Third Test Match

England v Australia 1936-37

England were not disgraced even though the margin was a large one: outside influences had much to do with the result. The faith of Australians that their side, in which Brown, Darling, Rigg and Fleetwood-Smith appeared, in place of Chipperfield, O'Brien, Badcock and McCormick, would atone for the two previous disappointments was reflected in the attendances. All records for attendances and receipts in a cricket match were broken. On the third day alone there were 87798 people present- the takings were £7405- and the aggregate attendance for the match was 350534 and the full receipts £30124.

As things turned out Bradman won the match for Australia when he won the toss and his tactics influenced the result. On the second day he took the unusual procedure in a played-to-a-finish Test Match of declaring his first innings closed and sent England in to bat on a pitch from which the ball often reared up almost straight and at other times kept low. It is important to mention that on the first day, when Australia were batting, the wicket was lifeless and unhelpful to spin bowlingand yet England got down six wickets for 130 and would probably have done still better had not rain set in and led to the bowlers being handicapped by the wet ball. Next day rain held up a resumption of the match until after lunch. The difficulties of the wicket quickly became apparent, and batsmen experienced such an unhappy time that in about three hours thirteen wickets fell.

England after losing nine wickets for 76, also declared so that for the first time in Test cricket each side closed its first innings.

It is possible England would have done better had Allen's declaration been made earlier but, as one authority put it, the England captain could not be expected to possess second sight. At the close of play on the second day, one Australian- O'Reilly- had been dismissed for three runs and a Sunday without rain enabled the wicket to recover so that when Australia took up their second innings again the conditions were more favourable for batting than at any previous time in the match.

Following the dismissal of Fingleton from a weak stroke after he had promised great things, McCabe was Australia's hero on the first day. Towards the end of the afternoon, with six wickets down, McCabe suddenly found his best form and revelled in a hectic ten minutes of big hitting, in which he was joined enthusiastically by Oldfield. The England bowlers were steady all day and the field gave nothing away.

Play on the second day, Saturday, was sensational throughout. On the "glue pot wicket" Australia's apparently feeble total of 200 assumed formidable proportions. Leyland was the one real success for England. Hammond scored more runs, and made some daring if desperate shots with a close ring of fieldsmen almost within touch of his bat; Leyland never seemed in difficulties. Both men were out to extraordinary catches by Darling at short-leg; just as Rigg had fallen to Verity on the first day- catches that would have been missed ninety-nine times out of a hundred.

Australia batted all the third day. It was inevitable that Bradman should find his form soon, and he chose the moment of his county's greatest need to do so. Rain feel in the afternoon and between- and during- the showers the England bowlers were handicapped by a wet ball which they wiped with a towel between each delivery. Bradman took full advantage of this and, though not quite his old scintillating self, and eschewing the off drive, he thrilled the crowd and subdued the bowlers. Scoring 270 he played his highest innings against England in Australia. Not until the evening was it revealed that Bradman was suffering from a severe chill. That explained his sedateness. In Rigg he found a splendid partner; a man who had been on the fringe of the Australian XI for a long time and looked good enough a cricketer to have gained a place earlier. Rigg, reputed a poor starter, showed none of this failing, and the free use of his arms and wrists proved his class. Hereabouts came the first glimpse during the tour of the Bradman known to England. It was after a stoppage for rain and he faced Voce. He took 13 off the over (of eight balls) and 2 and 3 off the first two balls of Allen's next over. Another shower cut short the burst of hitting.

The fact, on the fourth day, Bradman and Fingleton put up a sixth wicket record of 346- actually the highest stand for any wicket in a Test match in Australia- was due to Bradman sending in his tail-end batsmen first. Usually those two players would have been associated for the second wicket. The pitch had become as perfect as any batsman could wish, and though the England bowlers remained steady they had little chance of beating Bradman or Fingleton. One admired the brilliant fielding of the Englishmen all day. Hammond, Worthington, Allen and others were top class, while Robins was magnificent, constantly winning applause from the huge crowd. Only when Robins and Sims were bowling did the batsmen show real mastery.

Bradman, still suffering from mild influenza, was quickly dismissed on the morning of the fifth day, and immediately after lunch England opened their second innings wanting 689 runs to win. Such a task had never been achieved in Test history but the wicket was still very easy and a dour fight was anticipated. However, Leyland alone of the earlier batsmen, and Robins, towards the end of the day, batted really well. Hammond made a splendid 50 and then was out to a rather careless stroke. The scoring was certainly fast and delighted the spectators, but this was not quite the type of cricket the situation demanded.

On the sixth morning Leyland and Robins rose to their greatest heights. Previously, Leyland had carried such responsibility that he had repressed many of his most spectacular shots, but this time he exploited them all, his hitting through the covers being reminiscent of his finest innings in England. With Robins out England virtually were all out, and Leyland remained undefeated with a noteworthy 111.

The Australian team looked better balanced than in the first two Tests. Batting for six and a half hours, Fingleton not only scored his second century of the series- like Leyland- but also saved something like 60 more runs with his fine fielding close to the wicket. Sievers bowled very well, but Fleetwood-Smith's figures, five for 124 in the second innings, were flattered by his dismissing Voce and Sims with the last two balls of the match. Against Hammond, he seemed incapable of bowling a length. Ward failed with the ball and Darling, though fielding well, did not justify his being brought back into the team.

The Australians never allowed their initial advantage of winning the toss to slip from their grasp. Allen's captaincy was above criticism, for the chance he might have taken in an earlier declaration when the wicket was bad would have looked ludicrous if the weather had changed. He had his men on their toes the whole time, and neither he nor they lost heart through the defeat. Voce and Verity were outstanding England bowlers. The latter kept an immaculate length and allowed no batsman to take liberties with him. It can be recorded with truth that Voce never bowled quite as well as in the first three Tests of this tour. He was untiring in his work and maintained his concentration and deadliness right through each innings.

© John Wisden & Co