In this era of T-20 cricket I dont know if this post finds any takers… but I have just been talking with a friend about two of the greatest test matches ever played in the history of cricket. Where no one won … no team… but Cricket won !! Then lightning struck and I decided to make a post on them… so you have to either bear with it or ignore… !!!! coz i gotta do this… !!!!
In 157 years of Test Cricket till date we have had only two tied test matches (no not drawn, I am talking about tied test matches)… amazingly both involve Australia…
As much I always want the Aussies to lose against us, its impossible to deny the fact that they have been great achievers in Test Cricket…
Anyways this post is not about Australia and India its about cricket – Test Cricket and about one of the only two matches that were tied…
The first happened in 1960 when Frank Worell led a West Indies team to play against the Australians in their own country led by Richie Benaud.
Around the mid 1950′s test cricket was almost at its nadir… Slow over rates, negative tactics and dour play (with England the main culprit) had seen Test matches develop into wars of attrition. As a result crowds were down; cricket had become boring. The public was crying out for some bright, attractive cricket that would provide entertainment for the paying spectator.
Australia was the best team during that time… both the captains Richie and Frank encouraged their teams to play attacking cricket and this series became a master piece… !
The first test was scheduled to be played at the Woollengabba stadium nicknamed “The Gabba” in Brisbane … Frank Worell was the first Black captain for a full series to be leading the West Indies.
After Sir Frank Worrell decided to bat first in the first innings Sir Alan Davidson, whom many claim to be the best left arm bowler until Wasim Akram struck early blows … at 65/3 the men from the Carribean seemed to be in dire straits… But Sobers & the skipper struck a partnership.. and Sobers hammered 132 of 174 deliveries with 21 boundaries. Remember these were dull slow days of test cricket and this was being played in Australia on a bouncy pitch !!!! West Indies had made 453 off 100.6 overs (8 ball overs) in their first innings. Sir Davidson had taken 5 wickets !
In reply Australia rode a slow and defiant innings by Norman Clifford Louis O’Neill (181) and ended their innings at 505. They led by 52 runs at the end of day 3 with all wickets of the West Indies intact and no runs on the board.
The next day Sir Alan Davidson swung the ball and took 6 wickets and at stumps the West Indies were at 259/9 and it seemed like a lost cause for the men from the caribbean, however the next day Wes Hall for the last wicket added another 25 runs.
Seeking 233 runs at a rate of about 45 an hour for victory Australia probably took it too easy or concluded the result but very soon they saw why Wes hall was considered one of the fastest and more dangerous bowlers of his time… soon they were stumbling at 109 for 6, with about 120 minutes to go.
This is when the legendary conversation between the then Chairman of Selectors Sir Don and Richie Benaud took place at tea time…
As was his habit, Sir Donald Bradman, the chairman of selectors, made his way to the rooms for a cup of tea. Looking straight at Richie Benaud, Australia’s captain, he said: “What’s it going to be?”
“Well, we’re going for a win,” replied Benaud.
“I’m very pleased to hear it,” replied Sir Donald.
After that ensued the rear guard action Richie Benaud along with the great Sir Alan Davidson scored 134 runs for the 7th wicket partnership. Unfortunately disaster struck and at 226 Sir Davidson was run out with victory was just 7 runs away.
What happened after that is copy pasted below from Wikipedia :
 Last over of the Australian second innings
- 1st ball : Wally Grout, facing, was hit on the thigh. Benaud called him through for a single to take strike. Five runs were needed to win from seven balls.
- 2nd ball : Benaud attempted a hook shot but was caught behind by wicket-keeper Gerry Alexander. The score was 228-8.
- 3rd ball : The new batsman, Ian Meckiff, cut to mid-off. No run. Still five runs to win from five balls.
- 4th ball : The ball flew down leg-side without making contact with Meckiff’s bat. Grout called him through for a bye. Alexander threw the ball to the bowler’s end to try to run out Meckiff, but his throw missed and Meckiff made his ground. Four runs to win from four balls.
- 5th ball : Grout fended a bouncer to square leg, where Rohan Kanhai was ready to take the catch. Hall also attempted to take the catch in his follow-through, resulting in a fielding mix-up which allows Meckiff and Grout take a single and the catch was not taken. Three runs to win from three balls.
- 6th ball : Meckiff swung desperately and sent the ball towards the mid-wicket boundary. The batsmen ran two runs as Conrad Hunte scooped the ball up just inside the fence. The batsmen attempted a third run for victory but Hunte’s return was flat and true, straight into the gloves of Alexander, who whipped off the bails before Grout could get home. The teams were tied. Australia were on 232-9, requiring one run to win with one wicket in hand and two balls remaining.
- 7th ball : The new batsman, Lindsay Kline, pushed the ball to square leg and set off for a single. Joe Solomon scooped up the ball and, with one stump to aim for from 12 metres out, threw the ball in and hit the stumps, running Meckiff out by a few inches.
- Australia were all out for 232 and the match ended in the first tie in 84 years of Test cricket.
Australia versus West Indies – Score Card
Here is the moment re-lived in words of Wes Hall himself :
“It was the strangest over I have ever bowled in cricket. Purely because of the tension. I just kept running in and tried not to think too much about what I was doing, what I was going to bowl him.”
Was he nervous?
“Yeah, of course I was, man! But you couldn’t let it get to you, you know? I had a job to do and I just ran up and bowled my best and hoped they didn’t hit it. From the second I let that last ball go, it was all a blur. A wonderful, wonderful blur.”
The classic piece is this :
Hall disclosed he had disobeyed Worrell’s instructions not to bowl a bouncer to Benaud and had him caught behind all the same. “I told you not to bowl a bouncer,” Worrell admonished Hall. “Suppose that ball had taken a top edge? Do you realise how many runs they had to win?” Grout was run out by Conrad Hunte’s accurate long throw to wicketkeeper Gerry Alexander from deep mid-wicket. As Hall went back to his long mark to bowl to Kline with one run to win, Worrell had only one piece of advice: “Don’t bowl a no-ball or they’ll never let you back into Barbados.”
When the dust had settled, and the realization dawned on everyone that it had been a tie, the players from both sides celebrated together in the dressing rooms, drinking champagne, beer, and singing songs well into the night. They players describe how the bond that was formed that night between the members of both teams, set the tone for the rest of the series.
Can you actually imagine two opposition teams singing and drinking together ?????
For some more quotes click here
This series turned out to be the Calypso Summer… There is a film on this test match which has videos of the last over and really interesting interviews, I have seen in it a few times but I have not been able to find it out… (if any one can please be my guest)
At the end of this series which Australia won 2-1, Sir Frank Worrell and his men were given the most gracious an ovation from the Australian crowds… amazingly there are very few teams which can actually draw so much respect and love from Australian crowds !!!!!
This was one hell of a test match and I really wonder how much fun it would have been to see the match… !! Test cricket lived and kicked on after this series… !!!
This is for the real cricket fans…
and I hope to do another post on India v/s Australia Tied Test at the Chepauk soon !!!