Toss: South Africa.
Beating England by 157 runs, South Africa, after striving for 28 years, won a Test match in England for the first time. Although undoubtedly fortunate in winning the toss, they richly deserved their victory. In batting and bowling they were definitely superior, and brilliant fielding, notably by Wade, the captain, in the silly mid-off position, also played a conspicuous part in the success.
Mitchell-Innes, owing to hay-fever, having to withdraw after the Selectors announced their first choices, England's team was completed by E. R. T. Holmes. Actually there were four changes from the eleven that drew at Trent Bridge, James Langridge, Farrimond, and Mitchell, of Derbyshire, replacing Iddon, R. W. V. Robins and Bowes. With the wicket hard, the leaving out of Clark, the Northamptonshire fast bowler, appeared a curious decision, but the wisdom of this move by the Selection Committee and Wyatt, who anticipated that the pitch would take spin, was proved by events. Hart ( Middlesex) acted as twelfth man. The fine bowling of Bell and Balaskas against Yorkshire secured those players recognition in South Africa's side and they, with Dalton, took the places of Vincent, Tomlinson and Viljoen.
From an early point in the match the wicket lent an appreciable amount of help to bowlers who could turn the ball which, in addition, frequently came off the ground very low. Much was said and written during the match about the vagaries of the pitch. South Africa's bowlers, however, without a shadow of doubt, were by far the better and Balaskas marked his Test debut in England with a most skilful piece of work by taking in the two innings nine wickets for 103 runs.
His Majesty, the king, visited the ground on the first day when South Africa, staying in until nearly five o'clock, put together a total of 228 which, with the ball needing to be watched carefully and against fielding far more efficient than anything done by the England team the previous summer, was in no sense a moderate performance. When Farrimond, at the wicket, held a very smart catch low down on the leg side to dispose of Rowan, who stayed an hour and three-quarters, South Africa had four wickets down for 98. Then Cameron, hitting cleanly and with the power to score 90 out of 126 in an hour and three-quarters, played the great innings of the day. Pulling or using the pull-drive to hit three 6's and some of his six 4's, he also showed brilliant execution of the cut and leg glance and did not abate his attack on the bowling until steadying down, probably in the desire to complete a hundred in Test cricket, an ambition he was not destined to realise.
England during the last eighty minutes on Saturday scoring 75 for two wickets, the match was left nicely in the balance, but on Monday Balaskas bowled superbly and with immaculate length over a long period. When Wyatt, hooking a long-hop, was finely caught at deep square-leg after batting steadily and well for an hour and fifty minutes, England had four men out for 109 and, Dalton having taken the wickets of Hammond and Wyatt at a cost of eight singles, Balaskas proceeded to get a great deal out of the pitch. Going on with 45 runs scored on Saturday, he continued at the Pavilion end for nearly two and a half hours without ever loosing a bad length ball. Langridge played him better than anyone else on the side, but South Africa gained an innings lead of 30 runs.
There followed the classic batting of the match. Bruce Mitchell, very strong in back play, watching the ball right on to the bat, and making the off-drive perfectly, batted from the start of South Africa's second innings until Wade declared with seven wickets down. Mitchell and Rowan, in about two hours, added 104 for the second wicket and Langton, going in sixth wicket down at 177 two hours before his dismissal. Bruce Mitchell, making his first hundred of the tour and his second hundred and highest Test score against England, played through five and a half hours without a palpable mistake. Some neglect to force the pace a little during the latter part of his innings prevented him surpassing H. W. Taylor's 176 at Johannesburg in 1923 - the highest innings for a South African against England.
Wade left his opponents four and three-quarter hours in which to score 309 runs to win. Both Sutcliffe and Ames being troubled by strains, in turn had the services of Hart to run for them. Sutcliffe, rather fortunate, and Hammond made a stand of 44 for the third wicket, but the separation of these men when the Gloucestershire batsman was shaping with fine confidence, marked the beginning of the end. Langton, going on at 77, took four successive wickets at a cost of 24 runs and altogether England's batsmen were overwhelmed. After lunch Balaskas, if not so deadly as on the Monday, bowled unchanged and was always a source of trouble to England's batsmen, one or two of whom appeared overawed by the occasion.
During the match there were six decisions under the new lbw experimental rule. The number of people paying for admission on the three days was 69,201 and a full attendance of approximately 79,000 undoubtedly exceeded expectations.