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For all the remarkable personal achievements in the match, a bad taste was left in the mouth of the cricket enthusiasts who saw Australia retain the Ashes.
Simpson's strategy, with his team one up and two to play, was to make certain that Australia did not lose. Dexter, with England kept in the field until the third morning was well advanced, had no hope of winning and so a boring situation resulted in which twenty-eight and a quarter hours of play were needed to produce a decision on the first innings!
Both sides were to blame for frequent periods of needlessly tiresome batting on a perfectly made closely cut, firm pitch of placid pace which gave neither quick nor spin bowlers the slightest help. The intention to win was never once apparent after Simpson for the first time in the series, won the toss, and only rarely were the justifiable expectations of the spectators for entertainment realised.
The match yielded these records:
Lawry and Simpson made 201 for the first wicket -- an Australia record against England. The previous best was 180 by W. Bardsley and S.E. Gregory in the Fifth Test at the Oval, 1909.
Simpson's score of 311 was the highest ever made at Old Trafford.
His innings, lasting twelve and three-quarter hours, was the longest ever played against England. It beat F.M. Worrell's 197 not out in eleven hours and twenty minutes in the First Test at Bridgetown, Barbados, January, 1960.
Australia's total of 656 for eight declared and England's 611 were their highest at Old Trafford.
Barrington's score of 256 was England's highest at Old Trafford.
Other notable performances were:
Simpson scored his first Test century in 30 matches.
Barrington made his first Test century in England after hitting nine abroad.
McKenzie took seven wickets for 153 in a total of 611.
Veivers bowled 95.1 overs, only 17 balls short of the record number of 588 balls bowled in an innings by S. Ramadhin for West Indies against England at Birmingham, in 1957.
Australia made one change from their victorious Third Test team team, bringing back O'Neill in place of Cowper, and England, who had to win to retain a chance of recovering the Ashes, took the drastic step of omitting Trueman and Cowdrey. The Selectors picked three seam bowlers -- Cartwright and Rumsey were new to Test cricket -- and two off-spin bowlers, and eventually left out M.J.K. Smith from the chosen twelve. Price played in his first Test in England.
What would have happened had Dexter won the toss can only be conjectured, for McKenzie, following a severe stomach upset a few days earlier, was not at his fittest. On the easy-paced turf Australia, setting themselves to build a formidable total to stop England winning, scored 253 for two wickets on the first day.
There was no encouragement to bowlers from the opening delivery sent down by Rumsey to his rival left-hander Lawry, and although Cartwright, by control of length at medium-pace with some movement off the pitch occasionally worried the batsmen -- he had Simpson when 33 missed at the wicket on the leg side -- the attack posed no real danger. Lawry adept in hooking, took a 6 apiece off Price, Cartwright and Rumsey before hitting his first four with his score at 64, but the stroke-play generally was far from forceful.
Methodically, the batsmen wore down the toiling bowlers in sunshine. Titmus bad a long bowl, but Dexter who set largely defensive fields did not employ Mortimore until twenty past three with the score 173 and Lawry, with a cover-drive off the Gloucestershire bowler, reached his third hundred against England out of 179 in five minutes under four hours. His sound, but unenterprising innings, ended three quarters of an hour later when, for the third time in Tests in the current series, and for the fifth time in the season, he was run out when Mortimore, the bowler, made a brilliant stop. The partnership produced 201, and Lawry included, five 4's besides the three 6's, in his 106.
Dexter, for the first time, crowded the batsmen when Redpath arrived, but Simpson, after five and a half hours at the crease with only six 4's among his neat but far from strong strokes, completed his century out of 232.
Cartwright gained reward for his steadiness when beating Redpath off the pitch for leg-before at 233. At the close Australia were 253 for two with Simpson 109, and O'Neill 10.
On the second day, Simpson and his colleagues maintained their dominance yet seldom became free-scoring. Simpson again batted in subdued, if almost faultless, fashion and was barracked before displaying some of his characteristic cuts and drives. O'Neill had given promise of brightening proceedings before a ball which swung across knocked back his leg-stump at 318.
Burge did not settle down before Price smartly caught him at backward square-leg at 382. From that point, at ten minutes to three, the England bowlers strove without compensation.
In company with Booth, Simpson, who had reached 160 at rather less than 20 an hour since he began, at last decided to open his shoulders. He took 11 in an over off Price with the new ball, but soon reverted to his sedate mood. When 203, Simpson could have been run out backing-up if Titmus about to bowl, had not been chivalrously inclined, and the Middlesex bowler inappropriately suffered when the Australian captain, bestirring himself again, hit 14 off him in one over.
At the end of another hot day, Simpson had been in twelve hours for 265 out of a score of 570 for four, and Booth, who had scored with firm strokes, was 82 in an unfinished partnership of 188. Cartwright, England's best bowler, had sent down 77 overs for 118 runs and two wickets.
Simpson continued Australia's and his own innings next morning and in the light of subsequent events his policy, however unpalatable it was to cricket lovers, proved correct. Had he declared the previous evening and managed to snatch a couple of wickets a way to victory might have been open to him, but that again is mere surmise.
In the event, Simpson made sure that Australia would not lose by extending his team's innings for another hour and raising the total 656 for eight before declaring. In that time, the batting, for the first time in the match, was consistently entertaining, bringing 86 runs for four wickets.
