England have to match the Don’s comeback

(Australian Associated Press)

 

England’s second successive Test defeat means they will have to match a feat that’s been achieved just once before if they are to win the Ashes – a monumental Australian comeback inspired by the Don himself.

In 1936-37, Donald Bradman, newly installed as captain, made 810 runs at an average of 90 as his team roared back from 2-0 down to make history.

Here’s a look back at how that extraordinary series unfolded 85 years ago.

First Test, Brisbane: England won by 322 runs

A first innings of 358 built around Maurice Leyland’s century gave England a lead of 124 after Bill Voce took 6-41. England were wobbling at 6-144 second time around but captain Gubby Allen made 68 from No.7 to set Australia 381 to win – and the home side were blown away for 58. They were 4-7 after a duck for the great Bradman in his first match as Australia captain and some defiant late hitting from Arthur Chipperfield was in vain as Allen and Voce shared the nine wickets, with tail-ender Ernie McCormick absent hurt.

Second Test, Sydney: England won by an innings and 22 runs

Wally Hammond piled up 231 not out as England declared at 6-426, which proved sufficient as Voce led twin demolitions of the home batting line-up. He took 4-10, Allen adding 3-19, as Australia were bowled out for 80 in their first knock and though Stan McCabe (93), Bradman (82) and Jack Fingleton (73) anchored a better second effort, the home side dismissed for 324 as Voce and Hammond took three wickets apiece. England’s innings success left them 2-0 up and surely cruising towards the urn. Surely…?

Third Test, Melbourne: Australia won by 365 runs

Both sides declared their first innings nine down, Australia on 200 and England on just 76 after Morris Sievers took five for 21. Bradman, batting at number seven, then made a monumental 270 to make a nonsense of suggestions the captaincy might have been affecting him and Fingleton compiled 136 as Australia racked up an imposing 564 in the second innings to set England an unfeasible target of 689. They made it to 323 but spinner Chuck Fleetwood-Smith took 5-124 to see Australia to victory.

Fourth Test, Adelaide: Australia won by 148 runs

England had a first-innings lead as opener Charlie Barnett’s century led them to 330 in response to the hosts’ 288. But another double-century from Bradman – this time 212, before the great man offered a return catch to become one of Hammond’s five victims – underpinned an Australian total of 433, with another six wickets for Fleetwood-Smith then seeing England bowled out for 243.

Fifth Test, Melbourne: Australia won by an innings and 200 runs

Having fallen 2-0 down with an innings defeat, Australia completed their comeback in similarly emphatic fashion. Bradman was this time dismissed for a mere 169, with centuries too for McCabe and Jack Badcock and 80 for Ross Gregory as Australia racked up a massive 604. England were unable to respond, Bill O’Reilly taking eight wickets in the match as they were dismissed for 239 and 165 to complete Australia’s remarkable fightback.

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