Third Test Match

AUSTRALIA v WEST INDIES 1951-52

After three days of swiftly changing fortunes, the West Indies at last wrested victory from Australia and so, for the time at least, restored a measure of equality to the series. Splendid bowling, especially by Worrell and Valentine, determined stroke play from the leading batsmen in the fourth innings and, above all, faultless fielding formed the keynote of the win, only the second suffered by the Australians in 29 Tests since the war.

On a pitch affected by rain which seeped under the covers, twenty-two wickets fell for 207 runs during the first day's play. Hassett stood down at the last minute because of a recurrence of leg strain, and Morris, winning the toss, decided to bat first. Almost immediately the turf revealed its capricious character and none of the batsmen mastered the conditions. Worrell bowled throughout the innings and, with eager support from fieldsmen who crouched in an intimidating ring close to the wicket, he finished with the impressive figures of six for 38.

The West Indies, in turn, collapsed and though Weekes, limping from a pulled leg muscle, defended skilfully, the West Indies lead was restricted to 23 runs. The pitch suited the left arm medium-pace bowling of Johnston and he took six wickets at just over ten runs apiece. The day's shocks were not over, for in the remaining half-hour Australia lost their overnight stop-gaps, Johnson and Noblet, to the wiles of Valentine.

The pitch had dried by the time Ring and Langley resumed next day, and, in the easier conditions, the third pair scored 61 in forty-seven minutes before Valentine deceived Langley. Ring continued to show assurance against the spin of Valentine and Ramadhin but, after his dismissal, the scoring rate slackened until Miller and Hole came together in an adventurous seventh stand of 55. Subsequently Valentine hastened the end of the innings, and West Indies went in again, requiring 233 for victory. Marshall pulled a muscle while fielding, but he opened the West Indies second innings, with Rae as runner. In such circumstances Marshall was content to let Stollmeyer do most of the scoring, and by the close the pair had put on 54 in eighty-four minutes.

So certain of the outcome were most people that barely 5,000 saw the final phase of the match; yet the Australian team clearly did not subscribe to this resigned attitude. The opening partnership was soon broken, and when Weekes and Worrell both left at the same total, 141, the West Indies still required 92 runs. At this crisis in the game Australia paid dearly for fielding lapses. Three times Gomez was dropped, and Christiani, too, looked ill at ease during the early overs of their association. Gradually, however, the fifth pair fought out of this uneasy period. As the total mounted, Morris switched his bowlers and sought to tempt the batsmen into indiscretions, but all to no avail. Midway through an afternoon of intense humidity a flashing stroke to the sight screen by Christiani ended the tension.

© John Wisden & Co