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B. Mitchell


B. Mitchell 164* v EnglandBack to boards

An absolute stalwart of the South African team of the 1930s and 40s – he played every Test his country took part in between 1929 and 1949 – opener Bruce Mitchell was the key man in the Springboks’ first win in England.

Having won the toss and batted first at Lord’s, the visitors eked out a 30-run lead on a tricky pitch, thanks to a 5-wicket haul for Xen Balaskas, but the game was still finely poised at the half-way stage. Mitchell almost single-handedly changed that, his unbeaten 164 the turning point in the game.

With no other South African passing 50, and with a pitch made even more treacherous by overnight rain, Mitchell took the England attack apart, always in control yet scoring at a good rate and setting up a declaration with a lead of over 300. England never looked like chasing it down, and South Africa recorded their first win at the Home of Cricket by 157 runs. Wisden called it ‘the innings of his life', and The Times added ‘if ever a batsman did deserve to win a Test Match off his own bat, he did’.

It was that result that would clinch the series victory, with all 4 of the other Tests drawn, in a series comprised entirely of 3-day games. Mitchell would make the victory safe with another ton, at the Oval, and at the time of his retirement was widely recognized as the greatest batter his country had produced.