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England in South Africa, November 99 to February 2000

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United Cricket Board of South Africa

Tour History

by Dave Liverman (

Back to Part 2 | Part 3 of 5 | Forward to Part 4 - Political Interlude

The 2nd World War took a toll on all cricket, with many fine players losing the better part of their careers, and others their lives. For England Hedley Verity, like Colin Blythe in the first war, was a casualty, as was Arthur Langton for South Africa. AW Briscoe, Ken Farnes and Maurice Turnbull who took part in inter-war Tests were also lost. As well, the influx of young cricketers into the game came to an abrupt halt for six years.

1947 [Scorecards]
1947 will long be remembered as a glorious summer, with the runs flowing from the bats of Compton and Edrich. The South Africans, under Melville, were touring and were not spared by the "Middlesex twins". They were a fine side however, and acquitted themselves well in the Tests. They topped 500 after choosing to bat in the 1st Test, with Melville and Nourse making centuries, and thanks to Tuckett, had England in serious trouble, following on 325 in arrears. England batted well in their second innings, with a partnership between Compton (163) and Yardley (99) the highlight, and a late flurry from Evans. South Africa needed 227 in two and a half hours, and chose to opt for a draw, Melville completing his second hundred of the match, despite a leg injury. The second Test saw Compton and Edrich in their full glory on their home ground, with a partnership of 370. The pitch was easy, and Compton top scored with 208 out of 554. Melville completed his fourth successive hundred in Tests against England (the first and second of the sequence being separated by 8 years), but Wright bowled his fastish leg-breaks superbly, and South Africa followed on. A second fine performance from Wright (10/175 in the match), well supported by Edrich's opening spell saw England needing only 27 to win. Mitchell and Viljoen took South Africa to a decent 1st innings total in the 3rd Test, but Edrich (191) and Compton) put on 228, featuring brilliant batting by both players on a difficult wicket. Melville (59) and Nourse with a superb aggressive innings of 115 left England 129 to win in short time (Edrich taking 8 wickets in the match). England won by 7 wickets with time to spare however. The Leeds Test resulted in another England win in three days. The pitch was never easy, and South Africa made only 172 after choosing to bat. A superb century by Hutton, well supported by Washbrook, allowed Yardley to declare. South Africa had eked out a narrow lead before their innings was wrapped up in remarkable fashion by Cranston, who took the last four wickets in one over. England knocked off the 43 runs required to win without loss. The final Test was drawn, a high scoring encounter with Mitchell scoring hundreds in each innings (120 and 189*), and batting for over 13 hours in all. England scored 427 on winning the toss, and had a substantial first innings lead. Compton made his fourth Test hundred of the summer in 90 minutes (and of course made 18 in first class cricket that year), and south Africa were set 451 to win. Mitchell's superb innings, assisted by 97 from Nourse, took them close, and they were 423/7 at the close. The final margin of victory in the series was somewhat flattering to England, and the tour was a playing and popular success.

1948-49 [Scorecards]
A wonderful series, thanks to enterprising cricket and captaincy from both sides. FT Mann was a somewhat surprising choice as captain after Yardley indicated he could not tour, as his record suggested he was not of Test calibre as a player. He had a fine tour, both personally with the bat, and as captain, managing his meagre bowling resources well. The warm-up matches were highlighted by a stunning innings by Compton against NE Transvaal. He made exactly 300 out of a partnership of 399, taking just 181 minutes. Compton later claimed that he went from 100 to 200 in the course of experimenting with some new shots, and from 200 to 290, hitting as hard as he could in an attempt to get out! Certainly no-one had ever seen anything quite like it. A thrilling finish in a low scoring match marked the 1st Test. A great performance in the field from England restricted South Africa to 161, Bedser taking 4 cheap wickets. England reached 141/2 on the second day but the pitch deteriorated after overnight rain, and only a fine 72 from Compton allowed England to reach 253, Mann taking 6/59. South Africa batted well to take the game into the final day, and thanks to Wade's 63, set England 128 in just over 2 hours on a highly unpredictable wicket. A loss of 15 minutes through rain upped the pressure, and McCarthy's bowling was near unplayable. The last (8 ball over) started with England needing 8, and tail-enders Gladwin and Bedser at the wicket. In driving rain and appalling light, Gladwin scrambled a leg bye off the last possible ball to win the match.

