Second Test Match

Walters caps the rout

The match was virtually decided on the first day when England, put in, collapsed in two and three-quarter hours from 99 for one to 208 all out.

Australia, batting for one over on the first evening, built a lead of 273 by mid-afternoon on the third day, bowled England out for 293, and won fifty-three minutes from stumps on the fourth day to go two up in the series.

England were handicapped by the absence of Amiss and Edrich, but poor batting against Thomson and Lillee was again at the root of their defeat. Thomson added seven wickets to his nine at Brisbane, generating great speed on a pitch that gained pace after the first day, and Lillee again had four -- a bag that would have been bigger if the luck had run for him.

England's troubles were accentuated by Australia's brilliant catching in the slips and gully, 13 being taken out of 14 offered. Greg Chappell established a Test record with seven catches in the match, all but two of them at second slip.

On the second day England were briefly in contention when Australia were 192 for four, but a spectacular 103 by Walters, who made exactly a hundred between tea and stumps, reversed the situation. Ross Edwards also played an important part in consolidating Australia's position, batting five hours twenty minutes and helping Walters to add 170 in two hours, twenty minutes for the fifth wicket.

Four of England's five changes were caused by injury or illness. Lloyd, and Cowdrey, pressed into service only four days after his arrival, came in for Amiss and Edrich, while Old, Arnold and Titmus replaced Lever (back trouble), Hendrick (throat infection) and Underwood, who was left out of the 12 on the morning of the match when cloudy weather persuaded Denness to gamble on winning the toss and putting Australia in. Mallett for Jenner was Australia's only change.

Thomson needed only five balls to inflict his first injury, hitting Luckhurst on the top hand off a good length. Luckhurst was able to bat on, but the hand swelled overnight, preventing him from fielding, and in the second innings he batted number seven.

Both he and Lloyd were lucky to survive Lillee's new-ball spell, but Thomson was wildly erratic and the opening stand lasted eighty minutes before Luckhurst slashed Walker hard into the gulley where Mallett held the first of Australia's fine catches.

Cowdrey stepped out for his 188th Test innings (and first for 3½ years) to as warm an ovation as he is accustomed to at Canterbury and having narrowly survived his first three balls gave a demonstration of defensive technique against fast bowling that was subsequently equalled only by Knott, in the first innings, and Titmus, who was playing his first test since February 1968. Only these three consistently observed the principle of moving their bodies into line against Thomson and Lillee, thus minimising the danger of being caught in the slips.

Lloyd and Cowdrey gave England the foundation of a competitive score but, early in the fourth hour, Lloyd dabbed Thomson to second slip and the innings collapsed. Four overs later Cowdrey moved too far across and was bowled behind his legs, and within seventy minutes of Lloyd's departure England were 132 for six.

Knott and Titmus added 62 for the seventh wicket, but the damage was irreparable. To make matters worse, Fletcher could not hold a difficult slip catch offered by Redpath in Willis's single over and Australia reached stumps at one without loss.

On the second day a crowd of 23,000 saw Australia add 351 off 76 overs, Walters highlighting the performance with a vicious exhibition of pulling against Greig, Arnold and Old. In the hour after tea he made 67, including the majority of his eleven 4's; but despite Edwards's co-operation he lost the strike for lengthy periods against the second new ball and faced the last ball of the day at 97, needing a six to complete a hundred in a session for the second time in his test career. (The first was against West Indies at Port-of-Spain in 1973). Willis delivered a fast long-hop and Walters exultantly hooked it into the crowd at square-leg.

Edwards (79) began the third day with five successive twos off Arnold, and went on to score the first Test hundred by a Western Australian at Perth. But Walters was caught at slip off Willis's second ball of the day and the threatened massacre did not materialise. Old polished off the tail and Australia's last six wickets fell for 129.

So just before the Test's halfway point Lloyd and Cowdrey opened England's second innings. Thomson ended a staunch partnership of 52 when a good-length ball cut back to hit Lloyd in the abdomen, causing him to retire hurt, but in 36 overs before stumps England lost only Cowdrey and began the fourth day at 102 for one, needing 171 to make Australia bat again.

Their slim hopes of making a close match vanished in Thomson's first three overs, when Greig and Denness were caught in the slips playing a long way from their bodies, and Fletcher touched his first ball, a lifting outswinger, to Marsh. Lloyd and Luckhurst held on well despite their injuries, but it was left to Titmus, playing his 50th Test, to underline the technical deficiencies of his more exalted team-mates with a nearly flawless 61 in three hours twenty minutes.

When he was last out, brilliantly caught on the run by Greg Chappell at wide long-off, Australia needed only 21 to win and knocked them off inside four overs for the loss of Wally Edwards.

© John Wisden & Co