Nowadays we talk of modern cricket ODI, T20, T10 etc. But the ultimate answer lies in Test cricket, which we saw last at GABBA, Brisbane. And there’s also talk of tests to be conducted in 4 days, instead of 5 days. Can we go the memory line and recollect “Timeless” tests ? 

Reg Perks, Bryan Valentine and Eddie Paynter take time out of the 1938-39 tour to South Africa for a trip to the beach. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

The ultimate “Timeless Test “ was between South Africa and England played at Kingsmead, Durban (S.A.) played between3–14 March, 1939. Some interesting notes on that.

This Test was played for 10 days ( Excluding 2 Rest days and 1 day rained off) still it ended in a draw.

This test was played for 43 hours and 16 minutes.

England was set a target of 696 runs, scored 654 for 5 wickets, falling short of just 42 runs and the rain returned on the 10th day with England agonizingly 42 runs short of a world record. There was no option of extending the game further as the tourists (England) had to board a train for their 2 days, 1000 miles journey back to Capetown, where the steamboat “Athlone Castle” was waiting. One of underlying anxieties that meant England couldn’t delay their departure was the threat of 2ND WORLDWAR in Europe. On March 15, the day after the test was abandoned, Hitler’s troops marched into Czechoslovakia

Totally 5447 deliveries were bowled by all the bowlers, especially England’s Headley Verity (left arm spinner) bowled 766 balls nearly 1/7th of the total(680 overs) and Norman Gorden of S.A. bowled 738 deliveries is still the most by a fast bowler and Norman was the first cricketer to live for 100 years.

New ball was taken for 12 times. It was a 8 ball over

Eric Dalton ( Springbok leggie) whose legbreaks got him 6 wkts before this test didn’t get a single wicket. Sometimes his wife would hear him appealing at the top of his voice in his sleep.

Veteran cricket writer Louis Duffus facinated by the Kingsmead(Durban) regulars wrote like this”

“Men formed groups and discussed topics of the day, such as gathering war clouds, while little bands of women found themselves making remarkable progress with their knitting. “See you tomorrow” was the popular farewell.

Springboks scored 530 runs in 13 hours in the first innings. Headley Verity, England’s left arm spinner bowled 55.6 overs was hit only for his boundary after S.A. reached 500.

Ames, England’s wicket keeper kept superbly letting only 7 (seven) byes in the score of 1011 runs made by S.A. in both innings.

This being the 5th & Final test, England won the 3rd Test at this same ground 2 months back of this series and other tests were drawn . This test being the decider it was agreed to play this test till the result was achieved. Hence, this 10 days play.

While timeless Tests were a regular feature, players were beginning to lose faith in this idea. Only Australia alone stood in making all their tests timeless, which contributed a remarkable record of there not being a single test draw in the country (Australia) between 1882 & 1947.


S.A. First innings – 530 ( 202.6 overs)

Eng First innings- 316 ( 117.6 overs)

S.A. 2nd innings- 481 (142.1 overs)

Eng 2nd innings – 654/5 (218.2 overs)

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