First Test Match

England v South Africa 1924

The first of the Test matches, taken in conjunction with the startling failure against Lancashire at Old Trafford, went far to prove that the South Africans had no chance of beating England. It is true that, when in a hopeless position, they made a great effort to save a lost game but the fact that, with nothing in the condition of the wicket to excuse such a heavy collapse, they went down before Arthur Gilligan and Tate for a score of 30 told heavily against them in public estimation. On the form shown so far during the season, the England side could hardly have been strengthened except by playing Strudwick in preference to George Wood as wicket keeper. The last place on the side was left between A.P.F. Chapman and Ernest Tyldesley and Chapman was chosen. A lot of rain had fallen in Birmingham and Taylor, on winning the toss for South Africa, decided to put England in. The temptation to take this venturesome course was certainly strong, as with the sun shining there seemed good reason to think that the pitch would, for a time at least be treacherous, but as things turned out the result of the policy was disastrous. The Englishmen found run getting a comparatively easy matter and at half past six the score stood at 398 for seven wickets down. Chief credit for a fine performance belonged to Hobbs and Sutcliffe, who gave the side a splendid start, putting up 136 runs together in two hours and ten minutes. Sutcliffe's first appearance in a Test match was nothing less than a triumph. Bowled by a yorker just after luncheon, he played flawless cricket, being especially strong on the leg side. Hobbs was out second wicket down at 164 and then followed some brilliant cricket, Woolley and Hendren adding 83 runs in sixty five minutes. In a delightful innings, Woolley hit eight 4's. Naturally anxious, after his failures in 1921, to do himself justice in a Test match Hendren played a very restrained game, being at the wickets nearly two hours and three quarters for his 74. In second wicket down he was out sixth at 356. Of the seven wickets that fell, Parker, the Bradford League bowler who was brought into the South African side, took five. He bowled himself to a standstill and became so exhausted that he had to leave the field shortly before the drawing of stumps, the South Africans finishing the day with ten men. The half crown charge for admission kept many people away, the full attendance numbering scarcely more than 10000.

The sensation of the match came on the second day. England's innings soon ended for 438 and then in three quarters of an hour Gilligan and Tate rattled the South Africans out for 30 - the lowest total in any Test match in England. The lowest before this match - also, curiously enough, on the Edgbaston ground- was 36 by Australia in 1902. There was another record, Gilligan's figures of six wickets for 7 runs never having been equalled. He bowled very fast and with any amount of fire. Three times during the innings he took a wicket immediately after sending down a no ball. Tate, though he did not look quite so deadly, was also at the top of his form. Nothing during their tour did the South Africans more credit than the way in which, on following on, they battled against overwhelming odds. Taylor and Commaille started well by scoring 54 before Taylor was cleverly caught and bowled by Tate, close to the ground, and at the end of the afternoon the score stood at 274 for four wickets- a remarkable recovery indeed- Catterall 52 and Blanckenberg 56, the not outs at the close, having added 113 runs together in an hour and a quarter. They were in dire trouble when their partnership began, but hit brilliantly when they had become set. With a single run added on Tuesday morning, Blanckenberg was out to an amazing catch by Chapman in the slips. Catterall, however, went on playing in far finer form than he had shown on the previous day and was the last man out- caught at extra mid off when he was hitting at everything in the hope of saving his side from a single innings defeat. The total was 390, England winning the match by an innings and 18 runs. Few Test match hundreds have been so uneven in quality as Catterall's 120, but in the circumstances it was a very great effort - marked by magnificent driving. In third wicket down at 152, Catterall was batting for three hours and a quarter, his hits including two 6's and fifteen 4's. Arthur Gilligan will never forget his first experience as a Test match captain. He took in all eleven wickets for 90 runs. Tate, to whom fortune was unkind in the last innings, had a record for the match of eight wickets for 115 runs. The other England bowlers did not look at all difficult.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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