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Coming to England while the experience of four consecutive defeats in Test Matches in their own land was still fresh in their memories, the seventeenth Australian team to visit this country accomplished a very fine performance. They not only achieved the great object of the tour by winning the rubber and so regaining possession of The Ashes but, in the course of thirty-one engagements against first-class sides, they were beaten but once-in the opening Test Match at Nottingham.
It is true that in the general results of the tour their record was unimpressive, for of the thirty-one important games they won only eleven, lost one and drew eighteen, while the encounter with Gloucestershire towards the latter part of August ended in a tie. Outside these fixtures there were three others of which one was won, one drawn, and one abandoned without a ball being bowled. The large proportion of drawn games was due to the fact that in most of them bad weather interfered. Indeed, the weather placed the Australians at a considerable disadvantage. In a number of their early matches they had to contend against not only a lot of wet but a decidedly low temperature, feeling the cold so much that heavy underclothing under flannel shirts, and a couple of sweaters in addition, failed to keep them reasonably warm in the field. As no fewer than eleven of the fifteen who made the trip had not visited England before, the handicap under which they laboured may be imagined. Still, they triumphed in a remarkable fashion over the discomforts of a wet and cheerless English summer, and a chosen few of the newcomers adapted themselves, in a manner of which few people thought them capable, to the varying paces of the different wickets on which they had to play.
The team consisted of the following:
W. L. Kelly ( Victoria) was the Manager, and T. Howard ( New South Wales) Treasurer. W. Ferguson, as on several previous occasions when the Australians had been here and also when an M. C. C. team had visited Australia, was once more the ideal scorer and a most capable and efficient baggage-man.
This particular tour will always be remembered by reason of the amazing batting successes which attended the efforts of Bradman. It is not too much to say that he took both England and the whole cricket world by storm. Those who, like myself, had seen him play in Australia against the team captained by A. P. F. Chapman were fully prepared for something out of the common but little did we dream that his progress would be of such a triumphal nature. Nothing like his series of colossal innings in the Test Matches had ever before been witnessed. He put the coping-stone on a - so far - very brief career when in the Third Test Match at Leeds, following innings of 131 at Nottingham and 254 at Lord's, he made 334 which eclipsed the previous highest score ever obtained in Test Matches between England and Australia - 287 by the late R. E. Foster at Sydney during the M. C. C. tour of 1903-4. As if that were not sufficient, Bradman, although failing at Manchester, wound up with 232 in the final Test Match at Kennington Oval.
He lost no time in demonstrating to the English public that he was a most remarkable young cricketer for, leading off with 236 in the opening fixture against Worcestershire, he hit up, in addition to his four hundreds in representative engagements, seven other three-figure innings - one of them in a minor match. For Test Matches alone, without a not-out to help him, he had an average of rather more than 139 with an aggregate of 974 runs in seven innings. Easily top -- far away ahead of everyone else in this table of figures -- he was also first in batting in first-class matches with an aggregate of 2,960 and an average of over 98 while in all games he scored 3,170 runs and averaged over 99.
Bradman had established himself before he reached this country but it has been given to no Australian on his first experience of English wickets to enhance an already big reputation in so striking a manner, the performance, moreover, being all the more remarkable in view of the wet nature of the summer. In the course of the tour he demonstrated that he could play two entirely different games and that while, as at Lord's and at periods in his other Test match innings, he could be brilliant to a degree, he could also, as in the second innings at Nottingham and in the last Test match at the Oval, bat with a patience and restraint second only to that of Woodfull himself. There were several features about his batting with which one could not fail to be struck. To an eye almost uncanny in its power to gauge the length of a ball was allied really beautiful foot-work. Bradman seldom played forward as a means of defence; he nearly always stepped back to meet the ball with a vertical bat. And this is where he had his limitations, for the tour proved that when he met a bowler either left-hand or right who could make the ball just go away he never seemed quite such a master as against off-break or straight fast bowling. A glorious driver, he hit the ball very hard, while his placing was almost invariably perfect. He scored most of his runs by driving but he could cut, hook, or turn the ball to leg with nearly the same certainty. And only on rare occasions did he lift it. Without any disparagement to a batsman of abilities so pronounced, it is only fair to say that on more than one occasion his task was rendered the easier by the skilful manner in which Woodfull and Ponsford, by batting of different description, had taken the sting out of the England bowling.
Over and above his batting, Bradman showed himself to be a brilliant and dashing field. In match after match his work at deep mid-off and in the long-field was a joy to watch. The number of potential 4's he turned into singles in the Test Match at the Oval was extraordinary. Possessed of a fine turn of speed, he picked up most cleanly and, with deadly accuracy had the ball back to the wicket-keeper in a flash. Nothing during the whole tour could have been more dazzling than the manner in which at Leeds he threw Hobbs out from deep mid-off.
