Australia v England
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne: 28th – 31st January 1949
In hot and humid Melbourne conditions, Mollie Dive wins the toss again and elects to bat. The openers don’t disappoint, getting to lunch at 0/72.
After the lunch break Molly Hide tosses the ball to Megan Lowe who enjoys immediate success, collecting a trio of Australian wickets: Amy Hudson LBW for 39, Mollie Dive LBW for 10 and Joan Schmidt bowled for 31. The introduction of Lowe has taken Australia from 0/72 to 3/90.
Betty Wilson joins Una Paisley and the scoring immediately accelerates, but Wilson is again runout, this time for 33, for her “overzealous backing up at the bowler’s end” by Robinson. Paisley follows soon after for a patient 23 and the Aussies are 5/152.
Despite their success, England’s bowlers lack real penetration and the Aussie batters neither forceful nor cautious allows the score to pass 200. Norma Whiteman is the last one out with the score at 265, with Joyce Christ top scoring with 42 and Megan Lowe the star bowler with 3-34 from 26 overs. The innings meandered over the entire day so England would start fresh the following day.
There is a sense that the Australian innings lacked any real punch and England too started cautiously but without incident against the pace of Mollie Flaherty and Whiteman. The score crawled to 50 before Mollie Dive tossed the ball to Betty Wilson. A slick stumping by Lorna Larter sees the end of Myrtle Maclagan for 36. Hide, seemingly all at sea is caught by the nimble Flaherty from the bowling of Wilson. In modern cricketing parlance, Australia had cut the head off the snake by removing the skipper and Mollie Dive brought the field in closer and closer.
Joan Wilkinson in her debut is snapped up by Joyce Christ off Wilson, and then another catch to Christ removes Betty Snowball. Wilson’s spin and the excellent work by the close in fielding and the wicket keeper has broken England’s back. Una Paisley and Amy Hudson continue the rot to pick up three wickets each. Wilson took four, while Christ took three catches and Larter three stumpings. The Aussie spinners had the England team in a spin as they were skittled for 118. The horror of Adelaide continued. Thus lamented Hide in the WCA Magazine (Vol 14 #6):
“The Australians had a good variety of spin bowlers and the English batsmen seemed incapable of getting their feet to the pitch of the ball and somehow lacked the patience to wait to play this slow bowling. Why is it that whenever a bowler gives the ball a “little air” the majority of women batsmen begin to dither?”
Mollie Dive wants quick runs in an effort to force a result. Schmidt and Hudson go early, Australia 2/10, but that just brings two aggressors together, Dive and Wilson. The two savage the attack in a delightful batting display for the crowd, taking the score to 106 at stumps. The following day, Dive delays her declaration and the onslaught continues, both players making half centuries, and both falling within four runs of each other, the skipper for 51 and Wilson for 74. Dive declares soon after, 4/171, leaving England 4 hours to score 311.
Stubborn resistance from Maclagan and Hide after Robinson goes early and England limp to the finish, 7/171. Maclagan has given a Myrtle Special, batting for 4 hours. It is a reminder of just how determined and focused this player could be and the fact that England escaped with a draw is entirely due to her mental focus. Wilson picked up 2-25 from 37 overs, which are great figures in anyone’s language, but England had repelled this player for the first time. Sure, they didn’t score a lot, but they scraped through for a draw and for once Wilson wasn’t allowed to completely dominate. Had the tables turned? Had they tamed the menace of Wilson?
Australia 265 (Christ 42, Hudson 39, Wilson 33, Lowe 3/34, Hide 2/30) and 4/158 (Wilson 74, Dive 51, Maclagan 3/69) drew with England 118 (Robinson 41, Maclagan 36, Wilson 4/25, Hudson 3/9, Paisley 3/10) and 7/171 (Maclagan 77, Hide 51, Wilson 2/37, Hudson 2/37)