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At Manchester, July 21, 22, 23, 25, 26. Drawn. In a match seriously restricted because of the loss of the first two days through rain, South Africa gave a much-improved performance. Indeed, at one stage on the last day they had a reasonable chance of victory and England had to fight hard to get out of trouble.
During the course of the game injuries and illness so upset England that after tea on the final day they fielded three substitutes. Subba Row broke a bone in his thumb while fielding, Barrington pulled a thigh muscle when batting and Statham developed tonsillitis. O'Linn, of South Africa, was also off the field for a time with a pulled leg muscle.
South Africa made one change in their side, somewhat surprisingly dropping Fellows-Smith, who had been one of the batsmen to fight hard in the previous Tests. Pithey replaced him. This also reduced them to four bowlers. England included Pullar (recovered from injury), Padgett and Allen for Smith, Walker and Moss. Greenhough was omitted from the twelve originally chosen.
Despite the vast expanse of nylon-type covers over the entire square, the Old Trafford ground took too much of a soaking from repeated showers to permit cricket before Saturday. The covers played their part, for without them the start would probably have been delayed still further.
Cowdrey was once more lucky with the coin and this gave England nine successful tosses running. The England batsmen did their best to play bright cricket and the first day was most entertaining. Pullar and Subba Row scored 27 quickly before Pothecary took his first Test wicket when bowling Pullar. The faster bowlers were able to move the ball a good deal off the ground throughout the match, although the pitch was never really difficult.
A gem of an innings came from Dexter, whose 38 which included one 6 and five 4's all off Tayfield, contained many drives of tremendous power. Pothecary bowled him with the first ball of his second spell and at lunch England were 100 for two. Cowdrey made 20 briskly, but when Subba Row's careful innings ended after two hours ten minutes England were 113 for four. Padgett, on his Test debut, did not last long, but fears of a collapse were dispelled by Barrington and Parks who added 63 in seventy minutes. Barrington, limping towards the end of his stay of two hours forty-seven minutes, made 76 competently. Illingworth defended sternly and England achieved their objective in giving South Africa about half an hour's batting before the close.
McGlew and Goddard avoided trouble, scoring 17, but next morning Statham and Trueman yet again caused a breakdown. The first five wickets went for 92, but this time a good recovery came with McLean the dominating personality. While O'Linn did little more than keep up an end, McLean produced a succession of lovely drives, cuts and hooks and of the 102 added he made 86 to O'Linn's 14. McLean made the first century of the series and, all told, he batted two hours forty minutes, hitting fourteen 4's. O'Linn departed from his patience with McLean gone and was last out after a valuable stay of two hours fifty-four minutes for 27. Allen, the off-spinner, dismissed McLean and took four of the last five wickets. England did not maintain their high standard of catching shown in the previous games, but the ground work was always keen.
England, 31 ahead, were without Subba Row, who withdrew from the match, so Cowdrey again went in first. He made 25 quickly, hitting Adcock for a great six off his toes over mid-wicket, but was out two balls later. England, 50 for two at the close, ran into trouble on the last morning. Illingworth, Dexter and Padgett left within three-quarters of an hour and at 71 for five, and only four effective wickets left, they were no more than 105 ahead with plenty of time left for South Africa. Barrington, batting with Padgett as a runner, again showed defiance. The loss of Parks at 101 was another bad blow for England, but Barrington found a stubbornly defensive partner in Allen.
With all thoughts of victory gone, they concentrated on leaving South Africa little time for batting and succeeded by refusing to take the slightest risk against Adcock, Pothecary and Goddard. McGlew did not risk another attack on Tayfield. Barrington stayed two hours twenty minutes and Allen took over an hour and a half for 14. Trueman obtained the same runs in ten minutes, but by then the danger was passed.
Cowdrey made a token declaration and McGlew and Goddard did not attempt to score 185 in a maximum of one and three-quarter hours, a rate of over 100 an hour. The declaration was rather belated, but with the pitch still easy there was not much chance of an England victory. By drawing, England took their run to 16 matches without defeat, the longest sequence in their history. Because of the weather South Africa again suffered financially although the Manchester people did their best, 12,000 being present on each of the third and fourth days.