The Jubilee Test Match

England v Australia

Norman Preston

In many ways this was a splendid match with the initiative passing from one side to the other and even when a draw seemed certain in the final stages there was an exciting finish.

Personal honours over the five days went to Woolmer, top scorer for England in both innings and the only century maker; to Willis, whose hostile speed gained him his best Test return, seven for 78; Greig (91) and Randall (53).

For Australia, most prominent were Sergeant, who made 81 and threatened to equal the feat of his fellow countryman, Harry Graham, the only player to hit a century on his d├ębut at Lord's in an England-Australia series (in 1893); Chappell (66), Walters (53) and Hookes (50); Thomson, Walker and Pascoe. Their combined and sustained efforts caused England many problems.

The solitary disappointment occurred on the second day when bad light and intermittent rain permitted only one and three-quarter hours play. Over 20,000 people were present and the pitch was not covered until the evening, which meant that Australia faced the prospect of batting on the third day on a rain-affected wicket, but in the event the surface remained unharmed.

Brearley, captain of England for the first time, won the toss, but apart from Woolmer and Randall, the batsmen fared badly and in five hours, fifty minutes the whole side were dismissed for 216.

Thomson was in grand form as was Walker. Both kept a pretty full strength and moved the ball off the pitch just sufficiently to be extremely difficult to play. Pascoe, too, maintained genuine speed coupled with accurate length and direction.

By removing Amiss and Brearley in the early overs for 13 runs, Australia promptly gained the upper hand, but Woolmer was sure in defence while Randall produced some glorious strokes.

In two hours their stand yielded 98 before Randall paid the penalty for trying a Sunday afternoon cut. From that moment Woolmer fought a lone battle. He stayed four and a half hours and in the end was smartly run out by Walters dashing in from cover and hitting the stumps.

McCosker and Robinson began confidently in a bitter north wind on Friday morning, until in the sixth over Lever, left arm over the wicket, bowled Robinson with a fine ball that straightened off the wicket.

Underwood delivered four successive maidens to McCosker and Chappell, and Old was equally economical, but when Willis returned and sent down a bouncer to McCosker, the umpires, with Chappell's approval, went off for bad light. They came back later, but for only four overs and Australia finished the day 51 for one.

Batting with great care on the third day, Saturday, under heavy grey skies, Australia, who lost McCosker without addition to the seventh ball of the day, gained the lead with only three wickets down, but Willis and Old restored the position for England, and Australia at the close were no more than 62 ahead with three wickets left.

Two prolonged stands were the main feature of Australia's display. Serjeant occupied forty minutes before getting his first run, but he kept his head down as did Chappell who spent three hours before he hit his first boundary. They added 84 and then Serjeant and Walters put on 103 in two hours.

As Hookes and Marsh went cheaply, Willis and Old shared the six Australian wickets which fell that day and on Monday morning Willis captured the last three that added only 18.

As Randall had to rest a damaged elbow -- he batted number seven in the second innings -- England were indebted to Ealham (Kent) for some splendid fielding on Saturday.

With Amiss played on to Thomson off the fourth ball of the innings, England made another dreadful start which was remedied by Brearley and Woolmer in a valuable partnership of 132 in three hours. Brearley led a perilous life, but gallantly defied the Australian pace trio.

Woolmer showed his class with a sure defence by virtue of his perfectly straight bat. He produced some superb cover drives and he cut and forced the ball off his pads to leg. Eventually Brearley fell to a smart low right-hand catch by Robinson at short square leg off O'Keeffe and then Greig (18) stayed with Woolmer (114) to the close, taking the score to 189 for two.

Woolmer lasted fifty minutes more on Monday and was then neatly held at first slip, having batted altogether for five hours and having hit thirteen 4's in his 120. Subsequently, Greig alone caused Australia any difficulty and even he committed uncertain strokes for an hour before finding better form until he lofted a ball from Pascoe to O'Keeffe at cover. With Knott and Old also caught in the same place, England collapsed so completely that the last six wickets fell in forty minutes for 19 runs. Four fell at 286.

Australia required 226 to win in two and three-quarter hours and at first they set busily about the task on another cloudy day on a pitch that was still in good order. But England gained immediate encouragement by removing Robinson and McCosker for five runs. Chappell played Willis well and Hookes hooked him for 6.

The search for runs proved fatal and Chappell, Walters and Serjeant all left to leg-side catches. In fact with 21 overs remaining, England needed to take the last five wickets. In the 11th over of the final 20, Hookes mishooked a return catch to Willis.

Then Marsh and O'Keeffe defended solidly against some tantalising bowling by Underwood especially, until the light deteriorated. Five overs remained when the umpires offered relief to the batsmen and neither hesitated to race into the pavilion.

Between them, Willis, Old and Underwood had given Australia a real fright and again Ealham had performed in his own brilliant way as the emergency fielder for Randall.

The receipts £220,384, were a record for any cricket match in Britain, the full attendance being 101,050.

© John Wisden & Co