Third Test Match

ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1948

R.J.H.

At Manchester, July 8, 9, 10, 12, 13. Drawn. Fate dealt its sharpest blow of the series to England by the breaking of the weather over the week-end at a time when defeat for Australia appeared more than a possibility. By the end of the third day England had recovered so well from another disastrous start that they stood 316 runs on with only three wickets down in the second innings, but visions of Australia struggling to avoid being beaten were dispelled by rain which made further play impossible till after lunch on the last day. Another interruption then meant that Australia needed to bat only two hours and a half, and on a pitch reduced to sluggishness by nearly two days of heavy rain they found little difficulty in saving the game. So the sequence of unfinished England-Australia Tests at Manchester since 1905 remained unbroken.

The England Selectors aroused intense pre-match discussion by their omission of Hutton. Wright, Coxon and Laker also stood down, their places being taken by Emmett, Young, Pollard and Crapp, with Wardle (Yorkshire) twelfth man. Emmett's mettle was soon tested, for Bradman, playing in his 50th Test, again lost the toss and England took first innings on a pitch lively for the first few overs. Probably upset by narrowly escaping a run-out off the first ball of the match, the new opening combination did not look comfortable and Johnston began an early collapse by yorking Washbrook. The second English misfortune came when Emmett pushed out his bat with one hand after losing sight of a short-pitched ball which lifted. Barnes, at short-leg, took an easy catch. With Edrich seemingly afraid to play his strokes in a determined effort to redeem previous low scores and Compton not settled down, Lindwall began a number of bouncers one of which led to an accident to Compton. After being struck on the arm he took a big hit at a no-ball bumper, but the ball flew off the edge of his bat on to his forehead. Compton staggered around and was led off the field with a cut head. Stitches were inserted and though he wanted to go back at the fall of the next wicket he was ordered to rest. The situation called for the relentless defence which Edrich and Crapp adopted. At one period they scored only one run in twenty-five minutes and by lunch the total stood at 57, the result of two hours of laboured batting. Mixed with similar caution, Crapp afterwards began to reveal his scoring strokes and drove Johnson for a 6 and three 4's before Lindwall and Johnston returned with the new ball. Then in brief time Crapp was leg-before, Dollery hit over a yorker and Edrich touched a rising flier. Edrich deserved more credit for staying three hours five minutes while Compton was able to rest than criticism for scoring only 32 runs in that period. After a short knock at the nets, Compton resumed with five men out for 119. At once he introduced an air of confidence into the batting and, after losing Yardley, he found a fine partner in Evans whose bold hitting helped to bring 75 runs in seventy minutes. At the close England were 231 for seven, Lindwall and Johnston having shared the bowling honours.

Though the new ball was in use at the start of the second day Australia could not retain their grip, for Compton received splendid support from Bedser, who in two hours and a half shared in a stand of 121, only three short of England's eighth-wicket record against Australia. Bedser used his height and feet well in dealing with the pace attack and looked capable of going on for a long time; unfortunately he was run out through an error of judgment by Compton. Soon after Bedser's dismissal occurred a second distressing accident. Barnes, fielding in his usual position about five yards from the bat at short-leg, received a fierce blow under the ribs from a full-blooded pull by Pollard. After being carried off by four policemen Barnes was removed on a stretcher to hospital where examination showed that no bones were broken. Compton, who remained undefeated at the end of the innings, might have been caught at the wicket four times--three chances were very difficult--but he gave a grand display of skill and courage. For five hours twenty minutes he carried his side's responsibilities and nothing earned more admiration than the manner in which he withstood some lightning overs of extreme hostility by Lindwall. Compton hit sixteen 4's.

Pollard unwittingly struck a big blow for England when he hit Barnes, because Australia, having dropped Brown after the Second Test, possessed only one recognised opening batsman. The necessary re-arrangement no doubt played its part in Australia's only batting failure of the Tests, but Bedser and Pollard deserved full credit for their share in gaining England a lead of 142. A fine catch by Evans sent back Johnson, the emergency partner to Morris, and soon Bradman was leg-before to persistent Pollard. This was a great start for England on a slow, easy pitch and when Hassett misjudged Young's flight three men were out for 82. During these set-backs Morris, the left-hander, batted cautiously with distinction, but he and Miller left early on the third morning when Pollard and Bedser each took a wicket with the new ball. So began a day when again everything went in England's favour. At the fall of Miller's wicket Barnes, who had practised in the nets where he collapsed after a few minutes, surprisingly went out to bat, but he was obviously in great pain and, after staying half an hour for a single, he sank to the ground and had to be assisted off. He was taken to hospital again and kept for ten days under observation. Loxton, Tallon and Lindwall drove hard in helping to avoid the possibility of a follow-on, however unlikely its enforcement, but Bedser and Pollard maintained their grip and altogether on Monday the last six wickets fell for 95.

Australia naturally flung everything into attack in the effort to recover lost ground. A dazzling right-hand catch by Tallon dismissed Emmett off the first ball he received from Lindwall, but Washbrook and Edrich stood firm in a period of tenseness in which Miller, called upon for the first time since the Nottingham Test, and Lindwall bowled at great speed. The absence of Barnes from short-leg removed one nagging worry from the minds of Washbrook and Edrich who, helped by unusually poor Australian fielding, strengthened England's position in a second-wicket stand of 124 which vindicated their retention in the side. Washbrook was twice dropped at long-leg and once at slip, but Edrich did not offer a chance. Immediately after reaching 50 with a six Edrich was run out, a fast throw from cover by Morris knocking two stumps out of the ground. Edrich played one of his best and most confident innings, and was not affected by a succession of bumpers from Miller which annoyed sections of the crowd. Compton did not score, but Crapp gave solid support to Washbrook through a new-ball period and the partnership was unbroken at the declaration. Washbrook batted three hours twenty-five minutes and hit eleven 4's: he got within 15 of what would have been his first Test century against Australia in England.

Then the weather intervened. No play took place on Monday and cricket was not resumed till after lunch on Tuesday. Yardley declared first thing in the morning but more showers lessened the hope of victory. Although Young caused brief excitement when he got rid of Johnson with his second ball, the pitch was too lifeless to give bowlers help and Morris and Bradman contented themselves with dead-bat tactics, each remaining at one end. In one spell of a hundred minutes they did not change ends. Morris completed his fourth consecutive Test half-century and, like Bradman, showed adaptability to the conditions. The aggregate attendance of 133,740 was higher than that at Lord's a fortnight earlier.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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