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Paul Gallico
February 14, 1955
England's young cricketers retain The Ashes after an uphill struggle with Australia
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February 14, 1955

Great Day For England

England's young cricketers retain The Ashes after an uphill struggle with Australia

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A man should dip his pen in blood to write about this day," cried the Times of London. Not since 1933 had an English team returned from Australia with The Ashes, symbol of world cricket supremacy. After dropping the first of five test matches at Brisbane in November, Len Hutton, the first professional ever to captain an English team, rallied his young forces. They won at Sydney in December, again at Melbourne in January. Last week at the Adelaide Oval, they sewed up the series with a convincing five-wicket victory—i.e., batting last, England passed the Aussie total of 434 runs with five batters still unretired.

After England's first lop-sided defeat in Brisbane, Len Hutton was in the national dog house. Having won the toss, the dour Yorkshireman allowed Australia to bat first and run up a huge lead while the pitch was in top shape.

In the words of Neville Cardus, Britain's cricket laureate, "Hutton thrives on vicissitude: in Yorkshire they don't play cricket for foon. He has, in fact, given even the Australians a few lessons in grim, patient ruthlessness." In other words, playing dull percentage cricket, stalling at bat to wear down the best enemy bowlers and otherwise boring the fans into sarcastic clapping, Hutton led his team back to the final great day at Adelaide, and England retained The Ashes they had recaptured at home in 1953.

Overnight Len Hutton was transformed from bum to hero, but the glory was not all Hutton's. A kind of British Whiz Kid quartet was the playing backbone of the team. The bats of Colin Cowdrey and Peter May humbled Australian bowling. Frank (Typhoon) Tyson and Brian Statham, England's fire-balling bowlers, overwhelmed the Aussie batting order. Tyson, a 6-foot 200-pounder, likes to chant snatches of Wordsworth as he runs toward the wicket, building up speed for his throws.

Joy took over England when the final results arrived. At Wood Hall, where Hutton's sons go to school, the lads were given a half holiday. From the Marylebone Cricket Club, spiritual home of cricket, members dispatched a message to Hutton: "Well done. Magnificent performance. Flags hoisted at Lord's."

Down under, gloom prevailed. Fans watching Australia's aging stars trudge off the field were not heartened by the thought that only a few hundred yards away a couple of young Americans had just swept the finals of the Australian junior tennis championships (see page 57.)