Second Test Match


At Perth, December 15, 16, 17, 19, 20. England won by 166 runs. The foundation for England's success was laid on the opening day by Boycott, in his most obdurate mood, and Gower, whose youthful genius was again revealed in his maiden century against Australia. In their contrasting but complementary styles they repaired the damage of a dismal start of 41 for three and proceeded to bat out a difficult day at 190 for three.

When Hogg dismissed Gooch and Randall for only three, it looked as if Yallop's decision to put in England in overcast conditions with a swirling wind was justified. Not only did Boycott and Gower end the collapse, but they survived a fierce new-ball attack forty minutes from the close. Their fourth wicket stand of 158 in four hours eight minutes was soon broken on the second morning, but England had established a measure of control which was never seriously relaxed. Gower hit nine 4s on a slow outfield, but Boycott's only 4 - in a marathon seven and a half hours in which he faced 340 deliveries - was all run and included two overthrows. Nevertheless, it was an invaluable effort for his side.

Despite the splendid fast bowling of Hogg in both innings, which won him the Player of the Match award, England were able to extend their total to 309. Miller, who played an important all-round rôle, made 40. The worth of Gower and Boycott was immediately apparent when, in twenty overs, Australia slumped to 60 for four. Once again Willis, this time with Lever's support, struck early and decisive blows.

With four pace bowlers England had a formidable attack for a seaming pitch, though generally Australia batted under the sun and England under a cloud cover. Australia's plight worstened when Darling was run out by a marvellously quick pick-up and throw by Botham off the seventh ball of the last over. Only Toohey stood firm on the third day and he was unlucky to run out of partners as he approached a century. He finished 81 not out (six 4s, four and a half hours) and without his fine skill the innings would have been a disaster.

As it was, England led by 119, an advantage increased by 58 as Gooch and Boycott saw through the last 23 overs. England's policy, with a lead of 177 with two days left, was to go for the runs and leave as much time as possible for their bowlers to attack Australia who, with the pitch losing much of its pace, were becoming confident of a draw. As so often happens, however, it was easier said than done, particularly as Hogg maintained his impressive form. Used in short spells he again took five wickets, and dismissed any suggestion that Australia's bowling could be treated with contempt. Dymock, Hurst and Yardley backed him up creditably and England, sacrificing wickets in the cause of quick runs, were all out for 208. This left Australia to score 328 to win. All ten England wickets went in four hours for 150, and Hogg's haul in his first two Tests was 17 out of 33 to fall - as good a start as any new bowler could hope to make.

Australia's never-strong hopes of winning virtually disappeared with the loss of eighty-eight minutes to an unseasonable downpour. With Darling already out to a venomous kicker from Lever, they needed 317 on the final day with nine wickets in hand. The pitch was none the worse for the deluge, and England attacked with a ring of eager slips and gullies. They were rewarded in the seventh over when Gooch, at fourth slip, held a fierce cut from Hughes off Willis. Yallop and Toohey were dismissed in successive deliveries by Hendrick, and the breakthrough was achieved. Although England went through a bad patch of missed chances and half chances - including two offered by Wood to Boycott at mid wicket off Botham- and despite the Wood- Cosier fifth-wicket stand that yielded 83, the end was quick. Australia's last six wickets fell in 66 balls and forty-six minutes to Miller (three for 0 in 23 balls) and Lever (three for 11). The spirit of England was epitomised by Botham's last flying left-handed catch at slip- a stunning example of athleticism and reflex action.

During lunch, Brooks, Australia's senior umpire, who was severely criticised in some quarters, announced his retirement.

© John Wisden & Co