Here we bring in a new, untold, and rare cricket fact: The “Timeless Test” between England and South Africa at Durban in 1939 was the longest cricket match in history. It lasted 12 days (or 43 hours and 16 minutes of gameplay), and it was also the series’ last Test match.
Before the series, both teams agreed that the final match would be a timeless one if the series was tied or if any team went up 1-0. England entered the final Test with a 1-0 series lead after winning the third Test.
The game started on March 3 and ended on March 14. Cricket was played on nine of the twelve scheduled days. The rest days were March 5 and 12, and there was no play on March 11 due to inclement weather.
South Africa set a 696-run target for England to beat. On the last day, England was 654/5 and on track to beat the total. The game had to be deemed a draw because the English players had to board the ship to go back home from South Africa.
The match lasted 43 hours and 16 minutes. There were 1,981 runs scored and 5,447 deliveries bowled during the game. During his retirement speech, England star Wally Hammond highlighted his dissatisfaction with how timeless Tests were harming the game.
The Timeless Test is a throwback to the days when matches were played to the conclusion, no matter how long it took. It’s unlikely that we’ll see another battle like that in today’s world, where time restrictions are more important. It is, however, an interesting part of cricket history.