Third Test Match

SOUTH AFRICA v AUSTRALIA 1949-50

After at one time looking almost certain to be defeated, Australia staged a dramatic recovery and gained a glorious victory with only twenty-five minutes to spare. This success gave them the rubber, the first two Tests having been won by convincing margins. The luck of the toss forsook Hassett and South Africa on a good pitch scored easily. E. Rowan showed determination typical of his character in completing his hundred during the first day, and Nourse made runs with characteristic assurance. South Africa reached a respectable total, and no one could have anticipated the remarkable cricket which followed. Yet when the second day was over South Africa had established a lead of 236, Australia having been dismissed for 75 -- their lowest total in a Test match against South Africa. The player largely responsible for this astonishing collapse was Tayfield, a newcomer to Test cricket this season. This Natal off-break bowler worried all the batsmen and took seven for 23 in 8.4 overs. Nourse was left with the week-end in which to decide whether to enforce the follow-on. Probably influenced by the threat of rain, he decided to bat a second time, and though the turf now aided spin the failure of the South African batsmen was difficult to understand. The side were all out for 99, and Australia began the final day needing 256 to win with seven wickets in hand.

The odds still favoured South Africa, but Harvey refused to be deterred by the immensity of the task. Helped by Loxton and McCool, he adopted a dogged style quite out of keeping with his normal game and stayed five hours thirty minutes without making a mistake. This innings of extraordinary patience and skill, which enabled Australia to record their remarkable victory, left a lasting impression upon all who witnessed it. The history of Test cricket provides few comparable feats.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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