ENGLAND v SOUTH AFRICA 1948-49

Third Test Match

ENGLAND v SOUTH AFRICA 1948-49

At Capetown, January 1, 3, 4, 5. Drawn. For South Africa this was a match of wasted opportunities. Although they dismissed nine men for 294 on the opening day they could not have been satisfied. In the early stages of the innings the ball rose so sharply from a pitch covered by a surprising amount of grass that Mann possibly regretted his choice of first innings after he won the toss. Yet only one wicket went down before lunch. Allowing for the fine batsmanship of Hutton and Washbrook, an experienced fast bowler would have compelled the batsmen to play at nearly every ball instead of pitching short enough for them to leave alone any lifting deliveries.

Hutton and Washbrook adopted correct tactics in trying to knock the bowlers off their length during the period when the turf was most awkward, and only a tragic run-out broke the stand shortly before the interval. Through watching the fieldsman, Washbrook did not see his partner slip when he started for a sharp single and Hutton stood no chance of reaching his ground.

Crapp helped carry the score to 149 before England met with a series of shocks, four men being out for 152. In spite of a swollen ankle, Mann showed determination and considerable skill until dismissed by a remarkable catch by Mitchell, who raced twenty yards along the boundary and took the ball with right hand outstretched, but the other batsmen found considerable trouble with A. Rowan, who kept an excellent length, pitched the ball well up and turned it a good deal.

Conditions on the second day were far different for batting. Scorching sun throughout Sunday took all the greenness out of the pitch, which was mown before play began. Thus all looked set for South Africa to make a big total rapidly, but instead their batsmen seldom departed from the utmost caution. England's bowlers and fielders deserved full praise for their efforts to restrict the rate of run-getting, but the batsmen could not escape criticism for lack of enterprise. Only Nourse showed real aggressive intent, but in addition to being called upon to face the new ball at the start of his innings, he found difficulty in wresting the initiative from bowlers whom his colleagues flattered.

Mann used Bedser and Gladwin as his chief stock bowlers; every fieldsman spared nothing in the attempt to keep down the scoring, and so well did England pursue a defensive policy that in two hours between lunch and tea South Africa made only 80 runs and in the first hour after tea no more than 30. The 17,000 people who caused the gates to be closed for the first time in the history of the ground saw Mitchell and Wynne bat correctly but with painstaking slowness.

In their third-wicket stand of 190, Mitchell and Nourse carried South Africa to within ten runs of England's score, but Compton, with orthodox left-arm slows, brought about such a collapse that the last seven wickets fell for 58--Begbie and Hanley were run out off successive balls--and England faced arrears of only 48.

Mitchell, who took three-quarters of an hour over the last seven runs of his hundred, batted five hours and three-quarters until bowled round his legs attempting one of his infrequent big hits. His seventh Test century against England equalled the record of H. W. Taylor. South Africa spent eight hours over their innings, an average rate of just over 44 an hour.

For most of England's second innings Nourse was without the left-arm bowling of Mann, who displaced a cartilage. His loss was a distinct handicap on a pitch beginning to take spin, and a second-wicket stand of 134 between Hutton and Crapp paved the way for brisk hitting by Compton and Watkins as well as for Mann's declaration, which set South Africa 229 to get to win in 125 minutes. The basis of Mann's decision to declare was that in going for the runs South Africa might get themselves out, but after the first few overs the batsmen gave up the effort at victory. Melville and Wynne provided some excitement by attacking Bedser and Gladwin from the start. Jenkins, who got rid of Melville with his first delivery and soon afterwards dismissed Wynne and Wade with successive balls, kept interest alive, but Nourse and Mitchell checked the threatened collapse and the game petered out.

© John Wisden & Co