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

South Africa tighten their grip

Cricinfo staff

March 8, 1939

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South Africa 530 and 193 for 3 lead England 316 (Ames 84, Paytner 62) by 407 runs

South Africa's stranglehold on the match continued to be tightened on the fifth day, and even the late clatter of wickets hardly seemed to have made any difference to the balance of the game.

The wicket was still excellent when England continued their innings, but Chud Langton struck a big blow for South Africa by getting Ames caught when he had added only two to his overnight 82.

Doug Wright and Ken Farnes offered some resistance and both made some good hits before Wright was caught by Langton and Farnes was bowled in attempting a big hit.

With a first-innings lead of 216, South Africa could have enforced the follow-on but preferred to pile up the runs and expose England to a pitch that should have deteriorated by the time they bat again.

Pieter van der Byl and Bruce Mitchell, opening for the injured Alan Melville, put on another three-figure opening stand, untroubled at any stage on a pitch which remained hard, fast and true. As the spectators started heading home, there was a twist in the tail.

For the second time in the match, South Africa's the first wicket fell as a batsman, this time Mitchell, stepped back to pull one of the slow bowlers - Wright - only to tread on his stumps. In the next over, Ethol Rowan was superbly caught chest-high at silly point by Bill Edrich off Verity, and then in his next over van der Byl tamely pushed Doug Wright to Eddie Paynter at short leg. van der Byl was within three runs of becoming the first South African to score two hundreds in a Test.

Three wickets had fallen with the score on 191, and it could have been four had Wally Hammond not dropped a rasping drive from Dudley Nourse at mid-off.

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