December 1 A shock announcement as Don Bradman is ruled out of the first Test. The official reason is influenza, but the reality is he is exhausted and mentally not able to cope with the demands. Nevertheless, he is able to watch the match and broadcasts a comment every evening at the close.
Douglas Jardine angers the media by refusing to name his side until the last moment - all squad members are changed and ready when he does so, something he insists on before every Test. He also has a blunt exchange with Gubby Allen who refuses to bowl Bodyline. Bill Woodfull wins the toss and bats, the sixth ball of Harold Larwood's first over - to an orthodox field - almost taking his head off. Bill Ponsford and a padded Jack Fingleton also take painful blows. Australia reach lunch on 63 for 1, but soon after Ponsford is bowled round his legs and then Alan Kippax falls lbw. But from 87 for 4 Stan McCabe plays one of the great Test innings, attacking the bowling and putting even Larwood on the back foot. With Vic Richardson he adds 129 for the fifth wicket in under two hours. The 40,000 crowd are vocal and Bob Wyatt is pelted with fruit while fielding in front of the Hill.
Australia 290 for 6 (McCabe 127*) v England Scorecard
The first use of the word Bodyline. Hugh Buggy sends copy to the Melbourne Age using the phrase "body-line bowling" and his subeditor, Ray Robinson, appears to shorten this to one word. It is quickly picked up on.
McCabe's defiance continues until he runs out of partners, but he adds 55 for the last wicket with Tim Wall whose share is one edged four. The only chances from McCabe had come late in his innings. Herbert Sutcliffe and Bob Wyatt post 112 for England's first wicket, Sutcliffe having a let-off when on 43 the ball shoots hard into his stumps off his pads but does not dislodge the bail. Sutcliffe and Wally Hammond add another 140 for the second wicket by the close.
England 252 for 1 (Sutcliffe 116, Hammond 87*) trail Australia 360 (McCabe 187, Larwood 5-96, Voce 4-110) by 108 runs Scorecard
December 4 The rest day. Jardine heads to Allen's uncle's country house. Late in the day it rains on the uncovered MCG pitch.
Despite the rain the pitch remains true. Hammond falls for a sublime 112, but then the Nawab of Pataudi joins Sutcliffe, under orders to grind it out, and they add 123 for the third wicket. Wall eventually removes Sutcliffe after almost eight hours, Maurice Leyland follows next ball, and Jardine prevents the hat-trick but falls before the close.
England 479 for 6 (Sutcliffe 194, Hammond 112, Pataudi 80*) lead Australia 360 by 119 runs Scorecard
Pataudi, wearing the same clothes as he had worn the previous day for superstition's sake, completes his hundred on debut but England's last four wickets fall for 45 before lunch with the first-innings lead 164, and then Larwood and Hammond rip the heart out of the Australian innings. Australia's rocks, Ponsford and Woodfull, are both rendered helpless by sheer pace. Hammond uses movement for two wickets in two balls, while Larwood relies on speed and a Bodyline field. The game would have finished inside four days had Les Ames not missed a simple stumping off the penultimate ball.
Australia 360 and 164 for 9 (Larwood 5-28) are level withEngland 524 (Sutcliffe 194, Hammond 112, Pataudi 102) Scorecard
Fewer than 75 people turn up - only one of them on the Hill - and they are outnumbered by the newspapermen and photographers. England take the last wicket in nine deliveries and then Sutcliffe clips his first ball through midwicket for a single to secure a ten-wicket win. Celebrations are muted and England spend the afternoon in the nets.
England 524 and 1 for 0 beat Australia 360 and 164 (Larwood 5-28) by ten wickets Scorecard
December 8 The Times reports that bowling at the leg stump is "perfectly reasonable and implies no unfairness" while admitting that it is "not pretty or an exhilarating sight". Reaction in Australia is less favourable.
December 9 Australia again name 13 for the second Test, Lisle Nagel and Alan Kippax make way for Ron Oxenham and Len O'Brien. Kippax, 35, who admitted that Larwood was too fast for him, will return but Nagel has played his only Test. Oxenham took five wickets against MCC for an Australian XI but at 41 he is no youth policy; O'Brien, 22, is a left-hand attacking opener. Bradman is retained and goes on a fortnight's holiday to the country.
December 10 The MCC side heads to Wagga Wagga for a two-day up-country game against the Southern Districts of New South Wales.
Bob Wyatt sticks the Districts side in with temperature over 100 degrees and they cruise to 99 for 1 before Tommy Mitchell sets about them, taking seven of the last eight wickets to fall. It should have been even better but the MCC fielding and catching was again poor.
MCC 44 for 1 trail Southern Districts of New South Wales 226 (Sly 67*, Bennett 53, Mitchell 7-77) by 182 runs Scorecard
MCC almost pull off a remarkable victory after Districts are left 65 minutes to bat to save the match with a first-innings deficit of 87. Again Mitchell proves unplayable, finishing with match figures of 12 for 103 as the home side cling on to draw. The MCC innings was interrupted by a ferocious dust storm which obscured the players and ripped the numbers off the scoreboard. It was followed by a thunderstorm.
Southern Districts of New South Wales 226 and 68 for 7 (Mitchell 5-26) drew with MCC 313 (Ames 91, Tate 52*, Brown 51, Rumble 5-73) Scorecard
December 13 The tour party enjoy a rare day off; some take the chance to go duck shooting.
December 14 The MCC side returns to Melbourne and from there sail to Tasmania.
