Fifth Test Match

AUSTRALIA v SOUTH AFRICA 1952-53

They gave one of the finest performances of their history, and the victory meant that for the first time in a series between the countries the honours were shared. Midway through this vital match South Africa's chances of saving defeat, let alone winning, did not look bright, but allround skill rather than individual efforts enabled them to emerge victorious.

Australia won the toss and, after delay until just before lunch, their batsmen found little difficulty on a damp pitch which afforded bowlers no assistance. Morris, maintaining his return to form, and McDonald began with Australia's highest opening partnership for three years -- 122 -- and with Harvey and Hassett equally assertive afterwards the total rose to 243 for two by the end of the day. Harvey continued faultlessly and was not beaten until he had scored his first double-century in Test cricket. He batted just under five hours, hitting nineteen 4's, and took his aggregate for the series to 827 -- 21 above the previous best for Australia against South Africa by Sir Donald Bradman.

In a fourth-wicket stand of 148 in an hour and three-quarters Harvey received admirable support from Craig who, on this his first Test appearance, was the youngest player to represent his country. Despite the effortless way in which Harvey scored his runs he by no means outshone his 17-year-old partner. Craig stole much of the limelight with impressive strokeplay.

Another record fell on the second day. Tayfield, South Africa's offspinner, took his total number of wickets for the series to 27, so beating the previous best aggregate of 25 for South Africa against Australia, held jointly by GCB Llewellyn and RO Schwartz.

Although facing the formidable first innings total of 520, South Africa never conceded an advantage. Waite and Watkins began the fight with a second wicket partnership of 98, and McLean played a superbly aggressive innings of an hour and a half.

By the time stumps were drawn, marking the half-way stage, only 46 runs were needed to avert the follow-on and four wickets remained. This was a splendid effort, even accounting for the fact that batsmen escaped the pace of Lindwall and Miller, both of whom were omitted because of injuries. The recovery continued on Tuesday. South Africa took their score to within 85 of Australia's total, chiefly through a record seventh-wicket stand of 111 by Cheetham and Mansell, and captured the wickets of McDonald, Morris and Harvey for 70 runs.

Fuller's excellent pace bowling accounted for two men and, with Tayfield and Mansell causing trouble later with slow deliveries, Australia's second innings was but a shadow of the first. Only Craig, who showed excellent temperament during two hours batting, earned praise.

South Africa began the last day with a real chance. After successfully fighting an uphill battle they required 201 to win with nine wickets in hand. Cracks appeared in the turf when Endean and Watkins walked out for the final effort, but adverse conditions could not daunt a side in sight of victory. Australia's bowlers, fast and slow, received similar punishment, and the match culminated in a fitting finale by the aggressive McLean. Although handicapped by a bruised eye sustained in his first innings, McLean showed scant respect for the attack. In eighty minutes he hit fourteen 4's in scoring 76 of 106 added in an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership with Keith.

© John Wisden & Co