Fifth Test Match

England v Australia 1936-37

The weather was glorious for the first two days but was less settled on the third, and a thunderstorm during the early hours of the forth day denied England the chance of making a closer match of it, though by then their position was precarious to say the least. Again Bradman showed the way, after winning the toss for the third successive time, and his brilliant display - one of the finest of his career - made it easy for his colleagues to help build up the mammoth total of 604 in the first innings. This was the highest total Australia have ever amassed against England in their own country, though England still hold the record, 636 made at Sydney in 1928-29.

All the bright, attacking, stroke making batting came from Australia. On the first day Bradman and McCabe broke another record by putting on 249 for the third wicket, and Bradman, reaching three figures, equalled Hobbs' record of twelve hundreds in England-Australia Tests. At close of play Australia were 342 for three, a total that should never have been achieved, as four important catches were dropped, all at short leg behind the umpire. Allen, who had been taking far harder catches during the tour, dropped two, and Farnes was the other delinquent. There was a patch of bad ground fielding, too, but the bowlers stuck to their gruelling task in a humid temperature of 99 degrees with notable courage and stamina. Farnes was the best bowler- indeed throughout the match he bowled in his finest form.

This first day's play was a tragic one for England. Fingleton was dropped twice when 1 and 2, while McCabe was missed early in his innings and again when 86. The fillip the fast bowlers would have gained had all the catches been taken was incalculable. Despite his chances, McCabe gave a classic display, with delightful crisp cutting the feature of aggressive hitting all round the wicket. Right through his innings Bradman did not once put the ball into the air; nor did he give the semblance of a chance. The heat had it's effect and next morning he seemed unable to concentrate; he added only 4 more runs. Bradman batted over three and a half hours and hit fifteen 4's.

The Englishmen were on their toes for fresh successes, but the wicket was a batsman's paradise - it was not fast even on the first morning - and Gregory joined Badcock in another great stand for the fifth wicket that realised 161. Badcock hit with great power and scored fluently in the manner of Hendren. His 118 - his first Test century took 205 minutes and contained fifteen 4's. Australia were 593 for nine at the close and raised the total to 604 on the third morning. Farnes came out with the magnificent figures of six wickets for 96 runs.

As the pitch was still perfect, giving no assistance to any bowler, England had a wonderful chance to make a telling reply but after a dazzling start by Barnett and Worthington there was a disastrous collapse.

In the first seventeen minutes, 33 runs were scored, and then Barnett fell, caught at the wicket high up in trying to cut a ball. Had he not been seeing the ball perfectly from the start Barnett would not have tried such a stroke so early in his innings. Worthington, who had been selected in place of Robins, was also in an aggressive mood but he had bad luck all through the series and his ill-fortune still pursued him. Soon after lunch when, with Hardstaff in, Worthington made a hook shot, he caught his heel against his wicket and knocked a bail off before completing his stroke. Hardstaff went on to play his best innings of the tour, but Hammond was pegged down by O'Reilly's leg theory and never looked like making progress. Trying a wristy flick at a leg ball from O'Reilly that had proved his undoing in the Adelaide Test, Hammond was caught at short leg. Leyland also failed, so England had four wickets down for 140 and the game looked as good as over. Wyatt played out time with Hardstaff, the score being increased to 184 at the close of the third day.

The fourth day clinched matters, for England had to bat on a wet wicket that O'Reilly was able to exploit. Faulty timing was the cause of Hardstaff's early dismissal and accounted for the failure of most of the other batsmen, but Wyatt met a ball from O'Reilly that turned and popped up suddenly. The last four wickets fell for three runs and at the lunch interval England were all out and had to follow-on 365 behind.

O'Reilly was the chief agent of destruction while Nash, whose inclusion in Australia's eleven came as a surprise, bowled fast and well in his first Test. The wicket was too slow for Fleetwood-Smith.

Though Barnett and Hammond added 60, England that night had lost eight second innings wickets for 165, and two balls by Fleetwood-Smith on the following morning accounted for Voce and Farnes. Again O'Reilly bowled a perfect length, but was too fond of defensive tactics. On such a wicket S.F. Barnes would have attacked all the time instead of flirting with leg theory. On England's side, Allen's bowling was disappointing. The misfortune of losing the toss and then missing two catches possibly upset him. However, Allen again worked like a Trojan and handled his side well, though there was a little criticism because he opened the bowling himself with Farnes instead of using Voce. Verity came out with poor figures, on paper, but he put up a remarkable feat of endurance. Voce was not as dangerous as in previous Tests and Farnes stood alone as a destructive bowler. A notable point about the match was that only one bye was conceded.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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