Sutcliffe's fifth century of the tour and Pataudi's fourth are the highlights as MCC dominate the first day at Launceston, but the most entertaining batting comes late on from Ames and Paynter who add an unbeaten 106 in a little over an hour. Jardine again allows Wyatt to lead the side, preferring to go trout fishing.
MCC 395 for 3 (Pataudi 109, Sutcliffe 101, Ames 91*, Paynter 52*) v Tasmania Scorecard
Paynter and Ames go on to complete their hundreds in a fourth-wicket stand of 137. Gerald James
, a swing bowler, reaps the dividends as the later batsmen hit out, his 6 for 96 being the best figures in a career which lasted until after World War Two. Rain ends play an hour early.
Tasmania 137 for 3 (Badcock 57) trail MCC 502 (Pataudi 109, Ames 107, Paynter 102, Sutcliffe 101, James 6-96) by 365 runs Scorecard
December 18 The rest day is hot and sunny, drying the wicket after Saturday's downpours.
MCC wrap-up their fourth innings victory of the tour, and again Mitchell is the pick of the bowlers with 11 for 144, giving him a return of 23 for 247 in the last two matches. He takes three early wickets to ensure Tasmania will follow on, and then, aided by Freddie Brown, uses the conditions well to bowl Tasmania out for a second time. Eighteen-year-old Jack Badcock
carries his bat for 43.
MCC 502 beat Tasmania 229 (Badcock 57, Putman 56*, Mitchell 6-70) and 147 (Mitchell 5-74) by an innings and 126 runs Scorecard
Overnight rain delays the start and then drizzle returns soon after the start, causing play to stop after 48 minutes, the day being abandoned at 5pm. Both wickets fall to catches by Ames in the slips, George Duckworth being given a chance to keep wicket.
Tasmania 13 for 2 v MCC Scorecard
In Adelaide, Clarrie Grimmett takes 6 for 55 for South Australia against Queensland.
A farcical day after heavy overnight rain leaves the ground underwater. Play starts only an hour late but conditions are so bad that Jardine, who was angry at the umpires' insistence that play should resume, opts not to use his main bowlers in protest. Paynter takes 3 for 42 while Ames bowls with his trousers rolled up to his knees. The crowd of 3000 are less than impressed and the local papers slams Jardine for behaving like a "sulky schoolboy". MCC bat through the last hour with no alarms.
MCC 56 for 0 trail Tasmania 103 for 5 dec
by 47 runs Scorecard
December 25 Christmas Day and a few snow flurries and fires in the hotel grates give a seasonal feel. The squad stay up until the early hours to listen to the Christmas broadcast by King George VI to the Empire.
MCC enjoy some batting practice, Ames reaching his fifty in 37 minutes, adding 50 in 36 minutes for the seventh wicket with Hedley Verity. Bill Bowes takes 3 for 7 in his opening spell and then returns at the end to pick up a fourth wicket.
Tasmania 103 for 5 dec and 89 for 4 drew with MCC 330 for 7 dec (Leyland 65, Verity 54*, Ames 52, Wyatt 51)
by 47 runs Scorecard
At the MCG, Bradman returns from his break with 157 for New South Wales against Victoria.
December 28 The MCC side arrived in Melbourne at 9.15am after a rough crossing on the Mariana during which most of them are seasick.
December 28 Questions still surround Bradman and whether his contract with a newspaper will allow him to play. The Times refers to the first Test as having been played under a "fog of unpleasant acrimony and ungenerous criticism ... one was left wondering if it were a cricket match or a none too friendly war".
December 29 Bradman is declared fit and able to play after Associated Newspapers again agree to him not reporting the match for them. Bradman, however, complains about the Australian board preventing him for "earning an honourable and permanent living from journalism" and accuses the board of interfering with the permanent occupation of any player.
England opt for an all-pace attack, Bowes replacing Verity, while Australia drop Ponsford for O'Brien, with Richardson pushed up to open. Woodfull wins the toss and Australia weather the early barrage, Fingleton playing with great bravery in making 83. Larwood is troubled by his feet again, and in all he leaves the field four times for treatment. The biggest news of the day comes when Bradman strides out at No. 4 to a massive reception from the world record 63,933 crowd. He returns moments later to stunned silence after bottom-edging an attempted pull off Bowes into his stumps. "It was a shocking long-hop," Larwood said, "and it deserved to be clouted to the fence." It is Bowes' only wicket of the series and he reacts by turning to the umpire and exclaiming; "Well, I'll be fooked". Wyatt, on the boundary, is taunted throughout the day with cries of "wait till the Don comes in". As Bradman heads off, he turns to them and asks: "So, when's your Don coming in?" Jardine switches to and from leg theory throughout the day as Australia's batsmen struggle throughout. Soon after the start the ball had to be changed and the spectators watched in bewilderment as Jardine bowls underarm to Woodfull to scuff up the replacement.
Australia 194 for 7 (Fingleton 83) v England Scorecard
England bat awfully, even Sutcliffe's innings being described as "the most scratchy he has ever played in Australia". The damage is done by Tim Wall who removes Sutcliffe, Jardine and Ames in five overs after tea, but Tiger O'Reilly is the pick of the bowlers, using pace and bounce to great effect against batsmen who, with the exception of Hammond, try to play him from the crease.
England 161 for 9 (Sutcliffe 52) trail Australia 228 (Fingleton 83) by 67 runs Scorecard
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo