Fifth Test Match



At The Oval, August 21, 22, 23, 25, 26. Drawn. England went into this match knowing they could be the first team to win all five Tests in the same series in England--a feat Australia accomplished twice at home--but less than twelve hours' cricket was possible on the five days. With Reid and Sutcliffe making the biggest stand of the game in the last hour and forty minutes, New Zealand, who had struggled against adversity, saved the game creditably.

Most of the cricket took place on the first and last days. Half an hour's delay occurred at the start and then England, who left out Graveney from the selected twelve, dismissed New Zealand in four hours forty minutes for 161, Richardson and Milton replying with 30 in the last forty minutes. Rain during the night prevented a resumption before 12.35 p.m. on Friday when MacGibbon, Reid and Blair each bowled one maiden over before bad light stopped play. This was followed by a severe thunderstorm that left the ground resembling a lake. Bad weather continued and nothing could be done on Saturday or Monday, but the sun shone on Tuesday when a full day's play took place.

A bruised Achilles tendon kept Hayes out of the New Zealand team and Harford was also omitted, two left-handed batsmen, Miller and Meale, being recalled.

After Reid won the toss for the third successive time the ineptitude of the New Zealand batsmen was again apparent. H. Lock, The Oval groundsman, had produced a perfect pitch for batting, but by three o'clock the first five wickets had fallen for 55 and only plucky efforts by Reid, MacGibbon and Moir saved the side from complete collapse.

Sparling could not complete his innings as he ducked into a short-pitched ball from Trueman which did not lift as he expected from the docile surface. He received a nasty blow on the left ear which prevented him taking further part in the match. May changed his attack astutely, the five England bowlers sharing the wickets, Statham being very fast and difficult to play in the early overs. England fielded excellently until late in the innings when some chances went astray, but Lock, Milton and Watson all brought off grand catches close to the bat.

Reid showed his class for New Zealand. Playing himself in with care, he took twenty minutes to open his score, but later his appetite for runs caused his dismissal. He drove Laker for 6, but on Lock entering the attack for the first time at 89 Reid helped himself to one boundary, then failed to perceive a change of pace and was bowled by a faster ball. Moir adopted a confident attitude and in seventy minutes made the highest score of his Test career.

Richardson and Milton, who began their partnership on Thursday evening, were still together on Tuesday when they added nine runs before the left-hander was bowled by a yorker. Milton needed nearly half an hour to increase his first day's score of 10. England wanted runs quickly, but Blair and MacGibbon bowled well and untiringly on a soft pitch. They were in action throughout the two hours before lunch when MacGibbon served his side admirably by disposing of Watson, Milton, Bailey and Evans. With Blair beating May as the England captain essayed a drive outside the off-stump, six wickets were down at the interval for 129. Petrie, who as usual kept wicket smartly, had a hand in the fall of three.

Cowdrey played a valuable defensive innings, but his colleagues hit gaily, the climax coming when Trueman made 39 out of 57 put on with Laker in twenty-five minutes. Trueman punished Moir for three 6's during the leg-spinner's last three overs which cost 41.

When May declared with a lead of 58, England had two and three-quarter hours left in which to force a win. Statham promptly removed Miller--a ball of great pace moved late and kept low--but the slight chance of success was jeopardised by missed chances when Laker and Lock took over after only five overs, three of them maidens, by Trueman. Laker began with six maidens, but in Lock's second over Trueman let off D'Arcy, the ball going low to his left land, and later the Yorkshireman missed the same player off Laker at short-leg.

So D'Arcy stayed sixty-five minutes. Then Reid, cheered all the way to the wicket, joined Sutcliffe and by sound batting this pair put on 70 without being parted. Sutcliffe never relaxed his vigilant defence, whereas Reid, who appropriately cleared the arrears with a handsome straight drive to the Vauxhall stand at the expense of Statham, seized the opportunity to hit his only 50 of the series. Less than half an hour remained when England gave up the quest for victory.

The full attendance came to 37,054, including 3,200 members.

© John Wisden & Co