Third Test

England v South Africa

Leslie Smith

Toss: South Africa.

England made a great effort to achieve the difficult task of scoring 399 in the last innings, but with 91 more wanted and seventy minutes left, a downpour ended the match and ruined what could have been a fine finish.

By their victory at Trent Bridge, South Africa won a series in England for the second time, the other occasion being in 1935.

This was another closely fought game with South Africa's superior approach giving them a slight advantage.

England omitted Boycott and Snow, besides Cartwright and Larter who were injured. Russell, Statham, Higgs and Brown replaced them, with Allen twelfth man for the third time in the season. Statham was recalled to Test cricket for the first time since 1963, at the age of 35 and Higgs made his debut for England. Both more than justified their inclusion.

Smith won the toss and gave South Africa first innings. Although the pitch was slow and never really difficult, fast bowlers were able to get some movement off the ground. This accounted for the first three batsmen and five in the innings being lbw. Higgs took a wicket with his 16th ball and South Africa were always struggling - only Lance playing an effective innings. Statham and Higgs took nine wickets between them.

England's first innings was a big disappointment. They made not the slightest effort to take control until Parks arrived.

Cowdrey took seven minutes short of four hours to score 58, Barber spent two and a quarter hours over 40 and Barrington nearly an hour and a half for 18. Parks showed that the bowling was not all that deadly by scoring 42 in an hour. Peter Pollock took five wickets in an innings for the third successive time and South Africa unexpectedly led by six.

They built a strong position by the end of the third day when they were 163 for three. Bacher, who batted solidly, was out first thing next morning, but Bland and Lance shared a fine stand of 90 and Bland received further good support from Dumbrill.

Careful at first, until South Africa were assured of a good total, Bland afterwards drove with his usual power and hit sixteen fours in 127, made in just under four and a half hours. He was missed twice after completing his century, when 105 and 113, and this proved costly, making the difference in time and runs of about an hour which England badly needed in the end.

With seven hours left, England made a much better effort than in their first innings. The pitch was still slow and fast scoring was not easy, but they were always looking for runs. After Barber left, Russell and Parfitt added 99 for the second wicket and a fine partnership of 135 between Barrington and Cowdrey gave England their chance.

At tea England needed 109 in eighty-five minutes and despite the over rate being reduced to barely 14 an hour, England had a reasonable chance when rain had the last word.

© John Wisden & Co