England v Australia
Edgbaston, Birmingham: 15th – 18th June 1963
Mary Duggan had been England’s captain since the 1957/58 tour of Australia and New Zealand and boasted a team with a strong batting lineup with regular openers, Cecilia Robinson and Shirley Driscoll and talented new kid on the block, Rachael Heyhoe.
The team had also toured South Africa in 1960/61, without Duggan, but it all pointed to an outfit that was more than ready for the Australians, despite having five debutants. Making their first appearance for England, the delightfully named JLMLM (Jacqueline Lucienne Marie-Louise Marguerite) Elledge, Sandra Brown, June Bragger, fast bowler Mary Pilling and Eileen Rump.
The first Test was played over three days at Edgbaston, on 15th, 17th and 18th June. The first morning, a Saturday, was crisp, yet bright and sunny and the teams were introduced to Dr. Glass, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and the Lady Mayoress, Mrs. Glass, before a crowd of about 2,000 spectators.
Mary Allitt got her captaincy off to a good start, winning the toss and choosing to bat on what looked like a good batting strip. She was joined by Lyn Denholm, as the Aussie openers took guard.
Mary Pilling and Dorothy Macfarlane opened the bowling and were proving tough to get away. A poor pull shot from Mary Allitt off of Pilling led to her downfall for 6 when the score was only 9. Jan Wady joined Denholm and the two scratched around for runs, such was the accuracy of the bowling. Duggan then introduced spin with both herself and Eileen Rump and it paid immediate dividends for the England captain who trapped Wady for 19, Australia 2/41.
Hazel Buck came in and bucked the trend, scoring freely, but then Denholm fell to a sharp catch at forward short leg from the bowling of Rump for 21 and Australia limped their way to lunch, 3 down for 73.
With Liz Amos scampering through for quick singles (“Lizzie was like a rabbit!” – Muriel Picton) and Buck scoring freely the score moved to 97 before Amos fell to a brilliant catch to Rump from the bowling of Macfarlane for 17. Just as Australia tried to push things along, a wicket would fall. And then two. Norma Wilson was caught behind for 9 and Miriam Knee for a duck, both out to the pace of Pilling. Hazel Buck finally went for 47 when the score was 136 and Muriel Picton, who’d swung the bat gainfully, fell for 12 with the score at 138.
Marjory Marvell went for a duck making 9/138, far from a par score after batting first, yet there was a little wag in the tail. Both Pat Thomson and Lorraine Kutcher put together a little rescue mission and between them took the score to 173, a tenth wicket stand of 35 precious runs, with the final wicket falling right on the tea interval. Duggan and Pilling were the main destroyers with 4 and 3 wickets respectively.
England openers Cecilia Robinson and Shirley Driscoll took things steadily before Allitt turned to spin. It paid immediate dividends. Muriel Picton bowled Driscoll for 20 and Miriam Knee took the valuable wicket of Rachael Heyhoe for 3. England steadied the ship and by stumps were 2/59.
On the second day, the visitors hit back with Marvell removing Robinson for 6 with the score at 66. Wickets were ultimately shared between Marvell, Kutcher, Picton and Knee (4-49) as England lost seven wickets for 130, leaving them all out for 196. Top scorer was Sandra Brown with 57. Rain stopped play when Australia was 1/64 in the second innings, with Denholm falling caught behind for 31 and Allitt not out, also on 31.
Australia batted cautiously on the final day, given they had a first innings deficit, but it was felt that they might have got a bit of a move on. Allitt declared at tea, 5/223, with runs to herself, Wady and Buck. Amos (32) and Knee (25) were not out when the declaration was made. It left England with a session to score 200 and they were 3/91 when play stopped, the Test ending in a draw.
There was criticism of Allitt, for not declaring sooner, but it was a trifle harsh. Notably the criticism came from the English commentators, but it is hard to see how Allitt could have made an earlier declaration without jeopardizing the team’s position. If one wanted to point a finger, England’s pedestrian first innings of 196 from 105.4 overs might be a better place to start. Australia too batted slowly in the second innings but it is fair to say that they had a first innings deficit so by that nature needed to exercise caution.
Australia 173 (Buck 47, Thompson 30, Duggan 4/39, Pilling 3/35) and 5 decl 223 (Wady 50, Allitt 43, Bragger 2/21) drew with England 196 (Brown 57, Knee 4/49) and 3/91 (Elledge 51*)