Third Test Match

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1956

N.P.

At Leeds, July 12, 13, 14, 16, 17. England won by an innings and 42 runs. Fortunate to win the toss, England looked bound for defeat at the end of the first hour when their first three wickets had fallen to Archer for 17 runs, but a century by May, their captain, and a fine innings of 98 by Washbrook brought about a recovery. Later, Laker, with 11 wickets for 113 runs and Lock, seven for 81, exploited a pitch which favoured slow bowling as early as the second day and victory was achieved with nearly four hours to spare. It was the first time England had beaten Australia at Headingley.

The England selectors were severely criticised for choosing Washbrook, one of their own members, who had not appeared in a Test since the 1950-51 Australasian tour, but after his long rest Washbrook returned refreshed to big cricket and his experience was invaluable. As the pitch was expected to help the spin bowlers, England omitted Statham from the selected twelve and Australia, with Langley and Crawford unfit, brought in Lindwall and Maddocks, these being the two changes compared with the eleven that won at Lord's. Unfortunately for Australia, Miller had a sore knee and was unable to bowl. He was greatly missed from the attack for he would most probably have proved devastating in conjunction with Archer.

The tall Queenslander used the new ball to such effect that he dismissed Cowdrey, Oakman and Richardson in nine overs while conceding only three runs and he remained the best bowler throughout the innings. Though Richardson managed to stay sixty-five minutes he fell to the twelfth ball he received from Archer.

May and Washbrook came together at 12.35 and they were not separated until 6.25, five minutes before stumps were drawn when May hit a high full toss to fine leg where Lindwall held a brilliant catch near his boots. Ther partnership of 187 was the best for England against Australia since the war.

The Australian fielding fell below their usual standard. The worst lapse occurred when Washbrook was 44 and the total 100, Miller dropping an easy catch at cover off Johnson. Washbrook might also have been caught on the leg side when 72 by Maddocks off Lindwall, soon after the second new ball was taken, and May, when 83, offered a return catch to Mackay.

Superb driving was a feature of the displays by these two England batsmen. May was at the crease for five and a quarter hours and hit twelve 4's and England scored 204 for four wickets on the first day when Washbrook made 90.

The next morning Washbrook, exercising great care, added only two runs in half an hour and then he punished Benaud for 4 and 2 whereupon Johnson set a very close field and Washbrook fell leg-before when hooking at a short ball. So he left when two short of a hundred, having stayed five and a half hours and hit thirteen 4's. With Lock who came as night watchman and Insole also falling to Benaud's leg spin, seven wickets were down for 248, but while Bailey showed his usual safe defence Evans met the bowling confidently and in just over an hour he made 40 of the next 53 runs. Bailey remained unbeaten having spent two and a quarter hours for his 33 and altogether the England innings lasted nine hours ten minutes. Lindwall developed almost his full pace on the second day and took the last three wickets.

Australia began batting at half-past three on Friday and Trueman, aiming at the off stump and pitching the ball up to lure the batsmen forward, showed the value of these methods when with the last ball of his first over he had McDonald taken behind the wicket.

Burke batted splendidly. He was sure in defence and scored consistently with a fine variety of strokes, but as soon as Laker relieved Bailey at 28 he turned his off-breaks on a dry dusty pitch that broke up at an astonishingly early stage in the match.

Shortly after tea (31 for one wicket) Lock joined Laker and in the following hour the two Surrey bowlers struck deep into the Australia batting, and by six o'clock six wickets were down for 69. Lock, with the last ball of his first over, tempted Harvey to glance a catch to short leg. Burge and Mackay were too inexperienced to deal with Laker, and Burke, having made 41 out of 59, fell to a ball that came low. Archer made one high straight drive, only to play on and although Benaud twice hit Laker to the off boundary, he and Miller were thankful that an appeal against the light was upheld at 6.15 when Australia were 81 for six wickets.

With three days left and 95 required to save the follow-on their position looked hopeless, but rain set in on Friday evening and continued for the next forty-eight hours so that not a ball was bowled on Saturday, although the captains waited until tea time before giving up.

Altogether seven and a half hours were lost before the game was resumed at 12.45 on Monday, after the umpires had supervised the renovation of the pitch. At first, the sodden turf gave no help to Laker and Lock. Sawdust was needed for the batsmen as well as the bowlers to maintain a foothold. Miller showed the value of hitting with the spin and in three-quarters of an hour before lunch he and Benaud increased the total to 112.

Gradually the pitch became difficult, though it never became sticky. Australia's main objective was to avoid the follow-on, but no sooner did the sun appear than Benaud, having survived a chance to May at mid-on when 25 off Laker, was caught in that bowler's next over on the leg boundary.

Benaud had helped Miller to put on 73, but 34 were still wanted, and the innings produced only one more run, the last three wickets falling at the same total. Maddocks was taken at backward point and with the position desperate Miller discarded caution only to be bowled round his legs. Miller had offered stubborn resistance for two hours and ten minutes but he did not neglect the loose ball. Indeed, he swept Laker for 6 and also hit four 4's. Finally, Johnson drove a catch to Richardson at long off.

So Australia followed on, 182 behind, and this time Trueman yorked McDonald, knocking back his middle stump, but Harvey proceeded to give his best display on a difficult pitch. With Burke also playing well, Australia's hopes of saving the game rose, but, having stayed eighty minutes, Burke chose the wrong ball to attempt to punish and lost his off stump.

Miller again defended admirably although he was missed when six off Lock at the wicket. May menaced the batsmen throughout the day with a close field, but Australia survived the last hour and a half without further loss, the total being 93 for two wickets when stumps were drawn.

Whereas May earlier switched Laker and Lock from time to time, Laker bowled from the pavilion end from 11.30 on the last day until the match ended at 2.20. He conceded one run in his first eight overs and in his ninth, immediately after Harvey had reached 50 in three and a half hours, a sharp rising off-break struck Miller's gloves for Trueman to make a fine catch in the leg trap. Miller had kept up his end for two and a quarter hours and on his departure Harvey played a lone hand.

Burge, Benaud and Johnson fell to Laker, but Lock captured the big prize by throwing himself almost half-way down the pitch and seizing a return catch from Harvey as he rolled over and over again. Seventh out at 138, Harvey had made a valiant but unsuccessful effort to save his side. He had withstood the bowling for four and a half hours. Only five minutes remained before lunch, but Archer skied a ball to Washbrook at cover so that at the interval Australia had only two wickets left. They did not add another run. Maddocks failed to score for the second time in the match and Laker yorked Mackay, middle stump.

Apart from four overs by Trueman, first thing, Laker and Lock bowled unchanged on the last day when England captured eight wickets for 47 runs. Their analyses read: Laker 19 overs, 10 maidens, 24 runs, 4 wickets; Lock 15.5 overs, 7 maidens, 16 runs, 2 wickets.

The estimated attendance was 100,000 with 28,000 the largest for one day, on Monday. Full receipts were £36,179.

© John Wisden & Co