First Test Match


At Nottingham, June 7, 8, 9, 11, 12. Drawn. Although England declared twice, the loss of twelve hours and twenty minutes during the match through rain made a definite result impossible. From England's point of view the cricket brought much satisfaction in the batting of Richardson, the Worcestershire left-hander, and Cowdrey. Both played admirably and in the second innings their stand of 151 was the first of three figures for the first wicket for England against Australia since Hutton and Washbrook made 168 and 129 together at Headingley in 1948.

Several Australian players were doubtful until the day before the match began, the worst case being Archer, who strained his back against M.C.C. at Lord's. All were pronounced fit, but England could not consider Tyson and Trueman for selection because of injuries and just before the toss Statham and Wardle were omitted from the chosen fourteen mainly because of doubts about their fitness.

Yet after all these worries, three pace bowlers broke down during the game. On the first day Australia lost Lindwall at 107 with a pulled thigh muscle, and Davidson at 111 fell when bowling and was carried off with a chipped ankle bone. Then on the third day, when Australia were 19 for two wickets, England lost Moss, who pulled a stomach muscle while brilliantly fielding a hard drive by Harvey at cover. One hour remained for play that day, but the rain returned and no more cricket took place until Monday.

No sooner had May won the toss than a shower occurred while the pitch was being rolled at 11.15. An attempt to start at 11.50 failed, for as Richardson was preparing to take strike from Lindwall another shower intervened and not until 12.25 did the game commence.

At once England enjoyed a slice of luck; with only seven scored both Richardson (5) and Cowdrey (2) could have been run out. Cowdrey drove Miller to cover where Davidson picked up beautifully with the left hand as the batsmen were turning for a second run. They realised the danger, but Richardson, already on his way, slipped on the wet turf, whereupon Cowdrey decided to go for the run. Langley could have broken the wicket with both batsmen far from home, but Miller called for the ball only for Langley to throw wide to the other end. Meanwhile, Richardson scrambled to his feet and, leaving his bat behind, managed to run past the crease a split second before Miller swept all three stumps to the ground.

Far from being perturbed by that experience, both batsmen settled down to a confident display, but with only a single added to the lunch score Cowdrey edged a lifting ball to slip. Graveney, tied down by Johnson's high flight, was splendidly caught low with the left hand by Archer at slip and there followed an excellent stand which took England to 134 for two wickets at the close of the first day, with Richardson 65 and May 31. Until his mishap Davidson was the most hostile bowler: he came on to the bat with genuine speed.

In the emergency, Australia turned to Miller who, despite doubts as to his fitness, bowled with all his old enthusiasm. A deluge flooded the ground on Thursday evening and continuous thunderstorms prevented play on the second day. The conditions threatened to be very bad on Saturday, but before breakfast the ground staff removed eighty gallons of water from the pitch and to the agreeable surprise of most people the game was resumed at 1.10 p.m.

The wet pitch offered no help to Miller and Archer, who bowled off-breaks to a run-saving field. England needed to build up the score with a view to an early declaration. Richardson and May produced attractive strokes, and though the ball travelled slowly, they took every possible run by smart running between the wickets.

Even when Miller and Archer bowled with the new ball at 164 they had only one slip. Richardson was shaping for a century on his Test debut when, trying to hook a bumper, he was caught by Langley on the leg-side. Third out at 180, the Worcestershire captain batted four and a half hours and his stand with May put on 108 in two hours fifty minutes. May stayed another forty minutes and England continued to sacrifice wickets in the quest for runs. Evans, Bailey and Lock quickly followed, whereupon May declared at the tea interval.

Just under two hours remained that day when Australia began their reply and with only nine runs scored May called on Laker and Lock. Neither found any help from the pitch, but May set a close, menacing field and immediately McDonald offered a chance to Graveney in Laker's leg-trap. That reprieve made little difference. McDonald swept too soon at a slow ball from Lock and was leg-before; next Lock at leg-slip, diving forward, held a neat catch from Burke. When Harvey and Burge raised the score to 19 for two wickets the rain returned. One hour remained for play that day and England were denied a great chance of tearing the Australian batting asunder.

After a fine week-end, England fielded Parks at mid-off as substitute for Moss and soon he drew attention to his presence by making a fine catch on the run from Burge. The pitch still gave little assistance to Laker and Lock, although the occasional ball lifted slightly. Miller was leg-before playing back to the second ball he received, four wickets being down for 36, but Harvey and Archer faced the crisis defiantly and their stand of 54 in eighty minutes checked the collapse. Appleyard put in a very good spell, but apart form Harvey, who batted admirably for three and a half hours, the Australians subsequently took unnecessary risks.

A possible eight and a half hours remained when England, holding a lead of 69, batted a second time. Without a run on the board, Richardson was dropped in Miller's first over and though Cowdrey played soundly, Richardson experienced uncertain moments, notably against the leg-spin of Benaud. Johnson's main concern was to keep down runs and he set his field deep, but the batsmen gave a fine display and in two and a half hours they saw the total to 129; Richardson 56, Cowdrey 67.

More rain during the night and early morning caused more delay, despite the efforts of the ground staff. Eventually, England continued batting at 12.45 p.m. Runs were the prime objective and the Australians made the task difficult by bowling well away from the stumps. The big stand ended on the stroke of one o'clock when Cowdrey, one 5 and seven 4's, fell in attempting a forcing stroke. Richardson having stayed ten minutes longer (two hours fifty minutes) and hit ten 4's, skied Archer above the wicket-keeper and next Watson, playing with abandon, went to a fine catch by Langley far out on the leg-side.

In three-quarters of an hour before lunch England had added 59. May declared, setting Australia a sporting proposition. They wanted 260 in four hours, but their sole aim was to save the game although the pitch, true to Trent Bridge tradition, never became sticky. May allowed Bailey and Appleyard only seven overs before he sent Laker and Lock into action and soon McDonald was taken in the leg-trap. A closely-set field exaggerated the conditions, but Australia made only 18 in the first hour. Harvey unluckily played on, the ball spinning back into his stumps.

Again Miller was leg-before, but Burke remained a sheet anchor, applying the dead bat with genuine skill. Still, with three wickets down for 41 and Davidson unlikley to bat, the position was still open at four o'clock. Then Burge joined Burke, and they stayed till the finish at 6.30pm. Laker and Lock did their utmost continually trying to achieve spin, but without response from the pitch.

Apart from Monday, when the sun shone with some warmth, the weather was always cheerless but, with advance bookings, the full attendance came to 85, 716.

© John Wisden & Co