First Test Match


At Perth, November 12, 13, 14, 16, 17. Drawn. Ugly crowd scenes marred an otherwise good match, Alderman, on the second afternoon, becoming the first player to be badly hurt in Test cricket after a field invasion. In the fighting that followed on the terraced side of the ground 26 arrests were made.

A pitch that lasted better than expected helped foil the bowlers of both sides, though Lawson gave Australia a clear advantage when he took early wickets in England's second innings. On the last day a hundred by Randall, a typical mixture of effervescence and resolution, was needed to put the match beyond Australia's reach. Botham, in his 55th game for England, became the first man to pass 3,000 runs and 250 wickets in Test history.

Chappell put England in after winning the toss, but Australia bowled with insufficient accuracy to take advantage of what early moisture the pitch held. Lillee became increasingly churlish as several raucous appeals were rejected. Tavaré, concentrating solely on survival, was the cornerstone of England's innings. At the end of the first day he had made 66 out of England's 242 for four. He survived chances at 31 and 41, to second slip off Lawson and to forward short-leg off Yardley, but otherwise gave the Australian bowlers little hope. Gower played in his best vein before falling to a brilliant diving catch at short square leg by Dyson. Botham was given out in unusual circumstances. He played forward to Lawson, who alone appealed as Marsh took the ball low down. When this appeal was rejected Lawson turned to umpire Johnson, standing not at square leg but on the off side of the wicket, who confirmed a catch. Botham walked immediately, after indicating, while the umpires were conferring, that the ball had struck his pad.

On Saturday Tavaré and Randall were not separated until shortly before lunch when Tavaré was brilliantly caught at leg slip, trying to sweep. Tavaré batted seven and threequarter hours, hitting nine 4s. Randall became Yardley's 100th Test victim, caught at short leg, before England's innings was usefully, if streakily, extended by Taylor and Willis. It was when these two took the total past the 400 mark that about fifteen spectators, some carrying Union Jacks, ran on to the field and the troubles began.

One intruder, coming from behind, cuffed Alderman round the head. Giving chase, Alderman dislocated his right shoulder as he brought his man down with a rugby tackle, Lillee and Border joining in before the offender was led away in handcuffs and Alderman carried off on a stretcher. Although Alderman's shoulder was soon put back, the injury effectively ended his season, at great personal cost. With the incident causing numerous fights to break out between rival English and Australian factions, and other spectators bursting over the boundary fence, Chappell led the Australians from the field. The game was resumed after an interruption of fourteen minutes, whereupon England's innings soon ended. Wood and Dyson came safely through the day's last 52 minutes.

At 123 for three the next day Chappell and Hughes averted the threat of an Australian collapse with some exhilarating batting. They added 141 in 34 overs, both driving and pulling splendidly against bowling which, Willis apart, looked very ordinary. Cowans, on his Test début, bowled too short. Hughes, after two hours of delightful batting, was caught at deep mid-off, but Chappell went on to reach his 21st Test hundred and his eighth against England.

Willis was finally rewarded after taking the new ball, Chappell deflecting a rising ball high over the slips and Lamb holding a good low catch at deep third man. Chappell had batted for four and a quarter hours and hit two 6s and eleven 4s. After the rest day Australia added a further 91, mainly through forceful strokes from Hookes and Lawson, before declaring at lunch with a lead of 13 and only the injured Alderman to bat.

With Australia reduced to three front-line bowlers, the situation brought forth the best in Lawson and also Lillee, until he wrenched his troublesome right knee in a loose foothold and was reduced to a shortened run. These two alternated at one end while Yardley, flighting the ball well, bowled from the other. With some loose strokes contributing to the loss of their first five second-innings wickets, England ended the penultimate day only 150 runs ahead and in danger of defeat.

Australia's hopes of victory declined on the final morning when they were unable to dismiss Taylor, England's night-watchman, for a further 90 minutes. With Lawson looking tired, and Lillee struggling, the Australians were unable to summon the zest and penetration they had shown the previous day. Taylor was bowled off his pads after a vital 77 had been added in 25 overs; Miller then failed, but Pringle hung on with Randall after Australia had taken a new ball just before lunch.

Randall completed his third century against Australia, all made in Australia and when England had their backs to the wall. When, at last, he chopped Lawson into his stumps, he had been in for four and a half hours and hit thirteen 4s, mostly from sweeps and sparkling drives. England's lead at this point was 279, and with Pringle and Cowans lasting together for 65 minutes, Australia were left with the impossible task of scoring 346 in two hours. The total attendance for the match was 60,252.

© John Wisden & Co