Fourth Test Match

England v Pakistan 1954

Just before half-past twelve on the fifth day of the final Test, Pakistan achieved the greatest moment of their short career as a cricket country by beating England and so sharing the rubber. Their success was well deserved, for they showed great fighting spirit when victory seemed beyond their grasp. To Fazal Mahmood, the medium-paced bowler, went chief credit, his six wickets in each innings causing the batting failures of England. Others who played leading roles in the triumph were the late batsmen, particularly Zulfiqar Ahmed, Wazir Mohammad, Shuja-ud-Din and Mahmood Hussain.

England did not field their full strength, the selectors deciding that the opportunity of Test Match experience should be given to some of the players chosen to tour Australia a few weeks later. Thus two stalwarts, Alec Bedser and Trevor Bailey, were omitted. Tyson and Loader, both fast bowlers, replaced them and they in no way let down the side; but it can fairly be said that the determined batting of Bailey was badly missed and that Bedser might have turned the match on a pitch ideally suited to a bowler of his type. The England "tail" proved far too long for a Test Match and at the vital stage this weakness almost certainly meant the difference between victory and defeat.

The events of the first day did not suggest that England were in for such a struggle. Overnight and morning rain prevented a start until half-past two, and Pakistan, who won the toss, soon found themselves in trouble. The pitch did not become difficult, but the ball occasionally did the unexpected. Weak batting mainly accounted for seven wickets falling for 51 runs. The England policy of going into the match with three fast bowlers at first brought reward. Statham dismissed Hanif with the last ball of the opening over and Tyson and Loader carried on the good work. Tyson, after beginning with an erratic over, soon found his length and in his third over he bowled Alim-ud-Din and Maqsood with successive deliveries.

A Pakistan recovery began after tea. Kardar stayed seventy minutes before Evans held his third catch of the innings. The success was the 131st by Evans in Test cricket, a new record beating the 130 of Oldfield, the Australian. The last two wickets added 56, Zulfiqar, Shuja and Mahmood Hussain playing the bowling with surprising ease, Shuja batted almost two hours for 16 not out. Tyson and Loader took seven wickets between them, making satisfactory Test debuts.

Only two overs could be bowled in England's innings before the close. Next day a cloudburst in the ten minutes between 11.50 a.m. and noon put the ground under water and prevented cricket. The Oval presented an astonishing sight with miniature lakes and pools over it. Naturally the pitch suffered and next day England underwent a nasty experience. The ball often rose awkwardly from a length and Fazal and Hussain made the most of the conditions. The English batsmen tried unsuccessfully to hit their way out of trouble. Compton made a gallant attempt, staying two hours twenty minutes, but he was missed three times. Pakistan celebrated the seventh anniversary of their Independence Day by gaining a lead of three runs. Fazal bowled throughout the innings and his figures, six for 53, would have been much better but for dropped catches. For all that, every England batsman was caught.

The pitch, drying out, was more in favour of spin when Pakistan went in again, but although Wardle bowled cleverly, McConnon failed to seize his opportunity. Shuja opened the innings with Hanif and again batted steadily, but Pakistan lost four wickets for 63 by the close. The early stages of the fourth day suggested an early victory for England. Pakistan at one stage were 82 for eight, but again they came back strongly. The last two wickets doubled the total, Wazir Mohammad and Zulfiqar adding 58 for the ninth. Wazir, who spent half an hour over his first run, played a defiant innings of two and three-quarter hours. Wardle finished with the impressive figures of seven for 56.

England needed 168 to win and appeared keen to get the runs in the two hours thirty-five minutes available that evening. Simpson and May put on 51 in forty minutes for the second wicket. May batted beautifully for 53 and when he left victory for England seemed near, only 59 runs being needed with seven wickets to fall. Then came a surprising decision, Evans being sent in, presumably to attempt to force a win in the half an hour which remained. Evans failed and so did Graveney, and when Compton fell just before the close, Pakistan were on top. With all the recognised batsmen gone and McConnon having to bat with a dislocated finger - the result of a fielding accident - England began the last day needing 43 to win with four wickets left. In fifty-five minutes the match was over, the cautious methods of the remaining England batsmen proving of no avail. Fazal, who this time took six wickets for 46, was helped considerably by the safe wicket-keeping of Imtiaz, who held seven catches in the match.

This was the first defeat for England in a home match since South Africa won at Nottingham in June 1951 On the Saturday 16,800 people paid for admission, the second highest number since the war. The total attendance was around 25,000. The crowd on Monday reached about 24,000, and these two splendid gates went a long way towards giving Pakistan their profit on the tour.

© John Wisden & Co