Fifth Cornhill Test

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1985

David Field

Rain, rivalling Australia as England's greatest adversary, rolled away on the final afternoon to allow just enough time for Gower's side to force a thoroughly warranted victory. There was, however, a dark cloud of controversy waiting to shed its gloom. Australia's captain asserted that the crucial, quite freak dismissal of Phillips should not have been allowed, claiming that enough doubt existed for the umpires to have judged in the batsman's favour. Border insisted that the incident cost Australia the match. Phillips hit a ball from Edmonds hard on to the instep of Lamb, who was taking swift evasive action at silly point. The rebound gently stood up for Gower, a couple of yards away, to catch, and 48 minutes later England won when it had seemed that the weather-induced frustrations which prevailed at Manchester would deny them again.

It was a pity Border blamed defeat on this one incident, especially as England had forged their supremacy with a succession of outstanding individual performances, none more so than Ellison's. The Kent swing bowler fought off the debilitating effects of a heavy cold to capture ten for 79 in the match, be named as Man of the Match, and announce his coming-of-age as a Test bowler. He and Taylor had replaced Agnew and Allott in the England side. Gower, in addition to savouring the fruits of victory and being appointed ahead of schedule for England's winter tour to the West Indies, exquisitely unveiled his strokemaking talents with a career-best 215 on the ground where he had scored his previous double-hundred for England, against India in 1979. Helped by some badly directed bowling, the England captain remorselessly punished Australia in a sumptuous, high-speed partnership of 331 with Robinson. Then Gatting, almost clinically, added a top-quality hundred - resourceful, chanceless and occupying only 125 balls.

England's domination was triggered off by Gower when he ran out Lawson for a fighting 53 off the first ball of the third day. The fifth delivery of the same over ended Australia's first innings for 335, the tourists being indebted to the obdurate Wessels for a dogged 83. With two days, both rain-interrupted, already gone, this was a position from which Australia should not have lost, but their wasteful bowling and an astonishing collapse early in their second innings cleared England's way.

By the third evening Gower and Robinson had already taken England into the lead with their respective centuries. Australia were rendered powerless as England amassed 355 for one, the only interruption being Thomson's dismissal of Gooch, his 200th Test wicket and 100th against England. England's huge second-wicket stand, when it concluded on Monday with Robinson playing on to Lawson, was the second highest for this wicket against Australia, short only of Hutton and Leyland's 382 at The Oval in 1938. It was the seventh alliance of over 300 by an England pair and the best in England since J. H. Edrich and Barrington added 369 against New Zealand at Headingley in 1965. Gower, by that time, had gone past Denis Compton's record aggregate of 562 in a home series against Australia.

England's declaration at 595 for five, a lead of 260, was sped by Lamb and briefly by Botham, who struck his first and third balls from McDermott for straight 6s and his fourth for 4. Ellison, bowling to a full length and achieving late swing, then ripped away the top layer of Australia's innings with a spell of four wickets for 1 run in fifteen balls, including Border's. Australia, going into a desperate final day at 37 for five, had their prayers for rain initially answered. Thick drizzle promised to save the match for them, but at 2.30 Phillips and Ritchie were finally summoned to fight it out. Phillips, in particular, displayed a strong nerve in making 59 before his controversial departure. Umpire Shepherd, not having a clear view of the incident, asked Constant, standing at square leg, for his version, and the latter unhesitatingly confirmed that the ball had at no time hit the ground. Australia's last four wickets offered little resistance.

A total of 51,550 spectators watched a match shortened by seven hours through bad weather and paid receipts of £318,500

© John Wisden & Co