First Test Match

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1946-47

At Brisbane, November 29, 30, December 2, 3, 4, 5. Australia won by an innings and 332 runs. Whereas in past tours England enjoyed the good fortune of twice catching Australia on a sticky wicket at Brisbane, this time the tables were turned and England in each innings batted after a violent thunderstorm. So Australia gained her first Test victory in the Queensland city, and with confidence engendered from this initial success the Australians, under Bradman's vigilant leadership, went on to win the rubber. Many factors contributed to M.C.C.'s downfall. First, there was the choice of team, and particularly Gibb as wicket-keeper. Next, England took so long to dismiss their opponents. Had they got them out in reasonable time they might have had a chance to bowl at the Australians on the drying turf. From the England team's point of view the whole course of the match balanced on an incident which occurred when Bradman was 28 and the total 74 for two wickets. Facing Voce, the Australian captain chopped the ball to second slip, where Ikin thought he made a perfectly good catch. Bradman survived the appeal, and not only went on to hit his first Test century against England at Brisbane but, with Hassett, he added 276 and established a new third-wicket record stand for these matches. Moreover, the Australians set up the highest Test total in their own country.

England began the match well enough after Bradman won the toss. From the third ball of Bedser's second over Morris was caught at first slip. Bradman entered, and immediately was in trouble against Bedser, edging the fifth ball of the same over to the slips and popping up the seventh to square leg. Barnes, hooking brilliantly, did his best to shield Bradman from the bowling until at 46 he was splendidly caught at square leg off a short ball. Bedser, like a goalkeeper knocked the ball up and caught it at the second attempt. At this point Bradman had made only seven in forty minutes very shakily. There followed the Ikin incident. After lunch, taken with the total 77 for two wickets, Bradman and Hassett gradually wore down the bowling in the relentless heat. Bedser bowled nobly for long spells, but could not return after tea owing to stomach trouble--a legacy of his war service in Italy. Hassett always remained subdued, but Bradman found his true form, and the first day ended with Australia 292 for two--Bradman 162, Hassett 81.

Bedser reappeared next day, when Edrich broke the long stand by clean bowling Bradman with his fourth ball. Bradman hit nineteen 4's. Then Miller joined Hassett in another long stand, during which the England fielding deteriorated. The total reached 428 before Hassett, who hit ten 4's, was caught at mid-on after batting six and a half hours, about the same time as Bradman. Altogether Hassett was dropped three times. Even at this early stage of the match the England bowlers had been no-balled twenty times, but even worse was the failure of Gibb to catch McCool who, when only one, offered a chance off Bedser. That proved a most expensive mistake. Meanwhile Miller, if subdued, drove brilliantly while at the wicket for two hours forty minutes. His best strokes yielded one 6 and six 4's. After tea, McCool and Johnson hammered the bowling freely, taking the total to 595 for five wickets by Saturday evening, when McCool was 92 and Johnson 47.

Rain and bad light limited cricket on Monday to ninety-nine minutes. Bradman did not have the pitch mown and Australia lost their five remaining wickets for 50 runs. Playing back, McCool was leg-before when wanting only five for a century on his Test debut. In an enterprising innings of two hours thirty-five minutes McCool hit fourteen 4's and his stand with Johnson produced 131. Always venturesome, Lindwall hit two 6's and three 4's. England now faced Lindwall and Miller; both occasionally pitched short. During lunch the sky became overcast and thunder was heard when, with the second ball after the interval, Lindwall bowled Hutton playing back. Bad light and showers caused many stoppages, and the day ended with England 21 for one wicket. Late that evening a violent thunderstorm broke, and next day, when cricket was resumed after a delay of only ten minutes, England on a nightmare pitch took their score to 117 for five wickets before another thunderstorm flooded the ground. During this shortened day's play of three hours England fought valiantly. Lindwall, Miller and even Toshack made the ball lift alarmingly. Washbrook soon left, but Compton batted bravely; Edrich was struck repeatedly, and when Hammond came in nearly every ball from Lindwall rose head high. When taken at first slip immediately after lunch, Edrich had withstood the bowling for one and three-quarter hours. He scored only 16, but his was one of the most skilful batting displays I have ever seen. With Ikin going cheaply, half the side were out for 56. The bowling became even more difficult with the Australians pitching a better length, but Hammond, at his best, and Yardley raised the score to 117 without further loss when, following several appeals against the light, the players left the field. Then came the second storm, with hailstones as big as golf balls.

Contrary to expectations, the ground made a remarkable recovery next day in the brilliant sunshine, but the pitch proved more treacherous than ever, and, though England never gave up the unequal struggle, fifteen wickets fell in three and a half hours. So Australia won at ten minutes to five. An attack of chickenpox robbed Australia of Lindwall, but Miller and Toshack were enough for England. The big shock was the fall of Hutton to the first ball of the second innings. He left to one of three catches by Barnes at short leg. The only real stand in the follow-on was between Ikin and Gibb, who put on 47. Miller achieved a fine all-round performance in his first Test by making 79 and taking nine wickets for 77. Toshack, the tall left-arm medium bowler, who was given plenty of advice by Bradman, responded so well that his figures were nine wickets for 99 runs. Except for the respite given by the rain, the heat was always stifling. At no time was the moderate accommodation on the Woollongabba ground filled, for during the six days the aggregate attendances reached only 77,344 with receipts £14,515.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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