Fresh from their impressive, yet perhaps surprising, First Test win, the Australians now had two tour matches before the next test at Lord's.
Such was the itinerary on this tour that Australia had no time to celebrate their First Test win as they were off to Manchester to play Lancashire the next day. Border sat out the game so Geoff Marsh was skipper, with Boon, Jones, Waugh, Campbell and Lawson also included from the victorious side at Headingley.
The Lancashire side hadn’t provided any test players for England, but included Wasim Akram, Trevor Jesty, Patrick Patterson and were captained by Neal Fairbrother. Fairbrother won the toss and chose to bat. Gehan Mendis and Nick Speak opened for the home side and put on a half-century partnership before Steve Waugh removed both of them to leave them 55-2. Andy Hayhurst and Fairbrother added 81 for the third wicket before Lawson took three wickets in one over. First he had Fairbrother caught by Moody for 49, then two balls later he had Jesty caught behind by Zoehrer without scoring. Then another two balls later he caught and bowled Wasim Akram and suddenly Lancashire were 136-5. Lawson then had Hegg caught by Moody eight runs later and the home side were crumbling as the Aussie paceman had four wickets. 154-6 then became 156-8 as Campbell and May both got amongst the wickets. Lancashire were eventually bundled out for 184, losing 48-8 after Fairbrother was out. Lawson picked up 4-44 with two each for Campbell, Waugh and May and only Hohns was wicketless.
When the Aussies batted they chose Mike Veletta to open with Marsh. Poor old Veletta had been used as a bowler, a keeper and was having a poor time with the bat in the middle-order and now he had to face the pace of the ferocious West Indian, Patrick Patterson. He lasted one ball.
Boon lasted twice as long and Australia were 1-2, which looked better if you were watching from Australia. Moody joined Marsh and they soon settled things down and had added 127 before Moody fell to Fitton for 74 just before the close of play.
Early on the second day Marsh was bowled by Patterson for 46 having anchored the innings after the poor start. Jones (59) and Waugh (42) both made decent scores and so did Zoehrer (30) but Australia were bowled out for 288 for a much smaller lead than they would’ve liked.
Lancashire batted again, 104 behind and again it was Lawson who claimed the first wicket when he bowled Speak for 12. Mendis and Fairbrother quickly followed each other and 46-3 after Campbell and Lawson got them and then Campbell took the brace of Jesty and Wasim Akram to leave them 64-5 and still 40 behind. Hayhurst had batted over an hour for his 13 before he became Campbell’s fourth victim, and when Hohns caught and bowled Hegg they were still three behind. The last action of the second day was the wicket of Fitton, when Waugh had him caught by Hohns for 44. He’d put on 71 with Folley but at 172-8 it was only a matter of time before Australia would win this one on the last day.
They were eventually out for 185 as Lawson and Campbell finished them off, Campbell picking up five wicket haul of the tour. The tourists were left needing just 81, and Veletta fared slightly better than the first innings in registering only his third double-figures score of the tour but was the only wicket to fall as Australia won by nine wickets.
Again there was no break as they played their next match against Northants. Marsh, Boon, Jones, Waugh and Campbell were now going to have played eleven successive days of cricket. Border was back for this one, and he won the toss and chose to bat. Marsh and Taylor were back as the opening pair and put on 62 before Tony Penberthy removed them both fairly quickly. Boon and Border then put on 127 before Boon was bowled by former England international, Nick Cook for 54. Neither Jones or Waugh made much headway but Border brought up his first century of the tour off 160 balls.
Border became Cook’s third wicket when he was stumped by Warren Noon for 135. But instead of pushing on from here, the innings fizzled out as they ended 30-5 from the last five wickets. Cook finished with 5-76 and Penberthy 3-56. 329 was disappointing when they were 204-2, or even 299-5.
Northants included Allan Lamb in their team, along with former test players, Wayne Larkins and Nick Cook and had their own West Indian fast bowler in Winston Davis. At the close of play on day one Northants were 28-1 as Alderman had his customary lbw when he trapped Fordham in front for 4. Larkins and Felton took the score to 66 but then they lost 22-5 with all five wickets falling to Merv Hughes. Davis then counter-attacked with 24 off 14 balls which included 5 fours before Waugh got him and then the same bowler finally got the wicket of Larkins too. The opener was out for 84 and had battled well but the innings finally closed on 180 all out. Hughes finished with good figures of 5-37, and the lead was 149.
Marsh went early when Walker wrapped his pads but Taylor continued his form with 69 and Australia promoted Healy up the order where he and Jones added 72 before the close. 182-3 at the end of day two saw Australia 331 ahead. Healy was out early on day three for 39 as he was the first of two quick wickets for Davis. Border finally declared 229-5, leaving the hosts to score 379 to win.
Northants were unable to use their captain, Allan Lamb, as batsman after he picked up a finger injury on the first day and this was to keep him out for the rest of the summer. The obligatory Alderman lbw did for Fordham again second time round and after Larkins had hit three boundaries, Campbell made it 22-2 and then Alderman’s lbw struck again to remove Felton (1) and next ball he did the same to Penberthy and the hosts were 24-4. Bailey and Noon got them past fifty before May bowled Bailey and then Cook joined Noon to add 51 for the sixth wicket. They were 104-5, still needing 275 but things came to an abrupt halt.
Steve Waugh came onto bowl and had Cook lbw for 14 and then Hughes got Noon lbw, before Waugh took two wickets in his fifth over, Davis and Robinson both bowled, and Northants were all out for 106. Five of the dismissals were lbw. It had been two good games to prepare for the Second Test with Border amongst the runs and Hughes, Campbell and Alderman picking up more wickets.