21 MAY 1948, Page 2

Demons from Down Under

If farmers have not yet begun to pray for rain, the desirability of doing so must at least have suggested itself to some of our cricketers. To speak of the Australian team as a juggernaut is a ponderous and unworthy comparison Which does less than justice to the speed with which their batsmen score runs and the celerity— not yet, some observers believe, displayed in its fullest measure—of their bowlers ; but they have certainly lost no time in acquiring an aura of crushing irresistibility. They have won all their first six matches, and they have won five of them by an innings. Yorkshire, defeated by only four wickets in a low-scoring game, came nearer than any of their other opponents to doing what no county has done since 1912 ; but the rest were routed. Statisticians had to raise their sights as well as their eyebrows when the green-capped invaders ran up, in less than a full day's play, the staggering total of 721 against Essex ; to this record score Bradman contributed 187 in just over two hours. The effect on the game as a whole of this spectacular beginning to the Australian tour can only be good. The visitors have already won the status and the glamour of supermen, and the light-hearted aggressiveness of their tactics adds to the interest with which their exploits will be followed. England's chances of making much impression on these redoubtable adversaries in the Tests appear at the moment slender ; and. even the most fervent patriot would venture no further into wishful thinking than to remind himself that cricket is a game in which .surprising things can happen.