South Africa v England, 5th Test, Durban, 1938-39, 4th day

England face massive first-innings deficit

Cricinfo staff

March 7, 1939

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England 268 for 7 (Ames 82*, Paytner 62) trail South Africa 530 by 262 runs
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Norman Gordon: bowled with fire but no luck © Cricinfo
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In cloudy conditions England made heavy weather in reaching 268 for 7 when bad light brought yet another premature finish. They are still 262 runs in arrears, and given that this match will be played to a finish, South Africa are likely to bat again rather than enforce the follow-on and set them a massive fourth-innings target.

The pitch remained good, the rain late yesterday seeming to do nothing to liven things up despite it looking damp in patches. By the time the roller had done its work, it was almost as good as new, although the sun didn't shine all day.

England's fifty took two hours to arrive, and Len Hutton and Eddie Paynter played with few problems until Hutton was left high and dry in a misunderstanding and easily run-out. Wally Hammond, although troubled by the pace of Norman Gordon, survived through to lunch.

Hammond made a scratchy 24 in 90 minutes before being stumped off Eric Dalton, and soon after Paynter was dropped by Alan Melville in the slips off Gordon. The miss was not too costly as he added only another 16 before he was trapped leg-before for 62. It was a poor innings, and he was repeatedly beaten outside the off stump and also survived two desperately close lbw shouts.

Les Ames batted with customary aggression, cutting and driving with power, and bringing up his fifty with a rasping cut behind square. At the other end the out-of-sorts Bill Edrich made just 2 before a hard-handed prod to Dalton gave silly mid-off an easy catch.

As news of the tumbling wickets spread at tea, the crowd, which had been around 4000, more than doubled in the first hour of the final session.

Brian Valentine chipped in with 26, aided by another drop from Melville, this time a juggling effort at silly mid-on. With Ames he added 58 in 55 minutes, the first time the scoring rate had exceeded a run-a-minute all game.

Although the light was fading fast, England declined to ask for it and Ames continued to attack. Hedley Verity fell shortly before the close, but Ames remained aggressive until eventually he did appeal against the light.

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