Second Test match

South Africa v England 1938-39

At Capetown, December 31, January 2, 3, 4. Drawn. Like the first, the second Test match proved inconclusive, but this time South Africa were engaged in an uphill battle. When, for the sixth consecutive time in a Test match, Hammond won the toss for England, he began a new series of records. England, who included Hutton and Wright in place of N. W. D. Yardley and Wilkinson, made such use of their captain's good fortune that they put together the highest total ever hit for their country against South Africa. Hammond, Ames and Valentine each scored a century, this being the first time three batsmen had achieved the feat in one England innings in the series and, in addition, Hammond and Ames, in adding 197 together, established a new record for the fourth wicket in an England v South African Test. A record of a less heartening character was that of Balaskas who, brought in to strengthen the home attack, conceded 115 runs and failed to take a wicket. Balaskas, Rowan and Briscoe for K. Viljoen, E. L. Dalton and G. Bond comprised the South African changes from the side doing duty in the opening representative game.

Rain, preventing play till half past three, limited proceedings on the first day to two hours and a half. England began disastrously, losing Hutton, bowled by a break-back, and Paynter for 30, and Hammond, who took twenty minutes to open his score, was twice nearly bowled while making 26. Fortunately, Hammond settled down and Gibb, rarely anything but restrained, gave him such help that the third wicket, which fell early on the second day, realised 109. Then began the grand partnership between Hammond and Ames. Both were missed in quick succession, and the errors were costly indeed. Hammond drove and hit to leg beautifully and Ames scored readily by powerful strokes all round; in two hours twenty-five minutes the pair put on 197. Ames obtained 115 of these runs, including thirteen 4's. Hammond did not stay much longer. He played late at a swinging delivery and was bowled at 408. The England captain occupied five hours and a half over his 181, which contained sixteen boundaries.

The South African bowling came in for further severe treatment from Valentine, who, driving and cutting with a freedom which at times almost amounted to recklessness, scored 112 in two hours and forty minutes, with a 6 and twelve 4's as his chief figures. England, in order to use the heavy roller, presumably to affect the pitch, batted for one over on the third day, losing Wright, who added six runs. Then Hammond declared, and South Africa had no alternative than to play for a draw. The first wicket fell at 66 and although Mitchell, concentrating solely on defence, stayed over three hours and a half for 42, the game steadily went against the batting side. As time advanced, the pitch helped bowlers, and Verity, Goddard and Wright required careful watching. Nourse drove courageously, but by the close there were six men out for 213 and despite a stand of 69 for the eight wicket by Nourse and Melville, South Africa followed on 273 in arrear. Injured while fielding Melville gave a plucky display. In the fight to save the game for South Africa Nourse took chief honours with a chanceless innings. In making his first century against England he withstood the bowling for four and a half hours. The speedy dismissal of Mitchell at the start of the second innings suggested the possibility of an exciting finish, but Van der Byl and Rowan set to work to save their side with such success that they increased the total by 147 before England took another wicket. South Africa wound up 72 behind with eight wickets in hand.

© John Wisden & Co