St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - 1968 - Transvaal Beaten At Last
1968 - Transvaal Beaten At Last
Geoff Summerton

It was magnificent and sustained seam bowling by Springbok Peter Pollock, Alan Hector and the left-handed Gordon Den which earned for Eastern Province their first outright victory in 75 years over a Transvaal A side in the Currie Cup cricket fixture which ended in St George's Park early on Wednesday afternoon, January 3, 1968.

Between them, they took all 20 Transvaal wickets to fall in the match at a cost to the trio of only 241 runs - truly one of the most remarkable achievements in the annals of the Currie Cup tournament.

While sweeping Eastern Province along to their rollicking and ciear-cut win by nine wickets, Peter Pollock took eight for 81 in the match, Den eight for 91 and Hector four for 69.

And these figures might have been even better - specially Hector's - but for Eastern Province suffering a rash of catching lapses at one stage in the first innings.

On a fine pitch which offered the seam men a few favours throughout, the Eastern Province trio seriously dented some big reputations but it is significant that the Transvaal bowlers were unable to retaliate when it was their turn.

In the Transvaal second innings, which was all over for 111 in 52 overs, Peter Pollock took five for 41, Hector three for 25 and Den two for 28, including a spectacular high, one-handed caught and bowled to dismiss Pithey.

Those who thought the Transvaal seam attack might use the pitch and the conditions to rattle Eastern Province as they chased their small target of 96 with time to spare, soon found that Barlow and Mackay-Coghill were just not up to it. And I doubt very much whether a fit Richard Dumbrill would have made any difference.

Anthony Biggs (52 not out) and Arthur Short (34), with their second competent half century opening stand of the match, were completely dominant and victory became a mere formality. Short, before he became over eager and was stumped, hit a gloriously audacious six to square-leg and five fours. Biggs, who was particularly severe on Barlow and Mackay-Coghill, nil nine boundaries.

These two have now shared Currie Cup opening partnerships of 82, 41, four, 63 and 73, and the only failure was when Eastern Province needed runs in a hurry against Natal and risks had to be taken.

Knowledgeable critics have been impressed by these two young sons of Karoo farmers and are beginning to think about them in terms of future Springbok tours to England and Australia. I'm not surprised. Short, who is only 20, and Biggs (21), have matured almost beyond recognition during the past year and their bold yet watchful approach is refreshing, to say the least.

Transvaal's total of 111 was their lowest in history against Eastern Province. More than 30 years ago Eastern Province dismissed Transvaal for 168 and in the 1955-56 season this figure was reduced to 138 when lan Anderson took five for 37 and Syd du Toit three for 26.

The South African Cricket Annual shows Transvaal's lowest total against Eastern Province as 101 but fails to point out that this was a Transvaal B side.

When play started on the third day, Transvaal were 58 for four and, although a young Duncan Lindsay Smith and Ray White were given a lorrid reception, there was no hint of the remarkable collapse to come.

White and Lindsay Smith added 64 in 105 minutes for the fifth wicket before Den trapped Lindsay Smith leg-before and almost immediately dismissed David Pithey who had proved so troublesome in the first innings.

Pithey crashed a Den delivery high and straight back down the wicket. The EP left-arm bowler, although running the other way, shot an amazingly long left arm into the air and the ball stuck like glue.

This was all Hector and Peter Pollock needed and they returned to the attack for the mopping-up operations. In the end, Transvaal's last six wickets fell while only 27 runs were added and I doubt whether they will remember the affair with any fondness.

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