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English cricket team in Australia in 1950–51


English cricket team in Australia in 1950–51

The England touring team in Australian in 1950-51 (from left to right): rear row: Bill Ferguson (scorer), Bob Berry, Arthur McIntyre (wk), Trevor Bailey, Gilbert Parkhouse and Eric Hollies; middle row: John Dewes, David Sheppard, John Warr, Alec Bedser, Brian Close, Reg Simpson and Doug Wright; and front row: Brigadier Michael Green (manager), Cyril Washbrook, Denis Compton (vc), Freddie Brown (c), Len Hutton, Godfrey Evans (wk) and John Nash (assistant-manager).

Freddie Brown captained the English cricket team in Australia in 1950–51, playing as England in the 1950-51 Ashes series against the Australians and as the MCC in their other matches on the tour. They were regarded as a weak team - some critics wanted to cancel the tour - and failed to regain the Ashes. However, these facts do not tell the whole story as the inspirational Brown exposed flaws in the powerful Australian team. By winning the Fifth and final Test he ended Australia's record of 26 Tests without defeat and paved the way for England's victories in 1953, 1954-55 and 1956.


The 1950-51 side under Freddie Brown...was full of inexperienced players and we paid the penalty. I'm sure if we had selected one or two solid players such as Jack Robertson, Dennis Brookes, Jack Ikin and Bill Edrich we would have won the Ashes - in spite of once again being caught on a glue-pot at Brisbane. Two Tests were lost by a very small margin and we won the last. In addition Denis Compton was a complete failure in the Tests, scoring only 53 runs in four matches. In spite of the critics the bowling proved adequate and Freddie Brown did a grand job in view of the shortcomings of the side. To me the annoying part was that we had players in England who could have won the series for us.[1]
Alec Bedser

In selecting their team for Australia the Middlesex both declined the job and he was only chosen as Lords was determined to have an amateur captain. It was a thankless job as even with the retirement of the great Don Bradman it was clear that Australia were the stronger team and would be hard to beat on their own ground. They had defeated Wally Hammond 3-0 in 1946-47 and Yardley 4-0 in 1948 and England had not won a Test against them in twelve years.[5][6][7][8]


There were two managers of equal rank; Brigadier Michael Green, a career Army officer who had played for Gloucester and Essex and was the Secretary of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, was in charge of the social calendar and public relations,[9] and John Nash, Secretary of Yorkshire County Cricket Club since 1931, controlled the finances. This was the last tour of the 70-year-old scorer Bill Ferguson, who had toured with the MCC since 1907-08 and devised the famous Ferguson Charts which gave greater details than other scorecards, noting who bowled each ball, who batted and where it was fielded. He also invented the radial scoring chart which show the directions in which a batsman scored his runs.[5][10][11][12]


England's popular captain did a magnificent job both as an individual unit of the Test team and as captain of it. His unstinted devotion to his job and the unselfish manner in which he delved in with a will when the going was hardest won the admiration of all Australian enthusiasts and met a fitting reward when England emerged victorious from the Fifth Test at the end of the tour.
Bill O'Reilly[13]
England's captain Freddie Brown.

Norman Yardley without success. He drew twice against a weak New Zealand in 1949 and lost to the West Indies in 1950. After Mann and Yardley had turned down the Ashes tour Brown impressed the selectors by hitting a six into the Lord's Pavilion while smashing 122 out of 131 runs inside two hours as captain in the Gentlemen v Players match, followed with three quick wickets, and he was offered the post the same afternoon. This was still the age when the England captain had to be a gentleman, even if he was a 'passenger' in the team, Brown having made only 233 runs (23.30) and taken 14 wickets (40.79) in his 9 Tests. Despite his age (he turned 40 on tour) Brown had the most successful series of any England captain in Australia;[14] Taking 18 wickets (21.61) and making 210 runs (26.25), third in the batting averages (behind Len Hutton and Reg Simpson) and in the bowling averages (behind Trevor Bailey and Alec Bedser). Brown's jovial bonhomie and refusal to admit defeat won him many fans in Australia and he was a magnificent ambassador for the game, a role which the MCC regarded quite as important as sporting success, and the scorer Bill Ferguson said it was the easiest, happiest tour he had been on for over 40 years.[15] After losing 4-1 to Australia he won 1-0 in New Zealand and beat South Africa 3-1 at home in 1951. At 42 he was recalled to the England team for the 1953 Lords Test, where took 4/82 and hit 50 runs to ensure a vital draw in the year England regained the Ashes. Like many amateur captains he was happy to take advice from the senior professional and 'Brown conferred with Len Hutton before he made a bowling change...there was little room for doubt...that Brown had tremendous respect for Hutton's advice on the cricket field',[16] as well he should as the Yorkshireman was recognised as 'a tactical genius, whose advice was often sought',[17] Actually making a northern professional vice-captain was a step too far and this office was granted to the debonair Middlesex batsman Denis Compton, the first professional cricketer to hold that office in living memory. Though Brown also conferred with Compton on the field, it was only after he had spoken to Hutton. The young Trevor Bailey surprised everybody by drawing up plans for dismissing and containing every Australian batsmen, which were used to great effect in the series.[5][10][11][12]


