St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - Stage Set for PE's First Test in 35 Years
Stage Set for PE's First Test in 35 Years
James Hattle

When the covers come off the St George's Park wicket to-morrow morning and the rival captains walk out to toss for choice of innings, it is expected that some 10,000 people, forming the vanguard of a crowd which may swell to nearly double that figure during the afternoon, will be witnessing the important preliminaries to the first cricket Test match to be played in Port Elizabeth for 35 years.

Click image to enlarge
A ticket to the Main Stand for the 1st day of the Test between England and South Africa. Saturday, March 5, 1949.
But this is more than just an auspicious occasion in the history of Eastern Province cricket. Tomorrow's big game represents South Africa's last hope of sending George Mann's English team back home without the satisfaction of having won the rubber in this particular series.

The question of the toss is, as always, important. Yet I do not believe it would mean as much to South Africa to win the toss on this occasion as it might have been in the two Johannesburg games or at Newlands.

In fact, I do not believe that Dudley Nourse would be doing the wrong thing if, having won the toss, he decided to put England in to bat.

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Dudley Nourse (left), the South African captain, and Billy Wade, coming off the field after having a practice knock together to-day.They are known as "the old firm" because of the number of times they have pulled sides out of difficult positions.In the fourth Test in Johannesburg they saved South Africa with a long partnership after three wickets had been lost for only 19 runs.
This is a Test to be won by all fair means. If England bat second it is difficult to imagine that, unless rain damages the wicket, the likes of Compton, Hutton and Washbrook could be dismissed a second time within the four days.

The task, at any time, is a difficult one for the South African bowlers, but I believe that they would have a greater chance to win this game by allowing England first choice of the wicket.

Although it is perhaps unfair to compare the position of "Nummy" Deane, who 20 years ago, finding himself in Nourse's present position, on a matting wicket, put England in to bat and won the game to save the rubber, it would not be unsound policy on Nourse's part to consider taking the field first in a game in which defeat for South Africa would be no great calamity if their colours were lowered in making a great effort to win.

The South African side has, at the time of writing, not been announced. My selection for this game would be, in batting order:
Eric Rowan, Mitchell, Cheetham, Nourse, Wade, Begbie, Viljoen, Athol Rowan, Tuckett, Mann or Markham, McCarthy. Twelfth man: Dawson.

This looks as likely a side as any to beat the Englishmen in this series, but if the South Africans are to force themselves into a winning position at all, the catches that have gone astray in the earlier Tests, will have to be taken. The accent will have to be on attack from the start.

Daily Advertiser
March 4, 1949.

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