Fifth Test Match

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1954-55

At Sydney, February 25, 26, 28, March 1, 2, 3. Drawn. Abnormal downpours, the worst experienced in New South Wales for fifty years, caused loss of life and millions of pounds of damage in the Hunter River valley and also held up play in this final Test until two o'clock on the fourth day. M.C.C.'s tour profits suffered to the extent of nearly £8,000. The delay gave time for Bailey (fractured finger), Cowdrey (tonsilitis following a broken nose while fielding in the Adelaide Test), Tyson (strained leg muscles) and Maddocks (bruised finger) to recover. Australia included Watson and Burge for the first time besides having Lindwall and Favell in the side again, and Graveney replaced Edrich in the England eleven.

Instead of thirty hours, playing time was reduced to thirteen hours ten minutes, Ian Johnson won the toss and preferred not to risk first innings on a rain-affected pitch, for the covers had been of little use in the deluge. As it happened the pitch gave not the slightest help to the bowlers. The ball came through at an easy pace and at a nice height. Hutton left to the fourth ball of the match, Burge catching him at the second attempt at leg-slip, but Graveney and May played glorious cricket, their stand realising 182 in two hours forty minutes before Graveney fell to a grand return catch. Magnificent drives were the feature of his superb innnings. His first Test hundred against Australia contained fourteen 4's.

Cowdrey went first ball and in the last over May, taken at slip, was out after batting just over three hours so that England's total was l96 for four. Next day, Compton, already having spent twenty minutes without scoring, exercised much care with Bailey, but after lunch he treated the bowling with less respect, his last 62 runs coming in eighty minutes. The partnership yielded 134 and finally Evans and Bailey both fell to Lindwall who thus reached 100 wickets in Australia-England Tests, a unique feat for a fast bowler. Bailey actually allowed himself to be bowled and then he went down the pitch, being the first to congratulate Lindwall. Very slow and tedious early in the day, Bailey hit only four 4's and occupied three and a quarter hours for his 72.

The pitch was livelier than on the previous day and Australia were pleased to see their opening pair, McDonald and Watson, survive the first onslaught of Statham and Tyson, but Watson played on in Wardle's fourth over and Favell soon went in Tyson's second spell.

McDonald (45) and Harvey (12) saw the total to 82 for two at nightfall but on the last day only McDonald and Maddocks played with much confidence against the varied spin of Wardle. When Compton ran out Ian Johnson from cover, Australia failed by one run to avoid the follow-on. As less than two hours remained, a definite result was unlikely, but Hutton offered no respite, and although Tyson, to save time, cut down his run to six yards he employed five slips and two short legs and still looked very fast.

As in the first innings, Hutton used Wardle for long periods and again Australia broke down, leaving no doubt that besides being vulnerable to pace they were just as unsafe against the turning ball. England, so often criticised for loose fielding, gave almost nothing away on this their final appearance in Australia. Cowdrey ran out Miller smartly and Tyson, Appleyard, Graveney and Wardle brought off excellent catches.

It was the first time since Hutton's 364 at The Oval in 1938 that England had made Australia follow on. Watson, Favell and Harvey were out for 29, but McDonald again showed determination, so the outside chance of bringing off an unexpected victory vanished. Towards the end Hutton relaxed and called on Graveney to bowl. He dismissed McDonald in his second over and appropriately Hutton finished the tour of Australia by sending down the final over and getting the last wicket when he bowled Benaud.

During the day 14 Australian wickets fell for 257 runs and Wardle claimed seven of them in 29 overs for 115 runs. One could excuse him amusing the crowd by bowling his final over almost on his knees! The full attendance for the three days was 29,844; receipts £4,285.

© John Wisden & Co