Match reports


At Leeds, July 27, 28, 29

At Leeds, July 27, 28, 29. England won by nine wickets at three minutes past five on the third day, to take a two-one lead in the series and so retain the Ashes no matter what happened in the fifth Test at The Oval. A pitch that afforded considerable help to the spin bowlers found batsmen in both teams unable to cope and the Australian cricketers--the less practised against a turning ball--as they were on the same ground in 1956 and again in 1961, were completely outplayed.
Not for a moment would one suggest that conditions had been deliberately engineered to produce such a result, but the fact remained, that they were conditions least likely to help the tourists and one recalled that when the Headingley ground was granted regular Test match status alongside Lord's and The Oval, the Yorkshire club, through their chairman, Mr. A. B. Sellers, had to give an assurance that the pitch would be up to Test match standard. That cannot be claimed for the pitch prepared for this game even allowing for the fact that Underwood is the most skilful bowler in the world when there is help for finger spin. It was without pace, took spin from the first day and grew progressively helpful.
Both teams made three changes. For England, Old and M. J. Smith ( Middlesex) were dropped from the party of thirteen chosen and the changes were Fletcher, Underwood and Arnold for M. J. K. Smith, Gifford and Lever who played at Trent Bridge. Australia had their off-spin bowler, Mallett, for Gleeson, Sheahan for Francis as a batsman, and the slow left-arm bowler and batsman, Inverarity, for the fast-medium bowler-batsman, Colley. They were changes influenced by a quite evident distrust of the pitch which had been flooded by a freak thunderstorm over the week-end. That flood had prevented some use of the heavy roller, and the pitch was obviously damp on the first morning and quite grassless. Australia, on winning the toss, had the lightest of rollers put on the pitch and were no doubt pleased to bat first.
Edwards, after his 170 not out at Nottingham, opened the innings with Stackpole and the latter made an excellent start with a leg-glance and a drive for two boundaries in the first over from Arnold. Snow also made a great start, getting Edwards caught at the wicket when he touched a late outswinger in the first over. Snow bowled well. Time and again he beat the bat and when he was rested with the score at 31 for one wicket he had sent down seven overs for six runs and one wicket. Arnold, with the score at 32, had Stackpole (21) dropped by Fletcher in the slips. Greig replaced Snow and Arnold was rested after bowling nine overs for 27 runs.
Illingworth came on to bowl and, after he had delivered three overs, Underwood bowled. Spin bowlers on the first morning of a Test match? Illingworth had obviously read the signs aright. Although there was no indication of the havoc to be caused by spin when Australia came in to lunch with a score of 79 for one wicket things began to happen immediately after the interval. Underwood was brought into immediate attack. He shouted for lbw against Stackpole second ball and then, fifth ball, Stackpole played forward and edged a second catch to Knott. Greg Chappell joined his brother and although Snow was used for five overs at the other end it seemed obvious that the spin of Underwood was posing more problems than Snow's speed.
Illingworth took over from Snow and Australia's troubles increased most seriously. Ian Chappell, after he had batted 46 overs, had scored only 26 runs; Greg Chappell seemed to express all the feelings of the tourists when he hit a ball rather uppishly from Underwood towards mid-off which he had intended to go along the ground. He moved down the pitch and gave the spot where the ball had dropped a sledgehammer blow with the bat. He left at 93 when he missed a straight delivery from Underwood and was lbw. In the next over Ian Chappell went out to drive Illingworth and hit a low return catch. The score went to 97 for five when Walters, trying to cut an off-break, was bowled by Illingworth.
Sheahan fell to a spectacular one-handed catch by Illingworth at point off Underwood without scoring and the England captain made a third catch when Marsh tried a huge cross-bat swing at Underwood and skied to mid-on. Sensationally, Australia had slumped to 98 for seven wickets and the crowd of 19,000 almost ironically applauded the 100 in the 62nd over, after three and a half hours. Inverarity and Mallett kept England waiting eighty minutes for the next success and added 47 valuable runs, but Massie and Lillee both failed to score and Australia totalled only 146. In an hour's batting at the end of the day Edrich and Luckhurst made 43 without loss.
On the second day the off-spinner Mallett bowled at Underwood's pace and the left-arm slow Inverarity at Illingworth's pace. They returned some of the spin bowling problems to England. By lunch-time England had lost six wickets for 112 runs. Seven went with the fall of Greig at 128 and only an eighth-wicket stand of 104 by Illingworth and Snow swung the game again in favour of England. Illingworth played a real captain's part by scoring 54 not out in England's total of 252 for nine by Friday evening. In the context of the game Illingworth played superbly. In terms of Test cricket as an exhibition of all that is best in the game it need only be said that his innings occupied four and a half hours. It would be poor watching if this was always the only successful method.
As expected, the Australian second innings disintegrated before the bowling of Underwood. After the initial opening of the fast bowlers (in which Arnold dismissed Edwards for a pair), Underwood took five wickets for 18 runs in 13 overs and ripped through the heart of Australia's batting. It seemed that the game would be over by tea, but fortunately for the crowd of 20,000 Sheahan and Massie were mostly instrumental in continuing the Australian innings until that time, though England needed no more than 20 runs to win. These were made in thirty-eight minutes for the loss of Edrich in Lillee's third over.
Underwood, perhaps the world's best bowler on a helpful pitch, snatched 10 wickets for 82 runs in the match. Batting on both sides was flimsy.
The total attendance over the three days was 62,000, and the full receipts for the five days £41,091.--W.E.B.