one or two fortuitous strokes off Hammond, punished the bad ball most effectively and reached 50 in a little over an hour. Page, playing good bowling extremely well, stayed over two hours and a half, and Roberts, as at Lord's, hit hard in front of the wicket. Robins in the course of seven balls took the last three wickets for a single, a first-rate catch by Gover off a perfectly good and powerful hit to short leg disposing of Dunning.

The failure of England batsmen which followed must have been heartening to the Colonial players. Three wickets fell for 36 runs - two of the successes being to Vivian who bowled with splendid accuracy and steadiness. Hammond having been placed number 6 in the order, the responsibility for improving this lamentable start fell upon Compton and Hardstaff and despite bad light and steady drizzling rain they added 50 runs before rain brought about a stoppage of play for the day.

Next morning Hardstaff and Compton had largely to deal with slow bowling, and off this they made runs readily. With the pitch slow, Cowie could not make the ball lift and was by no means so difficult to play as on the Monday. Although the ball did not travel well in the outfield England's fourth wicket pair increased their partnership to 125 runs and they had been together nearly two hours when Compton was out most unluckily. A ball driven by Hardstaff was partially stopped by Vivian, the bowler, and glanced off his hand to hit the wicket so that Compton, backing up, was run out. Except that he gave a chance when 46 to short leg - Roberts hurt a finger in trying to make the catch - Compton batted extremely well on his debut in Test cricket; there was no mistaking his sound judgment of the ball that could be hit with safety. Both he and Hardstaff ran splendidly between wickets: Hardstaff, when 61, also offered a chance but on the whole his innings was very sound and when Hammond joined him he ran into fine form. So sure was he in dealing with the bowling that he appeared almost casual but he drove with skill and grace and often hit to the on-side with splendid power. During his innings, which lasted nearly three hours and included sixteen 4's, Hardstaff completed 2,000 runs for the season.

England batted until lunch-time before declaring with a lead of 5 runs and as it was obvious that the wicket, although not difficult, was responsive to spin bowling it appeared as though New Zealand would have a desperate struggle to save the match. Such ideas were strengthened when Hadlee and Wallace were out for 19, and Vivian should have been caught at extra cover off Goddard with the total 39. Had that catch been held, England might have won. As it was, Vivian stayed an hour and a half and retrieved the early collapse by scoring 57 of the first 87 runs. A good spell by Hammond, who turned the ball quickly from leg at times, and took two wickets in five overs for 4 runs kept interest in the match alive, but after the tea interval the chance of a result gradually disappeared - largely because Moloney, after some luck with Robins' bowling, revealed skilful defence and with Tindill added 43 for the seventh wicket. Page, owing to a strained muscle, did not bat.

The rest of the play did not matter and it may fairly be said that New Zealand came through the match with considerable credit. Over 28,000 people were present during the three days.

© John Wisden & Co