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South Africa went close to recording the first victory in their own country against Australia, but although undoubtedly the better side in the match they contributed towards their own failure to win by surprising and unnecessarily slow batting. McGlew earned the unenviable distinction of recording the slowest century in history and although as a feat of endurance and concentration it was remarkable, it is doubtful whether South Africa benefited by it.
Gaunt, the fast-medium bowler recently flown from Australia, displaced the injured Meckiff for Australia and Heine, fit again, returned to the South African side for Fuller. The pitch at Durban often helps the faster bowlers at the start of a match, but with five days ahead Craig decided to bat. Australia made a bad start and despite a good innings by Craig himself, they never recovered. Australia spent the entire first day of six scoring 155 for six, and next morning the last four wickets fell in 28 balls for the addition of eight runs. Adcock, bowling with fine speed and life on an unevenly grassed pitch, achieved his best Test figures, six for 43. Heine and Goddard gave him good support.
South Africa changed their opening partnership, Westcott going in first instead of Goddard. The move failed, for Westcott did not score, giving Gaunt a wicket in his first Test over. Endean soon followed, but from 28 for two South Africa slowly gained the upper hand. By the close of the second day they were only 13 behind with eight wickets left, but McGlew and Waite showed no intention of hurrying on the third day. Although losing only three wickets South Africa added no more than 168. McGlew took nine hours five minutes over his century and altogether stayed nine hours thirty-five minutes for 105. Waite also defended grimly while scoring 134 and their stand of 231 was the highest for any South Africa wicket against Australia.
Australia's fast-medium bowlers were never able to obtain the same amount of lift as Adcock and Heine. The pitch eased a good deal, but subsequently took spin, and Benaud played the leading part while the last five wickets fell in one hundred minutes on the fourth morning for 66. Grout, the wicket-keeper, helped to dismiss five men in the innings which lasted thirteen hours.
Australia, 221 behind, set out to play for a draw, so the entire match brought no relief from slow scoring. McDonald and Burke wiped out 92 of the arrears before a wicket fell and Australia entered the last day with one man out for 117. Harvey and Mackay, the left-handers, removed any hope of a South African victory by determined displays on a pitch which took spin, but never broke up as expected. Australia held out for nine and a quarter hours. Rain and bad light ended a dreary match forty-two minutes early.