Third Test Match

ENGLAND v SOUTH AFRICA 1951

R.J.H.

At Manchester, July 5, 6, 7, 9, 10. England won by nine wickets. This low-scoring match contained much good cricket and abundant interest. Play opened dramatically on a rain-soaked pitch when E. Rowan touched the fourth ball of South Africa's innings to Brown at short fine-leg. Bedser, the successful bowler, continued to worry the batsmen with late swerve and lift. His next wicket was that of Waite, whose difficulties were such that he took forty minutes over one run, and, after breaking a third-wicket stand by van Ryneveld and Nourse which lasted an hour and ten minutes, Bedser swept to further triumphs. Van Ryneveld used his height and long reach well for two hours and a half, but few other South African batsmen countered Bedser, whose seven wickets raised his number for 36 Tests to 150.

Any regrets Nourse might have held about electing to bat on winning the toss probably disappeared when, after a blank second day, he saw the nature of the pitch for the resumption of England's innings at 50 for one on the third. Wind and sunshine combined to make the turf treacherous. The second ball of the day, by A. Rowan, rose from a good length and hit Hutton on the chest. Three others in that over struck Hutton on the hand. Simpson and Hutton soon went, but, when the turf was most awkward, Graveney showed correct technique and a cool head for forty minutes. Brown played the type of courageous innings which typified his cricket in Australia a few months earlier, and Bedser and Laker shared in a stand of 53, which was also England's lead. Strong drives, including a 6 off Mann, and an occasional cut brought Brown most of his runs. For three-quarters of an hour, in which he scored 42 out of 52, Brown dominated the scene, but, like the other England batsmen, he was helped by the failure of Mann and A. Rowan to strike their best form. With more admirable medium-paced bowling, Chubb presented the most difficulties and worthily earned his analysis.

South Africa's second innings start was almost as bad as their first, Statham sending Waite's off stump flying third ball and Laker bowling van Ryneveld with his first, at l9. Handicapped by further damage to his fractured thumb, Nourse was a long way from comfortable, but, on a less vicious pitch than early in the day, E. Rowan and Cheetham added 61 in the last hour. Next morning they took their stand to 89 before Ikin held Rowan with one of the five catches, three very sharp, which he made in the match at short square-leg. That was the beginning of a swift collapse. Bedser, who went on with the new ball at 164, dismissed the last five batsmen for 11 runs in 32 deliveries, so bringing his match analysis to twelve for 112. In addition to their valuable partnership, the Surrey pair, Bedser and Laker, shared sixteen of South Africa's twenty wickets. Rain delayed the game for three hours soon after England began their task of making 139 to win.

When the game was resumed at half-past five the rain-soaked top surface caused the ball to lift nastily and Hutton and Ikin, in particular, received a number of blows on hand and body. McCarthy's tactics in bowling short at this period looked to be mistaken. As it was, the batsmen left alone many rising balls. Had McCarthy pitched a full length they would have been compelled to offer strokes. With the ball lifting so sharply, South Africa might have caused a collapse.

Most of the spite had gone from the turf when Hutton and Ikin resumed on the fifth day, but the possibility of rain storms was never far away. Nourse followed a defensive course in the field, but Hutton was in such form that only 18 were required in ten minutes before lunch when Ikin was bowled at 121. Ikin had been content to leave most of the scoring to his partner, who looked to stand a chance of completing his 100th century in first-class cricket. Simpson did the same and once appeared to apologise to Hutton for scoring runs and so possibly spoiling his prospects. Any delay or non-acceptance of runs looked fraught with danger because a big black cloud was fast approaching. When, in the last over before lunch, the skies opened, Nourse justifiably led his team to shelter. England required four to win. Hutton was then 91. Fortunately for England the rain was brief and sufficient time remained after lunch for the winning hit to be made before prolonged rain burst over the ground.

By scoring a two and single from McCarthy's first over after the interval, Hutton needed six to reach a century. He hit Mann high over cover but the ball fell inside the boundary and went for four. Most cricket-lovers hoped that Hutton would not regret missing his objective, which he reached shortly afterwards in a county game. Records which arrive naturally are more commendable than those which are sought. Ikin and Simpson were as much to blame as Hutton for allowing this situation to arise.

© John Wisden & Co