Fifth Test

South Africa v Australia

At Port Elizabeth. February 24, 25, 27, 28, March 1. South Africa won by seven wickets. Another sensation marked the start of the final match in a drama-packed series when Lawry sacrificed his wicket without having faced a ball, in attempting an impossible third run.

Van der Merwe had taken the initiative by sending Australia to the wicket. The visitors' only hope of sharing the series was an outright victory and this unfortunate incident unsettled them from the start. Simpson and Chappell were also removed from the scene during the morning session and Redpath followed soon afterwards.

Cowper and Stackpole added 48 fluent runs and appeared to have the position in hand until Goddard switched ends and precipitated another incredible collapse. The Springbok all-rounder dealt a death blow by dismissing three batsmen with the score at 137 in a spell reading 4-3-3-3.

For good measure Trimborn ended Cowper's courageous and cultured innings and 137 for four suddenly became 137 for eight. Cowper's scalp gave Lindsay his twenty-second wicket and the record for a series between South Africa and Australia, eclipsing the twenty-one by R.A. Saggers during the 1949-50 tour of South Africa.

After surviving an hour of McKenzie at his best, Barlow and Goddard recorded the only century opening partnership by the Springboks in the present series. They played responsible cricket but after the lunch interval, with the total at 84, Barlow survived two chances in one over.

Then McKenzie made the break through with three wickets for two runs in twenty-seven balls -- with Lance dropped into the bargain. Goddard made his highest score in the series and also passed his 10,000 runs in first-class cricket. McKenzie was bowling excellently and gained two further successes before rain stopped play. He had an uncertain Lindsay caught and in the same over Procter was out, hit wicket when dodging a bumper. Altogether an exciting second day, before a capacity crowd enthralled by the mastery of Pollock, who scored 67 in an hour and forty-eight minutes -- and was going like a bomb!

Pollock duly celebrated his twenty-third birthday with his sixth Test century -- his fourth against Australia -- in three hours (one 6, thirteen 4's) and with Cowper taking three wickets for four runs in five overs, South Africa finished 103 runs in front.

Seam again proved Australia's downfall and at the close of the third day half the side had been dismissed and the visitors led by only 104 runs. At this stage it was obvious that their hopes of saving the game were hanging on the proverbial thread.

When the elder Pollock captured Redpath's wicket he shared his brother's birthday celebration by taking his one hundredth Test wicket, being the third and youngest South African to attain this honour.

After batting with confidence the previous evening, Cowper(54) and Martin (20) resumed with a contrasting air of uncertainity and both lost their wickets without addition to the score. The left-arm spin bowler became Lindsay's twenty-fourth victim which took the South African' keeper to within two wickets of Waite's world record.

Watson again disappointed and it was left to McKenzie and Taber to take the lead to 175. Goddard again passed fifty and his 133 runs and six wickets for 76 were a magnificent contribution to South Africa's success.

After McKenzie had again captured the wickets of the opening batsmen, giving him 24 wickets in the series, Bacher mistimed a drive, leaving Pollock and Lance to coast towards the glittering but hitherto unattainable goal. And as the ball left Lance's bat and soared high into the packed stand, the crowd of almost 12,000 acclaimed what must surely have been the greatest feat in all the years cricket has been played in South Africa. The clear-cut victory margin of three to one left no possible doubt as to the justice of the verdict.

© John Wisden & Co