Fourth Test Match

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1953

N.P.

At Leeds, July 23, 24, 25, 27, 28. Drawn. Australia were always on top in this match and only by pursuing a policy of steadfast defence did England escape defeat. The game produced some excellent fast bowling by Lindwall and Miller, another grand effort by Bedser, and on the last day when England were in dire distress Bailey withstood the full brunt of the Australian attack for four hours twenty minutes, being last out for a score of 38. Runs did not matter then, time alone counted, and by staying so long Bailey deprived Australia of victory.

Neither side was keen to bat on the first day when not only was the pitch recovering from a drenching two days earlier, but rain had seeped under the covers during the night at the football end. When Hutton spun the coin and Hassett called correctly for the fourth time, the England captain threw away the coin in contemptuous disgust, but Hassett was not bluffed. He told Hutton to bat. Australia had not sent in England since 1909 at Lord's, but A. W. Carr took this action at Leeds in 1926, and Hassett himself successfully ordered West Indies to bat at Sydney in November 1951, a match notorious for persistent bumpers.

Compared with the Manchester match, each team showed one change. As Lock was fit he replaced Wardle; Statham was twelfth man, and so again England had only three bowlers and an all-rounder in Bailey. In an effort to strengthen both their batting and bowling Australia preferred Benaud to Hill. By a remarkable coincidence each team contained ten players with at least one first-class century to their credit. Only Lock and Davidson lacked that distinction, but a month later the Australian hit a hundred against Somerset at Taunton.

A shower held up the start for twenty minutes and then England suffered a blow from which they never properly recovered. Having taken the initiative as well as the risk of batting in the fourth innings, Australia went straight into the attack. Lindwall did not have a preliminary warm-up. His first ball went at full speed and the second, which looked like a yorker, sent Hutton's middle stump flying. It was a bitter moment for England and also for the Yorkshire crowd of 30,000 who watched in silence their hero return to the pavilion.

At once England concentrated solely on defence. In five and a half hours on this first day only 142 runs were scored for the loss of seven men. The first hour produced only 18 and the average was less than 26 an hour. Yet it was not dull cricket. Every ball seemed vital. By lunch time Edrich, who batted eighty minutes, and Compton had joined Hutton in the pavilion, but Graveney and Watson stayed together for two and a quarter hours, though all their long stand could show was 62 runs.

England were greatly indebted to Graveney. Top scorer with 55, he was at the crease three and three-quarter hours. His successor, Simpson, arrived for the second new ball, but within ten minutes a rising ball from Miller hit him on the left elbow, leaving his arm numb and useless. More disasters soon overtook England. Watson, having batted two and three-quarter hours for 24, was struck on the ankle by a full toss. After the umpire, Lee, had disallowed an appeal for l. b. w. the ball rolled against the leg stump and a bail fell. Meantime Bailey was shaping competently, but when Evans played Lindwall to Hassett at mid-on he started for a quick single. Then he sent Bailey back, but he could not get home in time. In the scramble Bailey twisted a knee and England now had three casualties.

After that incident Evans defended solidly for the last seventy-five minutes and, following good work by Laker, Lock revealed the right temperament in his first Test against Australia by not only staying through the final half hour but by hitting freely anything outside the leg stump.

Next morning Australia maintained their stranglehold on the England batsmen, and in fifty minutes the remaining three wickets fell for 25 runs. Hassett wisely reserved Miller for his batting. Lindwall was still the main attacker with help from Archer and Davidson. For the third time in the four Tests Lindwall took five wickets in England's first innings. He gave an outstanding exhibition of the art of fast bowling. Always in supreme control of length and direction, he varied his pace, conserving his energy for occasional bursts of full speed. At times Miller looked faster, and Davidson and Archer did their parts in maintaining a pace attack.

Facing a modest total of 167, Australia showed a much different approach to their task and for the first time in the match the batting became enterprising. The pitch was firmer than on Thursday, and Bailey, still limping, bowled only three overs of rather short length. Both Morris and Hassett mis-hit Bedser, and Compton failed to accept a difficult chance at short fine leg when the Australia captain was 10.

The value of Lock as a fielder was soon seen, for at 27 he held a very sharp catch from Morris at short fine leg. Lock made it look easy--so quick was his positioning. The departure of one left-hander brought another to the crease in Harvey, who when 12 offered a hard chance from Bedser to Evans.

Lock gained another wicket for England by catching Hassett splendidly at square leg, and then Bedser took a well-earned rest. Bailey succeeded him with a shortened run of eight paces and induced Miller to edge the ball to Edrich at first slip. With three men out for 84, England were faring better than expected, but thanks to a fine partnership of 84 by Harvey and Hole Australia went ahead without further loss. They made the runs in three hours five minutes compared with six hours twenty-five minutes taken by England.

Bailey broke the stand by getting Harvey l. b. w. Hitting nine 4's, Harvey made his entertaining 71 in two and a half hours. England now took a new lease of life. Much of their fielding had been casual, but after tea two substitutes, Statham and M. Hilton of Lancashire, replaced Watson and Simpson and effected a great improvement. In just over an hour the fortunes of the sides completely changed, the score moving from 165 for four to 218 for nine. Hole, who batted two hours and hit six 4's, was the third Australian to be brilliantly caught by Lock.

