Yet this issue runs deeper than the competence or otherwise of Australian batsmen to play a turning ball. Everyone is of one mind that this is something at which they do not excel. Where the controversy begins is over the preparation of the pitches at Headingley and Old Trafford. In Australia, as well as England, the clouds of dust that blew away from the groundsman’s besom last Friday as he was making ready for Australia’s first innings have made front page news. There have been indignant cries that Mr Flack was instructed to produce a wicket to help Laker and Lock so that England might take advantage of Australia’s shortage of good spin bowling. This, one is convinced, was not so.
Of one mind
His idea was for the ball to begin to turn after each side had completed an innings, and some misjudgment on his part, combined with the tricks of the English climate stretching back as far as early spring, upset his calculations. He had, moreover, certainly aimed for more pace in the turf, and no one seems able to understand why it failed to materialise. But of his good intentions there is no doubt, and the most important mistake that he seems to have made is in mowing his wicket too mercilessly on Thursday and leaving insufficient grass to hold it together. At once the scales were weighted in favour of the side with the better spin bowling, regardless of the winning of the toss.
Sport 1956 — in the winning straight, Devon Lock stumbled after jumping a fence that wasn’t there, allowing second placed ESB to come through to win the race © Talking Sport
Third Day 28 July 1956