Second Test Match

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1954-55

At Sydney, December 17, 18, 20, 21, 22. England won by 38 runs at twelve minutes past three on the fifth day with one day in hand. Such a victory seemed beyond any possibility when England--this time they were put in by the Australian captain, Morris--lost eight wickets for 88, but among a crop of batting failures in both teams the tail-enders made their presence felt. In addition May hit his first Test century against Australia and Neil Harvey made a supreme effort of 92 not out for his side.

The match was a triumph for pace bowlers and in particular for Tyson and Statham. Many people feared that Tyson had been seriously hurt when, batting just before lunch on the fourth day, he turned his back on a bouncer from Lindwall and it struck him on the back of the head. Temporarily, Tyson was knocked out but not only did he resume his innings but the next day he knocked out Australia, taking six wickets for 85 runs.

Tyson won the match for England because he kept his head. After his painful experience he might well have been tempted to hurl down bouncers, particularly at Lindwall, but he never did so. Possibly Lindwall expected retaliation, for Tyson yorked him as he did Burke and Hole in the same innings. The cricket at this vital stage emphasised that, above everything else in bowling, perfect length and direction win matches.

Both teams made changes compared with the first Test at Brisbane. England brought in Evans, Graveney, Wardle and Appleyard for Andrew, Compton, Simpson and Bedser, while Australia had Burke and Davidson for Ian Johnson and Miller, both injured. The omission of Bedser from the twelve on the morning of the match created a controversy, but subsequent events justified the introduction of both Appleyard and Wardle who brought variety to the attack.

Yet in this match the seam bowlers of both teams controlled the play; in fact Morris achieved what Hutton, the England captain, hoped but failed to accomplish at Brisbane, England being dismissed in four and a quarter hours. Hutton stayed two hours but the promotion of Bailey was a failure and it was not repeated in subsequent Tests.

Lindwall, rarely bowling short and swinging the ball either way while aiming persistently at the stumps, kept the hesitant opposition on tenterhooks, and Archer, Johnston and Davidson were equally menacing. The fielding, as usual, reached the best Australian traditions with Davidson outstanding. The loss of Bailey and May for 19 put Hutton completely on the defensive and in ninety minutes before lunch England mustered only 34 runs. Between lunch and tea came a dreadful collapse, five wickets falling for 60, and as Cowdrey and Appleyard soon went on resuming, nine men were out for 111. Then two left-handers, Wardle and Statham, struck heartily at almost every ball and their partnership of 43 was the best of the innings.

The only enjoyable moment that day for England came with the last ball when Hutton at leg-slip caught his rival captain, Morris, leaving Australia 18 for one wicket. Next day the bowlers recovered much of the ground lost by the batsmen. At first Favell and Burke made speedy progress, paying little respect to Bailey and Statham, but on Bailey changing ends and sharing the attack with Tyson the tempo changed. Graveney held Favell at second slip, so that at lunch Australia were 88 for two wickets--and quite comfortable.

Bailey continued to bowl splendidly and with Tyson causing much trouble Australia were not only put on the defensive but in one hour fifty minutes between lunch and tea they lost four more men for the addition of 70. A daring and lucky effort by Archer saved Australia. Although constantly missing when trying to cut Tyson and more than once fortunate not to be bowled, Archer pulled Appleyard for 6 and hit six 4's, his stand of 52 in an hour with Davidson being the best of the match for Australia whose first innings occupied just over five hours.

England, having restricted their deficit to 74, went in again first thing on Monday, but at the lunch interval with Hutton, Bailey and Graveney gone for 58, it seemed that Australia might win without any serious challenge. Happily, May, who began his innings just after midday, found a worthy partner in Cowdrey and their fourth wicket stand of 116 in three and a quarter hours altered the structure of the match.