All Australia honoured Hutton as the world's best batsman, and never did a man play harder or more successfully on his country's behalf...One man cannot make a cricket team, but Len Hutton did the next best thing in Australia last winter. He stood alone. Superb in craftsmanship, magnificent in the hour of stress, veritably a giant among all batsmen and worthy of ranking with such famous names as Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Woolley, Hammond...they were masters of all they surveyed. So was Hutton.
John Kay[18]

Rarely has the batting of a team been so dominated by one man as teenage Brian Close was chosen after he took 100 wickets and made 1,000 runs in 1949 and became England's youngest ever player aged 18 years and 149 days.[22] Despite respectable all-round figures Close never reached the heights expected of him in Test cricket, though his tough, uncompromising, captaincy of Yorkshire, Somerset and England would become the stuff of legend. Trevor Bailey's barnacle-like qualities were already apparent and this notorious stonewaller tended to substitute stubbornness for strokeplay, though he made few runs in this series.[23][24][25][26]


With thirty Test Match wickets to his name, Alec Bedser founded England's eventual success. He toiled for hours without complaint, and never once looked annoyed at the missing of a catch, or at a rejected l.b.w. appeal. A great bowler, and an example to all who aspire to cricketing fame. The schoolboys who cheered him, and the elderly folk who applauded politely, all realised one thing. In Alec Bedser England had the best bowler Australia had seen for years, and friend and foe alike admitted the fact.
John Kay[27]

Alec Bedser dominated the England bowling (and the Australian batsmen) as much as Len Hutton did the batting and by the end of the tour the Australians rated him the best new-ball bowler in the world.[28] He sent down almost twice as many overs as anybody else in the Tests and took 30 wickets (16.06), including 10/105 in England's final victory at Melbourne. Bedser carried the England bowling on his broad back against in the 1940s and 1950s with a long list of short-term new-ball partners. His huge hands and powerful shoulders allowed him to bowl a lethal combination of in-swingers and leg-cutters off a short run-up and only Keith Miller - briefly - was able to cut loose from his control. In 1950-51 series he did have the support of his captain Freddie Brown, another big medium paced bowler, who surprised everybody by taking 18 wickets (21.61) despite celebrating his 40th birthday on the tour. There was also Trevor Bailey who took 14 wickets (14.14) with his naggingly accurate out-swingers that mirrored his monotonous batting as he settled on containing batsmen, but could be dangerous in the right conditions. After these three the quality of the England bowling dropped dramatically, for which the selectors must bear the brunt of the blame. Doug Wright was a mercurial leg-spinner who the MCC liked sent on tour instead of Jim Laker because he was more suited to the harder wickets abroad. He was potential match-winner, but he liked to buy his wickets and asking him to bowl was always a gamble as he could equally snap up a few quick wickets, concede a slew of runs, or both.[29] Eric Hollies bowled one of the most famous balls in cricket when his googly dismissed Don Bradman for a duck in his last Test innings, but the Warwickshire leg-spinner was not a great turner of the ball, instead relying on line and length. Unfortunately the 1950-51 tour was the first to use extensive air travel.[30] Hollies was scared stiff of flying and had to be drunk before he could get on a plane.[31] He failed to turn the ball on Australian wickets and was kept out of the team by Wright.[32] Roy Tattersall and Bob Berry were off-spinners who were supposed to tie down the Australian batsmen, but like many of their kind failed to adjust to the faster, harder Australian pitches.[29] John Warr quickly proved himself to be the worst player in the team, he took only one test wicket - for 281 runs - when Ian Johnson walked after the umpire declined to give him out, an almost unheard of practice in Australia at the time. He improved his game during the tour, but was never more than a decent county bowler.[33] Let loose from the hard life at Yorkshire and the Army Brian Close was undisciplined and failed on a tour for which he should not have been chosen.[23][24][25][26]


It was not only that catches were missed. The picking up was slovenly and the returns to the wicket badly directed. There was no anticipation or cutting off of runs by the men in the deep, and quite often Brown had to halt a bowler in his run-up to direct a fieldsmen to his proper position.
John Kay[34]

