Toss: England. test debuts: Australia - R.A.Hamence.
So much rain fell before and during this final Test that it produced the best cricket of the whole series; because the pitch, without ever becoming treacherous, always encouraged bowlers. England could fairly claim that they experienced wretched luck. Hutton, after batting splendidly throughout the opening day while making his first Test century in Australia, was stricken down with tonsilitis that caused him to go to hospital. Rain prevented a ball being bowled on the second day; but Sunday was gloriously fine and the pitch, which had been under water--mushrooms sprang up in the outfield--dried quite firm. Despite the loss of Hutton, whose absence in the second innings was a tremendous handicap, England, thanks to magnificent bowling by Wright and Bedser over very long spells, were always challenging the opposition. Indeed, for the first time in the series England led on the first innings, but on the final day, at a most crucial point, Edrich, usually so dependable, dropped an easy catch off Wright offered by Bradman when only two and the total 47. Had that chance been accepted, victory might well have gone to England, for Bradman alone seemed able to establish any mastery over Wright and Bedser.
Hammond, unable to trust his fibrositis, stood down, and Yardley became captain for the first time in a Test. He led his men courageously, and that England did not win was certainly not his fault. With Hardstaff and Langridge also unfit, England brought in Fishlock--his first Test against Australia--and Smith, who bowled so well in the previous match against New South Wales. Australia welcomed back Barnes, fit again, in place of Harvey, introduced Hamence to his first Test for Johnson, injured, and preferred Tribe to Dooland. England won the toss for the third time in the five matches.
The feature of the Australian bowling throughout the match was the number of short bouncing balls delivered by Lindwall and Miller, although it was a very fine good-length delivery which bowled Washbrook in the first over. Nearly three hours passed before another wicket fell while Hutton and Edrich added 150 in the highest English partnership for these Tests. Progress was never easy against difficult bowling. From the outset Tribe was able to turn his left-arm slows, and Toshack, operating to a closely set leg trap, compelled respect. McCool was also troublesome. By tea time the total reached 162 for two, but Fishlock left at 188 and Lindwall, taking the second new ball at 207, immediately upset the batsmen with a mixture of intimidating bumpers and an occasional unplayable good-length ball. In five overs the fast bowler removed Compton, Yardley and Ikin. Compton steered a very short ball away from his face but in so doing trod on his wicket. Both Hutton and Yardley appealed unsuccessfully against the light. The day finished with England 237 for six wickets, Hutton, who hit five fours having batted for five hours.
Following the blank Saturday, Hutton was taken ill, and on Monday morning he went to hospital with a temperature of 103. Some bold hitting by Evans was mainly responsible for the first innings realising 280. Lindwall achieved a remarkable performance in taking seven wickets for only nine runs apiece. Undismayed by their moderate total, England bowled splendidly. The thermometer reached 102, yet Bedser and Wright never spared themselves, and the fielding, with Evans, Compton and Fishlock in brilliant form, was also high-class. Barnes and Morris gave Australia a fine start by staying together two and a quarter hours. They began before lunch, and not until after tea did Bedser separate them, when Barnes, attempting to cut, was caught by Evans outside the off stump. Soon afterwards Bedser also accounted for Morris, and then Wright came into his own by bowling Bradman and getting Miller taken at second slip. Bradman ran down the wicket and, misjudging the spin, missed the ball. Wright bowled unchanged after tea for one and three-quarter hours. Next day, while Bedser in 11 overs conceded only 15 runs and completely shut up his end, Wright carried all before him. In 11 overs he dismissed five men for 42 runs. Hamence alone withstood the bowling, his stay lasting one and three-quarter hours.
Batting a second time, England also broke down. With the first ball of the innings Lindwall beat Fishlock by sheer pace and dismissed him leg-before. There followed such skilful slow bowling by McCool that the day ended with six men out for 144. Even Edrich was greatly troubled by McCool, and Compton alone proved equal to the occasion. To such an extent did the bowlers hold the mastery that twelve wickets fell for 208; Compton outshone all other batsmen by making 51 not out.
The fifth day sufficed to bring about a finish. Lindwall, with the wind behind him, was very aggressive and soon dismissed Smith, but Compton gave another brave display until he was caught in Toshack's leg trap. He spent two hours fifty-three minutes over his 76. On a pitch so helpful to bowlers, Australia's task of making 214 to win did not appear easy.
Yardley looked to Bedser and Wright for another great effort, and again they responded magnificently. Edrich, who began the bowling, sent down only one over before Wright appeared with three slips and one short leg. Barnes and Morris also understood the position and decided to get as many runs as possible while the effects of the roller remained good. Their progress was comparatively speedy, Barnes using the square cut effectively against Wright, but at 45 Morris was surprisingly run out while going for a third run. Compton mishandled the ball at long leg, but, recovering, he made a smart return and Evans did the rest. Bradman scored two and then offered the shoulder-high catch which, as already mentioned, passed between Edrich's hands. In the next over Barnes for the second time in the match was well caught by Evans off Bedser, and then Bradman and Hassett, with almost a day and a half before them, decided to tire out the bowlers. During their first fifty minutes together they made only 13, but when Wright and Bedser had to be rested Bradman promptly appreciated the change to Smith and Edrich. The Essex player sent down only two overs and back came Wright, while Yardley went on at the other end. By the tea interval the total reached 110 for two, and Australia were almost safe.
Wright did not find the pitch so responsive as on the previous day when he caused the ball to lift and turn awkwardly, and by sound batsmanship the third partnership took the total to 149 before Bradman lifted a drive into the hands of Compton at extra cover. The Bradman-Hassett stand, by producing 98, turned the issue in Australia's favour. Hassett, fourth to leave at 173, defended nobly for two and a quarter hours, and on his dismissal Miller took charge. Showing excellent judgment in choosing the best ball to punish, he claimed six fours, mainly from superb drives. So Australia won by five wickets just before six o'clock with a whole day to spare. Considering that the rubber was already decided and that only four days of actual cricket took place, the total attendance of 93,011, with receipts £12,619, was satisfactory.