Third Cornhill Test


Rod Nicholson

At Trent Bridge, July 11, 12, 13, 15, 16. Drawn. The match produced neither the excitement nor the outright result of the first two Tests, though it entertained with imposing individual performances, notably by Gower, Wood and Ritchie, all of whom made substantial centuries. Gower won the toss with a ten franc coin, thus breaking a losing sequence of six Tests, and decided to bat on a light-coloured pitch which promised and produced a feast of runs.

Robinson began at breakneck pace, England's first 50 coming in just twelve overs, but at 55 he edged a catch to Border off Lawson. This united Gower with the increasingly confident Gooch, and the partnership yielded 116 in 30 overs before Gooch lost concentration, guiding a cut to Wessels in the gully off Lawson. Gower's seemingly inevitable century, the tenth of his Test career, came with nine boundaries. Undefeated with 107 at the end of the first day, the England captain divulged his hopes of a total of about 600 to enable his bowlers to place strong pressure on the tourists, and there seemed no reason to dispute the prospect when England reached 358 for two just before lunch on the second day. Inexplicably they then lost eight wickets while scoring 98, a decline triggered by a cruel run-out for Gatting after he had contributed 74 to a 187-run partnership with his captain. Gower hit a straight drive off Holland's leg-spin, and the bowler's unintentional deflection found Gatting backing up too far. Just before tea Gower edged a delivery from O'Donnell to the wicket-keeper. His 166, off 283 balls, was an innings full of drives and cuts of quality, and he hit seventeen boundaries. Lawson, who captured five wickets in an innings for the tenth time in Tests, and McDermott shared six wickets in thirteen overs and England fell substantially short of Gower's target.

Australia began confidently enough with Hilditch and Wood, who had been on the verge of being omitted from the Test following a string of low scores, opening with an 87-run partnership. Hilditch then fell to Allott, but Wood and the night-watchman, Holland, carried Australia to 94 for one by stumps. Sidebottom, making his Test d├ębut following the withdrawal with a back injury of Foster, trapped Holland early next day. But Australia reached 205 before Wessels was caught at the wicket. Border, with a 6 and two 4s in his 23 off seventeen deliveries, was hinting at a repeat of his Lord's triumph when adjudged caught at slip off Edmonds, a controversial decision. When Boon then presented Emburey with a return catch for 15, Australia were vulnerable at 263 for five, no longer in danger of having to follow on but still 193 in arrears.

However, Wood, who reached his eighth Test century off 167 balls, found in Ritchie a partner prepared to attack the bowling, and a stand of 161 runs in 66 overs left Australia only 32 runs in arrears when Wood's marathon innings ended at 172, his highest in 51 Tests. After ten hours and 449 deliveries, Wood left the ground with his Test career revived and Australia's fighting qualities restored. Ritchie, who had missed a worthy century at Lord's by only 6 runs, confirmed his growing maturity with an innings of 146 (sixteen boundaries in six hours), and with O'Donnell making 46 Australia finished with a lead of 83. Botham, who was warned for running on the wicket and for intimidatory bowling by umpire Whitehead during an explosive over, in which he also had Ritchie caught off a no-ball, gave his all as usual, while Edmonds and Emburey bowled 121 overs between them for a return of five wickets. The unresponsive pitch, coupled with a toe injury to Sidebottom and Allott's stomach upset, eased the task for the Australians, but the batting of Wood and Ritchie was full of character.

England's second innings, held up by rain and bad light, was of little consequence, though Robinson boosted his average and standing with an unconquered 77. The overall winners were the slow and lifeless pitch, Gower for his captain's century (which won him the Man of the Match award), Wood for his spirited and courageous innings which rescued his international career, and Ritchie, a young batsman making an impact on Test cricket after some years of unfulfilled promise. The total attendance was 49,259 with takings of £305,000.

© John Wisden & Co