Fifth Test Match

England v Australia 1921

Played at Kennington Oval, Saturday, Mondayy, Tuesday, August 13,15,16.

In the fifth and last Test Match Sandham and Hitch for the first time found places in the England eleven. Their inclusion brought the number of players tried for England in the Test games up to thirty. This fact in itself shows the extreme disadvantages under which we laboured. Instead of a real English eleven we had a series of more or less experimental sides.

The long spell of fine weather had fur the time being broken up, and the Oval match, like the one at Manchester, was a good deal curtailed by rain. On the Saturday play could not be started till twenty minutes past twelve, and in the afternoon the ground was so flooded as to cause a delay of nearly two hours and three-quarters. The loss of time could never be made up, and the match ended in a draw. The long interruption led to trouble, a large section of the crowd gathering in front of the pavilion and indulging in some unseemly barracking. when at last play was continued there was some difference of opinion as to the ground being really fit.

Though no definite result could be arrived at., the match, like the one at Old Trafford, did something to restore our self-respect, English batting once more asserting itself. Tennyson won the toss, and in the unsettled weather decided, of course, to take first innings. In the time available for play on the Saturday 129 runs were scored and four wickets went down. When the rain came on Tyldesley and Woolley were together with the total at 83 for two wickets. Just after resuming Woolley, who had played beautifully, was run out in an extra-ordinary way. He hesitated over a second run and paid the penalty, a wonderful return by Bardsley from deep third man hitting the wicket. Brown played the fast bowling very pluckily before lunch, but Tyldesley, though his score of 39 was valuable, could not reproduce his Manchester form. He was lucky in having an escape in the slips - a palpable chance. Mead kept up his end during the last hour or so, but his play did not suggest the triumph that was in store for him.

Monday was up to a point one of the best days for English cricket last season. For once the Australian howling was more or less mastered, and when at ten minutes to four Tennyson put the closure in force the score stood at 403 with two wickets in hand. The innings extended over six hours and a half, run-getting against the Australian bowling and fielding being very hard work. The chief honours rested with Mead, who had the satisfaction of making the highest score ever obtained for England in Test Matches in this country. His 182 not out was a great achievement-- a remarkable combination of untiring defence and well-controlled hitting. He ought to have been caught high up in the slips when he had made 75, but for the most part his play was beyond reproach. He hit twenty 4's, and was batting for about five hours. He received excellent help from Sandham, but his best support came from Tennyson, 121 runs being put on for the sixth wicket in an hour and forty minutes. Tennyson has never played better. As at Lord's and Leeds he attacked the fast bowling boldly, getting most of his runs by means of hard driving. When 21 he received a dreadful crack over the heart, and was nearly knocked out, but after a few minutes' delay he went on batting as if nothing had happened.

During the latter part of the afternoon the Australians scored 162 for three wickets, and practically relieved themselves from all anxiety, but the game might easily have taken a different course. Hitch bowled with all the fire and pace of his best seasons, but at the critical moment fortune played him false. He was lucky in getting Collins out leg before wicket, but he beat Bardsley, and then with the score at 54 for two wickets Macartney, who had not made a run, was missed off him by Woolley at slip - quite an ordinary catch. For this blunder there was no forgiveness, Macartney and Andrews hitting away brilliantly till, just on the call of time, Macartney was bowled.

The last day's play need not be described at any great length. In some respects it was very unsatisfactory. Any remote possibility of England winning disappeared in the first half-hour, and the Australians went on getting runs so easily that when at last their innings came to an end the total stood at 389. Andrews, unlucky as at Leeds in missing his hundred, played a flawless innings, and for once on a big occasion Taylor was quite up to the high reputation he enjoys at home.

When England went in for the second time the Australians were not without hope of rattling them out and snatching a victory. Gregory and McDonald bowled, but when half a dozen overs or so had been sent down without result Armstrong took a course that exposed him to severe criticism. Going out to the long field and only using Mailey of his serious bowlers he showed that he had no further interest in the proceedings, and so reduced the rest of the match to an exhibition. In the circumstances it was rather unfortunate that Russell made a hundred. His innings must, of course, take its place in Test Match records. Doing as they liked with the Australian change bowlers. Russell and Brown hit up 158 for the first wicket.

© John Wisden & Co