In contrast to the dismal match at Trent Bridge, the second Test produced an exhilarating struggle, with both sides going all out for victory from the first ball. For this a good deal of credit must be given to Swannell, the chief groundsman, who, in charge of the preparations of a Test ground for the first time, provided a pitch upon which attacking cricket could be played. Again the South Africans failed against fast bowling, but their display won them many admirers and until the fourth and final day they looked like winning.
In the absence of Tyson and Appleyard, both unfit, England brought in Trueman and Titmus, who at the age of 22 made his Test debut. South Africa included Mansell, Heine and Keith for Smith, Fuller and Winslow and these changes strengthened the side. Heine, in particular, made a creditable Test debut.
When May won the toss, he must have been doubtful about batting, for the green and well-grassed pitch seemed almost certain to help bowlers. So it proved, the England batsmen being most uncomfortable against the awkward, lifting ball. Heine, 6 ft. 4½ in., made the most of his height and frequently brought the ball up nastily from just short of a length. May and Compton were caught when unable to avoid kickers. Barrington, top scorer with 34, stayed just over an hour and a half, but he never looked comfortable and a number of his hooks fell just clear of fieldsmen.
The persistent Goddard upset the later batsmen with accurate left-arm medium-paced bowling on or outside the leg stump. Wardle hit him for two 6's off successive balls, but England were all out in three hours ten minutes for 133.
When McGlew snicked the first ball of the innings to Evans and the other opening batsman, Goddard, also edged a catch to the wicket-keeper without scoring, South Africa looked like collapsing just as badly. Then after tea the pitch lost its viciousness and, although for the rest of the match bowlers always enjoyed encouragement, the conditions provided a more even fight between bat and ball.
South Africa's recovery began when Cheetham and Endean, both missed before tea, added 44. Endean and McLean followed with 50 for the fourth wicket and South Africa went ahead for the loss of four batsmen. McLean gave a dashing display of fierce driving, particularly on the second morning when he made the most of a number of dropped catches. Eventually bowled by the last ball before lunch--the only success for England all morning--McLean batted just over three and a half hours for 142 which included one 6 and twenty-one 4's. He dominated the cricket and made his 142 out of 196. Keith, a left-hander, played a valuable defensive role in helping to add 109, a new sixth wicket record for South Africa. Ninth out, Keith stayed three hours twenty minutes.
South Africa led by 171 and when England, at nine, lost Kenyon, lbw without offering a stroke, an easy victory seemed possible for the touring team. From that moment the situation changed.
Graveney and May took complete command and they carried the score to 108 by the close of the second day. Both reached 50 in the last over. Graveney did not stay long on Saturday morning, but his innings, which lasted three hours twenty minutes, helped to swing the match. This second wicket stand added 132 and May found another splendid partner in Compton. In a spirited eighty-five minutes they added 96 before May overbalanced and kicked down his wicket. Crisp off-drives and powerful square cuts featured May's splendid 112, which occupied four and a half hours and contained fifteen 4's. When 102 he offered a return catch to Mansell, but that was his only error and he earned the distinction of scoring a century on his first appearance as captain at Lord's.
During his innings Compton completed 5,000 runs in Test Cricket, a feat accomplished by only four other batsmen--Hammond, Hutton, Hobbs and Bradman. Between lunch and tea the game again turned in favour of South Africa, five wickets falling for 82. Compton batted two and a half hours for 69, but the later batsmen were troubled by Tayfield's off-breaks. When he took his fifth wicket, Tayfield set up a new Test record for any South African bowler, beating the 84 wickets of C. L. Vincent, who played in 25 Tests. Tayfield was taking part in his 19th game for South Africa.
When South Africa went in to get 183 to win, Statham struck two valuable blows in the last half-hour before the close, sending back the opening pair, McGlew and Goddard. McGlew received only three balls in the match and was dismissed without scoring in either innings. The last ball by Trueman on Saturday struck Cheetham on the left elbow and chipped a bone. The South African captain could not resume on Monday and this was a severe set-back. No one faced Statham confidently, although he gained only one success in the first hour. Then fate proved kind to England, for bad light held up play from 12.30 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. This break of two hours enabled Statham to come back refreshed and he won the match by sending back McLean, Endean, Waite and Keith at a personal cost of 17 runs. He took the first seven wickets in 22 overs for 31 runs and by five o'clock the match was over.
Statham bowled unchanged throughout an innings which lasted three and three-quarter hours. Even allowing for his rest, this feat of endurance was a magnificent effort and undoubtedly brought victory to England. His seven wickets for 39 runs was the best performance of his career.
The 103,000 who watched the game must have been well satisfied with the entertainment, for every day produced exciting and splendid cricket.