‘Do not leave your seats’ – Protagonists relive first Tied Test

Alan Davidson, Neil Harvey, Lance Gibbs and Peter Lashley look back on the memorable Brisbane Test of West Indies’ tour of Australia in 1960-61.

Alan Davidson (left) and Neil Harvey at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.   -  Getty Images

Alan Davidson and Neil Harvey were in their 30s when they played the first tied Test, the first of five Tests between Australia and West Indies in the 1960-61 season, in Brisbane.

Sixty years later, they see that remarkable game and the whole tour as an exemplar of the spirit of cricket.

The tied Test, the first of two tied Tests ever played, finished with a run out of Ian Meckiff, the No. 11, when the Australian last pair attempted to pinch the winning single. It capped a contest filled with twists and turns, and excellent contributions from a number of players from both sides; it set the tone for the rest of the series, and by the time the West Indies team finished its tour assignments, it had become one of the most adored sports teams ever to visit Australia.

READ: The tied Test that tested the limits of Australia and West Indies

“It showed that cricket can be played in a positive way, in a friendly way, in the acknowledgement of the opponent to a shot, or a ball that was bowled,” Neil Harvey, now 92, said in a commemoration event arranged by Cricket Australia.

“There was always that camaraderie between the two teams. The public enjoyed two teams; they could see the spirit in the game that was being played,” he said.

The Australian and West Indian cricketers who played in the first-ever tied Test match at The Gabba in 1960 had a reunion in 2000.   -  Getty Images

 

‘Inspiration’

Harvey was joined by team-mate Davidson and two West Indian players who were part of that Test: Lance Gibbs, and Peter Lashley, who made his debut in that game.

Davidson, now 91, said the Test series had a positive impact on cricketers outside of cricket, too. “To think back to those years, the memories that we’ve got out of that series, it was something that gave us inspiration for not only our careers afterwards, after the game, [but also elsewhere]. There was not the money around that there is today, so you had to have a job, but the spirit that you played with was actually carried on through your employment and away from the game,” he said.

READ: Tied Test of 1986: The suspense beats a Hitchcock thriller

Left-arm seamer Davidson had an enormous impact in the tied Test, taking 11 wickets and scoring 124 runs, including 80 crucial runs in the second dig to resurrect a faltering run-chase. His team-mate Harvey reflected on Davidson’s performance.

“Eleven wickets against a powerful West Indian side; it was actually unheard of, it was a marvellous bowling performance. We were up against the odds in the second innings, chasing 233 to win, and we were 6 for 92 when Davo and Richie [Benaud] got together. Davo produced one of his best batting innings, so he’s got not only his best bowling performance he’s also got one of his best batting performances as well, and he made a lovely 80 before Richie ran him out and that changed the whole complexion of the game. It just set it up for a magnificent last over,” Harvey said.

“It showed that cricket can be played in a positive way, in a friendly way, in the acknowledgement of the opponent to a shot, or a ball that was bowled,” Neil Harvey said.   -  Getty Images

 

‘Tension’

That final over, bowled by Wes Hall, was an eventful one: a caught-behind, two run-outs, a drop, and a missed run-out chance.

“The tension was so high that us sitting in the dressing room were all instructed not to move. ‘Do not leave your seats.’ None of us moved in the whole last seven or eight balls that were bowled in that Test match. [The throw] was right on stumps; as it turned out, a tie. Great memories, great Test match, I played against great fellows. It did so much for Australian cricket. I don’t think a series has done so much for the game in this country than that actual series did,” Harvey said.

Off-spinner Gibbs, who was 12th man in that contest, said, “It was probably the greatest Test match I took part in.”

“[The reception] was great. I’ve never played before in front of 90,000 people. And that happened at Melbourne. So it was a great tour, not only for myself but for the West Indies team in general,” he said.

READ: Border: 'Tied Test was the beginning of Indo-Aussie rivalry'

Lashley said he had to move slightly to have Joe Solomon throw the ball at the stumps, for that final run out. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” he quipped.

Harvey hoped the West Indies cricket team would soon be back playing a top standard of cricket.

“We need the West Indies to be strong worldwide because we need more than two or three teams to play top cricket. We need at least five or six teams to play top-class cricket to make the game a great spectacle. We need West Indies to get back on top again; nobody will enjoy that as much as I will, I can tell you that.”

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