Third Test Match

England v Australia

Noman Preston

Toss: Australia. Test debut: England - I.T.Botham

England won by seven wickets ten minutes after tea on the last day. It was England's first victory against Australia at Trent Bridge since 1930 when Bradman made his first Test appearance in England and was on the losing side the only time after he had hit a century.

Blessed with fine weather, the ground was packed on the first four days and made a wonderful sight. Moreover, The Queen was in the Midlands for the Silver Jubilee celebrations and visited the ground on the first day. Play was interrupted briefly at 5.30 p.m. when the players and officials were presented to Her Majesty in front of the pavilion.

Memorable mostly from a cricket point of view was the return of Boycott to the England team after three years of self-imposed absence.

Naturally, Boycott hoped for success and he exceeded all expectations by scoring 107 and 80 not out. He had the singular experience of batting on all five days of the match and altogether spent over twelve hours at the crease, his second innings taking five and a quarter hours.

Among several other splendid personal achievements, Botham distinguished his Test Match début by taking five wickets for 74. He moved the ball each way and at one time took four for 13 in 34 balls. It was this feat which put England in the ascendancy on the first day after Chappell had won the toss and Australia gained first use of batting on a fast, hard pitch.

Again England supported their bowlers brilliantly in the field, especially behind the stumps, where Hendrick held three catches. Outstanding was the way he dived to his left and held one-handed a slash by Hookes.

With the gates closed before lunch for the first time at Trent Bridge since 1948 when 22,000 were present, McCosker and Davis gave Australia a sound start and although McCosker edged Botham's second ball through a gap where England had dispensed with their third slip, the Somerset all-rounder strayed too much on the leg side during his first spell.

The opening stand had produced 79 when twenty minutes before lunch Underwood in his third over offered a slower ball to Davis who lifted it to Botham at mid-on.

After lunch when Australia were 101 for one, Hendrick and Willis renewed their attack and soon McCosker touched a ball that left him, for Brearley at first slip to snap up a low catch. For a time Chappell and Hookes looked safe, but after an hour drinks were taken and then came Botham's devastating spell.

His first ball was short and Chappell, intending a fierce drive, played on and with Walters, Marsh and Walker also falling to Botham's varied swing, Australia were reduced to 155 for eight, Willis and Greig accounting for Hookes and Robinson.

Then O'Keeffe stood firm and receiving staunch support from Thomson and Pascoe he played the major part while the last two wickets put on 88. At the end of the day Brearley and Boycott negotiated three overs while taking the score to nine.

Australia fought back on the second day and had England reeling at 82 for five thanks to some splendid pace bowling by Pascoe and Thomson, who were well supported by Walker. Boycott kept his end shut but no sooner had he been joined by Knott, after batting three hours for 20, than he was dropped off Pascoe by McCosker at second slip which would have made the position 87 for six.

Earlier, Brearley had been caught brilliantly in the gully and Woolmer went leg-before to the third ball he received. Randall began in great style but he was run out when Boycott went for an impossible single after stroking the ball down the pitch where Randall was backing up.

In the end Randall sacrificed his wicket to save Boycott, who stood dejected covering his face with his hands. Boycott freely admitted that he was to blame, and he continued to defend with the utmost resolution.

With Australia now on top, Knott rose to the occasion in his own impudent style. When bad light ended the contest half an hour early that evening the Boycott-Knott stand had yielded 160 in two hours fifty minutes and left England only one run behind with half their wickets in hand: Boycott 88, Knott 87.

On Saturday, Australia were able to claim the new ball first thing and Knott was first to his hundred in three hours, twenty-two minutes. Boycott soon followed him, having occupied six hours, eighteen minutes. The pair had just equalled the previous sixth-wicket stand of 215 by Hutton and Hardstaff at The Oval, 1938 when Boycott was caught at slip, having batted seven hours and hit eleven 4's.

Knott went on to make the highest score by an England wicket-keeper against Australia, beating 120 by Ames at Lord's, 1934. He batted four hours, fifty-five minutes for his 135 and hit one 5 and eighteen 4's.

By mid-afternoon Australia were batting again, 121 runs behind. Willis soon disposed of Davis, held at second slip, but McCosker played confidently only to see his captain, Chappell, fall to a very fine ball by Hendrick which he edged as it came back rather low. Hookes then stayed with McCosker till the close when Australia were 112 for two.

The two Australian batsmen continued their solid resistance on Monday, but having stayed over three hours while 94 runs were added Hookes left leg-before to Hendrick. Walters lasted an hour before he lofted a half-volley to cover.

Underwood had sent down sixteen overs for only 18 runs and then the new ball was taken over 91 overs whereupon McCosker completed his excellent hundred. Willis, fast and accurate, immediately had McCosker taken at first slip. He batted just over six hours and hit one 6 and ten 4's. There was further resistance by Robinson and O'Keeffe, but Willis would not be denied and he finished with five wickets for 88.

England needed 189 to go two up in the series and before the close Brearley and Boycott made 17 from seven overs. On the last day, with the pitch true but slow, the only problem was the weather, as thunder showers had been forecast. With much of the bowling outside the off-stump and ignored by the batsmen, progress was still slow.

Eventually, Brearley accelerated, until trying to force Walker off the back foot, he played on. As England now needed to hurry, Knott and Greig went to the crease. Both failed and Walker claimed the three wickets which fell in six balls. Finally, Randall took charge and he made the winning hit. He walked off arm in arm with Boycott, the run out completely forgotten.

With over 20,000 present on each of the first four days and 8,000 on the fifth, the takings amounted to £152,000, the biggest ever for a match outside London and £80,000 more than the previous Trent Bridge record of 1976. Moreover, the large crowds were perfectly behaved -- a pleasant contrast to the rowdyism and noise which had so often prevailed in recent years at some Test Matches.

© John Wisden & Co