First Test Match

ENGLAND v SOUTH AFRICA 1955

N.P.

At Nottingham, June 9, 10, 11, 13. England won by an innings and five runs with one day to spare. For the most part, this was an unsatisfactory game in which the South Africans and Bailey overdid defensive methods. In the end the sheer pace of Tyson, who took six wickets for 28 runs, carried England to a comfortable victory.

It was also a triumph for May, the new captain, given the leadership the previous Sunday when Hutton, originally chosen for all five games, stood down because of lumbago. The Selectors announced that, as Cowdrey had not taken part in any first-class cricket at that stage of the summer, he was not considered. They named Milton, of Gloucestershire, twelfth man, but an injury compelled him to withdraw on the eve of the match, when the Selectors not only replaced him by calling on Lock, the Surrey left-arm slow bowler, but decided to choose the team from twelve, including Lock. This move was prompted by the saturated state of the ground; there was a question whether the pitch would be of any use to Tyson.

Just before the captains went out to toss came the announcement that the original eleven would be left undisturbed which, as events turned out, proved to be a happy decision. Lock was released to play for Surrey during the latter part of the game, when Morgan, of Derbyshire, acted as twelfth man.

The match began on a soft easy pitch and, despite the absence of Hutton, England, on May winning the toss, began satisfactorily. Their new opening pair, Kenyon and Graveney, made a stand of 91. Disaster might have overtaken Kenyon in Adcock's second over when he was only one, but Tayfield, standing three yards from the bat at silly mid-on, could not hold a very hard drive. During the early overs, Adcock, Goddard and Fuller caused the batsmen some anxiety, for a cross wind helped them to swing the ball awkwardly. The first hour yielded only 29, but when they accustomed themselves to the peculiar light and pace of the pitch, Kenyon and Graveney added 50 in the second hour. Kenyon, undisturbed by his escape, appeared very sure in defence and he excelled with an occasional cover drive and leg glance.

By the time May arrived the sun shone, providing a perfect light, and when he settled down he indulged in powerful driving. In ninety-five minutes Kenyon and May added 75 before Kenyon, trying to force Goddard away to leg, was lbw, having made 87 out of 166 in just under four hours. He hit ten 4's. Compton in his early minutes at the crease shaped well, but he lost his touch after some grand strokes had been cut off by a set of brilliant fielders, of whom McLean was outstanding at cover. All the time the South Africans pursued negative tactics which did not change even when Adcock and Fuller took the new ball at 204. Compton spent one hour forty minutes at the wicket and could not manage one boundary.

Twenty minutes of the first day remained when Barrington, the only new cap in the England team, joined May. He survived no more than three balls and a keen but not an exhilarating day's cricket ended with England 244 for four, representing an average of 41 an hour. On Friday England were all out for 334, having taken nine hours over the task. In a dreary performance completely devoid of enterprise, Bailey maintained his dour reputation by occupying three and a quarter hours over 49. True, South Africa, possibly discouraged by the state of the pitch, bowled and fielded defensively. They waited for the England batsmen to get themselves out and all except Bailey fell in attempting forcing strokes. May, 81 overnight, added only two more runs, his 83 (eight 4's) taking him three hours fifty-five minutes. Statham alone showed initiative and drove well, but England needed three hours to add the last 90 runs.

South Africa broke down against Tyson and Statham, half their wickets falling for 55. Waite was run out by a superb return by Statham from third man. In both innings McGlew saved South Africa from complete rout. In all he defied the England bowlers for nine and a quarter hours. His first innings of 68 occupied five hours five minutes, during which Cheetham helped him to put on 94 in just over three hours. The only other notable stand for South Africa came immediately after May enforced the follow-on, when Goddard stayed with McGlew for just over three hours and then only the quickness of Statham at mid wicket caused him to be run out.

Meanwhile several hours of torrential rain soaked the ground following the close of play on Saturday, when South Africa were 46 for no wicket. Nothing could be done until one o'clock on Monday and then England finished the match in three hours twenty minutes of actual cricket. The turf was so soft at the Trent Bridge end that Statham attempted only two overs, the second with a very shortened run. Neither Wardle, who had bowled 40 overs for 31 runs and four wickets, nor Appleyard were accurate, but from the pavilion end Tyson and Bailey took eight of the ten wickets.

During a spell of forty minutes Tyson accounted for Waite, caught off a glove in the leg trap at 83. Next Bailey put in a good effort lasting nearly an hour in which he removed first Endean and then beat McGlew with a ball that lifted, May taking the catch in the gully.

The total was 131 for four wickets when Tyson returned just after four o'clock and his pace, even with a ball already used for 82 overs, proved too great for the opposition. In ten minutes before tea McLean, brilliantly caught low at first slip, and Cheetham who played on, fell to Tyson and subsequently Tyson hit the stumps in removing Tayfield, Winslow and Adcock. In addition Fuller was dropped by Evans, who soon afterwards caught him at the other end. Tyson's figures in his final spell were: 7.3 overs, 3 maidens, 5 runs and 5 wickets

This feat gave Tyson 52 wickets in nine Tests in his first ten months as an England cricketer. For once, Tyson wrought havoc without the help of Statham. He was just as impressive as earlier in the year at Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, but the situation was different for on this occasion England were not sorely pressed like they were on all three occasions in Australia. Sheer pace coupled with astute judgement in mixing the odd bouncer with the more valuable yorker were features of Tyson's bowling.

The match also brought distinction to Evans who, when he caught Fuller, claimed his 150th victim in Test cricket--112 caught, 38 stumped.

The national railway strike must have kept many people away from the match, but it did not wholly account for the disappointing attendances on three of the four days. On Saturday, when South Africa made only 144 runs in five and three-quarter hours, the patient crowd of 25,000 resorted towards the end of the day to a mild form of slow hand-clapping. This slow play was comparable with England's 128 in five hours against West Indies in Barbados in January 1954 and New Zealand's 125 in four hours fifty-two minutes against England at Dunedin in March 1955.

© John Wisden & Co