Second Cornhill Test

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1981

Terry Cooper

Lord's and Test-match time in recent years have become synonymous with bad weather, controversy and abysmal public relations, redeemed only partially by isolated individual performances. The second Test followed this morbid trend. At the end of a personally disappointing match, which concluded a fruitless year as captain, Botham resigned as leader.

On a pitch that was dry with an erratic bounce, both sides played more balanced attacks than at Trent Bridge, Emburey coming in for Hendrick and Australia replacing the injured Hogg with Bright. Taylor returned as wicket-keeper for Downton.

Hughes put England in again, and Gooch played in his best thumping style for 75 minutes. It was only when he was out that things began to go wrong, both with the innings and the match. Boycott and Woolmer became bogged down and Woolmer's troubles were increased when Lawson struck him on the arm. He struggled passively against the injury for some time before going off. With Gower inactive and bad light removing more than half an hour's play, England added only 28 runs between Gooch's dismissal at 12.45 and 3.30. Gatting enlivened the second half of the day by cracking the loose ball for 4, but unfortunately for England he was out for 59 shortly before the close, which came at 191 for four.

On the second day the combination of a protracted innings by night-watchman Emburey and the loss of over two hours from the first half of the day meant a lack of impetus, though the value of the Emburey-Willey stand was emphasised when the innings disintegrated after they were split. After Alderman had opened the way and Emburey had been carelessly run out, Lawson scythed through an assorted lower order, which included Woolmer, batting under handicap. Lawson's speed had proved sharp enough to defeat the top batsmen, and four quick wickets at the end sent him off with the best figures by an Australian in a Lord's Test, save for Bob Massie's in 1972.

Controversy came when the umpires took the players off for bad light during the extra hour of this second day. The sun reappeared, but Messrs Oslear and Palmer were under the false impression that no resumption could be allowed once play had stopped in the extra period. In protest at what happened the crowd jeered and threw their cushions on to the ground, and next day the TCCB issued a statement regretting the misunderstanding.

After the loss of thirty-five minutes at the start on Saturday, Australia took their score from 10 for no wicket to 253 for six. England did not bowl a full enough length, and with no-balls frequent ( Willis alone bowled 28) the total of extras was a record for one innings in England-Australia Tests. Wood batted enterprisingly before Taylor, on his Test recall, took the first of two marvellous English catches, the other being by Gatting at slip. With Australia at 81 for four. England had the chance of taking command, but they were denied by their own deficiencies and the cool control shown by Border in partnership first with Hughes and then Marsh.

It took England almost half the fourth day, at the cost of 92 more runs, to work their way through the last four Australian wickets. Marsh and Lawson vanished to the new ball, but Bright and Lillee found plenty of loose deliveries. When England, batting again 34 behind, lost Gooch and Woolmer for 55, it was necessary for Boycott and Gower to repair matters in the final 105 minutes, and this they did effectively. But the necessary acceleration on the last day towards a declaration came too late. Boycott, who batted 279 minutes, seemed set on a century to mark his 100th Test cap, but England seemed not to appreciate that wickets in hand were a cushion against the hazards of attack. Still, an hour's batting after lunch brought 68 and Australia were set 232 to win in 170 minutes.

When Australia were 17 for three in the second over after tea, with the ball turning, England were hopeful, but Chappell dug in for over an hour and when he was out, with fifteen overs left, Wood remained unshakeable. Lawson took the Man of the Match award.

Receipts were £389,297 and the attendance 89,500.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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