First Test Match

Hutton's gamble backfires

At Brisbane, November 26, 27, 29, 30, December 1. Australia won by an innings and 154 runs at ten minutes past four on the fifth day with a day to spare. Nothing went right for the Englishmen. Before the match Evans fell ill with sunstroke and on the first morning Compton, when fielding, ran into the wooden palings, breaking a bone in the back of his left hand, but above everything else the whole course of the game probably turned on the decision of Hutton, after winning the toss, to give Australia first innings. Never before had an England captain taken such a gamble in Australia and certainly never before in a Test match had a side replied with a total of 601 after being sent in to bat.

Hutton may have made up his mind some time earlier that he would take this course if the decision rested with him. Four times already on the tour the procedure had been adopted always with satisfactory results for the fielding side and for this game England had banked on an all-speed attack of four bowlers. Hutton inspected the pitch most carefully with several of his colleagues. It looked a beauty, but he carried out his plan and although on subsequent events he could be condemned, the fact remains that besides the loss of Compton England allowed about twelve possible chances to go astray, including one from Morris to Andrew off Bedser in the third over of the match before he had scored. If the England fielding had approached any decent standard Hutton might well have achieved his objective.

Australia, who omitted Davidson from the chosen twelve and were captained for the first time by Ian Johnson, averaged just over 40 runs an hour on the first day when they scored 208 for the loss of Favell and Miller. A splendid catch near his boots by Cowdrey at square-leg removed Favell and then Miller charmed the crowd of 20,000 for eighty-five minutes before he chopped a harmless-looking ball into his stumps. So at three o'clock the two left-handers, Morris and Harvey, entered on a long partnership. Both flicked at balls outside the off stump and never during the two hours and ten minutes they were together on the first day did they establish a complete mastery over the bowling. Immediately after tea Bailey at deep long-leg gave Morris a life when he was 55 and the total 145. That mistake alone cost England dearly.

With the new ball available first thing on Saturday there was still hope, but now Morris and Harvey took absolute control and thanks to their example and enterprise Australia added 295 that day for the loss of four more wickets. Taking into consideration the length of time the fast bowlers occupied completing an over this was extremely fast scoring in present-day Test matches. Hutton realised it would be futile to persist with an attacking field. He placed his men with the idea of saving runs and Tyson cut yards off his run in order to gain accuracy: but not until mid-afternoon did England meet with their first success of the day when Cowdrey, the only slip, held a waist-high catch from a chop by Morris who, with two 6's and seven 4's, batted seven hours for his 153. The stand produced 202 in four hours ten minutes.

England had to wait another two hours for their next wicket, Harvey and Hole putting on 131 before a fine throw by Tyson from long-leg ran out Hole. Then with seven more runs added Harvey fell to a brilliant catch at backward square-leg, Bailey rolling over as he held a hard pull. Harvey's 162, made in six hours twenty minutes, was easily his highest against England and also his first hundred against them in Australia. He hit one 5 and seventeen 4's.

Archer soon gave an easy catch to gully, but more trouble came from Lindwall and Benaud for both hit with great power. Australia, 503 for six at the week-end kept England in the field until lunch time on Monday, Lindwall continuing his sparkling hitting which brought him eleven 4's. Altogether the Australian innings lasted eleven and a half hours.

After his spell of ninety minutes with the bat on the third morning, Lindwall came out fresh and bowled superbly for an hour during which time the first four England wickets crashed for 25 runs. Not until Bailey arrived was there any sign of stability and then in two hours forty minutes he and Cowdrey added 82, Cowdrey in his First Test Match hit seven splendid 4's and gave a foretaste of the great innings he was to play later in the series. The end of the third day found England 107 for five wickets and defeat was obviously only a matter of time unless rain came to the rescue.

Having made 38 in two hours forty minutes, Bailey continued the fight. He soon lost Tyson, Bedser and Andrew but Statham kept up his end for thirty-five minutes and when he left Bailey had reached 81. Against medical advice Compton decided to bat, but he was almost helpless and so Bailey, who had batted without error, hit out and was bowled. He stayed four hours twenty minutes for his highest score against Australia and besides eleven 4's he hit one 6 and one 5. When he drove Johnson for his six, Bailey won the prize of £A100 offered by a local businessman for the first English 6.

By two o'clock England followed on 411 behind and in the first hour they lost Simpson and Hutton. Simpson foolishly tried a single when Hutton was dropped by Favell in the slips off Lindwall, but Edrich and May checked the opposition in a defiant stand. They took the total to 130 at the close but next day Australia were on top again. May, playing at a short ball, was lbw when the partnership had added 124 in just under two and a half hours, and next Edrich having shaped splendidly, especially against Lindwall, also fell to a short ball which took his middle stump when he was too soon with his hook. Edrich batted three hours ten minutes and hit one 6 and thirteen 4's. Subsequently only Bailey and Tyson gave the Australian bowlers any trouble. Scoring 111 runs in the match Bailey defended resolutely for just under six hours. In less than half an hour after tea the last four wickets fell to the spin of Benaud and Johnson, the match ending with a glorious running catch in the deep by Harvey when Statham tried to lift Benaud for 6.

The full attendance of 77,008 was below Brisbane's best of 93,143 in the 1932-33 series, but the receipts of £21,000 were easily a record for the capital city of Queensland.

© John Wisden & Co