On the opening day the ground was not full but there was a fair sprinkling of spectators to see Yorkshire take first knock.
Brian Stott was first to go, caught by Peter Marner at slip off Ken Higgs for one, and then his partner saw his middle stump cartwheel out of the ground. The visitors were 20 for 2, Taylor gone for 19.
Doug Padgett and Brian Close added 44 before Tommy Greenhough trapped Padgett for 21, and then new batsman Phil Sharpe was dismissed by Brian Statham; 93 for 4 which rose to 101 for 4 by lunch.
The afternoon was interrupted by showers and only Brian Close stayed for any length of time. The Yorkshire Post reported, ’Close was the principal substance of the innings. He was never master, but he was never a servant. As long as he stayed Yorkshire had some anchorage; with his departure they were helpless to the storm’. And once he was bowled by Statham for 63 it was almost all over for Yorkshire. They were all out for a modest 154. Statham 5 for 43 and Higgs 4 for 48.
In reply Lancashire soon lost Geoff Pullar, but by the close there was still only one wicket down as Bob Barber and Alan Wharton took the total to 97. The pair made a tentative beginning on the second morning in front of a huge crowd of 34,000, the receipts from which equalled those from all Lancashire’s first 12 games at the ground!
A huge cheer went up at 10 minutes past one as the first innings lead was gained, still with only one wicket down - but then disaster struck. At 157 - 1, Barber 71, the Lancashire captain “went for big hit and didn’t quite get to the ball that Wilson pitched temptingly wide” and then, at 172, Wharton, 83, was splendidly caught at slip by Vic Wilson off Trueman. The remaining seven wickets were lost for just 54 runs with Jack Dyson 15, and Geoff Clayton, 28 and awarded his county cap, the only batsmen to reach double figures. Trueman finished with 4-65 to put Yorkshire back in contention, having conceded a first innings lead of 72.
Even though “the wicket had eased considerably from the roller and an hour’s drying”, Yorkshire’s second innings began disastrously; Stott was caught by Roy Collins off Statham for 5 and for the second time in the match, Taylor was completely beaten by Higgs and Yorkshire were 18 for 2, increased to 19 by the close.
An 11 o’clock start on the third morning encouraged Lancashire, and within three quarters of an hour Yorkshire had slumped to 36 for 5. Thereafter “Sharpe batted extremely competently” but “both the Wilson’s were in all sorts of agony against the leg-spinners (Greenhough and Barber)”.
After lunch, Statham made the desired breakthrough when he trapped Sharpe for an excellent 46. The ‘Times’ correspondent being moved to write “This is the best innings I have seen Sharpe play”. Don Wilson struck “some skimming on-drives” and was left stranded on 32 as “a full toss from Barber so excited Trueman that he missed a sweep and was leg before wicket, and the mere turn of a leg break was sufficient for Ryan”. Yorkshire were 149 all out leaving Lancashire with an apparently simple task of making 78 to win between ten past three - and 5.15p.m.
Lancashire started as though they were uncertain that they would get the runs as Barber batted 45 minutes for 11, and Pullar struggled 80 minutes for 14. Padgett brilliantly ran out Barber, then caught Wharton and Ryan bowled Pullar to leave the home side on 31 for 3. It quickly became 32 for 4, Marner bowled by Trueman for nought, 43 for 5,Collins dismissed for 2, and 43 for 6 as Trueman sent Greenhough on his way for a duck.
But the doughty Ken Grieves was still at the wicket and he “took upon himself the whole burden of Lancashire’s batting: directive, executant, inspirational” so that with Clayton he took the county to the verge of victory. When Grieves was caught behind for a fighting 27, only six runs were needed, but Statham went for a duck and it was 73 for 8.
With time running out in came a nervous Jack Dyson; the drama came down to six runs required from the final Trueman over. John Kay reported in ‘The Manchester Evening News’ “If I live to be 100 I shall never forget the nerve tingling anxiety of batsmen, bowlers, spectators and even the umpires as Freddie Trueman spat on his hands and began the last over”.
Umpire Syd Buller later remarked that he “could have heard a pin drop as Trueman ran up for each and every ball”. Five runs were required from four balls, one looked like coming from Dyson’s pad to Ryan at fine leg, but inexplicably Ryan fumbled and it became two.
Dyson than jabbed the ball down into the block-hole and Clayton “backing up furiously and roaring a for a single” scampered through: two to win, two balls to go and two wickets remaining.
From the penultimate delivery, Clayton “stuck out a pugnacious chin and chopped a single to third man” which left Dyson with one to win off the final ball. With everyone wondering what Trueman would produce, he “fired one fast and straight and full of length” and a delighted Dyson got the thinnest of edges and it sped away to the fine leg boundary for four. Lancashire 81 for 8 and home in the most dramatic manner by two wickets.
And while all this drama was being played out at Old Trafford one young boy and his father, who should have been on his way to work, were at home watching it all unfold on television. At the same time one of father’s work-mates, who would not leave because he could hear the raucous shouting from inside the house, was desperately hammering on the door to warn of the time. Needless to say, my father and his pal were late for work that afternoon!