England v Australia
The Oval, Kennington: 28th – 31st July 1951
Molly Hide was finally able to return to the Test scene and take her place as England’s captain. Myrtle Maclagan had performed admirably in her absence, but it was now time for the regular captain to return and England’s batting is much better on paper with Hide at the helm.
On the Australian front, it was just the opposite. Myrtle Craddock was out injured and Betty Wilson was not assured of playing, herself having suffered an injury also, but at the last moment was included. Even a half fit Betty Wilson was better than many other players.
The two Mollies went to the centre wicket for the toss and for the third time in a row, Mollie Dive called incorrectly and England won the toss. Hide had no hesitation in batting, despite the sky matching the grey colour of the gas tanks that decorate the region outside the Oval.
A steady start from Maclagan and Cecilia Robinson before a wicket finally fell at 72, Robinson bowled by June James for 32. That just brought to the crease the run hungry captain Hide and she set about upping the tempo with her trademark drives and pull shots. Finally Australia broke the partnership, captain and vice-captain; Una Paisley bowled Hide for 65 and then Wilson took out Maclagan for 59. It fell away dreadfully after that, from 3/157 to all out 238. Even the deservedly promoted Barbara Murrey could only muster 19 runs.
Plenty of starts in the Aussie innings but not much more than that. Were they tired? Were they lackluster because they knew they had the Ashes in the bag? Betty Wilson, again runout. The skipper fell for just seven runs. Top scorer, not out, was last Test heroine Norma Whiteman with 36 as Australia struggled their way to 192, still in the game but well below par. England pressed on with their advantage, but lost a couple of early wickets to finish the penultimate day 2/34. Quick runs on the third morning before setting the opposition a target was the plan.
Hide top scored with 42 before declaring 7/174 at 2.20PM, leaving Australia to chase down 221 for victory. It seemed impossible, and Australia could have easily just played out time, but that wasn’t the style of Mollie Dive. She re-arranged the batting order so the team could go for the runs. The chase was on.
Unfortunately the chase finished abruptly. Both openers were out for ducks and the aggressive Dive and Wilson out for 4 and 11 respectively. Amy Hudson did her best to try and save the game, but her 17 not out in 118 minutes wasn’t enough and the Australians were all out for 83, giving England victory by 137 runs. Mary Duggan bowled brilliantly and took 5-30 from 20 overs.
Series drawn at 1-1 with Australia retaining the Ashes.
England 238 (Hide 65, Maclagan 59, Whiteman 4/56, Wilson 3/27) and 7 dec 174 (Hide 42, Spry 35) defeated Australia 192 (Whiteman 36*, Duggan 4/74) and 83 (Duggan 5/30) by 137 runs