Cricket: Opening Exchanges: Four Memorable First Tests

Article excerpt

1906, JOHANNESBURG

SOUTH AFRICA WON BY 1 WKT

South Africa's first Test victory at the ninth attempt was achieved amid unbearable excitement. England led by 93 runs after the first innings and then left South Africa requiring 284 to win, the highest score of the match. At 105 for 6 they looked buried but a stand of 111 between Gordon White and Dave Nourse gave them hope, before they fell to 239 for 9, at which point captain Percy Sherwell (22 no) helped Nourse (91 no) secure the closest of victories. England went on to lose the series 4-1, undone by South Africa's multi-pronged wrist-spin attack led by Aubrey Faulkner, Bert Vogler and Jimmy Sinclair.

1930, JOHANNESBURG

SOUTH AFRICA WON BY 28 RUNS

This was a match unusual for the inclusion in the South Africa side of a captain of Norwegian extraction, Eiulf "Buster" Nupen and a debutant whose forbears were Greek, Xenophan Belaskas. Nupen, a medium- pacer, had the match of his life with figures of 5 for 63 and 6 for 87. England, who led by 67 on first innings, were left needing 240 to win following a determined second innings by South Africa in which three players made half-centuries. The pursuit faltered at 30 for 3 but Wally Hammond and Maurice Turnbull put England back in it with a century partnership. Its breaking signalled the end. The other four matches were drawn.

1948, DURBAN

ENGLAND WON BY 2 WKTS

When England's opening attack of Alec Bedser and Cliff Gladwin undermined the South African first innings with figures, respectively, of 4 for 39 and 3 for 21 they cannot have expected to be involved in a desperate batting partnership on the final afternoon. …