Fifth Test Match

England v Australia 1909

Toss: Australia. Test debuts: England - D.W.Carr, F.E.Woolley

Unlike the four previous fixtures the final Test Match, favoured with delightful weather, was played on a perfect wicket, and to such an extent did the batting assert itself that there never seemed to be much chance of arriving at a positive result in three days. Had the result of the rubber depended on the game play would if necessary have gone on until the end of the week. As at Manchester the Australians were chiefly concerned in avoiding defeat, victory, in the happy position in which they stood, being quite a secondary consideration. Enormous interest was taken in the game, over 53000 people paying for admission during the three days. Thirteen players had been retained for England, among the number for the first time being D.W. Carr the Kent bowler. Of the thirteen it was decided to leave out Blythe and Buckenham. The wicket being so hard and fast the Selection Committee could hardly have played Blythe as well as Carr, but the omission of Buckenham, for which MacLaren was understood to be responsible, was so grave a blunder that it is difficult to find words in which to speak of it. Old cricketers in the pavilion were astounded when they learnt what had been determined on, the policy of letting England go into the field in fine weather at the Oval without a good fast bowler being condemned in uncompromising terms. Equalling F.S. Jackson's luck in 1905, Noble won the toss for the fifth time in succession and of course took first innings.

Staying in until half past five the Australians scored 325. On such a pitch this was quite an ordinary total, but considering that the first four wickets fell for 58 runs the performance was a fine one. At the start of the game Carr bowled with startling success, breaking through Gregory's defence at nine and getting Noble and Armstrong out leg before wicket at 27 and 55 respectively. When at 58 Barnes, with a ball that came off the ground at lightning speed, clean bowled Ransford the spectators were in a high state of excitement. However, with Ransford's downfall England's run of success came to an end. Bardsley, who from the first had played in magnificent form was joined by Trumper and in an hour and fifty minutes the two batsmen put on 118 runs. MacLaren was sadly at fault in his management of the England bowling. He kept Carr on unchanged for over an hour and a half and for some inexplicable reason he put Sharp on in place of Barnes when the score stood at nine for one wicket. Trumper gave a chance to Barnes at mid off when 48, but otherwise his 73 was a perfect innings. At no time did he seem troubled by Carr's deceptive breaks. When he left the bowling had been pretty well mastered and with Macartney in 83 runs were added for the sixth wicket. At 259 Bardsley brought his great innings to a close by playing a ball from Sharp on to his stumps. He was batting three hours and three quarters for his 136, his hits including one 6 (four from an overthrow) and a dozen 4s. He hit finely all rounf the wicket, being especially strong past cover point and in front of short leg. When 30 he might have been caught at the wicket by Lilley and with his score at 77 he was palpably let off by MacLaren at second slip, but these were the only blemishes in a truly splendid display. Macartney, who was the last man out, played in capital form for 50. Carr's five wickets cost 146 runs, but he would have got on much better had he been given a rest early in the day.

In the forty minutes that remained for cricket England lost two wickets to Cotter's bowling for 40 runs, Spooner being beaten by a fast yorker and MacLaren leg before to a full pitch. On the second day the Englishmen were batting from eleven o'clock till about quarter past five, and by scoring 352 secured a lead on the first innings of 27 runs. At one point they seemed certain to obtain a far more substantial advantage, the total at the tea interval standing at 344 for six wickets. Sharp was then not out 102 and Hutchings not out 58, the two batsmen having so far put on 138 runs together. Unfortunately for England they did not on starting afresh give themselves time to settle down again. Both were caught at 348 and as Barnes and Carr did nothing England's four wickets fell after the tea interval for eight runs. In getting his 105 - the only hundred for England in the Test Matches - Sharp was at the wickets for two hours and fifty minutes, his figures including seven 4s. With his score at 93 he gave a chance to the wicket keeper, but this was only mistake. He played a very fine game, hitting hard and well all round the wicket. Hutchings made some brilliant drives in his 59, but at the start of his innings he was much at fault in timing Cotter and had more than one narrow escape of being bowled. The Australians were placed at a great disadvantage by losing Laver, who at the end of about an hour's cricket strained the muscles in his left thigh so badly that he could take no further part in the game. Rhodes and Fry put on 104 together in rather less than two hours for the third wicket - an unfortunate run out ending Fry's innings when he seemed firmly set. After lunch Rhodes, Woolley and Hayes were got rid of in quick succession, the good work done in the morning being so much discounted that six wickets were down for 206. However Sharp and Hutchings saved the situation. Cotter bowled at a great pace and fully deserved his success. The fielding was magnificent, Ransford in particular saving the boundary again and again on the on side.

The Australians had an hour's batting at the end of the afternoon and by beautiful cricket Gregory and Bardsley scored 76 runs without being parted. On the third day the interest in the match declined, a draw always seeming inevitable. Noble did not attempt to force a win, delaying the closure until four o'clock when the Australians score stood 339 for five wickets. Presumably he though the pitch too good to give his bowlers any chance of getting England out before half past six. Still, though void of excitement, the day's cricket was memorable, Bardsley following up his 136 with 130 and thus performing the unprecedented feat in Test Matches of getting two separate hundreds. Without making a mistake of any kind he withstood the English bowling for three hours and three quarters. Up to the time he reached his hundred his cricket was delightful to look at, but after that, perhaps from fatigue, he became strangely slow, taking eighty minutes to score his last thirty runs. He hit ten 4s, six 3s and seventeen 2s. He and Gregory scored 180 together in two hours and a quarter for the first wicket. So complete was their command of the bowling that the partnership might have been indefinitely prolonged. In his eagerness to see Bardsley get a second hundred, however, Gregory lost his wicket, Hutchings and Rhodes running him out. On no occasion during the tour did Gregory bat better, his play being up to the standard of his best seasons. Noble and Ransford batted very well, finding no difficulty in scoring off the wearied bowlers.

With two hours and twenty minutes left for cricket, England went in for a second time. Spooner and Hayes were soon dismissed, but on Fry joining Rhodes steady batting made England quite safe, 61 runs being added for the third wicket in fifty minutes. Rhodes, as in the first innings, batted admirably.

© John Wisden & Co