The 2nd Test was drawn, and featured a huge total from England, founded on an opening partnership of 359 between Hutton (158) and Washbrook (195). Compton also passed three figures, and England topped 600. South Africa followed on, but Errol Rowan batted the entire final day for 156*, and South Africa only lost 2 wickets in the 2nd innings. The Test team for the following Test had to be announced the preceding evening, and Rowan had a point to prove, knowing he was already dropped! Another draw followed, South Africa gaining a first innings lead thanks to centuries by Nourse and Mitchell, Compton recording his best bowling in Tests with 5/70. Mitchell in particular had not scored quickly, and England had little trouble on a flat wicket, declaring to set South Africa an impossible target of 229 in very little time. The 4th Test was drawn as Washbrook (97) and Watkins (111) led England to 379. After making an attractive 129*, Nourse declared well behind in an attempt to force a win, but Hutton made a century, and again, Mann's declaration set South Africa an impossible task.

In the 5th Test, South Africa batted for most of the first two days, Mitchell falling on 99, and Wade with a brisk century took them to 379. England lost their top order and with 5 wickets down for 168, it looked as though South Africa had a chance to square the series. FG Mann however, made an aggressive 136*, and supported by the tail, gave England the lead. On the last day, a draw looked inevitable as South Africa batted steadily, but throwing caution to the wind, Nourse declared, leaving England 172 runs in just 95 minutes. England took up the challenge, and in a tumultuous final hour, some fine hitting from Jack Crapp saw England to victory with minutes to spare.

1951 [Scorecards]
Nourse brought a strong bowling side to England in 1951, and much was expected of them. They had a poor tour, however, only winning 5 matches (out of 30), but were competitive in the Tests. They made a slow start to the first Test, taking two days to make 483. Nourse made 208, the more remarkable as he batted with a broken thumb. Waite, to become one of the best of all wicket-keeper batsmen, made 76 opening the innings on his Test debut. Simpson and Compton responded with centuries, and Watson made a fine 57 in difficult circumstances as the wicket turned nasty after rain. FR Brown declared with England 64 behind. The match took an abrupt turn in favour of the bowlers as South Africa came up against Bedser at his best, all out for 121, leaving England 186 to win. Atholl Rowan bowled superbly, and South Africa came out winners by 76 runs. Compton and Watson featured again in the 2nd Test, each making 79, McCarthy and Chubb taking the bowling honours. The wicket had turned from the first day, and gave increasing help to the spinners. When South Africa batted, Tattersall (7/52) skittled them for 115. Tattersall took another 5 wickets when South Africa followed on, and England made the 16 required without losing a wicket. The Old Trafford Test was also played on a wicket that gave the bowlers some assistance, and Bedser made the most of it on the first day, taking 7/58 in 32.3 overs, and South Africa were dismissed for 158. The second day was lost to rain, and England did well to pass South Africa on a very difficult wicket, thanks to Brown's hard hitting 42. Bedser took another 5 wickets in the 2nd innings, and England needed 142. They did that with ease, thanks to some ill-advised short pitched bowling, and 98* from Hutton just 2 short of what would have been his hundredth hundred.

In the fourth Test, Rowan made 236 (the highest by a South African to that point) as South Africa amassed 538, but again took up most of two days in doing so. On a flat wicket, England also topped 500, with the young undergraduate Peter May making 138 in his first Test innings, and Hutton a round 100. The final day was washed out with South Africa at 87/0 in their second innings. The final Test was a well contested low scoring match on a spinner's wicket. South Africa took a narrow first innings lead, 202 to 194, and then Laker took 6/55 (to add to 4 wickets in the first innings) to dismiss South Africa again for 154. England needed 163 to win, and fell to 90/4, as Rowan bowled his off-spin to great effect, and Hutton was dismissed in bizarre circumstances, adjudged out obstructing the field. He hit what appeared to be a catch to the keeper, but in trying to stop the ball falling on his stumps prevented Endean from collecting the ball. Brown chose to try and hit Rowan out of the attack, and succeeded, taking 27 off 4 overs, and England won by 4 wickets, Brown making 40.