England failed to match the Australians' high standards of fielding and were nicknamed Brown's Cows by the Australian barrackers.[35] They dropped six catches in a match against Victoria and made frequent mistakes in the state matches. However, they made a considerable improvement in the Tests with "...first class work in the field, in direct contrast to the slovenly and often lackadaisical displays in the previous games of the tour".[36] Even so, they never reached the heights of catching and fielding displayed by the Australian team. Both Brown and Alec Bedser weighted 15 stone (over 200 lb or 100 kilos) and were particularly ungainly in the field, but their bucket-like hands picked up 9 catches and Brown twice caught and bowled Keith Miller. Godfrey Evans was the outstanding wicket-keeper of his generation whose enthusiasm could energise a fielding team and always entertained the crowd with his antics. His deputy was Arthur McIntyre, who kept wicket for Alec Bedser, Jim Laker and Tony Lock in the Surrey side that would win the County Championship seven times in a row in 1952-58. Len Hutton was a good slip and would pick up 9 catches in the series and Trevor Bailey took some great catches in the gully. Unfortunately the MCC had no other slip fielders and they were joined by Gilbert Parkhouse, who hated the role and frequently dropped catches.[37] John Dewes was a good outfielder, but the rest of the team failed to impress and a picture of John Warr was used to illustrate how not to take catches.[23][24][25][26][38]

MCC Touring Team

By the convention of the time gentleman amateurs have their initials in front of their surname and professional players have their initials after their name, if their initials were used at all.[39][40]

Test Statistics of the England Cricket Team in Australia 1950-51
Name County Age Role Tests Runs Highest Average 100s 50s Ct St Wickets Best Average 5 Wt 10 Wt
Brigadier M.A. Green Worcs 59 Joint Manager
J.H. Nash Yorkshire 44 Joint Manager
Ferguson, W. 70 Scorer and Baggage Man
Hutton, L. Sussex 34 Right-Handed Opening Batsman 79 6971 364 56.67 19 33 57 3 1/2 77.33
W.G.A. Parkhouse Glamorgan 25 Right-Handed Opening Batsman 7 373 78 28.69 2 3
D.S. Sheppard Yorkshire
and Cambridge
21 Right-Handed Opening Batsman 22 1172 119 37.80 3 6 12
R.T. Simpson Notts 30 Right-Handed Opening Batsman 23 1401 156* 33.45 4 6 5 3 2/4 11.00
Washbrooke, C. Lancashire 35 Right-Handed Opening Batsman 37 2569 195 42.81 6 12 12 1 1/25 33.00
Compton, D.C.S. (vc) Middlesex 32 Right-Handed Top Order Batsman 78 5807 278 50.06 17 28 49 25 5/70 56.40 1
J.G. Dewes Middlesex
and Cambridge
24 Left-Handed Top Order Batsman 5 121 67 12.10 1
Evans, T.G. Kent 29 Wicket-Keeper 91 2439 104 20.49 2 8 173 46
McIntyre, A.J.W. Surrey 32 Wicket-Keeper 3 19 7 3.16 8
T.E. Bailey Essex 26 Right-Arm fast–medium Bowler 61 2290 134* 29.74 1 10 32 132 7/34 29.21 5 1
Statham, J.B. Lancashire 20 Right-Arm fast–medium Bowler 51 675 38 11.44 28 252 7/39 24.84 9 1
J.J. Warr Middlesex
and Cambridge
23 Right-Arm fast–medium Bowler 2 4 4 1.00 1 1/76 281.00
Bedser, A.V. Surrey 32 Right-Arm medium-fast Bowler 51 714 79 12.75 1 26 236 7/44 24.89 15 5
F.R. Brown (c) Northants 39 Right-Arm medium Bowler
Leg-Spin Bowler
22 734 79 25.31 5 22 45 5/49 31.06 1
Close, D.B. Yorkshire 19 Right-Arm medium Bowler
Off-Spin Bowler
22 887 70 25.34 4 24 18 4/35 29.55
Hollies, W.E. Warwicks 38 Leg-Spin Bowler 13 37 18* 5.28 44 7/50 30.27 5
Wright, D.V.P. Kent 36 Leg-Spin Bowler 34 289 45* 11.11 10 108 7/105 39.11 6 1
Bedser, E.A. Surrey 32 Off-Spin Bowler
Tattersall, R. Lancashire 28 Off-Spin Bowler 16 50 10* 5.00 8 58 7/52 26.08 4 1
Berry, R. Lancashire 24 Slow Left Arm Bowler 2 6 4* 3.00 2 9 5/63 25.33 1

First Test – Brisbane

1–4 December 1950
 Australia won by 70 runs
Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba, Australia
Umpires: A.N. Barlow (AUS) & H.A.R. Elphinstone (AUS)
  • 2 December

See Main Article - 1950-51 Ashes series

Second Test – Melbourne

22–27 December 1950
K.A. Archer 46
F.R. Brown (c) 4/26
 Australia won by 28 runs
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Umpires: G.S. Cooper (AUS) & R.J.J. Wright (AUS)