Simpson had a chance of passing the world record Test score of 365 not out by G.S. Sobers, but this did not affect his attitude. He made no attempt to play safe for the purpose and after straight-driving Mortimore for 6 and hitting four more 4's he fell at the wicket paying the penalty for a slashed stroke played off Price with rather reckless abandon.
The crowd, having overlooked the dull spells of his batting, generously gave him an ovation for his score of 311 out of 646 for six. He defied England for three minutes under twelve and three-quarter hours, and in addition to his 6 he hit twenty-three 4's.
His stand with Booth, fifth to leave, well caught off a stiff return at 601, added 219 in just over three and a half hours. Booth, who missed a hundred by two, hit one 6 and ten 4's.
The innings lasted thirteen hours. Price took three for 183. He, like his team-mates, had his edge blunted by the unresponsive pitch. Barrington, with his leg-breaks, was never tried, a tactical shortcoming by Dexter.
When England began batting at twenty to one on Saturday, there seemed little hope of them making 457 to avoid following-on, and what optimism did exist soon received a check when Edrich edged the now fully-recovered fast-medium McKenzie to second slip with the score 15.
Then came a renewal of hope with Boycott and Dexter driving and cutting excellently. Simpson unavailingly challenged Dexter with spin and flight and the second wicket brought 111 before Boycott, having stayed three hours, played too soon at a slower ball from McKenzie and was bowled.
A shaky start sent Barrington into his shell and Dexter, too, became so restrained that slow handclapping broke out. At one stage Barrington's disinclination to make a forcing stroke encouraged Simpson to employ four short-legs, for Veivers.
With the score carried to 162 for two, Dexter 71 and Barrington 20, bad light stopped play fifty minutes early -- a disappointing end to the day for a crowd of 30,000.
Wanting 295 more to make Australia bat again, England had far their best day on Monday when Dexter carried his score to 174 and Barrington reached 153 not out. Dexter, who hit his eighth Test hundred, was missed twice by McKenzie at backward short leg when 74 and 97, and narrowly escaped being given out at 108 when Burge said he did not really know whether he had made a catch low down at cover, but the later part of Dexter's innings provided much pleasure for the onlookers.
From lunch, taken at 247 for two, the batsmen were masters. In turn they forced the game with drives, square-cuts, late-cuts and full-blooded leg-side strokes which punished quick and slow bowlers alike. Poor fielding swelled the scoring and Barrington was fortunate, when 99, that McKenzie, at short-slip failed to hold a cut.
Barrington had played 44 Test innings in England without making more than 87. In one spell of ten overs, Simpson conceded 38 runs and the partnership passed 200 in ten minutes over four hours. Dexter, with a majestic cover-drive off Veivers, exceeded K.S. Ranjitsinhji's 154 not out for England at Old Trafford in 1896, and at tea, with 111 runs having come since lunch, England wanted 99 more to save the follow-on.
Afterwards, England's rising hopes received an unexpected setback in the dismissal of Dexter, third out, at 372. Hawke and Veivers, doing sufficient to keep the batsmen watchful, made runs scarce enough to set impatient onlookers slow handclapping, and whether or not Dexter had his concentration disturbed he eventually played across, in somewhat casual style, at a ball pitched well up to him and was bowled.
He, too, was given an ovation for his fine innings, including twenty-two 4s, for which he had kept the Australians at bay for eight hours. The stand of 246 in five hours and twenty-five minutes fell 16 short of the record England third-wicket partnership against Australia of 262 by W.R. Hammond and D.R. Jardine at Adelaide, in 1928-29.
Barrington suffered a painful blow on his left shoulder from a bouncer by Corling, but recovered after treatment on the field and he remained unbeaten, with fifteen 4's to his credit, at the close when England, 411 for three, needed 46 more to make Australia go in again.
The fifth and last day proved the most disappointing for England supporters, for lack of enterprise by the batsmen when conditions were all in their favour threw away a golden chance of passing the massive Australian total.
Dexter's example counted for nothing. Barrington pushed and deflected when he could have driven powerfully and the opportunity to encourage his partners and thoroughly discourage his rivals was lost. Parks hit only three 4's in his 60 which occupied three hours and twenty minutes, Titmus made nine runs in almost an hour and when Barrington was lbw, seventh to go, at 594 he had been at the crease for eleven hours and twenty-five minutes. He hit twenty-six 4's in his 256.
With McKenzie enlivened and Veivers still pitching a length, the issue was soon settled after Barrington's departure on the stroke of tea, and England, though having kept Australia in the field over two hours longer than the tourists had kept them, finished 45 behind.
McKenzie's late successes, achieved by change of pace and deceptive movement, gave him a fine analysis in such a huge total, but the endurance of Veivers, who sent down 46.1 overs unchanged on the last day, was just as remarkable.
The Australians had to bat a second time for the closing five minutes, and it was a suitable ending, seeing what indecisive cricket had gone before, that Simpson and Lawry were bowled to by Barrington and Titmus using an old ball. Simpson, who square-cut Barrington for the four runs obtained, was on the field for all but a quarter of an hour of the match which, over the five days, was watched by an estimated attendance of 108,000 who paid £36,340 3s. 6d.
On the second afternoon, Mr. Harold Wilson, Leader of the Opposition, was present and next evening Sir Alec Douglas Home, the Prime Minister, saw some cricket. No interruption, occurred through rain during the match which took place in almost unbroken sunny weather.