Toss: West Indies. Test debut: England - W.G.A.Parkhouse.
West Indies fully merited their first Test victory in England, which, to their undisguised delight, was gained at the headquarters of cricket. In batting, bowling and fielding they were clearly the superior side, with Ramadhin this time the more successful of the two 20-year-old spin bowlers who during the 1950 summer wrought such destruction among English batsmen. In the match Ramadhin took eleven and Valentine seven wickets.
England, already without Compton, suffered further setbacks before the game began by the withdrawal through injury of Simpson and Bailey. In view of heavy rain on Friday, the selectors gambled on the pitch being helpful to spin by choosing Wardle, left-arm slow, to replace Bailey, but instead the turf played easily from the start, and Yardley found himself with three slow bowlers who turned the ball from leg; he would have wished to bowl all of them from the same end. The teams were presented to the King just before the start when 30,500 were inside the ground, the gates having been closed.
Although Wardle took a wicket with his first ball in Test cricket in England by getting rid of Stollmeyer at 37, West Indies were so much on top that shortly after four o'clock the total stood at 233 for two. Brilliant stroke-play came from Worrell, who drove delightfully and made some astonishing late cuts, and Weekes, whose 63 in ninety minutes contained ten 4's but Rae, in much less spectacular manner, performed even more important work for West Indies.
A fine ball by Bedser which swung away and broke back after pitching shattered the wicket of Weekes at 233, and from that point England fought back splendidly. Clever slow bowling by Jenkins, in particular, raised England hopes after tea. In a twenty-minute spell of seven overs he sent back Walcott, Rae and Gomez. Rae, who was badly missed in the gulley off Bedser when 79, made no other mistake during a patient innings lasting four hours forty minutes, in which he scored 106 out of 273. At times he appeared content to continue a passive defensive policy, but occasionally he would abandon these tactics, as when in one over he hit Jenkins for three of his fifteen 4's. Largely through the inspiration of Yardley, England atoned for earlier catching errors by first-class ground fielding, and in view of the nature of the pitch they could feel satisfied with their performance of taking seven wickets for 320 runs on the opening day. Bedser was the most consistent and reliable bowler, but luck went against him, especially when he saw two catches missed off him during a fine spell of 22 overs for 17 runs with the new ball.
No more than ten minutes were required to finish the innings on Monday, but England's reply was disappointing in the extreme. Neither Hutton nor Washbrook was in his best form, but both played well enough to take the score to 62 before Hutton dashed down the pitch and was stumped yards out. This began a rout which was checked only by spirited hitting by Wardle, who punched six 4's and took part with Berry in the second highest stand of the innings, 29 for the last wicket.
No blame could be attached to the pitch. It gave slow bowlers a little help, but only to those who used real finger spin as did Ramadhin and Valentine. Ramadhin bowled with the guile of a veteran. He pitched a tantalising length, bowled straight at the wicket and spun enough to beat the bat. No English batsman showed evidence of having mastered the problems of deciding which way Ramadhin would spin and he was too quick through the air for any but the most nimble-footed to go down to meet him on the half-volley with any consistency. Valentine lent able support, but the English batsmen might, with profit, have tackled him more boldly. England's score was their lowest for a completed innings in a home Test against West Indies.
Thanks to a remarkably sustained spell of bowling by Jenkins, England prevented West Indies in their second innings from placing themselves in an impregnable position until the association of Walcott and Gomez. Previously Weekes, Worrell and Stollmeyer gave another exhibition of masterly stroke-play, but with only a twenty-minute rest Jenkins kept one end going from the start until tea, and deserved the reward of the four wickets which fell to him.
Unfortunately for England a second series of fielding blunders played into the hands of West Indies at a time when a slight prospect of victory seemed to exist. The most expensive of these occurred when Walcott had scored nine. He was missed at slip off Edrich, who bowled with plenty of life in using the new ball. Before England met with another success Walcott and Gomez put on 211, beating the record for the sixth wicket in England v. West Indies Tests established a few weeks earlier at Manchester by Evans and T. E. Bailey. Walcott and Gomez also set up a record Test stand for any West Indies wicket in England. When Goddard declared, setting England 601 to get to win with nearly two days to play, Walcott, the six-foot-two wicket-keeper-batsman, was only one short of the highest score by a West Indies player in Test cricket in England, 169 not out by G. Headley in 1933. As usual, Walcott scored the majority of his runs by drives, even against the good-length or shorter ball, and leg sweeps. He hit twenty-four 4's. Gomez did not put such force into his strokes, but be provided an admirable and valuable foil.
Two batsmen distinguished themselves in England's second innings. For five hours and a half Washbrook withstood the attack, and his only mistake occurred when, at 93, he gave a hard chance to mid-on. Otherwise he batted excellently; although for the most part refusing to take a risk he hit one 6 and fourteen 4's.
The only other success was Parkhouse, who signalised his first Test with a very good innings, in which he showed encouraging confidence and a variety of strokes until he hit a full toss straight to silly mid-off in the last over of the fourth day when wanting only two runs for 50. This mistake came at a time when thoughts were raised that Washbrook might be capable of saving the match if someone could stay with him. Hutton again was dismissed curiously. He made no stroke at a ball which came with Valentine's arm and hit the middle stump.
England started the last day with six wickets left and 383 runs required to win, but when Ramadhin yorked Washbrook, who did not add to his score, the end was in sight and nothing happened to check the inevitable defeat. Ramadhin and Valentine were again the chief executioners. During the five days the full attendance was 112,000.