Fourth Test 1984/85

Australia v England

Grahame Park, Gosford: 12th – 15th January 1985

The equation was pretty simple: Australia needed to win this Test on the NSW Central Coast if they were to keep the series alive and have any hope of winning back the Ashes.

England’s Jan Southgate won the toss yet again, but this time chose to field. Whether or not she saw anything in the wicket is unknown, but Raelee Thompson would have batted anyway. Of the 24 Test matches played between England and Australia prior to this series, only two captains had ever chosen to field. (Mary Duggan in 1957/58 where England routed Australia for 38 and then in 1976 by Rachael Heyhoe-Flint.)

Once again England won the toss and elected to field.   I remember discussing their decision with Peter (coach) and wondering what was wrong with the wicket.  We couldn’t see anything wrong with it all, certainly no juice in it.  I have always gone by the mantra “all things being equal, bat first”, so I was very happy for the team to be batting.  It meant that we were in the box seat to control the game, particularly forcing the pace of the game, the runs and when to declare.” – Raelee Thompson

Australia started well with openers Peta Verco and Denise Emerson scoring a century partnership. Verco fell for 48, caught behind from the bowling of Carole Hodges and with that partnership broken, Emerson fell soon after for 58, also to Hodges, leaving Australia 2/117. Jill Kennare and Lindsay Reeler kept the scoreboard moving, but the wickets continued to fall and by stumps, Australia was 8/232, with Lyn Larsen 28 not out. Thompson then put her stamp on the game. She declared at the overnight score the following morning in what was a very bold move by the skipper. 232 was hardly a huge first innings score, but the declaration of the innings was also a declaration of intent.

By declaring overnight, we were able to bowl fresh and there would always be enough time to get a decision (one way or another).  I was extremely confident that our bowling attack, with 2 lefties (Denise Martin and Lyn Fullston), fast bowler Debbie Wilson and myself, could keep England to a reasonable score.”

England started in a similar fashion to the Aussies, with Jan Brittin and Megan Lear taking their partnership past the half century, but as Deb Wilson clean bowled Lear when the score was 66, all hell broke loose. The batting collapsed against the pace of both Wilson and Denise Martin, the python-like slow strangulation by Thompson who bowled 11 overs conceding just 9 runs, the medium pace of Verco and the spin of Lyn Fullston. It was a clinical destruction of the England batting line up and they were all out for 140, in arrears by 92 runs.

The Australians, in their enthusiasm for quick runs, collapsed themselves. After the openers put on 35, wickets fell at a remarkably rapid rate, and although they scored more than the England total, it wasn’t much more. However, at 9/153, Thompson decided it was plenty and declared, leaving England to score 246 in the final innings.

Jan Brittin was England’s Rock of Gibraltar as she tried to hold the innings together and ended with 65, but it was a lone battle. At the other end it was a rout. The same aggressive bowling from the same Australian bowlers. The fielding was outstanding and the English were all out for 128, giving Australia victory by 117 runs. It was the first Test victory by Australia over England since July 1951, some 33 years earlier.

The victory kept the series alive and with one final showdown, at 1-1 it was all to play for.

Australia 8 dec 232 (Emerson 58, Verco 48, McConway 3-39, Hodges 2-20) and 9 dec 153 (Verco 24, Thompson 24*, Starling 4-57, Stother 2-24) defeated England 140 (Brittin 45, Martin 4-24, Fullston 2-30, Wilson 2-32) and 128 (Brittin 65, Fullston 4-53, Martin 2-12, Wilson 2-29) by 117 runs