First Test Match

England v Australia 1921

Played at Nottingham, Saturday, Monday, May 28, 30.- Never in the history of Test Matches in this country has English cricket been made to look quite so poor as in the first game of the series last summer. We were not merely beaten but overwhelmed, the Australians showing a complete superiority at every point except wicket keeping. The match ended on the second afternoon, the Australians winning in the easiest fashion by ten wickets. Whatever chance England might have had was lost at the start. Douglas beat Armstrong in the toss for innings, but any advantage that might have been accrued by batting first in the unsettled weather was soon discounted, three wickets falling for 18 runs to Gregory's very fast and rather intimidating bowling. Knight was caught by the wicket keeper in nibbling at a ball on the off side, Ernest Tyldesley was out first ball, chopping an extra quick one on to the stumps, and Hendren was beaten by a fine ball that broke far too quickly for him. From this dreadful beginning there was no recovery. After Hendren left England were always playing a losing game. They had one piece of bad luck, Woolley when nicely set being out to a marvellous catch by Hendry at second slip. Holmes showed fine defence for an hour and a half, and did not seem frightened by the fast bowling, but he had to fight for every run and was never able to score with the least approach to freedom. The innings was all over for a paltry score of 112, the fast bowlers always looking masters of the situation. Gregory was the main cause of the downfall, but McDonald bowled just as well.

Cricket of a very different character was seen when the Australians went in. There had been some showers, but the pitch dried gradually under the influence of the wind. Howell, keeping up a good pace, could not make the ball get up sufficiently high to cause the batsmen trouble, but the England bowling as a whole, though far from deadly, left little room for fault finding, Richmond's googlies having to be very carefully watched. Bardsley played in something like his best form for two hours and a half, and at the call of time the Australians, with four wickets in hand, held the comfortable lead of 55 runs. A lot of rain fell during Saturday night, and no one could tell what would happen when at 11 o'clock on Monday the match was resumed. Douglas very properly put on Rhodes and Woolley, but the left handed bowlers did not make the most of the conditions. With every run of value they sent down too many balls that asked to be hit, and Carter was quick to punish them. The result was that the Australian score reached 232, or 120 ahead. This was a formidable balance to face, and at no time did England look like making anything of a fight. Holmes was caught at short mid on at 23, and after lunch with the score at 41 Ernest Tyldesley was out in a desperately unlucky way. In trying to score from a fast long hop he received a severe blow in the face, and the ball dribbled on to the wicket. Tyldesley was helped off the field, but the injury happily proved less serious than was feared. Another tragedy for England occurred at 60, Knight being run out- so far as one could tell through no fault of his own. Knight's 38 was perhaps the best display of batting given for England in a lamentable match. On no other occasion did he play the Australian bowling half so well. The arrears were hit off with four wickets in hand, but the innings ended for 147. Woolley played finely, but the keen bowling and fielding kept him so quiet that he took an hour and three quarters to get his 34. It struck one that with his advantages of height and reach he might well have ventured on a bolder game against Armstrong. He once drove the Australian captain to the boundary, but in a long series of overs that was all. The Australians required only 28 to win, and n twenty minutes the runs were hit off, Macartney going in with Bardsley, as Collins was suffering from a badly damaged thumb. The match proved an enormous attraction, and England's complete overthrow naturally caused intense disappointment. Still, no one could say too much in praise of the Australian bowling and fielding.

© John Wisden & Co