The 1953 Ashes Series was played in good spirit by two teams who were evenly balanced, but Australia had one very important advantage. They were loaded with confidence having had several years of continued success. The first Test at Nottingham in uncertain weather with rain and bad light will always be remembered for the excellent bowling of Alec Bedser who took 14 wickets in the match.
I never saw Alec bowl better than he did in this game. The Lord’s Test was a tough game for me. I still bear the strain of watching Watson and Bailey in their match-saving partnership. I say ‘watching’ — the truth is that I could only bear to watch the occasional over, relying on the noise of the crowd for any information. The third Test at Old Trafford was also played in miserable weather with much time spent in the dressing room.
I was surprised to see how poorly the Australians played in their second innings against a turning ball, losing eight wickets for 35 runs. I was beginning to feel that perhaps they were not as good as we thought they were. I had hoped to see the re-introduction of Cyril Washbrook to the England side by now but this was not to be.
He should have been my opening partner throughout and his omission worried me a great deal. The Leeds Test was eventful from start to finish. I was bowled by Ray Lindwall for naught almost immediately after the match started. For some time I had mentioned how difficult it was to see the ball when batting at the Kirkstall end at Headingley.
On this occasion, I saw the ball leave Lindwall’s hand — but no more. This was the match in which Australia had the upper hand and could have won on the last day. The final Ashes-winning Test at The Oval was another ding-dong battle. At last, we had good weather; the wicket was good and easy-paced but started to help the spinners later in the game.
This was Fred Trueman’s first Test against Australia and he captured a very valuable wicket which I shall always remember — that of Neil Harvey; he took four altogether in Australia’s first innings. But, of course, all of us will remember Bill Edrich and Denis Compton at the wicket when we won this memorable match. The scenes that followed will live in my memory forever.