When Verity destroyed the Aussies

England last won an Ashes Test at Lord's in 1934 – after the cool Yorkshire spinner took 14 wickets in one day

On the way to Lord's on 25 June, 1934 Hedley Verity ran down and killed a black cat. It was not a portent of things to come that day.

Verity stopped and insisted on finding the owner to proffer his regret before continuing his journey. He arrived at the ground and proceeded to take 14 of Australia's wickets, six in the final hour, and England won the match by an innings and 38 runs.

They had not won at Lord's against Australia since 1896 and they have not won since in the ensuing 75 years. That is the measure of the task which faces England tomorrow and it is a history which is impossible to cast aside.

Australia, whose cricketers are always better versed in cricket past than their English counterparts, will come to Lord's knowing precisely the record with which they have been entrusted.

It will spur them on perhaps more than any other single aspect. None of them wishes to be part of the first Australia side to shed that record. There have been 18 matches since, of which Australia have won nine without much fuss while all but one of the draws were fairly comfortable.

England, it could be said, got lucky in 1934. The match had begun in fine conditions and England made 440, making fairly sedate progress at under three runs an over. Having been 182 for five their fortunes were revived by Maurice Leyland and Les Ames, who became the first wicketkeeper to make a hundred in an Ashes Test (and the last until Alan Knott more than 40 years later – expectations of wicketkeepers were different then).

When Australia went in on Saturday afternoon they set about the English bowling. The big wicket as always was that of Don Bradman and he struck Verity for three fours in an over. But Yorkshire's left-arm spinner, the son of a coal merchant, was at the top of his game then. He had variations of flight and pace and twice in an over he deceived Bradman into offering a return catch, the second of which was taken.

Australia finished the day on 192 for two, well-placed and with their opener Bill Brown unbeaten on 103. The next day, Sunday, was a rest day. It rained. By the time England woke up on Monday morning it had rained some more and Verity turned to his colleagues at breakfast and said: "I shouldn't wonder if we have some fun today. It looks as though it might turn a little."

So he did and so it did. For most of the day Verity was unplayable. He had become a fixture in the England side after, until the last Test in Sydney, playing a minor role in the Bodyline tour two winters before when fast bowling held sway. Verity was accurate and a master of drift who had been mentored at Yorkshire by Wilfred Rhodes, the leading wicket-taker of all time.

Only Bertie Oldfield and Arthur Chipperfield held up his progress as Australia resumed their first innings. They were almost in sight of avoiding the follow-on when lunch came. If Verity was worried he did not show it and said during the interval: "Well, I really must have another helping of strawberries and cream."

Verity cleaned up after lunch and Australia failed to make the necessary target by seven runs, being asked to follow on by England for the first time in 29 years. Verity had taken 7 for 61.

The watching Douglas Jardine, who had become a great admirer of the imperturbable Verity, said of the performance which now followed: "The crowd and the pavilion were treated to an exhibition of bowling which, whether judged by standards of accuracy or of general ability, may possibly have been equalled, but has certainly never been surpassed. For clear thinking and execution it may stand alone for all time."

At the heart of Verity's return of 8 for 43 was the wicket, for the second time in the match, of the great Bradman. Baradman had seemed uncommonly agitated when he came out to bat with his side at 43 for two.

What followed was a masterclass in bowling to a master batsman. Verity left the leg-side field open. Fifteen minutes had passed and Bradman had reached 13 when suddenly he launched into a drive against the spin. The ball came off a leading edge and went high into the air.

Time seemed to stand still. Fielders looked at each other but it came down to one man to take the catch, Ames the wicketkeeper. He stepped forward as the ball came down around about silly point and the ball thudded into his gloves. All knew then that the match was won.

Verity was an immediate hero, cheered to the echo when he arrived at Northampton the following day for a county match. He remained a sporting hero and he died one, fatally wounded in action in Sicily in 1943. His exhibition at Lord's three-quarters of a century ago is imperishable.

Good Lord's! England's record

England have not won an Ashes Test at Lord's since 1934, but their record at the remaining venues of this series makes for better reading...

England's record against Australia at Lord's:

1938 Drawn

1948 Lost by 409 runs

1953 Drawn

1956 Lost by 185 runs

1961 Lost by five wickets

1964 Drawn

1968 Drawn

1972 Lost by eight wickets

1975 Drawn

1977 Drawn

1980 Drawn

1981 Drawn

1985 Lost by four wickets

1989 Lost by six wickets

1993 Lost by an innings and 62 runs

1997 Drawn

2001 Lost by eight wickets

2005 Lost by 239 runs

Edgbaston (since 1934)

P 10 Eng 4/Aus 3/Drawn 3

Headingley (since 1934)

P 17 Eng 7/Aus 6/Drawn 4

The Oval (since 1934)

P 18 Eng 6/Aus 4/Drawn 8

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering