Tyson vs Australia

After England were crushed by an innings and 154 runs in the first Test, FRANK TYSON came to life in the rest of the 1954-55 Ashes series. The rest is history, says GULU EZEKIEL.

For one remarkable series, Frank `Typhoon' Tyson bowled as fast as any man before or since in the history of Test cricket. Though his career was brief, ending at the age of 30 due to fitness problems (playing in only 17 Test matches), his express bowling in Australia in 1954-55 had acquired legendary status.

England under Len Hutton had won back the Ashes — after 19 years — at home the year before. They were now in Australia to defend their prized possession. Tyson had made his Test debut a few months earlier against Pakistan at the Oval but was a virtual unknown Down Under.

ENGLAND'S CAMPAIGN got off to a disastrous start at Brisbane where they were crushed by an innings and 154 runs, Tyson picking up a lone wicket at the cost of 160 runs. It was during the match against Victoria in Melbourne — before the second Test in Sydney — that Tyson experimented with a shorter run up; a run-up which, until then, usually started somewhere closer to the boundary! The change did the trick. Tyson captured 6 for 68, including five batsmen who ended up being bowled. Come the Test match at the SCG, Tyson was a changed bowler. The impact was immediate.

With the injured Alec Bedser dropped, the English attack was led by Tyson and Brian Statham. But — after being asked to bat first— there seemed no end to England's tale of woe when they were dismissed for just 154 on the opening day. There was a glimmer of hope, however, in the form of the wicket of Australia's stand-in captain, Arthur Morris, who was dismissed by Trevor `Barnacle' Bailey just before the close of play. The second day was a grim battle of attrition between bat and ball. England managed to restrict Australia to 228 and keep the lead down to a reasonable 74 runs. Although nine of Australia's batsmen reached double figures, none of them could carry on to make a substantial contribution. The top scores for Australia were a patient 49 by Ron Archer and a dour 44 by Jim Burke. It was the persistent Bailey who broke the back of the Australian innings. He had the wickets of Les Favell and Burke to add to the one of Morris he had taken the day before. Thanks to Bailey's disciplined effort, Australia ended up losing half their side for 122 runs. Tyson had begun in a wayward manner and it was the wicket of star batsman Neil Harvey (12) — caught at gully off a vicious lifter — that buoyed his spirits, and he came back to pick up three more wickets to finish with an outstanding 4 for 45 off 13 `eight-ball' overs. The `Typhoon' looked ominous.

THOGGH RUNS had not come at a brisk pace over the first two days, the cricket had been absorbing. It was just a taste of things to come. The next three days would see more gripping Test cricket. Peter May, batting imperiously in the second innings, looked to shepherd his side out of the woods. But even as he was compiling a brilliant century, wickets kept falling at regular intervals at the other end. After Ray Lindwall had dismissed opener Bailey early on, it was the turn of left-arm medium pacer Ian Johnston to rock England. He sent back Hutton for 28 and Tom Graveney for a duck. At 55 for three, the pendulum had swung decisively back Australia's way. It was left to the youthful pair of Peter May and Colin Cowdrey — the latter playing in only his second Test — to repair the damage with a century partnership for the fourth wicket that gave England fresh hope. They faced a testing spell from another youngster who would go on to make a huge name for himself in later years — Richie Benaud, who bowled 17 accurate overs, unchanged, of leg-spin to the pair of May and Cowdrey who, nonetheless, went on to add 116 runs in just over three hours. Fittingly enough, it was Benaud who got the breakthrough when he had Cowdrey caught for 54. England finished the third day at 204 for 4 with May still batting on 98. The match looked thrillingly poised.

EARLY NEXT MORNING , the dashing Peter May reached his first century against Australia before being bowled by Lindwall for 104. Tyson, on a pair, came in to join Bill Edrich. He had dismissed Lindwall with a bouncer in the first innings and the famed fast bowler was not one to forget. Tyson had just got off the mark when he was struck a fearsome blow on the back of his head and dropped to the ground unconscious. He had to be helped off the field and it looked unlikely that he would play any further part in the match. Edrich was bowled by Ron Archer for 29 and — at 232 for 6 — it seemed touch-and-go. Evans did not last long.

Next, much to everyone's surprise, came Tyson, back to resume his innings. He was still a bit groggy but x-rays had shown no damage to the skull. Lindwall, though, got his man (Tyson) for 9 and when the ninth wicket fell at 250, the Aussies were confident that the match was now in their grasp. The last five wickets had tumbled for a mere 28 runs. England's last wicket pair of Bob Appleyard and Statham put together an invaluable, and ultimately crucial, 46 and England were dismissed for 296. Australia were left with a modest 223 runs to win.

They hadn't reckoned with the pace of Tyson. Australia lost both its openers, Favell and Morris, on the fourth evening — dismissed by Tyson and Statham respectively. When the final day's play began, with the score reading 72 for 2, the match looked evenly poised. Unfortunately for Australia, Tyson was virtually unstoppable — only the masterly Harvey managed to keep him at bay. He tore through the defences of Burke and Graeme Hole, uprooting their stumps and leaving Australia precariously placed at four down for 77. At lunch they were 118 for 5, with Benaud gone for 12. Soon after the lunch interval, the fiery Tyson struck again when he bowled Archer neck-and-crop. Australia: 122 for 6.

Alan Davidson was the next to go — to Statham. Then, Tyson bowled Lindwall with a scorcher. It was Tyson's fifth wicket of the innings — four of them bowled. When Gil Langley was castled by Statham for a `duck', with the score reading 145 for 9, it appeared all over. The final twist, though, was yet to come — in the form of a last wicket partnership by the pair of Harvey and Johnston. Harvey, who till then had stonewalled his way to a resolute 64, decided to go for broke. They added 39 desperate runs for the last wicket with Harvey making 28 of them.

Then, with the score reading 184 for 9 and with Harvey on a valiant 92, it was Tyson who, appropriately enough, dealt the final blow. He had Johnston caught behind and Australia were all out for 184. England had won a humdinger by 38 runs. The `Typhoon' finished with 6 for 85 in the second innings and 10 wickets in the match. The series was now locked at 1-1. Later, Tyson claimed the knock on his head made him more determined. "I was so sore that I swore they would not win," he said.

FRANK `TYPHOON' Tyson was, again, at his devastating best in the next Test in Melbourne. He demolished the home side with a rich haul of 7 for 27 in the second innings. At Adelaide, in the fourth Test, he took six more wickets and helped England seal the series 3-1. He finished the series with 28 wickets. It was the best performance by a visiting fast bowler since Harold Larwood in the `Bodyline' series in 1932.


England 154 (L. Hutton 30, M. C. Cowdrey 23, J. H. Wardle 35,

Archer 3-12, Johnston 3-56) and 296 (P. B. H. May 104, M. C. Cowdrey 54, W. J. Edrich 29, Archer 3-53, Lindwall 3-69, Johnston 3-70) beat Australia 228 (L. E. Favell 26, J. W. Burke 44, R. G. Archer 49, Tyson 4-45, Bailey 4-59) and 184 (R. N. Harvey (not out) 92, Tyson 6-85, Statham 3-45)