Have you ever known a cricket match go on for twelve days? Well, if you go back to 1939, you’ll find it’s the year of what is renowned as the “Timeless Test,” a game that saw England and South Africa go head to head. It started on Friday 3rd March in Durban, and it continued for a lengthy 43 hours and 16 minutes with 5,447 balls bowled and 1,981 runs secured.
The first day began with England losing the toss and South Africa opting to bat. And, at the closing stage of day one, South Africa were 229-2, in a remarkably dull day for the sport, all things considered. Three thousand people had chosen to watch on live, which increased to ten thousand on day two, with South Africa finishing the day on 423-6. While the rain poured overnight, South Africa wrapped up on 530 all out on day three.
England started batting on day five, Tuesday 7th March 1939, but disaster struck when they ended the day 268-7. Spectator numbers had dwindled, with admission prices reduced in an attempt to coax them back to watch the action unfold. Day six saw England all out for 316, so they were 214 behind when South Africa were back at the crease, with the latter finishing the day on 193-3 after Pieter van der Bijl and Bruce Mitchell struck up an effective partnership.
The halfway stage came on day seven, Thursday 9th March. South Africa had a commanding lead of 458, and everyone was exhausted. England’s Hedley Verity, who had delivered 766 balls, bowled South Africa out for 481, with England’s target of 696 deemed an impossible task by most. However, England weren’t going to roll over, and on day eight, they had racked up 253 runs with only one player out.
By day nine, Saturday 11th March, the England team should actually have been over in Cape town, but it was a washout due to torrential rain. It saw the match eventually extend into a and then a twelfth day, which if this was to happen in the modern day would be unthinkable. Spectators and viewers at home will have been looking for things to occupy them. For example, you can play some online slot games to pass the time, or browse social media.
It was day eleven, Monday 13th March, where the record for the longest cricket match in history was recorded. England finished on 496-3 before the final day started with the announcement that regardless of whether there was a winner or not, the action would not continue beyond what was Tuesday 14th March. By lunchtime, England had put themselves in a position where they needed 118 to secure the draw. But, with England needing 42 runs and ready to fight to the bitter end, rain forced early tea to be called, and the action never resumed, much to the disappointment of everyone involved.