The Triangular Tournament

England v South Africa

As in four of their previous Test matches, the South Africans suffered an overwhelming defeat, England winning before lunch time on the second day by ten wickets. Rain on Saturday drenched the Oval, and from start to finish the game was played on a slow and difficult wicket. Had Monday been a bright day, the pitch would have been as nearly as possible unplayable. As it was, with dark clouds hanging over the ground all the afternoon, there was no sun-shine to cake the surface of the turf. Still, with the light often very bad, the batsmen had much to contend against. Winning the toss, Tancred was bound to take first innings, but the South Africans profited nothing by going in first. In two hours and a quarter they were out for a total of 95. It is likely enough that this score would have been still smaller if Fry had at first put Woolley instead of Foster on to bowl with Barnes. The pitch was far too slow to suit Foster, but before this fact was realised 32 runs had been scored for one wicket. From the moment Woolley took the ball the batsmen were in sad trouble, and no second change of bowling was required. The only man who ventured to hit was Snooke, who went in at 53 and was out in the first over after luncheon to a very smart catch in the slips early in the game, Smith, the wicket-keeper, received a severe blow in the mouth, a ball from Barnes getting up straight. Smith had to have his lip stitched, but he was able to return to his post after the luncheon interval, Spooner keeping wicket in the meantime. Barnes and Woolley divided the wickets equally, but Barnes looked by far the more difficult to play. He did not have the least bit of luck to help him often beating the bat with balls that missed the stumps. Of the 28 runs scored from him, 16 were obtained in four hits. Woolley made the ball turn a good deal, but he was rather slow off the pitch.

England made a bad start, Rhodes playing a ball from Faulkner on to his pads and into the wicket after Hobbs had hit a single and a three. However, Hobbs and Spooner soon put their side in a flattering position, the batting, while they were together, being very fine indeed. So brilliantly did they hit that the score was up to 41 when the innings had lasted half-an-hour. A little later, Hobbs punished Faulkner for three 4's in one over--all on-drives. Then, at 65, Spooner was caught close to the ground at square leg. The 61 runs put on for the second wicket were made in twenty-one hits--one 5, ten 4's, a 3, four 2's, and five singles. Considering the state of the ground this was very remarkable batting. Hobbs continued to play a splendid game, but he did not get much help. Out at 127, he scored his 68 in an hour and fifty minutes, hitting eight 4's, three 3's, and six 2's. Few batsmen could have played so well on such a wicket, his driving and pulling being superb. Hearne and Smith put on 28 together for the eighth wicket, but at about twenty minutes to six England's innings was over for 176. Bowling finely, but without luck, Faulkner took seven wickets. At times he made the ball do too much. In the ordinary way, the South Africans would have had fully half-an-hour's batting before time, but the light was too bad to admit of further cricket. England's total was regarded as rather disappointing, but most people thought it big enough to ensure an easy victory, and so it proved.

Thanks to the influence of a strong wind, the wicket was faster on Tuesday than it had been before, but the extra pace made it worse for the batsmen. Going in against a balance of 81, the South Africans were all out for 93. Only once did they look like making anything of a stand, Nourse and Faulkner putting on 44 runs together for the third wicket in lees than half-an-hour. Even during this partnership, however, the batting inspired no real confidence, Nourse, though he made some fine hits, being twice completely beaten by breaking balls from Barnes that went to the boundary. Barnes surpassed himself, bowling in even more deadly form than in any of the previous Test matches. He broke both ways and his length was irreproachable. The South Africans thought they had never faced bowling quite so difficult. Nourse was missed from a tremendous skyer when he had made 28, but in the circumstances his 42--the result of an hour and forty minutes' batting--was a remarkable display. The single innings defeat was saved with three wickets in hand, but only twelve more runs were scored. In first wicket down, Nourse was the ninth man out. Bowling unchanged from the Vauxhall end, Barnes took eight wicket and had only 29 runs hit from him Considering the amount of work he got on the ball, his accuracy was astonishing. England only wanted 13 to win. Hearne was sent in with Hobbs, and from twenty-seven balls the runs were obtained. The winning hit was a single by Hobbs, increased to four by an overthrow.

© John Wisden & Co