It was 6 p.m. when the last man, Langley, joined Archer, and although their stand meant that England did not have to bat that evening it produced 48 before Hutton made the fourth catch of the innings in Bedser's leg-trap. Again the lion-hearted Bedser had retrieved the position for England. By taking six wickets, he surpassed C. V. Grimmett's world record of 216 in all Tests.

Australia held a lead of 99 and with three days left a definite result seemed most probable, but on the third day, Saturday, rain permitted cricket for only one hour forty minutes. Compared with the first innings, Hutton and Edrich revealed a welcome change of attitude and their 57 was the best opening stand of the series for England.

When light rain was removing the shine from the ball, Hassett wanted to go in, but Hutton declined and he was supported by the umpires. Possibly the stoppage and argument disturbed Hutton's concentration, for he deflected the very next ball into Langley's gloves. The ball was short and lifted, but Hutton should not have been in any trouble. Soon afterwards the game was stopped at 62 for one and nothing more could be done until Monday. Then England became involved in a tremendous battle for preservation on a rain-affected pitch.

More showers cut the cricket by two hours, but, thanks to two of the old guard, the Middlesex pair, Edrich and Compton, the first innings deficit of 99 was cleared for the loss of only one more wicket, that of Graveney, who as at Lord's went as soon as he resumed his innings in the morning. He appeared to lose sight of the ball in the dark background of the football stand.

Then came Compton, and both he and Edrich faced very hostile bowling by Lindwall, Miller and Archer. They were subjected to a number of bumpers but remained together for two and a quarter hours, adding 77. The stand was broken in Lindwall's third over after he took the new ball at 135, Edrich, who hit ten 4's during his stay of four hours, falling to a fine catch in the gully.

The left-handed Watson joined Compton, and another defiant partnership ensued, but Compton, having completed 50, received a damaging blow on the back of the left hand when dealing with a bumper from Lindwall. He continued batting, but suddenly England again found themselves in severe trouble. Watson, who never looked really comfortable, was splendidly caught off his glove at the second attempt by Davidson in the gully, and from the next ball Simpson was taken at second slip.

Miller had given Australia a great chance to clinch the issue. Half the England wickets were now down for 171, representing a lead of only 72, but Bailey not only averted a hat-trick but proceeded to play the most vital innings of the match. Amidst more showers and a barrage of bumpers England added only six more runs that day, and the general opinion was that Australia badly felt the absence of a capable spin bowler.

With Compton (60) and Bailey (4) still together, England obviously were not finished, but before the game continued next day at 11.30 a.m. Compton's left hand had become useless. He received hospital treatment but could not grip the bat, so Evans carried on the battle with Bailey. They faced Lindwall and Miller, and soon Miller caused Evans to give a catch at square leg.

With only four wickets left and Compton doubtful, England's position was as precarious as ever, but once more in these Tests the hour of crisis produced the unexpected, for Laker stayed an hour and fifty minutes, scoring 48 out of 57 added with Bailey. Upright in stance, Laker thrilled the crowd by his fearless off and cover driving--notably when Lindwall and Miller took the third new ball at 220.

Consequently, Compton did not have to continue his innings until after lunch, and although he stayed twenty-five minutes while adding only a single, he plainly could not overcome the handicap of his bruised hand. Meanwhile Bailey remained passive and time became a matter of urgency for both sides. Lock lasted forty minutes and Bedser stayed the remaining forty-five minutes before Bailey's match-saving display ended in a catch to slip.

England's second innings occupied nine hours forty minutes. It began at 11.30 on Saturday and finished at 4.15 Tuesday. In the three days 275 runs were scored as follows: 62 in one hour forty minutes on Saturday, 1l5 runs in four hours on Monday, and 98 in four hours on Tuesday.

Australia now faced a race with the clock. They wanted 177 in one hour fifty-five minutes, but Hutton, bearing in mind their collapse at Manchester, was not without hope, and he began the bowling with Bedser and Lock, preferring to rest Bailey, who had been on the field all day. At once Australia went for the runs and, with Lock uncertain in length, the first 20 came in nine minutes. In fact only fine fielding at long leg by Hilton, who deputised for Compton, prevented more runs. Australia's first setback occurred when Hassett chopped a slow ball into the wicket. Morris pulled and cut freely, but having made 38 out of 54 in thirty-eight minutes he was stumped when jumping out to Laker.

The crowd, in the highest pitch of excitement, cheered everything, and Hole and Harvey treated them to a feast of sparkling strokes. In half an hour they added 57 before Harvey was l. b. w., so that when Davidson joined Hole 66 were needed in forty-five minutes. It looked a walk-over for Australia, but Hutton realised he had to check the flow of runs, and he called on Bailey to use his long run and bowl outside the leg stump with no slip. Once the batsman ran a leg-bye when the ball was in the middle of the pitch.

The turning point came when Hole swept Bailey over square leg and Graveney held the ball high above his head on the boundary. If Graveney had missed it, it would have been a 6. So De Courcy arrived with Australia wanting 59 in half an hour, but, apart from a hook for 6 by De Courcy off Bedser, the bowlers held their own and Australia finished 30 behind their target. Only twelve overs were bowled in the last forty-five minutes. Thus England, still without a win against Australia at Leeds, escaped defeat and the way was left clear for a straight contest for the Ashes in the Fifth Test at The Oval, to which both Boards of Control decided to add an extra day in the hope of reaching a definite conclusion.

The full attendance for the match was 151,000; receipts £48,313.

© John Wisden & Co