First Test Match

AUSTRALIA v WEST INDIES 1951-52

At Brisbane, November 9, 10, 12, 13, 14. Australia won by three wickets. Their confidence shaken by defeat from Queensland in their only previous first-class game, the West Indies contributed towards their misfortunes by unsuspected frailties against pace bowling, by sub-standard fielding and poor tactics. Easy-paced as was the pitch, the speed of Lindwall, Miller and Johnston troubled West Indies on the opening day. In tune, Worrell, Weekes, Christiani and Marshall began well enough to suggest they would settle down to big innings, but only Goddard revealed ability to drive the pace bowlers and, unlike some of his colleagues, he looked unworried by the bouncer.

When Ramadhin and Valentine took over the West Indies attack, the Australians found clear reason to believe all the reports that had come to them about these two masters of spin. Seldom in recent years had an Australian side been so perplexed by a slow attack, and not until Miller countered by making full use of his height and reach in playing forward did Ramadhin meet his match. Lindwall, similarly aggressive as Miller in intent but more smiled upon by fortune, first helped him stem the collapse, then took swift advantage of fielding lapses and the stationing of men half-way to the boundary. The bowling figures told little of the true story of the innings. Ramadhin worried the batsmen more than Valentine but was much less rewarded. Even so, five catches off Valentine were dropped in under half an hour. West Indies continued their recovery with solid batting until the last over of the second day, when Worrell missed an attempted mighty hit and Goddard gave Ring a return catch from his first ball.

Next day Weekes and Gomez brought distinction to the West Indies batting. In the most stylish innings of the series, Weekes dominated the Australian attack, striking hard and fluently all round the wicket, and Gomez stuck manfully to his self-appointed role carrying avoidance of risk. Several others were guilty of rash strokes against the high-flighted leg-breaks of Ring, whose bowling contained abundant guile.

Most of the excitement that had gone before paled by comparison with the drama of Australia's second innings. Needing 236 to win, Australia lost five wickets for 149, but a sixth-wicket stand of 54 by the still adventurous Lindwall and the imperturbable Hole brought victory in sight.

Goddard's tactics caused considerable comment. Although Gomez took a wicket in his opening spell, he and Worrell bowled only the first five overs of the innings--they conceded fourteen runs--before Goddard switched to Ramadhin and Valentine, who were called upon to bowl unchanged to the end. Between them they sent down over 80 overs and both gave signs of having been over worked. Valentine lost his usually splendid length and Ramadhin suffered reaction in subsequent games. After calling for the new ball Goddard rubbed it on the ground to remove the shine and asked his spinners to continue.

© John Wisden & Co