Percy Chapman preux chevalier now led his merry but generally elderly men on from their seismic victory at the Gabba described earlier to the cauldron of Sydney Cricket Ground where the outfielder senses intolerable isolation in a crowded place and even the wicketkeeper can hear himself barracked.
Mead had played his last Test and made way for Geary. For Australia, Richardson replaced Bradman, the gentle Nothling came in for the broken Gregory, who had therefore also played his last Test, and the off-spinner Blackie made his debut at the unlikely age of 46. The effects of the carnage of the First World War are clear to see with each side missing the Lost Generation of young players who might have been.
Australia were bowled out for 253 with Geary taking 5 for 35 in 18 overs and Larwood picked up 3 for 77 in 26.2 overs. Controversy attended the early dismissal of Kippax who was bowled off his pads from outside leg stump but the batsman claimed that ‘keeper Duckworth had broken the wicket.
The scene was then set for Hammond to take command. Coming in with England at 37 for 1, he reigned supreme for 7 hours 41 minutes during which time he scored 251 in England’s total of 636 all out.
Australia’s second innings of 397 contained centuries for Barnacle Bill Woodfull and the multi-initialed H.S.T.L Hendry, but it was barely enough to make England bat again and the tourists won the second Test by 8 wickets and went 2 – 0 up in the series.
In the home side’s second innings the damage had been done by Tate with 4 for 99 from 46 overs, but Larwood’s influence, although on paper insignificant with 1 for 105 from 35 overs, was in fact considerable as batsmen took risks at the other end either to avoid him or to protect the lower order from him. Barker and Rosewater in Test Cricket England v Australia suggest that, ‘There was an impression, too, that at times he bowled at the batsman.’
The Australian crowds and commentariat were in two minds. Either this was the worst, oldest and least worthy side ever to reach Australian shores or given the results so far, the luckiest. The temperature metaphorically as well as literally was rising as the antipodean spring turned into high summer.
Four years later Jardine was to use the following quotation from R.W.Thompson’s Down Under, a non-cricketing account of a period he spent in the Dominion, to show that the reaction in 1932/33 was in many ways no different to that which had preceded it.
Of 1928, Thompson writes, “A far more serious series of events now commenced. I refer to the cricket Test matches between England and Australia. The papers and the people relegated all other business and thoughts to the background. I had not realised that cricket could be taken so seriously. The attitude of the general public and of the crowds at the matches was amazing. This was no game. It was warfare …”
Thompson wrote that, ‘There was little sporting spirit … The merits of England’s players were belittled and scoffed at, dismissed as luck.”
Jardine obscures the names so that his 1934 readers might at first think it was a report of that winter’s tour, but in 2010 there is no need for such artifice.
Argument, thought Thompson, was now unavoidable. “I thanked God for Hammond and his double centuries, and Larwood and his Ponsford-baffling bowling (actually hand breaking bowling – TM). These two were unanswerable. Nevertheless, the Australians called Hammond a one-stroke player, and Larwood, they said was not as fast as Gregory.”
According to Thompson, “The Sydney Test provided the newspapers with copy for several weeks, and the general public with material for heated and scathing debate …” Duckworth, he writes, “was barracked unmercifully for many days afterwards …” The Kippax incident being “discussed unsportingly on every hand.”
Thompson found it very hard, “to get an acknowledgement of England’s worth from anyone, even though we were winning.”
Yet, if the temperature was rising, it was to soar yet further as both sides made their way to Melbourne and the New Year Test.
To be continued …