August 1, 1961 – When Australia retained Ashes by picking nine wickets for 51 runs

August 1, 1961 – When Australia retained Ashes by picking nine wickets for 51 runs

England team was 150/1 while chasing a target of 256 in the 1961 Manchester Test.

Australia cricket team
Australia cricket team . (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Australia showed their domination in the Ashes for nearly two decades between 1934 and 1951 where they won five of the six Ashes series while another ended in a draw. But once the Bradman’s Invincibles began to fade away, England got back the charge over the Ashes as they won three successive series including two at home. But in the 1958-59 series, they got thumped by the Aussies who took away the series by 4-0 margin.

Holding the Ashes, the Australian team toured England in the 1961 season in hope of their first Ashes series win on English soil since Bradman’s farewell series in 1948. England escaped with a draw in the first Test at Edgbaston but Australia came firing up at the Lord’s to take 1-0 lead with a 5-wicket victory. But England wasn’t letting Australia retain the Ashes easily as they thumped the visitors by 8 wickets in Leeds to square the series.

England cruise in Manchester!

Manchester’s Old Trafford hosted the crucial 4th Test where Australia elected to bat first on winning the toss. Opener Bill Lawry’s 76-run knock and Brian Booth’s 46 helped Australia reach the 150-run mark on second day morning for the loss of four wickets. But the dismissal of Lawry triggered an Aussie collapse as the visitors bowled out for just 190 after losing their last five wickets for only 14 runs. England strengthened their position in the match by end of the day as they reached 187/3.

Geoff Pullar (63), Phil May (95) and Ken Barrington (78) scored fifties to help England posted 367 in their first innings. England was set towards a total well over 450 before Bom Simpson took the last four wickets at cost of nine runs. Nevertheless, England earned a lead of 177 with more than two days of play was remaining. Australia came up with a solid response as their openers Bill Lawry (102) and Bob Simpson (51) added 113 runs for the first wicket.

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Norm O’Neill scored 67 while batting at No.4 as Australia reached 274 for the loss of only three wickets. Things got worse for the visitors when they lost six wickets for 60 runs and were reeling at 334/9. But No.8 batsman Alan Davidson (77*) and the last man Garth McKenzie (32) came forward with a crucial 10th wicket stand. The duo added 98 runs in about 102 minutes before McKenzie got cleaned up. As a result, Australia bowled out for 432 and set a target of 256 in front of the English side in 230 minutes.

A Benaud master-class!

England needed to score little over three runs an over but an attacking knock by Ted Dexter ensured they were cruising towards a comfortable win. The duo of Dexter and Raman Subba Row put on 110 for the second wicket in less than 30 overs as England reached 150-run mark well before the Tea break. The Aussie skipper Richie Benaud introduced himself in the 8th over of England’s chase.

Benaud finally got breakthrough, in his 18th over, by dismissing Dexter for a 96-ball 76 which came with help of 15 boundaries. The wicket fell in about seven overs before Tea only to trigger a collapse of the home side. England lost four wickets in 37 balls, all during a 20-minute period before the Tea break. Subba Row was the last man to be dismissed before Tea but not before he scored 49 from 129 balls. England collapsed from 150/1 to 163/5 and stood 93 runs away from a victory.

Benaud got the wicket of John Murray straight after Tea break to increase the troubles for England. The Australian skipper took a wicket in five successive over to complete a 5-wicket haul. Other bowlers joined hands with their captain to bundle out England to just 201. While England’s top three scored at least 25 runs in the chase, none of the remaining eight batters except David Allen (10) failed to reach double digits. England would have been only 8 runs away from a win before the fall of the second wicket if not for Australia’s 98-run partnership for the 10th wicket.

Richie Benaud ended with analyses of 32-11-70-6, all of them coming in an unchanged spell. The 54-run win in Manchester helped the Australian team to retain the series by taking a 2-1 lead. The final Test at The Oval ended in a draw despite England conceding a lead of 238 runs. The drawn game, however, helped Australia to complete a series win by a margin of 2-1.