1955 [Scorecards]
The South Africans toured again in 1955, no reciprocal tour following the 1951 visit. Cheetham captained the squad with enthusiasm and flair, with Tayfield leading the bowling, well supported by a pair of quick opening bowlers, Heine and Adcock. Waite was now the first choice keeper, and contributed useful runs. Hutton did not play for England that summer, so the England captaincy fell to May. The first Test featured some slow batting- England taking a day and a half to amass 334 at little more than two per over. South Africa were even slower, taking 114 overs for their first innings 181, McGlew top-scoring with 68. McGlew made a second fifty when they followed on, taking 555 minutes for the two innings combined. South Africa looked as though they would at least force England to bat again, but Tyson, in probably his last great spell of really fast bowling, took the last 5 wickets for 5 runs, clean bowling four of them. A heel injury kept him out of the next Test, and he was never quite the same terrifying force again. The 2nd Test was played on a difficult Lord's wicket, and England had a torrid time against Heine and Goddard, dismissed for 133. South Africa passed England's total for the loss of 5 wickets, and McClean (142), taking the attack to the bowlers, supported by Keith (57) took them past 300. May made an excellent century, well supported by Graveney and Compton, and South Africa were set 183 to win. Cheetham retired hurt after being hit by Trueman, and Statham bowling unchanged for 29 overs, took a magnificent 7/37 as England won by 71 runs.

McGlew took over the captaincy for the Old Trafford Test, and South Africa fought back superbly from the 2-0 series deficit. Compton made what turned out to be his last Test century, 158 out of 284. South Africa made an excellent start, with McGlew (147) and Goddard (62) putting on 147 for the first wicket, but the middle order faltered. Waite at number 7 made an efficient century, and Winslow batting 8 used his powerful hitting to great effect. Winslow reached his only Test century in the last over before tea by straight driving an enormous six over the sight screen. McGlew declared on 521/8, and England looked set for an innings defeat, but fine efforts from May (117), Compton (71) and Cowdrey. gave them a narrow lead when the 9th wicket fell. Evans was batting eleven due to a finger broken in two places. In a most courageous innings he made 36 out of a last wicket partnership of 48. South Africa were set 145 to win in short time, and just made it, with 3 wickets and five minutes to spare. In the 4th Test, any chance South Africa had of squaring the series seemed gone when they stood at 38/5 on the first morning. McClean and Endean staged somewhat of a recovery, but 171 did not look enough on a good wicket. England did little better however, mustering only 191, in an innings featuring 6 lbw decisions, and only Compton passing 50. South Africa looked like a different side when they batted again, McGlew (133) and Goddard (74) putting on 176 for the first wicket, and Endean making 116*, as South Africa made exactly 500. A target of 481 was too much for England, although May (97) resisted stubbornly. Tayfield and Goddard took 5 wickets each, and South Africa leveled the series. The Oval wicket favoured spin, and the game was dominated by the Surrey spinners, Lock and Laker. England made just 151 after choosing to bat, but South Africa managed only 112, no-one passing 30, and Lock leading the bowlers with 4/39. May led a slow but steady England second innings, making 89*. Tayfield bowled 52 consecutive overs, taking 5/60 in 53.4 overs. South Africa had to make 244, but this was a difficult task on a turning wicket. Waite made 60, but Laker with 5 wickets, and Lock with 4 secured the rubber for England on their home turf.

1956-57 [Scorecards]
A series described as "dreadfully slow" by EW Swanton, featured defensive play from both sides, with un-enterprising captaincy. Wardle had a superb series, his left-arm wrist spin being most successful in South African conditions. May led the side, and was in excellent form outside of the Tests- but did little in them. The first Test was the first to be played at the new Wanderers stadium. Richardson started the series with the slowest century in Test history to that point, taking 8 hours for his 117. England made 268, South Africa 215, and then England just 150, leaving South Africa 204 to win. Bailey led the way with 5/20 as South Africa collapsed all out for 72. In the second Test, Cowdrey led the batting with 101, England again taking a long time to reach 369. Wardle took 5 wickets to give his side a substantial first innings lead. England made rapid progress and declared leaving South Africa 385 to win. For the second time in successive matches, they collpased, making again 72. Wardle took 7/36, and Endean, the player whose appeal led to Hutton being given out for obstruction in 1951, was given out handled the ball, swatting at a ball that was heading for his stumps. The third Test was drawn, England only managing 81 in the final two sessions of the first day, after reaching 103/0 at lunch. With Tayfield bowling and Bailey batting, the game came to a standstill, as Bailey batted out 10 of 14 successive 8 ball over maidens from him. Bailey batted nearly 7 hours for his 80, and South Africa were not much more enterprising, Mclean's century taking them to a useful fist innings lead towards the end of the third day. Insole's century ensured the draw- despite 8/69 from Tayfield, as South Africa were never close to a target of 190. The fourth Test was close, and resulted in a 17 run South African win. They won the toss and made 340, thanks to a good all-round batting effort, McClean leading the way with 93. England were dismissed for 251, but came right back into the match as South Africa failed, all out for 142. England needed 232, and were 147/2, but Tayfield was irresistible, taking 9/113, and South Africa won. South Africa completed a fine comeback in the 5th Test, a low scoring match on a slow wicket where the fragile England batting was exposed again. South Africa took a first innings lead after making the highest score of the four innings with 164, thanks to Endean's 70. England could muster only 110, Heine and Adcock taking four cheap wickets each. Tyson took 6 wickets, a fine performance on an unhelpful pitch, and England needed 189 to win. Tayfield completed a fine series by taking 6/78, and South Africa won by 58 runs.

