Surely there may never again
be anything like it
Introduction 1 Match Preview 3Miller as key to Australian Success First Day 15Englands Flying Start in Fourth Test Match Second Day 39Australia Capitulate to Lakers Spin Third Day 61Test Match Reflections in the Rain Fourth Day 75One Hours Play in Fourth Test Fifth Day 83Lakers supreme part in retaining the Ashes Letter to the Editor, 4th August 1956 101 Bibliography 103 Collophon 105
The Fourth Test Match at Old Trafford in 1956 between England and Australia is one of, if not the, most memorable games of cricket ever played. It was remarkable for the simple reason that one man, Jim Laker, dismissed all but one of the Australian batsman over the course of four rain interrupted days.
The reports of the match from The Times are re-printed here in their entirety, together with photographs of news events, sport and daily life of 1956 as a backdrop to this unique sporting achievement.
This book forms part of a Turnover series published by The Times, which is named for the editorial policy of the paper to begin important articles on the recto page of the paper, requiring the reader to turnover to finish the story.
Miller as key to Australian Test success
it is already time for the fourth Test match between England and Australia to begin at Manchester and yesterday Old Trafford, the famous home of the Lancashire club, was looking as dignified and well-groomed as it has ever been. Both sides spent a couple of hours at the nets there and everyone seemed to have something exclusive to say about the pitch or the final composition of the two teams. But there were no illusions about the significance of the match.
The position is simple. At the moment the score is one match all and a draw in the rubber of five will leave England with the Ashes. Australia, in fact, have got to win either now or at the Oval in August and to lose neither time to be successful That being so, they cannot wait and hope that victory will come to them. Instead, they must pursue the initiative and the team they choose to do that may show two changes from the one beaten at Leeds.
It is certain that Langley will replace Maddocks and it is likely that Craig, who is among the 12 players nominated, will come in for Burge. But the one big difference between this Australia team and the last one is that now Miller will bowl. It was he who created the Australian victory at Lords, and when he is fit to help out Lindwall and Archer the performance of the whole side is lifted up. That is a warning and it would be foolish to think that Australias success in the second Test match was a flash in the pan. On the contrary, they have shown themselves able to rise to the occasion and, irrespective of their averages on this tour, they have in good conditions a formidable batting line-up.
Fashion in 1956 a model wearing a dress by Italian designer Fabianishows off the latest style Interfoto
Yet perhaps the factors which may again have more influence than any on the meeting of two well-balanced sides are the weather and the wicket. Yesterday the sky became gradually more clouded as one drove north, and because of Manchesters climate Old Trafford Test matches are notoriously unpredictable. The estimable and original intention of the authorities was to prepare the fastest possible wicket and they are still confident of doing so. In appearance it is green and firm and the hope is that the recent persistent rains will not have taken toll of too much of its speed. The covers have been on since last weekend and the result could well be a true and lasting pitch very similar to that on which South Africa beat England in a thrilling finish last year. One writes, of course, on the perhaps improbable assumption that it will not rain, If it does so, then the winning of the toss may be st as important as it was at Leeds. There England had much the better of the wicket, and as soon as the ball turned they had Australia in trouble.
Green and firm
Fashion in 1956 an aluminium-heeled stilleto being shown at shoe company Dolcis Autumn Collection Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis
Not since 1905 has a Test match between England and Australia been finished at Old Trafford
There is much speculation as to whom England will leave out this morning. If the selectors have any smouldering doubts about the genuine pace of the pitch and the forecast is anything but rigidly fair, one imagines it will be Trueman who goes. Sheppard can replace him as a close to the wicket fielder and at the moment Statham seems in better form with the ball. Also it would be a pity to break up the combination of Laker and Lock, particularly at a ground of such stormy memories where the ball turns so readily in the wet. Only three years ago Australia were 35 for eight in the second innings of the third Test match. With the time quickly running out they may not have been trying then for all they were worth, but Manchester after rain is no place for batsmen. Unfortunately Graveney will definitely be prevented from playing by a bruised hand, but Oakman is in attendance in his stead.
The teams will be selected from
England AustraliaP B H May captain C C McDonald t E Bailey J BurkeM C Cowdrey R N Harvey T G Evans K R MillerJ C Laker P BurgeG A R Lock K MackayA S m Oakman I D CraigP E Richardson R G ArcherD S Sheppard R BenaudJ B Statham R R Lindwall F S Trueman I Johnson captainC Washbrook G Langley
At Leeds the record books pointed against an English victory, and they were wrong. Now they indicate a draw and perhaps it is their turn to be wrong again. Not since 1905 has a Test match between England and Australia been finished at Old Trafford. For that the weather has been largely responsible, although in 1934 a high scoring match was left drawn. Over the next few days if the skies are clear and the pitch does not begin to crumble another draw may be the likeliest result. Certainly on an easy wicket and against competent, well-organised Test match batting, if that is not expecting too much, one doubts if either side has quite the attacking power to win.
Previous pageFashion in 1956 a model showing off the latest swimwear styles Lambert/Getty Images
Englands flying start in Fourth Test Match
Laker and Lock must already feel a tingling in their fingers
Everything went right for England on the first day of the fourth Test match against Australia at Old Trafford, and by the end of it they had reached 307 for three wickets. That is not an unassailable position, but it is an immensely strong one, particularly as the pitch, even at this early stage, is not turning its back on spin. Indeed, Laker and Lock must already feel a tingling in their fingers at the prospect of bowling on it later in the match, and England have reason to believe that their performance yesterday may be an important stride towards retaining the Ashes.
Perhaps as significant a moment as any during the day was when May, for the third time this season, won the toss. The wicket, contrary to expectations, had no semblance of life. It was, instead, a blissful place for batsmen as it was heartbreaking for bowlers, and England made the most of their good fortune by batting with unaccustomed skill and welcome success. Richardson and Cowdrey sent them away with a fine opening partnership of 174 in 190 minutes, which was the highest against Australia since Hutton and Barnett made 219 together at Nottingham in 1938. Before that only Hobbs and Rhodes, Hobbs and Sutcliffe, and Hayward and Jackson had made more for Englands first wicket against Australia, so that Englands pair of the present have moved into exalted company. When they were gone two more young amateurs carried on the stroke-play.
17First Day 26 July 1956
It is not often that the opportunity comes of writing so generously of Englands batting
During the day there were as many as 37 4s and a 6, many of them classically executed, and it says much for Sheppard that his innings was as attractive as any. It was a tribute in the first place to choose him, and it is a reflection of his class that in his sixth innings of the Summer he has already made 59 against Australia and is still in possession. It is not often that the opportunity comes of writing so generously of Englands batting, and when they or any other country do score 111 before luncheon and over 300 runs in a day, it calls for rejoicing.
19First Day 26 July 1956
World News 1956 The Suez Crisis was the major international event that affected Britain in 1956. The invasion of the Suez Canal by Egypt and Britains handling of it led to the resignation of the Prime Minister, Anthony Eden.These pictures show (above) General E Burns, the United Nations Emergency Force Commander inspecting the troops and (below) Private Arthur Whitford doing his washing in the Suez Canal near the front line at El Cap Times Newspapers Ltd
Yesterday Laker and Lock would have got more from the turf than Benaud and Johnson because they have greater powers of spin.
But Australia bowled as indecisively as they can have done for a long while. They appeared downhearted that the pitch was so slow, and if, as seems likely, it crumbles within the next day or two, they wil