South Africa v England, 5th Test, Durban, 1938-39, 6th day March 9, 1939

England set 696 to win the marathon

Cricinfo staff

England 316 and 0 for 0 need another 696 runs to beat South Africa 530 and 481 (Melville 103, van der Bijl 97, Mitchell 89, Farnes 4-74)

Pieter van der Bijl flicks the ball to long leg ...he fell three runs short of his second hundred of the match © Cricinfo
By the close, England knew what they had to do to win - score almost 700 runs, getting on for double the highest successful fourth-innings chase. Their only solace is that they have all the time they need to do so and the pitch shows no signs of wear.

If England's players looked weary as they trudged between overs, the fatigue had spread to the spectators, with barely 400 bothering to watch a game of endurance as much as ability.

South Africa resumed more positively than at almost any stage of the match, adding 99 in the morning session for the loss of Dudley Nourse, caught by Len Hutton at short leg off Ken Farnes.

Alan Melville, still limping after injuring his thigh during his first innings, also started breezily despite being limited with his footwork, and with Ken Viljoen kept the scoreboard rattling along. Viljoen gave one half chance to Les Ames off Reg Perks, but the miss was not costly as eight runs later he chopped a wide ball from Perks into his stumps. The pair had put on 104 for the fifth wicket.

As he had in the first innings, Eric Dalton hit from the off, depositing Doug Wright onto the pavilion roof in a quickfire 21 before driving firmly back to give Wright the revenge of an ankle-high caught and bowled.

The weariness of the fielding side was apparent when Paul Gibb took over the wicketkeeping duties from Ames after tea, allowing Ames to stroll around the outfield. At every wicket or break, the England side slumped to the ground to rest.

Melville completed his hundred, the best of the match to date, in 197 minutes, before being beaten by Farnes, leaving the arena to rousing cheers from the small crowd. Farnes who took the last two wickets to fall to finish with the respectable figures of 4 for 74.

England only faced one ball before they appealed successfully against the light.

Stats and Trivia

  • South Africa's 1011 runs in the match was the highest aggregate in a Test
  • This was the sixth successive day that play ended early because of light or rain

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