Fourth Test Match

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1954-55

At Adelaide, January 28, 29, 31, February 1, 2. England won by five wickets at twenty minutes past five on the fifth day, the first four Tests all being concluded with one day to spare. This victory gave England the rubber for the first time in Australia since 1932-33, and again the fast bowlers, Tyson and Statham, who were well supported by Bailey and Appleyard, played a major part. It was the only match of the series won by the side batting last.

While England were at full strength--they relied on the side which succeeded at Melbourne--Australia left out Hole and Favell and a leg injury in a State game caused Lindwall to withdraw. Originally Morris was also omitted but he replaced Lindwall in the chosen eleven to which Davidson was added. Favell, at first named to play, was dropped and McDonald and Burke completed the side. As Langley, the local wicket-keeper, was fit there was much indignation about Maddocks being retained, but the crowd gave him a great reception and he responded by making the top score for Australia.

With the temperature hovering near 100 degrees both sides wanted to win the toss; Ian Johnson was the lucky man and when the lunch interval arrived with Australia 51 for nought trouble seemed likely for England.

In each session Hutton used Tyson and Statham in short spells. When 12 Morris offered a low chance off Statham to Hutton's left hand, otherwise there was no encouragement for the bowlers on this placid pitch until after the interval. Then Tyson made one ball rise and it touched Morris's glove in transit to Evans; so Australia's first wicket fell after one hour and fifty minutes.

McDonald (43) received a life off Statham from Compton at mid-on and next over, trying to hit himself out of a negative spell, he was taken by May. Back came Tyson and he trapped Burke at short-leg, England going to tea satisfied with Australia 119 for three.

On resuming, Bailey put in a very fine effort from the Cathedral end while Tyson and Statham attacked in turn from the Torrens River end. Harvey edged Bailey to slip, but Benaud and Miller, avoiding all risks, remained together for the last seventy-five minutes taking the score to 161 for four--a very fine first day for England.

With the new ball coming later Hutton gave Tyson and Statham only two overs each the next morning and switching to Appleyard he made an unsuspected and wise change. The Yorkshire off-spinner took the wickets of Benaud and Miller in the course of only three overs. Archer greeted Wardle by pulling him for 6 first ball, and on taking the new ball England soon accounted for both Archer and Davidson, making Australia 229 for eight on a perfect pitch. Here Ian Johnson joined Maddocks and by sensible batsmanship they added 92 in as many minutes, though the stand should have ended at 270 when with both batsmen at the same end Appleyard at square-leg shied the ball high over Evans.

England wilted in the heat, Evans notably missing chances, and Statham was handicapped with a sore foot caused by the removal of a toe nail a few days before the match. Hutton and Edrich relieved the tension by making the best opening stand of the series. England waged a hard fight on the third day and thanks to Hutton, Cowdrey and Compton they reached 230 for three wickets at the close.

First thing, Australia struck two swift blows, dismissing Edrich and May. Johnson put down Edrich's off stump and Archer at first slip made a wonderful low right-hand catch. Already the pitch was favouring spin, but by cultured batting Hutton and Cowdrey added 99 before Hutton also fell to an amazing catch after batting four and a half hours for 80, the best score of the match. Hutton unerringly hooked a long hop and Davidson, only a few yards from the bat at forward short-leg, turned his back, shot out his hands to protect himself and the ball stayed. Although the new ball became due forty minutes before the end of the day Johnson preferred to rely on his spinners.

On the fourth day England continued with Cowdrey 77 and Compton 44 and at once Miller and Davidson struck with the new ball, both men falling for the addition of only two runs. Cowdrey batted five hours and Compton two, but happily for England Evans hit cleanly and impudently and some steady efforts by Wardle and as usual Bailey led to a first innings advantage of 18 by mid-afternoon, the innings altogether lasting nine hours.

Some Australians felt that England were playing for a draw which would have sufficed to ensure the retention of the Ashes. In any case the initiative rested with Australia, but England's objective was outright victory.

On Australia batting a second time, Hutton gave only two overs to Statham before introducing Appleyard at 24 and this move, hailed as a touch of genius, gave England the upper hand. Exploiting worn patches caused by bowlers' foot-marks, Appleyard removed Morris, Burke and Harvey in his first six overs at a personal cost of six runs and he finished the day with these figures: 10 overs, 5 maidens, 13 runs, 3 wickets, Australia's score standing at 69 for three wickets.

On this evidence alone, most people reckoned Appleyard would be unplayable next day, yet again those two demon fast bowlers, Tyson and Statham, denied him his chance. Statham, freed from pain by having a hole cut in his left boot which allowed the injured toe to move freely, staggered Australia by removing McDonald, Miller and Maddocks in his first three overs of the day between which Tyson yorked Benaud. Subsequently, Tyson accounted for Archer and Johnston so that at lunch Australia were 103 for nine. Bowling unchanged for ninety minutes, Tyson and Statham had caused six wickets to fall for 34 runs and their analyses during this breath-taking period read: Statham 7-0-12-3; Tyson 7-1-17-3.

Appleyard did not get his opportunity until after the interval and then Wardle dismissed Davidson leg before. Davidson, who alone offered any resistance, batted for seventy-five minutes. One would emphasise that Tyson and Statham broke down the opposition without delivering one bouncer and as in the other successful Tests they were forced to rely on an orthodox field as England could not afford to give away runs.

England wanted only 94 and though no one sensed any real danger Miller provided shocks when in the course of bowling 20 balls he disposed of Edrich, Hutton and Cowdrey. Next he caught May brilliantly at cover, but Compton and Bailey were equal to the situation and saw England within four runs of their objective before Bailey was lbw. So those two old campaigners, Compton and Evans, were there at the finish, Evans making the winning hit.

After the match Hutton, reviewing the series, paid tribute to Statham, Tyson, Cowdrey, May and Evans and thanked the Australian crowds for their patience when the number of overs had been restricted during the day. "Fast bowlers must take time over their overs, he said, and I feel that as youngsters they need my help in placing the field." Commenting on the success of the fast bowlers during the later stages of the Tests, Hutton said that whereas one would have expected the spinners to succeed the habit of the ball to come through on this tour at varying heights made the fast bowlers trickier to face.

The total attendance was 165,038; receipts £25,816.

© John Wisden & Co