St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - Honours of Series Went to SA Bowlers
Honours of Series Went to SA Bowlers
James Hattle

In the final analysis, it was the Springbok bowling and catching that proved the dominating factor in causing the 1956-57 Test honours between England and South Africa to be shared.

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Roy McLean (holding the ball in his right hand after catching the last England batsman) escorts Hugh Tayfield off the field at St Georgeís Park yesterday. Trevor Goddard is on the right.
An ex-Springbok turned to me yesterday while Peter Loader walked out as Englandís last and forlorn hope of winning the rubber, and said: ďYou know, I think South Africaís bowlers have proved themselves to be better than Englandís in this series.Ē

If he had said such a thing after Bailey, Statham and Wardle had reduced South African batsmanship to a pitiful state of confusion at the Wanderers and Newlands, he would have qualified for a visit to a psychiatrist.

But things have changed since those days. While Englandís attack has remained at all times a highly-efficient combination and a most formidable proposition, in the final analysis, as Iíve said, it was the Adcock-Heine-Tayfield-Goddard foursome that won the honours of battle.

And if Ray Lindwall needed support for his view that Hugh Tayfield was an infinitely better off-spinner on covered wickets than Jim Laker, this series has provided it.

Early in the series, I wrote more than once that South Africa could forget about winning any of the Tests unless their run-making ability improved sufficiently to give their bowlers a reasonable chance.

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After being hit for two punishing fours by the Springbok batsmen, Roy McLean, yesterday, the England and Surrey left-arm spin bowler, Tony Lock, got his revenge when he had McLean caught behind the wicket by Godfrey Evans when attempting a late cut. This picture shows Lock throwing up his arms in appeal to the umpire, Mr Bill Marais, while Cowdrey, McLean and Endean anxiously await the verdict.
That improvement first expressed itself at Kingsmead. From that match onwards, the Springbok bowlers began to assert themselves.

Englandís totals from Kingsmead to Port Elizabeth via the Wanderers were 218, 254, 251, 214, 110 and 130.

These totals were made by a side which included Peter May, regarded as the worldís greatest batsman; Colin Cowdrey, frequently likened unto the great Wally Hammond; Dennis Compton, until a couple of years ago one of the three best in the world; and three prolific runmakers in various grades of first-class cricket in Bailey, Richardson and Insole, not to mention a couple of tail-enders who know something about batting.

Three times this England batting side tried to hit Hugh Tayfield out of the game. Three times they failed. The third time was yesterday afternoon, when Englandís batting must have reached one of its lowest levels.

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Two former Springbok captains were in the dressing-room last evening to congratulate Springbok captain, Clive van Ryneveld (left). They were Dudley Nourse, talking to Van Ryneveld, and Alan Melville, in the background.
Nobody will be fooled by talk about the Port Elizabeth wicket. Yesterday it played better than at any time in the match, and was certainly no worse than many other wickets in any part of the world would have been on the fourth day of a Test.

And yet England, whom we are told are better equipped to play on broken or deteriorating wickets than the batsmen of other countries, found the task of scoring 189 runs against this Springbok attack so formidable that, after the fall of the sixth wicket, they virtually threw in the sponge!

That is the only conclusion one can draw from the wild and woolly batting tactics of Godfrey Evans - who might have been caught four times - and Tony Lock.

Frank Tyson looked rather good while he was there, but the matter of Insoleís dismissal and the fact that Cowdrey twice lifted the ball away to be dropped of successive balls, suggested that Englandís batsmen yesterday were woefully lacking in either the skill or the spirit to win.

On their homeward voyage, the MCC party will have many opportunities to reflect upon their failure to win the rubber outright after they had won the first two Tests with quite a lot to spare.

They would do well to consider in these moments of meditation, how lucky they were to find South African batsmen so pitifully unprepared for them in the first two Tests.

Evening Post
March 6, 1957.

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