First Test match

England v South Africa 1929

Played at Birmingham, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, June 15, 17, 18. Drawn. On a pitch of very easy pace and devoid of life a definite result in the First Test match always appeared unlike and at ten minutes past six on the third day the game was drawn. From the English point of view the contest left a somewhat unsatisfied feeling. It was fully expected that, as in their eleven there were eight of the victorious team who had played so splendidly in Australia, England would prove much too strong for the young and comparatively inexperienced combination pitted against them. South Africa, moreover, had been hard put to it to place their best eleven in the field. Injuries to some necessitated several of the others playing day after day and it was no secret these were tired and not properly keyed-up to the pitch necessary for a representative engagement. South Africa, however, had none the worst of the draw after England, thanks to a great partnership by Sutcliffe and Hammond, were able to declare their second innings closed at ten minutes past four on the last afternoon.

Killick and Duleepsinhji were making their first appearance in a Test match, while splendid all-round form in county cricket brought Fender back into the England side. But, if Killick did not actually fail, not one of the three accomplished anything of note. The honours went to five of the players who had toured Australia, two of them, Hendren and Tate, saving England from a bad collapse in the first innings. Larwood took five wickets at a reasonable cost, but did not get his first until 120 runs were on the board, and, generally speaking, scarcely presented the difficulties expected from that famous fast bowler.

White having won the toss, Sutcliffe and Killick began well enough by putting on 59 in fifty minutes for the opening partnership but by half past two six wickets were down for 128. The bowling had been steady rather than deadly and some of the batsmen were out to poor strokes, four being dismissed by catches either behind the wicket or in the slips. At this desperate stage Hendren who, after the first pair, had been the only one to play with real confidence and skill, was joined by Tate, and there came fifty minutes of fine hitting in the course of which 87 runs were added. Then, with consecutive balls, Morel dismissed them both, Hendren with a yorker. Among other good hits in Tate's display was a fine on drive for six while Hendren had eight 4's in a first-class innings which occupied him an hour and three-quarters. By five minutes to four, England were all out for what, in the circumstances, was a poor total. Of the South African bowlers Morkel, who made the ball swing and got some real pace out of the pitch, did the best work.

South Africa stayed in until nearly half-past five the next day to head the England total by five runs, their innings actually lasting nearly seven hours and a half. It cannot be said that the cricket was particularly Interesting to watch for Catterall and Mitchell took three hours and twenty minutes to make 119 for the first wicket, this partnership being, until the third afternoon, a record for South Africa in this country. Neither man took the slightest risk but Catterall hit six 4's. After he left, Mitchell did not get much support. Deane made 29 out of 44 but took eighty minutes over them while Owen-Smith scored 25 out of 42 in fifty minutes. Eighth out at 289 Mitchell batted for seven hours, his hits being three 4's, four 3's, ten 2's and forty-four singles. As an exhibition of patience and restraint, his innings was quite remarkable.

On the last day Sutcliffe and Hammond came together at 34 when Killick had been dismissed without addition to the overnight score and by magnificent cricket added 221 runs in two hoursand fifty-five minutes. Sutcliffe drove finely to the off and Hammond batted in a style similar to that exhibited when making his big scores in Australia. Sutcliffe hit seven 4's and Hammond thirteen the latter being in for three hours and twenty minutes. England declaring, left South Africa to get 304 to win in under three hours. Once more Catterall and Mitchell mastered the bowling, this time putting on 171 runs together in two hours and thirty-five minutes for the opening partnership. Catterall hit ten 4's and Mitchell six, both playing better than in the first innings. On Catterall's dismissal, stumps were pulled up.

© John Wisden & Co