1926 Ashes Decider

 

While some were boarding the Torbay Express to spend the summer on the English Riviera 25,000 were queuing down the St John’s Wood Road  to watch the second Test between England and Australia at Lord’s . They can be seen on a Pathe News film here.

After the wash out at Trent Bridge, there was great excitement as Carr and Collins tossed for innings surrounded by spectators.  Was it an early example of the media dictating terms or did the Captains really not bother making their way to the middle?

“We’ll have a bat,” said the Australian captain.

The Larwood Express had been brought in for Hearne but no one and nothing – not even leg theory with four short legs, three behind square – could stop the great Bardsley from ‘taking his bat out’ for 193 in Australia’s 383 all out.

In England’s ‘dig’, Hobbs (119) and Sutcliffe (82) put on 182 for the first wicket, then, Woolley (87), Hendren (127*) and Chapman (50*) took the score on to 475 for 3 declared.  What a batting exhibition that was.

Macartney, whose birthday fell on the Sunday rest day, made the first of his three centuries as a forty year old (133*) when Australia batted out time on the third and final day of the match.

Pathe News now takes us on to Leeds and another draw with Australia making 494 (Woodfull 141, Macartney 151 and Richardson 100 all scoring big) and forcing England to follow on 200 behind.  In their second innings England did a Gabba Twenty10, scoring 254 for 3 with Hobbs and Sutcliffe putting on 156 for the first wicket to save the three day Test match.

At Old Trafford there was yet more rain, causing another late start on Saturday’s opening day, this time followed by just 10 balls and 6 runs for the frustrated spectators. 

Hobbs, deputising for Carr as the first professional captain for 39 years, could not stop Woodfall from making his second successive century and Macartney his third in a row.  When England had made 305 for 5, time was called on another draw, increasing the public clamour for four-day Tests.

For the deciding and timeless Test at the Oval, Chapman took over the England captaincy.  Australia led on first innings by just 22 runs.  It was in England’s opening innings of the match that Hobbs, playing ‘divinely’, missed a full toss from Mailey, sadly not captured here by the cameera man.

Surely the famous ‘miss’ can be explained by the amount of drift and dip the wrist spinner would have got on the ball – imagine Warne’s wonder ball, but without the pitch and turn.

England then made 436 with Hobbs (100) and Sutcliffe (161) putting on 172 for the first wicket.  This does not tell half the story.  With an overnight score of 49, the pair had resumed the next morning after torrential overnight rain.  As the sun cooked the wicket, Richardson’s off-breaks from the Vauxhall end and Macartney’s slow lefty arm from the pavilion end turned and kicked viciously – here imagine Underwood in ’68 bowling from both ends.  This was extraordinary batting.

Requiring 415 to win, Australia were ripped apart by Larwood (3-34) then Rhodes (4-44). 

It is often remarked that Gregory batted without gloves even to Larwood. Can that be true?  Gloves were skimpy affairs with the sausages on tapes that were wound round the hands and would have been difficult to see on film.  But surely this film confirms that the Australian faced his opposite number without gloves.

And so England won the Ashes for the first time in 14 long years with so much real death and distruction between that it was really a different world in which Pathe News captured a pitch invasion as if it was a West Indian victory in the 1970s. 

“We want Chapman …We want Rhodes,” roared the crowd.

All this captured in 14 minutes of celluloid.   For those counting the minutes to midnight tonight, this film offers more interest than yet another 14 minutes of pre-match twaddle from Sky.  Do please have a look.

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