Second Test Match

England v Australia

Geoffrey Wheeler

At Manchester, July 7, 8, 9, 11, 12. England won by nine wickets. A splendid all-round team performance by England combined with Australian batting frailties brought victory after ninety-five minutes play on the fifth day.

England bowled tightly and held their catches to overcome the disadvantage of losing the toss and then batted consistently after two early blows to build a first innings lead of 140.

Despite a magnificent 112 by Chappell the Australian batsmen in their second innings never appeared likely to produce enough runs to worry England. Underwood took six for 66 and Brearley's side needed only 79 runs to win.

Lancashire had been without a regular groundsman for a month before the match and some doubts were expressed about the lasting qualities of the pitch. In the event it played very well, although helping the slower bowlers to some extent after the weekend.

Both sides included an extra spinner. England brought in the off-break bowler Miller for Barlow, while the Australians gave the first cap to the left-arm slow bowler, Bright, preferring him to Pascoe, and recalled their opening batsman Davis at the expense of Robinson.

Miller played an important part in the proceedings on the first day when Walters came within 12 runs of his first Test century in England. Apart from a classic 44 by Chappell the early Australian batting was insecure and when the captain was dismissed by a fine ball from Greig they fell away to 140 for five, Lever having removed both Serjeant and Hookes in a sterling afternoon spell.

Then Walters, on the ground where he scored 81 and 86 in his first Test in England in 1968, found an obdurate partner in Marsh and together they wore down the pace attack. Half an hour from the close a complete Australian recovery seemed possible, so well were the sixth wicket pair playing.

Then Miller was called on. In his third over he broke the stand of 98 when Marsh, tempted into a big hit, was caught at cover. Seven balls later Walters, who had been in for three hours, twenty minutes and had hit fifteen 4's, drove a full toss to Greig at extra over and England were back on top.

On the second morning the last three Australian wickets added 50 runs in ninety-five minutes. England soon lost their openers but Woolmer and Randall regained the initiative in a partnership of 142 which was full of good strokes, especially by Randall, who hit twelve 4's in a bubbling display. He scored 79 before falling lbw to a full pitch from Bright.

Woolmer gave another solid performance, although he had one fortunate escape at 43 when he edged a ball from Thomson straight to second slip, where McCosker missed what proved to be a vital chance.

On Saturday, when only 230 runs were scored, Woolmer moved to 137, his third century in six innings against Australia. He took nearly an hour at the start to get the 18 required to become the first Englishman since Barrington in 1966 to score centuries in successive innings against Australia.

He allowed Greig to make most of the running in a partnership of 160 which ensured England a sizeable first innings advantage. This pair prevented Thomson and Walker breaking through with the new ball and it was the wrist spinner O'Keeffe who finally removed Woolmer when he had batted six hours twenty minutes for 137 to confirm himself as England's natural number three batsman.

Greig was caught brilliantly, one-handed by Walker for 76 while Knott, after some telling blows, managed to hole out to third man, cutting at Thomson. The four main Australian bowlers performed heroically, but Pascoe was sadly missed.

England's last wicket fell first thing on Monday, a day notable for a century by Chappell as brilliant as it was defiant. Australia cleared the arrears of 140 for the loss of four batsmen, but the dismissal of Hookes, Marsh and Bright in the space of twenty balls in mid-afternoon left Chappell to play a lone hand. When he was eighth out at 202 Australia's cause was lost.

Before lunch, when Australia were 92 for four, Chappell, impervious to the disasters at the other end made 54 with eight 4's. His timing was majestic and his placing of the ball almost flawless. McCosker and Davis both fell to mistimed hooks; Serjeant was Underwood's first victim and Walters fell in the last over of the morning when Brearley called Greig up for a single over.

Hookes stayed while 54 were added before being caught at slip driving at Miller, and the game turned into a struggle for supremacy between Chappell and Underwood. The left arm bowler took the last five wickets, removing Marsh and Bright in the same over, the former being caught from a wild slog.

At tea Chappell was 92. A straight drive off Willis brought him to his sixth century against England and his fourteenth in all Tests. It was generously recieved by the England players as well as the 13,000 crowd. It was a masterpiece of skill and concentration.

Chappell fell finally playing Underwood into his stumps as he made room to cut. O'Keeffe, who had kept an end going while 55 were added, watched helplessly as Underwood prised out Walker and Thomson before leading England off the field after one of his greatest days.

Eight of the 79 needed were safely made on Monday evening and spectators were admitted for 40 pence on the last morning. Thomson was fast and frightening, but Brearley and Amiss, although kept busy ducking and weaving, were in no mood to be intimidated. England were within four runs of their target before Brearley was caught at cover. Coming off the field he learned that he had been appointed captain for the rest of the series, a deserved reward for skilled and unflappable leadership.

He said after the match: "The difference between the sides was the catching. They put down four but he held some very good ones. I was surprised by Australia's collapse in the first innings when things were in their favour. In their second conditions were not as easy and Chappell's innings was a truly marvellous effort."

Attendance: 69,806. Receipts: £98,611 ( Old Trafford record).

© John Wisden & Co