Second Test Match

England v Australia

Norman Preston

Graced on the first day by the presence of The Queen, to whom the players and officials were introduced in front of the pavilion during the tea interval and before play began by The Duke of Edinburgh, President of MCC, who inspected the pitch and chatted with Jim Fairbrother and his ground staff, this match produced much splendid cricket while the fortunes of both sides ebbed and flowed.

As Denness had informed the selectors during England's unhappy time in the First Test that he was willing to resign the captaincy, the leadership now passed to Greig and after another disastrous start he lifted England's morale with a dashing innings of 96 in just over two and a half hours, including nine boundaries.

Before Greig arrived at the crease after winning the toss. Lillee had begun with another telling spell for Australia of four wickets for 33 runs in ten overs and throughout the match, whenever called upon, he was always menacing, varying his pace and sometimes reducing his run up. In fact, his opening spell lasted ninety minutes.

Thomson, on the other hand, was so erratic on the first day that he was no-balled 22 times for overstepping the front crease and he also delivered four wides, but his occasional ball was fast and deadly.

Even when England's fortunes changed for the better, Ian Chappell generally maintained his close field with six slips in attendance and as usual Australia were brilliant in the field.

A surprise choice by England was David Steele, the bespectacled grey-haired 33-year-old Northamptonshire batsman. He entered when Wood was the first of five men leg-before during the innings. Three times Steele hooked Lillee's short ball and he also cut effectively, but above all he showed the value of playing forward in a calm and calculated manner. With Knott in his most perky form and Woolmer playing soundly in his First Test, England eventually reached 315.

The second day, Friday, provided some extraordinary cricket during which England were completely on top for a long time. Snow, bowling within himself and keeping splendid length and line, made the breakthrough by removing Turner and the Chappell brothers, and he was well supported by Lever, who accounted for McCosker by holding a fine return catch, and Walters.

Soon after lunch, seven Australia wickets had fallen for 81 and it seemed that England would enjoy a substantial first innings lead, yet in the end it amounted to only 47 runs.

Australia were indebted first to Edwards, the tall fair-haired batsman, who stayed nearly three and a half hours and punished the England bowlers for fifteen 4's before he hit across a yorker from Woolmer and was leg-before for 99. No man better deserved a hundred than did Edwards. Thomson rendered him valuable support.

In a confident display Lillee, whose previous highest score was 46, played calmly until Edwards left at 199, and then with three massive 6's and eight 4's he reduced the England bowlers to threads while taking out his bat for 73 made in two and a quarter hours. In fact, the last three wickets piled on 187 runs.

At the end of the day Wood and Edrich faced only one over from Lillee, Wood getting five runs, and on Saturday England, not daring to take risks, were content to score 272 off 95 overs for the loss of Wood and Steele, while Edrich made his seventh hundred against Australia, a number exceeded only by Hobbs (11), Hammond (9) and Sutcliffe (8).

With the total at 230 for two, England entered the fourth day needing a more enterprising approach. The pitch was still easy paced but as throughout the match of somewhat uneven bounce, Edrich remained the anchor man and one felt that Greig might promote himself, but he stuck to his batting order and consequently the acceleration was delayed.

Lillee, who soon dropped to a short run, bowled splendidly through the morning session of two hours in company with Walker, who toiled in the heat for ninety minutes.

At length, Edrich was held at long on, having defied the Australian bowlers for nine hours. His 175 contained twenty-one 4's and it was the second highest innings at Lord's against Australia, being surpassed only by Hammond's 240 in 1938. Greig waited until twenty minutes to four before declaring and setting Australia 484 to win in eight hours, twenty minutes.

As Edrich had strained a leg muscle, Old fielded as substitute for the remainder of that day when Australia replied with 97 for the loss of Turner. It was evident then that a stalemate was certain unless a thunderstorm intervened.

It arrived an hour before play was due to be resumed and the wholly covered pitch remained intact. One hour's cricket was lost while the outfield improved, McCosker, the two Chappells and Edwards all performed doggedly. Altogether McCosker stayed four hours, twenty minutes and Ian Chappell nearly as long for his valuable 86 that included thirteen boundaries, for he rarely missed an opportunity to punish the loose ball.

Played mostly in stifling heat, the match attracted vast crowds, the gates being closed on the first three days with 27,000 attending each day and although only 9,000 were present on the fifth day, the receipts came to £119,692. Full attendance 120,092.

© John Wisden & Co