On the Front Foot: High time to remember the tie that helped save Test cricket

In all the fuss about you know what, an important anniversary has been so far overlooked in Brisbane. It is 50 years since the first tied Test was played at the Gabba to open what became the most thrilling series of the 20th century. In December 1960, Australia were left with 233 to win on the final day against West Indies. First-innings hundreds had been scored by Gary Sobers for the visitors and Norman O'Neill for the home side. Allan Davidson had taken 11 wickets in the match for Australia but Wes Hall ran through their second innings on the fifth morning. With the home side at 92 for 6 it seemed that West Indies must win, before Davidson marshalled an astonishing recovery, so that at 226 for 6 it seemed that Australia must win. But Davidson was run out by a direct hit from Joe Solomon and Australia needed six runs to win from the final (eight-ball) over, bowled by Hall. Three wickets fell while five runs were added, the ninth going down as the batsmen tried for a third, winning, run and the 10th off the seventh ball, another direct hit from Solomon. The match and the series which followed helped to save Test cricket (as this series might). It was 1-1 going into the final Test, and the home side won it by two wickets. There is a dinner in Brisbane next month, but it would have been something to celebrate when cricket was in town.

Freddie stays home alone

Every great Ashes cricketer of recent vintage, whether English or Australian, is present in the country, it seems. Most are commentating: England are represented by Tony Greig, Ian Botham, David Gower and Michael Vaughan. There is one notable absentee. The recently retired Andrew Flintoff, who led his side to a 5-0 defeat four years ago, is living in Dubai and has no plans to be present at any time.

Warne's winning chat-up lines

While Flintoff is pursuing a television career with the risqué – some might say puerile – quiz show A League Of Their Own, more respectable pastures are being dwelt in by Shane Warne. His prime-time chat show on Channel Nine began to some acclaim on Wednesday night. Indeed, so universal is his appeal that he has a string of non-sporting celebrities queueing up to appear.

England suffer from bad reviews

England, well prepared in so many respects, seem in need of help in one important area that may prove crucial to the destiny of the First Test. All their reviews in the two first innings of the match failed – Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann were given out after review, and Shane Watson and Michael Clarke were given in after review. It left England with nowhere to go when they thought they had Michael Hussey yesterday morning. Last time they fell foul of the review system, in January this year – when Graeme Smith got away with what looked a blatant catch behind – they went running to the ICC. Not this time, chaps. Take your punishment.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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