Second Test Match

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1948

R.J.H.

This convincing victory confirmed the First Test realisations of Australia's clear superiority at all points. Only on the first day did England provide comparable opposition, and their Selectors must have been very disappointed at the lack of determination by some of the batsmen against an attack again below full strength--this time because Miller was unable to bowl. Australia were the better team in batting, bowling, fielding and tactics, but England could not complain of lack of opportunities to wrest the initiative.

Naturally Australia made no change from the side successful at Nottingham, but Barnett, Hardstaff and Young were called upon to give way in the England team to Dollery, Coxon and Wright, while Emmett replaced Simpson as twelfth man. Although the heavy atmosphere aided swing in the early stages on Thursday, that did not detract from the merit of England's performance in dismissing seven batsmen for 258 when Bradman won the toss for the only time in the series. The day began with excitement, Coxon in his second over of Test cricket dismissing Barnes, whose poor stroke to a short ball enabled Hutton at short fine leg to bring off the first of three successive catches in that position. His next victim was Bradman, who fell to the Hutton-Bedser combination for the third consecutive time in Tests. Bradman, curiously uncertain and uncomfortable, might have been out in similar fashion when 13, though Hutton deserved more praise for getting his hands to the ball than blame for not holding it. The left-hander Morris showed far more confidence than Bradman against England's purposeful bowling, and after a quiet start he scored briskly in making 105 out of 166 in three hours twenty minutes before he gave gulley a hard catch. Morris attracted chief attention through the power and placing of his cover-drives. He hit a 6 and fourteen 4s. Miller offered no stroke to a fast break-back from England's best bowler, the persistent and accurate Bedser, and Yardley finished a stubborn and defensive partnership between Hassett and Brown by getting rid of both in quick time. Painstaking to a degree and helped by three lives, Hassett spent 175 minutes getting 47 runs, and Brown took eighty-four minutes over 24. When Evans caught Johnson and seven wickets were down, England, despite the missed chances, could feel pleased with their efforts.

Subsequent events gave them little cause for satisfaction. The first change of fortune occurred in the opening seventy minutes of the second day when, through spirited batting in which Tallon played the leading role, Australia's last three wickets added 92. During the Tallon-Johnston stand of 45 Edrich was punished for 28, including five boundaries, in five overs, and the last pair put on 30 before Wright finished the innings with his third delivery. Yardley could not escape criticism for his previous reluctance to bowl Wright against Johnston and Toshack, whose firm-footed hitting thrived on the faster bowling. Then followed a magnificent speed attack by Lindwall, ably supported by Johnston, left-arm medium-fast, and Johnson, off-breaks. Unfortunately for England the light was not good, but that did not wholly account for a collapse redeemed only partially by a defiant stand between Compton and Yardley. Lindwall began by getting Washbrook caught at the wicket in his fourth over, and, after Hutton played outside a good ball from Johnson, Lindwall deepened England's gloom by clean bowling Edrich and Dollery, both beaten by sheer pace, in three balls. A curious similarity to the First Test was that England again lost her third and fourth wickets at 46. At this stage Lindwall's analysis was 14-6-28-3. He had opened the door to victory. Compton and Yardley aroused thoughts of a recovery with 87 in 100 minutes before Lindwall and Johnston, refreshed by tea, returned with the new ball. A typically fine slip catch by Miller, close to the turf, disposed of Compton, who misjudged an outswinger, and the first ball of the next over took Yardley's off stump. Laker profited by two missed chances and Coxon held on for eighty-five minutes, but at the close of a one-sided day England stood 143 behind with one wicket to fall.

Except for one thrilling over by Yardley Australia's batsmen on Saturday revelled in the perfect pitch and glorious weather. A bumper from Lindwall which Bedser chopped on to the stumps ended the innings. Then Barnes, who should have been stumped when 18, and Morris consolidated Australia's 135 lead with a first-wicket stand of 122. Wright took the first wicket when Morris deflected a leg-side ball on to his stumps, but that was the one batting error for a long period during which Barnes and Bradman put on 174 for the second partnership. At first Barnes was content to leave most of the scoring to Bradman, but he quickened after reaching 50, and upon the completion of his big ambition of a Test century at Lord's he went over to vigorous attack. He took 21, including two successive 6s, in one over from Laker and fell to a catch on the boundary, having batted four hours and a half and hit fourteen 4's. Yardley, the successful bowler, penetrated Hassett's defence first ball, and only a hurried jab by Miller prevented a hat-trick. Bradman looked destined to celebrate his farewell Test at Lord's with a century, but an acrobatic catch by Edrich, who dived full length and took the ball one hand, brought about his dismissal eleven short of the hundred. This was the first ball of a new spell by Bedser, whose performance in disposing of Bradman in five consecutive Test innings--including the last of the 1946-47 series -- earned a place in cricket history. When at the close Australia stood 478 ahead with six wickets to fall, Bradman was able to dictate the remaining course of the game.

A break in the weather during the week-end aggravated England's plight. Rain-clouds were again about when Australia resumed batting and three stoppages occurred while 117 runs were added in eighty-eight minutes before Bradman declared. Although the slow outfield reduced the value of many hits, Miller drove gloriously, and Lindwall was scarcely less entertaining. No doubt in the hope that the conditions would improve sufficiently for his bowlers to use a dry ball, Bradman delayed closing the innings, but soon after England started batting with nine hours in which to get 596 for victory, rain caused the fourth hold-up of the day. Frequent showers put sufficient life into the pitch to enable Lindwall and Johnston to make the ball rear awkwardly, and the batsmen were soon in trouble. In contrast to Washbrook, who showed a welcome return to Test form, Hutton looked plainly uncomfortable. He was missed at slip before scoring and several times flashed at rising balls before he gave slip an easy catch at 42, the biggest opening stand for England so far in the season. Bradman drew his fielders in for Edrich, posting two men at short-leg and himself at short mid-off. Both Edrich and Washbrook had to face a number of fast short-pitched deliveries, Washbrook receiving blows on the knuckles, hip and elbows. When Toshack accounted for Edrich and Washbrook in rapid succession three wickets were down for 65, but Compton and Dollery added 41 in the last half-hour. In one spell of 18 overs in 105 minutes Johnston conceded only 27 runs.

England entered the last day with seven wickets left, but her slender chance of saving the game practically disappeared with the second ball of the morning. Compton struck his toe in trying to drive and the edged stroke which resulted provided Miller with another opportunity to make a lightning low catch at second slip. That was virtually the end of England's resistance, and the innings closed in 110 minutes for the addition of 80 runs, of which the last two stands made 45. Toshack and Lindwall each took two wickets in an over. Dollery ended a very good innings by ducking as if to avoid playing at an intended bumper, but the ball skidded through and hit the top of the off stump. Well as Toshack bowled in getting five wickets for eight runs each, Lindwall was the match-winner. His very fast ball and his bumper presented problems which few of the batsmen could answer, and he was even more devastating than his figures of eight for 131 indicate. In addition to batting and bowling supremacy, Australia showed more agility and aggression in the field, with Barnes again a disturbing element to batsmen through his close attendance at forward short-leg.

The gross attendance of 132,000 and receipts of £43,000 beat all previous figures for a Test in England.

© John Wisden & Co