While the Australians undoubtedly owed much of their success to Bradman's batting, it cannot be denied that an almost equally potent factor in the overthrow of England was the bowling of Grimmett. Curiously enough, Grimmett did not in the victory at the Oval bear anything like the great part that he had done in the previous encounters but long before that he had established over most of the England batsmen an ascendancy which they never really overcame. He took twenty-nine wickets in the Test Matches, but his average of nearly 32 does not convey a real idea of his effectiveness. Taking part in no engagement other than first-class, Grimmett obtained 144 wickets at an average of less than 17 runs apiece and, in so doing, headed the bowling--a position he most thoroughly deserved. He started the season so well that when five matches had been played he had taken thirty-nine wickets, including all ten for 37 runs against Yorkshire at Sheffield. By the beginning of July he had dismissed over a hundred men, and although in August - probably owing to a bruised finger -- he accomplished nothing out of the ordinary, his bowling never lost its anxieties for English batsmen.
Grimmett's fame during the tour, however, will rest mainly upon his work in the Tests. At Nottingham he took ten wickets for 201 runs, at Lord's eight for 272, and at Leeds six for 168. At Manchester having 59 runs hit off nineteen overs he was unsuccessful, while at the Oval he dismissed five men at a cost of 225 runs. A bowler of his type must of necessity come in at times for severe punishment but, taking these contests as a whole and having regard to the fact that in those against counties and other combinations he was called upon for an immense amount of work, his share in the triumph of Australia could not be over-estimated or over-praised. Practically every time he went on he at once brought about a diminution in the rate of run-getting. Generally speaking, his length was flawless; even better than when he was here four years previously. To begin with he obtained most of his wickets with leg-breaks but as the season advanced he bowled the googly more often and he got plenty of batsmen leg before with a well disguised top-spinner.
While Bradman and Grimmett were the outstanding successes of the tour, there were others who played their part to excellent purpose. It was no two-man side that twice beat England. The team unquestionably owed a great debt to the able manner in which they were captained by Woodfull. Arriving here with Ponsford, Oldfield and Grimmett the only players, besides himself, who had previously visited England, Woodfull -- I am giving away no secret -- confessed to me that he was more than doubtful of the ability of the side to win the rubber. He thought the team being young would render a good account of themselves but was afraid that the smashing victories of our men in Australia might weigh too heavily upon them. By his tact, advice, and unfailing spirit, Woodfull welded the men into a first-rate combination, the improvement in which became marked with each succeeding game. As regards his individual performances, it was significant that the only Test match the Australians lost was the one in which he failed as a batsman. He scored 155 at Lord's -- his single century against England during the tour -- but he played five other three-figure innings, came out second in the Test averages, third, just behind Kippax, in first-class matches, and second in all matches. He proved just as difficult to get out as in 1926 but he showed himself even more resolute than in that tour, still possessed of a splendid off-drive and with his repertoire of strokes in other directions increased. On the field he led the side with considerable skill and managed his bowling admirably. It was a fitting climax that on his 33rd birthday Australia regained The Ashes.
Ponsford had a much better season -- especially in the Test matches -- than four years previously. He played finely at Lord's, Manchester and the Oval, scoring 110 in the last match, but of the three performances his innings at Old Trafford was probably the best. In helping his captain to wear down England's bowling he accomplished great work and, even if he was seldom really attractive to watch, there could be no question about his skill and how difficult he was to get out. In his innings at the Oval he clearly disproved the idea that he could not play Larwood's bowling. During what might have been a very anxious twenty-five minutes before lunch on the second day, he scored three 4's to leg off the Notts fast bowler as easily as though he had been playing him all day long. In the course of the tour he made four scores of over a hundred and, as when he was in this country before, he showed fine driving power on the off-side and marked ability in forcing the ball to the on.
Kippax, who on his Australian form should have come over with the previous team, had every reason to be satisfied with his performances. Without once reaching the hundred in Test Matches, he had an aggregate of 329 with an average of nearly 55 -- figures which speak for themselves. Except that he was cheaply dismissed in the second innings at Lord's when, Australia having the game in their hands, nothing greatly mattered and that he made only 28 at the Oval, he was a success in all the Test matches. The innings on which he will look back with particular satisfaction was his 64, not out, on a bad wicket at Nottingham. Going in when three wickets were down for 16, he opened with three 4's and played superbly, nobody else except Richardson doing anything. Against Sussex he enjoyed the distinction of playing two separate innings of over a hundred, his 158 on the opening day saving the side from a dreadful collapse. The Australians had seven men out for 79 but Kippax batted in such brilliant fashion that only two more men were dismissed afterwards while another 270 runs were put on. Essentially a stylist, Kippax was in every sense a great batsman, for he could suit his game to the needs of the occasion. A beautiful driver to the off, he cut at times in delightful fashion, the slower wickets of England affecting his abilities in that direction in only the slightest degree.
The great disappointment of the team was Jackson. On his first visit to this country to which he came with a well-deserved reputation for grace of style and wide variety of strokes, he scored over a thousand runs and averaged over 34 in first-class matches but at no time did people in England see the real Jackson. He began badly, generally getting an unplayable ball just when he seemed set, and not until late in the tour did he acquire that confidence which had made him such a glorious cricketer to watch in Australia. He scored one hundred - against Somerset at Taunton - and, with an innings of 73, helped Bradman in a big partnership which completely wore down the England bowling in the last Test match at the Oval. But even in that useful contribution Jackson played a game entirely foreign to himself. McCabe also made over a thousand runs without a single three-figure innings to help him and in Test matches averaged 35 but he took some time to get accustomed to English wickets. At his best a magnificient driver, McCabe, the youngest of the party, was a fine all-round cricketer and only in one Test Match did he actually fail in batting. This was at Manchester and there he atoned by some extremely effective bowling. With a quick action, he made the ball come off the pitch at a rare pace with just sufficient break to beat the bat.