It was most heartening to see these two young amateurs, one from Oxford and the other from Cambridge, master the Australian bowling by their sureness in defence and their willingness to hit the half-volley or any loose ball. Seldom were they beaten and never did they offer the semblance of a chance until Cowdrey, trying to hit himself out of a quiet spell, attempted to drive Benaud for 6 when there were two men waiting in the deep. Powerful cover drives and hard hits to leg brought Cowdrey most of his runs. May used a wide range of strokes and compelled Morris to remove his array of leg fielders behind the wicket. His punishing strokes were beautifully timed.

With twenty-five minutes remaining before the close Edrich and May took the total to 204 for five, and May needed only two for his hundred, but Australia had the right to the new ball first thing in the morning.

Because of the wet state of the outfield Morris delayed claiming the second new ball, but May having completed his century from the second ball of the day added only three more runs in the next fifty minutes. Then at 222 Lindwall and Archer went into action with the new ball and immediately the bowlers took charge so that the position changed to 250 for nine.

May, who hit ten 4's in a stay of five hours, was bowled when playing forward to a late inswinger and in twelve overs on this fourth day Lindwall claimed three wickets for 20 runs. Wardle could not repeat his first innings performance, but the last pair, Appleyard and Statham, faced the situation calmly and, unafraid to play forward to the well-pitched up ball, they added 46 runs in fifty minutes--another invaluable late stand.

Australia wanted 223 for victory, not an unreasonable task, but at once Statham and Tyson, with more pace than Lindwall, made the ball fly nastily. In Statham's first over Edrich could not hold a hot chance from Favell. Statham gave Morris a terrible time, beating him four times in the last over before tea and removing him leg before with the seventh ball.

The interval came within twenty-five minutes of the start of the innings, giving the two England bowlers time to rest. On resuming Tyson, with his sixth ball, beat Favell by sheer pace, Edrich, taking a nice catch in front of his chest, and both the opening batsmen were out for 34. That was a great start, but Harvey, after a shaky beginning, settled down. Burke did not score for nearly an hour and the pair played through the last seventy-eight minutes, seeing the total to 72 for two at nightfall.

Australia now needed 151 more runs and first thing the odds were in their favour. Though much rain fell during the night, the ground was perfect and the protected pitch played with less fire than at any stage of the match, but it was never slow. Tyson struck in the second over of the day when he yorked both Burke and Hole. Hutton did not overtax either Tyson or Statham at this stage and Bailey and Appleyard entered the attack. In the Yorkshireman's second over, Benaud hooked a skier which Tyson held and half the wickets were down for 106.

At lunch the total stood at 118 for five; Harvey 51, Archer 5, and no one cared to hazard a guess as to the ultimate result. The match was resumed at twenty minutes to two and Statham and Tyson virtually clinched the issue in the next fifty minutes when they removed Archer, Davidson, Lindwall and Langley for only 27, making Australia 145 for nine.

For some time Harvey had played a lone hand and as his partners disappeared the more brilliant he became. When Johnston arrived he and Harvey held a mid-wicket conference and obviously they agreed that Harvey should have most of the strike. Harvey hit boldly, but never chanced anything when a defensive stroke was imperative.

Johnston made some queer strokes but he lasted thirty-seven minutes, playing only 16 of 80 balls sent down during a stand which added 39. He hit runs to long leg off the back-hand until at length he flicked a catch to Evans standing back. Harvey remained unbeaten, having played one of his finest innings for Australia. For four hours twenty minutes he faced England unflinchingly, hitting nine 4's.

While justice must be done to Tyson who bowled without relief for over ninety minutes down wind in that vital spell in which his figures were 7.4 overs, 1 maiden, 41 runs, 3 wickets, England could not have won without the valuable work Statham accomplished bowling into the wind for eight-five minutes. With ten wickets for 130 runs in the match, Tyson was England's hero, and the whole of Hutton's party faced Christmas and the New Year in a new frame of mind--optimistic that their luck had changed and that the rubber could be won. Attendance 135,350. Receipts £19,485.

© John Wisden & Co