Fifth Test Match

England v Australia

The deciding match of the series, far from being the exciting contest expected, turned out to be a dull, lifeless game which did immense harm to cricket, particularly in Australia.

Much of the blame can be traced to the ground which never allowed the players to show the game at its best, but the players must be held responsible to a fair extent. Little effort was made to overcome the conditions. On most of the days there was a good deal of barracking and the game ended with booing and slow handclapping.

With Pullar unfit England brought in Allen, going into the game with three off-spinners. Australia introduced a newcomer in Hawke and recalled Burge with marked success. They replaced Mackay and Shepherd.

Dexter won the toss, but Cowdrey, restored as opening batsman, failed. Sheppard provided the medium-paced Hawke with his first Test wicket, but Barrington and Dexter prevented a collapse, adding 90 in two and a quarter hours.

Extremely slow batting marked the opening day, England scoring only 195 for five. Harvey held three catches in the day; his third, a magnificent diving effort at backward short-leg dismissed Graveney. Barrington's soundness proved valuable. He batted five hours, twenty minutes for 101, his second successive Test century, but hit only four 4's.

England's later batsmen did well on the second day. Trueman, promoted in the order, stayed an hour and fifty minutes without hitting a boundary. The slow square and matted outfield plus the dead pitch made forcing strokes extremely difficult.

Australia finished the second day at 74 for three. Only three 4's were hit all day. With the pitch taking some spin, Australia were expected to struggle. Instead, O'Neill and Burge showed some of the best batting of the match and added 109 for the fourth wicket in two hours, thirty-five minutes.

O'Neill used his strength to force the ball away until Graveney, at short mid-on, held a great falling catch. Burge, missed at the wicket when 63, batted solidly and stayed all day. Rain and bad light cut seventy minutes off the playing time.

Australia, 285 for six at the close, added another 64, mainly through Benaud, and they finished 28 ahead. Burge made 103 in five and a half hours and hit nine 4's. Titmus again showed his liking for the Sydney pitch, taking five for 103.

Illingworth opened the second innings instead of Cowdrey and he and Sheppard began with 40, the best opening stand for England since the first Test. Barrington again showed sound form and with Sheppard put on 97 in an hour and fifty-two minutes. By the close England were 137 ahead with seven wickets left, and on the last morning they tried hard to make up for time lost.

Barrington fell when six short of his second century of the match, having stayed four hours, twenty-three minutes, but he hit only two 4's. Cowdrey, happier in the middle order, helped him add 94.

Dexter declared at lunch time, setting Australia to get 241 in four hours, but under the conditions it was a massive task. Trueman dismissed Simpson in his first over and then left the field with muscle trouble. When Allen sent back O'Neill and Booth in one over, Australia gave up any slight hopes of victory and played to save the game.

Lawry carried caution to the extreme and, despite jeers, kept going for four hours for 45. Burge did better, and their unbroken stand produced 82 in two hours, seven minutes.

Harvey, in his last Test, did not do well with the bat, but equalled a Test record by holding six catches. Davidson, also playing his final Test, had the distinction of taking a wicket with his last ball.

For the first time three matches between the countries in Australia were drawn, and never before, when five games had been played between the countries, was the series undecided.

During the match Trueman and Benaud equalled Bedser's 236 Test wickets, only Statham being ahead of them.

Attendance 128,217. Receipts £A28,483.

© John Wisden & Co