A closer look at St George’s Park as England seek to continue fine record in PE
England’s tour of South Africa continues with the third Test at Port Elizabeth, starting on Thursday.
Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the historic venue.
In March 1889, St George’s Park became the first ground to stage Test cricket outside of England and Australia. The game lasted just two days as Sir Aubrey Smith’s travelling England side won easily. It also played host to South Africa’s first rugby international, also against England, two years later.
The Proteas have a hit-and-miss history at the ground, winning 13 of their 30 Tests, losing 12 and drawing five.
England, on the other hand, have found the Eastern Cape very much to their liking. In nine visits they have been beaten just once, winning five and drawing three. There have been only three Tests between the sides since South Africa’s readmission, draws in 1995 and 1999, followed by victory for Michael Vaughan’s tourists in 2004.
In the past 10 Tests here at PE, the top score stands at 525 for eight declared, by South Africa against New Zealand in 2013. Sides have broken 400 on five other occasions. Zimbabwe hold the unwanted record for lowest completed innings, 68 all out in 2017.
The average scoring rate at the venue stands at 2.7 an over, but that lifts to 3.26 over the last 10 games. There have been 37 centuries in the 30 Tests at Port Elizabeth.
Historically, George Lohmann’s performance in 1896 takes the biscuit – the England seamer recorded figures of seven for 38 in the first innings and a remarkable eight for seven in the second as the hosts were dismissed for 30.
Vaughan’s victory almost 16 years ago is the modern touchstone, with England winning by seven wickets in the opening match of a series they would win 2-1. Simon Jones took four for 39, and crucially caught key man Graeme Smith, in the second innings but it was Andrew Strauss, who hit 129 followed by 94 not out in a fifth day chase, who earned most plaudits.
The St George’s Brass Band provide the loud, proud signature sound of cricket at this ground. In 2018 they were silenced by the umpires during a Test match against Australia and briefly walked out in protest. Mark Boucher – then a pundit, now South Africa’s head coach – is a big fan of the support meaning no such repeat is expected this time.