Trevor Wedlake's Writings
Published in the Village Journal April, 1975
|Ever since the extremely fast bowling of Australia's Ernest Jones singed W.G. Grace' s beard back in 1896, fast bowlers have had in their armoury the weapons to blight the endeavours of the best of batsmen.
Used in pairs they have often won a series for their side. Correspondents on the spot claim that Australia's two opening bowlers Lillee and Thompson are as fast and furious as any there have ever been, and England's success in the 6th Test and in New Zealand confirms how effective they were.
MCC, returning this week, have made plain the paucity in present-day English cricket of the technique and temperament to play hostile fast bowling. But as inquests official and un-official linger on and very real concern is voiced about the technical and psychological failures that have been exposed on this tour one or two points may be worthy of note.
Over the entire history of England-Australia Test Matches Australia lead by 86 matches to 70. In this century Australia lead by 67 matches to 44. In rubbers that is 17 to 11. Since 1945 Australia have won 29 matches to 15 by England -7 rubbers to 4. So Australia should always be backed to win, on form.
To be fair to the returning warriors one should also concede that some of the powerful England batting sides of the past may have been hard pressed by Thompson and Lillee, though one imagines they would not have been caught slashing at shoulder-high balls two feet outside the off stump.
In 1932-33 Larwood and Voce were the two main agents of D.R. Jardine' s triumphant trouncing 4 - 1 of Australia's Bradman, McCabe, Ponsford and Fingleton. The great S.F. Barnes and the fast left-arm bowling of Frank Foster were too much for Australia in 1911-12.
Yet there is a glimmer of hope that England may fare better in the series this summer. Both Thompson and Lillee showed signs of strain before the end of the Australian season and broke down. Furthermore, The Guardian reporter claims that Thompson bowled many no-balls, most of which were not called. He could find life harder in England.