1960 [Scorecards]
By 1960, politics had become an issue, with South Africa's apartheid policies resulting in their withdrawal from the Commonwealth, and the frequent appearance of anti-apartheid demonstrators at tour matches. It was not a happy tour, partially because of the political background, but also because of controversy over the action of Geoff Griffin. Already no-balled for throwing in his own country, it was perhaps unwise to include him in the tour party. He made his debut in the first Test without incident (and taking 4 wickets). England, captained by Cowdrey, made 292 after winning the toss, Adcock taking 5 wickets with his pace. Waite batted well but Trueman took four wickets as England took a first innings lead. England's 203 allowed them to set South Africa 310 to win, a difficult proposition considering the wicket. McLean and Waite gave them some hopes, but they fell well short, England winning by a round hundred runs. The second Test saw the sorry end of the Griffin affair. He took four wickets in England's innings including a hat-trick, Subba-Row's 90 and MJK Smith's 99 allowing England to declare with 362. Frank Lee, however, no-balled him 11 times from square leg. The South African bats had no answer to Statham who took 6/63, and 5/34, as they fell for 152 and 137. The game finishing early, an exhibition match was staged, and Syd Buller repeatedly no-balled Griffin from square leg. Griffin resorted to finishing his over under-arm, whereon he was no-balled again for not informing the umpire of a change of action. Griffin did not bowl again on the tour (he did continue to play at home, later mostly as a batsman).

The 3rd Test was one sided England made 287, with Cowdrey (67) and Barrington (80) the main contributors. Trueman (5/27) in partnership with Statham ran through the South African line-up, and they only totalled 88. Following on, McGlew and O'Linn led a recovery from 23/3, but then McGlew was run out in unfortunate circumstances. Clearly obstructed by the bowler, he was given out on appeal by the fielder, and the umpires chose not to reverse their decision when Cowdrey asked if the appeal could be withdrawn. O'Linn batted with determination and fell just short of what would have been his only Test hundred, but England needed just 49, and won by 8 wickets. Old Trafford lived up to its reputation, and the first two days of the 4th Test were lost to rain. Although the rubber was already England's, neither captain showed much interest in anything other than a draw, and that was the eventual result. McLean made a fine hundred in South Africa's first innings, but Cowdrey's declaration gave South Africa an impossible task, and they batted out time. The final Test was also drawn, but not before Adcock and Pothecary ran through the England batting, dismissing them for 155 in their first innings, only Pullar (59) showing any resistance. South Africa took a big first innings lead with Goddard making 99. England made a spirited recovery, however, Pullar (175) and Cowdrey (155) putting on 290 for the first wicket. Rain intervened, however, and South Africa lost 4 wickets in batting out time on the final afternoon.

