Test-playing tour of England by Australia
(March - September 1953)
The Australian won sixteen of their first-class matches, eleven
of them by an innings, and were defeated just once, but in the only match
that really mattered: the final Test match at The Oval was the one Test to
reach a conclusion in a damp summer. So England regained the Ashes.
It was an intriguing series between two evenly-matched sides.
Hassett won the toss in all five matches but Australia’s suspect batting -
only the three veterans from the 1948 side, Hassett, Morris and Harvey,
averaged more than 30 -could not take
advantage. The batsmen’s fallibility was most obvious against spin and at Old
Trafford and The Oval the Australians had far the worst of the match of wet
Sidney Barnes was not considered for the side but came to England
as a reporter. Members of the touring party condemned his published account
of the tour with its allegations of “late night junketing” as “a hotch-potch
of exaggeration”. In fact the manager reported officially to the Board on the
good conduct of every player and recommended that a substantial bonus be
The 1953 team were asked to
play a match in Holland for diplomatic reasons
because Canberra and The
Hague were at loggerheads over Indonesia.
G R Davies played for Victoria
in 1920-21, was a state selector and vice-presidentof the Victorian Cricket Association. The Board appointed him manager on 9
February over a number of other candidates (W L Rush, A E Liddicut, A J Baker
and V Schaeffer (Q). He had previously managed the 1949-50 tour of New Zealand
Bill Brown (Queensland),P L Ridings (South
Australia),J Ryder (Victoria).
It was the first meeting in
four years to select a Test touring party; and the only such meeting between
1938 and 1969 not to include Sir Donald Bradman, who stood down because his
son John was ill in 1953.
E A Dwyer had been voted off
the selection committee by the Australian Board during the 1952-53 season.
Unavailable:Jack Iverson (for family and business
reasons) - he had dropped out of the Victorian state side and was not a
serious candidate for the tour; Colin McCool (contract with Lancashire League
club East Lancs).
Sidney Barnes made himself
unavailable for selection after several controversial incidents (most
recently, he came on to the field as twelfth man wearing a suit for some
long-winded play-acting as a butler). He said "my card had been marked ";
and instead he came to England
as a press commentator. Sir Donald Bradman was also in England to
report on the tour.
On 18 September the
Australian Cricket Board had decided to take only sixteen players but on 9
February agreed to fund one extra place.The seventeenth place went to Australia’s youngest-ever
tourist, Ian Craig
Tour Party Announced :12 February 1953.
Not selected : Ian
Johnson.He, Tribe, Dooland or McCool
could have helped the team's persistent problem of a lack of top-class spin
Time between selection
and departure from Australia
(12 February -23 March)
The team assembled in Melbourne
and flew to Cambridge Aerodrome, Hobart, on 6 March.
After two warm-up matches in Tasmania, the team flew from
Essendon Airport (Melbourne) in two groups to Perth Airport on 16 March to
play a three-day match.They sailed on
the ‘Orcades’, embarking from
Fremantle at midnight on 23 March 1953.
The liner had been delayed from 18 March because of engine
trouble and was late arriving at Fremantle The team was now likely to arrive in
nine days late. An offer to be flown from Naples
by British European Airways directly to London
was declined because the delay would not affect the cricket, only the social
The team stopped for just one
day (29 March) to play Ceylon
and were at sea again the next day.
They were due to stop at
Cairo and practice at the Gezira Sporting Club nets but experienced another
delay from a Russian floating dry dock disrupting traffic in the Suez Canal (it
was being taken from Odessa to Vladivostock viaSuez and Singapore, and held the ‘Orcades’
up for a further 15 hours). The ship left Port Said
6 April and Gibraltar on the 11th.
The ‘Orcades’ berthed atSouthampton on 13 April.About 500 people, including four former England captains, were on the platform when
their train pulled in to London’s
•Richie Benuad hit eleven sixes in his
innings of 135 in the festival match at Scarborough.
matches in Australia
matches in England
Return to Australia
Davidson remained in London for his new job at the Commonwealth Bank when the
team left England.
They sailed out of Tilbury on
the 'Strathaird' on 24 September, via
Aden, and arrived back in Fremantle on 20 October; and Melbourne
on 25 October.
announced his retirement from first-class cricket on 5 November.
Time away from Australia
(23 March to 20 October)
was £66 000. The manager recommended a bonus for each player of £500.
More money was taken from
the second Test at Lord’s than any other previous match, beating the takings from
the Melbourne Test in 1946-47.
Written accounts of the tour
“Over to Rex Alston”(1953) by
Rex Alston [Fredrick Muller]
"The Ashes Crown the
by Jack Fingleton [Collins]
“Eyes on the Ashes”(1953)by Sidney Barnes[Kimber]
“Behind the Tests”(1953)by Norman Cutler[Putnam]
“Cricket Triumph”(1953)by Bruce Harris [Hutchinson]
“The Fight for The Ashes
1953” (1953)by Peter West [Harrap]
“The Fight for The Ashes 1953” (1953)by R
“The Book of the Tests” (1953)by
Denzil Bachelor [Hulton Press]
Victory”(1953)by Crawford White [News Chronicle]
“The Test Matches of 1953”by E W
Swanton & C B Fry[Daily
“Thirty Years On”(1983) by Gordon
“Gods or Flannelled Fools”(1954)by Keith Miller & R S Whitington
Hassett’s strongest cards
were his fast bowlers, Lindwall and Miller, but they lacked support from the spin
bowlers and from Johnston being injured. Too much of the time the Australians
played in wet conditions and only towards the end of the tour did the young
batsmen meet the harder wickets they were familiar with. While they gained
useful experience, even so they coped poorly with English conditions again in 1956.