Third Test Match


At Nottingham, July 13, 14, 15, 17, 18. Drawn. Again England were let down by their batsmen and their slip fielders and wicket-keeper, who put down five chances after Illingworth had caused a sensation by sending Australia in to bat. No doubt, Illingworth had the England players behind him and he could not be blamed that his plan misfired. The weather experts predicted a fine period and he received sound advice from his old Yorkshire colleague Brian Bolus, the Nottinghamshire captain, that the pitch would not only last but become easier and slower as the match progressed.

Some people reckoned also that Illingworth did not trust the England batsmen against Lillee and Massie when the pitch would be at its fastest on the first morning, but it was really placid, although after lunch when the atmosphere become somewhat heavy, the seam bowlers were able to move the ball.

Although Australia did not force a win, because they had no genuine wrist spinner to exploit the bowlers' footmarks in the closing stages, the match must have boosted their confidence. Stackpole made his first Test hundred in England and in the second innings, with Francis not having fielded through illness, Edwards, promoted to open, gave a great display in hitting 170 not out. Just as important was the continued mastery of Lillee and Massie over the England batsmen, the only blemish in the work of the Australian bowlers being the dreadful slowness of their over rate due to the dilatory habits of Lillee and Colley.

By the end of the first day, Australia had scored 249 for six wickets, but Stackpole when 46 was missed twice off Greig, by Knott, who dived in front of slip, and by Parfitt, a sitter at second slip. Greig missed Ian Chappell twice off d'Oliveira, yet later Parfitt brought off four excellent slip catches to compensate, partially, for his one expensive error.

So Stackpole stayed over five and a half hours before being sixth to leave and next morning the Australian tail added 66, thanks to a steady display by Marsh and daring strokes by Colley, who hit a commendable fifty. Snow, alone of the England bowlers, lived up to his reputation and merited his five wickets for 92.

In recent years one has become accustomed to the negative methods of England batsmen, but there has been nothing more abysmal than the way Lillee and Massie were played. Time and again Luckhurst, never attempting to get across and behind the ball, sparred at Lillee and missed. He took two hours to reach double figures and in nearly four and a quarter hours to the close England averaged only 28 an hour off 56 overs, reaching 117 for four.

Australia pressed home their superiority on the third morning and for the second time in the series Marsh claimed five victims behind the stumps. Even if Lillee's length and direction were often wayward and his use of the bouncer overdone, he nevertheless accomplished a fine job for Australia in taking four wickets for 35 runs in 29 overs. Massie, bowling round the wicket, swung the ball awkwardly and never looked easy to play, and had an impressive analysis of four for 43 in 30 overs. The timid England batsmen needed six and a half hours for their 189 runs.

Australia enjoyed a lead of 126 runs and although Luckhurst soon held Stackpole at first slip off the belligerent Snow, Edwards thrived on the long-hops provided by the loose England bowling. Ian Chappell preferred to adopt a supporting role while the tall Edwards with his neat upright style progressed steadily. Near the end of the third day, Illingworth at last decided to bowl and he soon deceived his rival captain, whose stand with Edwards had yielded 124 runs. Australia were 157 for two at close of play on the Saturday, and Ian Chappell's only problem was when he should declare.

Edwards, 90 not out, continued to give a chanceless exhibition with a fine array of off-side strokes, mainly off the back foot. Greg Chappell was equally free and Snow conceded 62 runs in 12 overs. The stand produced 146 runs before Chappell played on. Walters failed, trying to push the score along, and then Ian Chappell closed the innings twenty minutes after the lunch interval, Edwards took out his bat for 170 made in five and a half hours and containing one 5 and thirteen 4's.

England had nine and a half hours to get 451 which was certainly not an impossible target, but after their inglorious first innings it seemed only a question of whether they could survive that length of time and save the match. This time Luckhurst offered much better resistance and in ninety minutes before tea saw the score to 49 without loss, but soon after the interval, Massie, coming round the wicket, penetrated Edrich's defence with a prodigious late dipping inswinger. There followed a momentous struggle by Luckhurst and Parfitt and England finished the day at 111 for one.

Six hours remained for Australia to complete their task, but the England batsmen continued to defy Lillee and Massie. Luckhurst and Parfitt altogether held out for three and three-quarter hours and then Luckhurst tried to sweep Ian Chappell against the spin and was out for 96, taken in the slips after a most gallant stay of almost five and a half hours.

All the Australian bowlers exploited the rough patches and England suffered further set-backs when the new ball was taken. Lillee disposed of Parfitt and Smith whereupon d'Oliveira and Greig came together with three hours remaining. They not only saw the shine off the new ball but remained together until 5.30 when Ian Chappell declined to enforce the option of the last half hour.

So a Test which was played for the most part in glorious sunshine and was watched by over 68,000 people with gate receipts of £41,748--a record for Trent Bridge--ended disappointingly.

© John Wisden & Co