Fifth Test Match

England v India

L.S.

Toss: India.

England won by one o'clock on the fourth day and, for the first time in their history, gained five Test victories in a series. Only twice before had this been achieved, both by Australia in their own country, against England in 1920-21 and South Africa in 1931-32. On a pitch ideally suited for batsmen and in perfect weather and light India were dismissed for 140, their lowest total of the series, and 194. So, in seven out of their ten innings they failed to reach 200. In fact, apart from their 376 in the second innings at Old Trafford where Cowdrey did not enforce the follow-on and the pressure was to some degree relaxed, India's highest total in the series was 208.

The absence of Umrigar with a split finger was a bad blow to India. Ghorpade replaced him and Tamhane came in for Joshi as wicketkeeper. England originally selected a newcomer to Test cricket in Allen. The Gloucestershire off-spinner, but although he attended The Oval and the decision was left until the last minute, he had not recovered sufficiently from a bruised finger which he damaged in a Sunday benefit match within an hour of learning of his first honour. Greenhough, having improved his follow-through difficulties, took over. Compared with the Manchester side, Subba Row, Greenhough and Statham displaced Parkhouse, Mortimore and Rhodes. Another experiment was made in trying Subba Row as an opening batsman.

India won the toss and everything looked perfect for them, but they adopted strictly defensive methods which did not succeed. Roy last his off-stump after fifty minutes with the score 12 and Baig, out of form since his century at Old Trafford, did not shape confidently, although he produced an occasional good stroke. In two hours to lunch India made only 47 for two and their troubles increased. When Contractor's patience gave out after three hours twenty minutes for 22 and he lifted a catch to cover, India were 74 for seven. The tail-enders, Tamhane and Surendranath showed the true value of the pitch by putting on 58 for the eighth wicket, but a final total of 140 in five hours was most disappointing for India.

Two left-handers, Pullar and Subba Row, made 35 on the first evening, but Pullar was soon out next morning. Cowdrey fell to a great running catch by Borde at square leg, but England were put right on top during a stand of 169 by Subba Row and Smith, the highest for the third wicket by England against India. Smith, after a slow start, dominated the stand, hitting fourteen 4's in a stay of three hours twenty minutes for 98. Subba Row also fell in the 90's. He batted five hours and, although he did not look completely at ease, he accomplished his objective of giving England a solid start.

The Oval missed the worst of a severe storm in London, but two interruptions caused half an hour to be lost. Barrington and Dexter soon went, but Illingworth and Swetman, in the last fifty minutes of the second day and next morning added 102, also a record for the seventh wicket by England against India. Each hit his first Test fifty.

India began their second innings shortly before lunch on the third day, 221 behind, and it seemed that the match would again end on the third day. The fifth wicket went down for 106 with eighty minutes left, but the left-handed Nadkarni showed fight and Ghorpade batted well until bad light and a thunderstorm ended play half an hour early with India needing 75 to avoid an innings defeat. The last five wickets fell in an hour and a half on the fourth morning for 48. Nadkarni lasted four hours, but he received little support.

Considering the rubber had been decided the attendances of 13,000 and just over 11,000 were reasonable for the first two days, but the 8,500 on the Saturday was most disappointing. An exhibition match of 22 overs each was played before barely 1,000 people on the Monday.

© John Wisden & Co