Richardson, although making two hundreds and scoring 832 runs in the first-class matches, did not quite realize expectations. Indeed, one could not resist the impression that he had come to this country four years too late. His style was more English than that of any other member of the team and, unlike Bradman and Woodfull - one of the distinguishing characteristics of whose batting was that they very rarely lifted the ball - Richardson was never afraid to hit it into the air. He was a powerful driver but against slow and turning bowling never looked really comfortable. He fully upheld his reputation as a brilliant fielder in any position and on the occasions when Woodfull stood down he captained the side with conspicuous ability. Fairfax did not accomplish much in the way of batting but he was generally a difficult man to dismiss. Still a cricketer possessed of such physical advantages in height, reach and power should certainly have made more use of those qualities.
Although the team had a fine array of run-getters, six of them making over a thousand, there was a distinct tail. Occasionally one or another from number seven downwards would make a useful score but the side was not so difficult to get rid of to the last man as some former combinations. Oldfield, for instance, showed a pronounced falling-off in batting but as a wicket-keeper he was almost as good as ever - unobtrusive and eminently efficient. Walker, the reserve wicket-keeper, like Hurwood, did not play in any of the Test matches, but his wicket-keeping was only a little less skilful than that of Oldfield.
Grimmett's work in attack overshadowed that of his colleagues but Hornibrook (slow medium left-hand), Wall (fast-medium to fast) and Fairfax (medium pace), with à Beckett and McCabe, all rendered creditable and, on certain occasions, effective assistance. Hornibrook, for instance, who had obtained only six wickets in the previous four Test Matches, came out with a startling performance on the last day at the Oval when, with a pitch to suit him, he took full advantage of his opportunity. Still, it would be idle to say that on hard wickets Hornibrook caused our best batsmen much trouble. All the same, he obtained in first-class matches ninety-six wickets for less than 19 runs apiece. Next to Grimmett, Fairfax who usually opened the bowling with Wall, looked to be the best bowler even if his habit of holding the ball almost at the tips of his first and second fingers and thumb suggested a lack of real spinning-power. He brought the ball down from a good height and, when it was new, often made it swerve, so when he first went on, he always wanted careful watching and playing. Wall, who took a run which created the impression his bowling was faster than it actually proved to be, worked untiringly but in the Test Matches, at any rate, met with no marked success. No day was too long or too hot for him and, probably, had the summer been a dry one, he would have come through the tour with a much better record. Neither in batting nor bowling did à Beckett ever give the feeling that he was quite close enough for big occasions but he fielded uncommonly well. Of Hurwood curiously enough not much was seen. That a bowler able to spin the ball as he could should not have had more opportunities certainly caused a good deal of surprise. Although never scored off with any approach to freedom, he was rarely kept on for any reasonable spell.
Taking the tour as a whole, the team, if not generally brilliant, were good fielders but they took some little time to settle down to effective work in this department. They bore no comparison with the 1921 combination and were just a little below the usual standard but, in common with all Australian cricketers, nearly every one on the side was a fine thrower.
Accomplishing the main object of the tour in winning the rubber, the Australians went back obviously very pleased with themselves but it is difficult to overcome a feeling of doubt as to whether, with the bowling at their command, they were actually good enough to beat the best eleven we could have placed in the field. That they were immensely strong in batting was beyond question. It is easy to be wise after the event but, admitting that the task of the Selection Committee presented many problems, one cannot help thinking that a lack of inspiration was shown in choosing the England sides. Even if expensive, Robins, both at Nottingham and Lord's, demonstrated that he was a bowler the Australian batsmen did not like. As the season progressed, it became clear to many people that a bowler with ability to make the ball go away was an absolute necessity. Yet neither Parker nor Freeman appeared in a single Test match. Brought in at Manchester, Peebles bowled far better than his record showed and at the Oval he was the most successful man but unfortunately he had lost the art of bowling the leg-break and he had to rely upon the googly for his wickets. The fact that one of the few leg-breaks he bowled in the two games got rid of Bradman at Manchester should have shown where a possible weakness of this formidable batsman lay. Apart from these considerations the England batting in match after match was, from the point of view of team-work, unsound. Time after time when England were in a good position there came failures and even though these were retrieved to some extent, rarely did the side drive home any advantage they had secured.
Match reports for
Tour Match: Worcestershire v Australians at Worcester, Apr 30-May 2, 1930
Tour Match: Leicestershire v Australians at Leicester, May 3-6, 1930
Tour Match: Essex v Australians at Leyton, May 7-9, 1930
Tour Match: Yorkshire v Australians at Sheffield, May 10-13, 1930
Tour Match: Hampshire v Australians at Southampton, May 31-Jun 2, 1930