1964-65 [Scorecards]
MJK Smith led the England tourists in 1964-65, and they got off to a fine start by winning the first Test with ease. Boycott and Barber put on 120 for the first wicket; and then Barrington and Parks, both with hundreds, an unbeaten 206 for the 6th wicket. Smith declared with England just short of 500, and then off-spinner David Allen took 5/41, and South Africa followed on after making just 155. England's second off-spinner Fred Titmus did the damage in the second innings with 5/66, and England won by an innings. England's batting was on song again in the 2nd Test, with Barber (97), Dexter (an imperious 172), and Barrington taking them to 531 - Peter Pollock took 5 England wickets. South Africa were unable to save the follow-on despite 71 from Barlow and 85 from Pithey, but batted out time for the draw, losing only 5 wickets in their 2nd innings. Bland (144*) and Graeme Pollock (55) took charge when an England win looked possible after early wickets fell. It was South Africa's turn to top 500 in the 3rd Test, as centuries from Barlow and Pithey allowed Goddard to declare on 501. On a flat wicket, however, England had little trouble saving the follow on, making 442, 5 of the top 6 passing 40, and Smith leading the way with 121. With most of 4 days gone when the 2nd innings commenced, a draw was a certainty, and South Africa batted out most of the final day for 346, all the England players apart from the keeper bowling, and Barrington taking 3 wickets for 4 runs (he eventually topped both batting and bowling averages in the Tests). The fourth Test was another draw, with South Africa batting the first two days for 390/6 declared (time was lost through rain). Barlow and Pithey both fell tantalizingly short of centuries. Barrington also made a ninety, and Parfitt an unbeaten 122 as England trailed by only 6 runs on first innings. South Africa went after quick runs, and Goddard's century allowed them to set England a target of 314 in quick time. They fell to 33/3, and shut up shop, a fine defensive effort by Boycott ensuring the draw. England secured the series in a drawn final Test. Pollock's 137 led South Africa to 502, but Boycott (117) well supported by Barrington (72) ensured that the first innings lead would be only 67. Any chance of a result was spoilt by rain on the final day.

1965 [Scorecards]
van de Merwe brought a young party to play a short three Test series in 1965. They got off to a poor start, being beaten by Derby in their first match. Unaccustomed to English conditions Rhodes and Jackson dismissed them cheaply twice (although Rhodes was no-balled for throwing by umpire Buller. A month later South Africa faced England at Lord's in the 100th Test between the two sides, in a match worthy of the occasion. South Africa got off to a poor start, but Bland and Pollock staged a recovery, and the tail wagged to bring them 280. Barrington led the England innings with a fine 91, ended in thrilling fashion by a brilliant run-out by Bland, hitting a single stump with a lightning throw on the run. Titmus made 59, and England gained a useful lead. Barlow got the 2nd innings off to a fast start, and Bland consolidated after the loss of quick wickets in the middle order. England needed 191 to win in four hours, but wickets fell, Edrich retired hurt after being hit by Pollock, and eventually had to fight hard for the draw. Between the second and third Tests, a Kent crowd was treated to a great innings from Graeme Pollock, 203 in just four hours, evoking comparisons with Frank Woolley. Macaulay finished the match with a hat-trick as the tourists won by an innings. Pollock's fine form continued into the second Test, where he set Trent Bridge ablaze on the first morning. Cartwright had South Africa at 43/4 in humid conditions helping his seam and swing. Pollock started slowly making 34 in 70 minutes before lunch, but added 92 in 70 minutes afterward. He offered no chance and made 125 out of 160. Cartwright broke a thumb trying to stop a straight drive, and bowled no further in the match after taking 6 wickets. England fell only narrowly behind on first innings thanks to a cultured century from Cowdrey, Graeme's brother Peter bowling superbly for his 5 wickets. South Africa fought hard for runs in their second innings, Barlow making 76, Pollock 59, and Bacher 76. England needed 319 to win in just over a day. They lost two wickets on the evening of the fourth day, and nightwatchman Snow immediately on the start of play on the 5th leaving them at 10/3. Barrington fell to Pollock shortly afterwards, and Boycott put up the shutters, labouring nearly two and a half hours for 16. England were 127/7 when rain brought the players off for an early tea, but then Parfitt and Parks took the initiative, adding 80 in an hour and giving England faint hopes of an unlikely win. Peter Pollock finished off the innings, however, to take his 10th wicket of the match, and South Africa won by 94 runs. England needed a win in the Oval Test, and started well, Statham taking 5 wickets, and debutant Higgs four, as South Africa made only 208. England's batting failed, however, as Peter Pollock took his 3rd successive 5 wicket haul, and they trailed by 6 runs on first innings. South Africa secured the rubber with a good 2nd innings, Bland making 127, and Bacher 70. England were left 399 to win in just over a day, but were never up with the run rate, and the match was drawn. South Africa had earned a well deserved series victory, with the Pollock brothers making a big impression, as well as the superb fielding of Bland.