See Main Article - 1950-51 Ashes series

Third Test – Sydney

5–9 January 1951
 Australia won by an innings and 13 runs
Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Umpires: A.N. Barlow (AUS) & H.A.R. Elphinstone (AUS)

See Main Article - 1950-51 Ashes series

Fourth Test – Adelaide

2–8 February
 Australia won by 274 runs
Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia
Umpires: A.N. Barlow (AUS) & A.R. Cocks (AUS)

See Main Article - 1950-51 Ashes series

Fifth Test – Melbourne

23–28 February 1951
Hutton, L. 60*
W.A. Johnston 1/36
 England won by 8 wickets
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Umpires: A.N. Barlow (AUS) & H.A.R. Elphinstone (AUS)

See Main Article - 1950-51 Ashes series


The English team had a stopover in Colombo en route to Australia and played a one-day single-innings match there against the Ceylon national team, which at that time did not have Test status.[41]



  1. ^ p8, Alec Bedser, May's Men in Australia, the M.C.C. Tour 1958-59, Stanley Paul, 1959
  2. ^ p70, Swanton
  3. ^ p69, Swanton
  4. ^ p146, Andrew Ward, Cricket's Strangest Matches, Robson Books, 2001
  5. ^ a b c pp70-71, Swanton
  6. ^ pp22-26, pp214-228, Fingleton
  7. ^ p402, Colin Frith, Pageant of Cricket, Macmillan Company of Australia, 1987
  8. ^ pp9-12, O'Reilly
  9. ^ p149, Kay
  10. ^ a b pp27-36, pp214-228 Fingleton
  11. ^ a b pp81-83, Kay
  12. ^ a b pp9-12 & pp153-155, O'Reilly
  13. ^ p153, O'Reilly
  14. ^ p80, Swanton
  15. ^ pp80-81, Swanton
  16. ^ p25, O'Reilly
  17. ^ p14, Kay
  18. ^ pp14-15, Kay
  19. ^ p47, Cary
  20. ^ p84, Keith Miller, Cricket Crossfire, Olbourne Press, 1956
  21. ^ p402, Frith
  22. ^ p396, Frith
  23. ^ a b c pp214-228 Fingleton
  24. ^ a b c pp13-27, Kay
  25. ^ a b c pp9-15 & pp153-168, O'Reilly
  26. ^ a b c pp80-82, Swanton
  27. ^ p16, Kay
  28. ^ p13, Kay
  29. ^ a b pp22-23, Kay
  30. ^ p61, Kay
  31. ^ p56, Frank Tyson, In the Eye of the Typhoon, The Parrs Wood Press, 204
  32. ^ p26, Kay
  33. ^ pp21-22, Kay
  34. ^ p99, Kay
  35. ^ p10, Freddi
  36. ^ p128, Kay
  37. ^ p25, Kay
  38. ^ p400, Frith
  39. ^ p42, p56, p68, Ashley Brown, The Pictorial History of Cricket, Bison Books, 1988.
  40. ^ p14 and p97, Fred Titmus, My Life in Cricket, John Blake Publishing Ltd, 2005
  41. ^


  • J.H. Fingleton, Brown and Company, The Tour in Australia, Collins, 1951
  • John Kay, Ashes to Hassett, A review of the M.C.C. tour of Australia, 1950-51, John Sherratt & Son, 1951
  • W.J. O'Reilly, Cricket Task-Force, The Story of the 1950-51 Australian Tour, Werner Laurie, 1951
  • E.W. Swanton, Swanton in Australia with MCC 1946-1975, Fontana/Collins, 1975
References using Cricinfo or Wisden may require free registration for access.

Further reading

  • John Arlott, John Arlott's 100 Greatest Batsmen, MacDonald Queen Anne Press, 1986
  • Peter Arnold, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Cricket, W. H. Smith, 1985
  • Ashley Brown, The Pictorial History of Cricket, Bison, 1988
  • Bill Frindall, The Wisden Book of Test Cricket 1877-1978, Wisden, 1979
  • Tom Graveney and Norman Miller, The Ten Greatest Test Teams Sidgewick and Jackson, 1988
  • Gideon Haigh, Mystery Spinner: The Story of Jack Iverson, Aurum Press Ltd, 2002
  • Chris Harte, A History of Australian Cricket, Andre Deutsch, 1993
  • Alan Hill, The Bedsers: Twinning Triumphs, Mainstream Publishing, 2002
  • Keith Miller, Cricket Crossfire, Oldbourne Press, 1956
  • Ray Robinson, On Top Down Under, Cassell, 1975
  • E.W. Swanton (ed), Barclay's World of Cricket, Willow, 1986

External links

  • CricketArchive tour itinerary
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