Fifth Test Match

AUSTRALIA v WEST INDIES 1951-52

By their thrilling victory at Melbourne, Australia had already made sure of winning the rubber, but so close had been the verdict that considerable interest attached to the efforts of the West Indies to soften their failure by winning the last Test. When they dismissed Australia for a seemingly insignificant total on the first day it looked as though West Indies would succeed, but again their batting broke down against the Australian bumper attack, and this led to their heaviest reverse of the series.

The opening day vied with the first day of the Adelaide Test as the most eventful of the tour, for, on a perfect pitch, 19 wickets fell for 180 runs. The first shock came twenty minutes before play began, when the West Indies announced that Goddard had stood down and that Stollmeyer would lead the side. Stollmeyer lost the toss, and two newcomers to Test cricket, McDonald and Thoms, opened Australia's innings with the temperature 105 degrees in the shade.

From the beginning it was evident that Gomez would be a danger. Bowling faster than usual and making the ball swing appreciably either way in the humid atmosphere, he repeatedly found the edge of the bat, and good fortune alone kept the opening pair together until he bowled Thoms at 39. This proved to be the biggest stand of the day. Despite the sweltering heat, Gomez maintained his magnificently hostile attack unchanged through the innings. Unusually feeble batting helped him to gather a rich harvest of wickets. McDonald, Hassett, Lindwall and Ring were trapped by the ball running away from them, and Thoms, Harvey and Benaud to his in-swinger. Worrell's left-arm medium-paced bowling proved an effective foil.

West Indies were unable to exploit their success. Their batsmen could find no answer to the persistent fast bouncers of Lindwall and Miller, with the result that Australia batted again with a lead of 38. Gomez failed to reproduce his first innings fire and, although Worrell again looked menacing with the new ball, Thoms and McDonald gave Australia a sound start. After another painstaking display Thoms trod on his wicket, but McDonald and his captain, Hassett, continued the process of wearing down the West Indies' attack. Aided by slack fielding, they carried the score to 138 before Ramadhin gained deserved reward by bowling McDonald. Harvey failed again, but the batting took on a fresh character when Miller arrived. With glorious strokes all round the wicket, he dominated the scene and his 50 occupied little more than an hour. Hole and the later batsmen followed Miller's lead and West Indies were left to score 416, an immense task.

Rae, who had been suffering from influenza, pluckily rose from a sick-bed to begin the attempt with Stollmeyer, but after mastering the pace bowlers he was out to a brilliant running catch by Harvey. Miller gave West Indies a foretaste of what was to come when he dismissed Walcott with a bouncer, but thanks to the elegant Stollmeyer, then 64, West Indies began the last day with a chance at 112 for two. Then they felt the full fury of the Australian speed attack. Lindwall repeatedly made the ball rise sharply and in one over bowled as many as four bumpers.

Stollmeyer alone retained his composure under this fierce barrage from Lindwall and Miller, but his gallant century, full of lovely strokes, could not prevent the collapse. Seven wickets went down after lunch while only 24 runs were scored, and when Benaud claimed his first Test wicket by bowling Valentine the series was over.

© John Wisden & Co