England were left frustrated after rain once again denied them the chance of a first Test win on home soil since 2005, with just 43.1 overs possible on the fourth and final day against South Africa at Taunton.
“It’s a frustrating end,” said the captain Heather Knight. “It was set up nicely for us to push for victory. We played exactly how I wanted – any chance we got, try and take the game forward – but ultimately we’ve lost over a day’s play.”
South Africa lost two wickets in the morning session but rain forced an early lunch, and although there was a brief resumption at 3.50pm, Marizanne Kapp (43) and Tumi Sekhukhune (33) remained unbeaten when play was again halted 40 minutes later. The captains eventually shook hands for a draw at 5.35pm, meaning the teams go in to the ODI leg of the series with two points apiece.
With all seven of the last women’s Tests played having resulted in draws, the outcome adds weight to recent calls for the ICC to mandate a fifth day in the format – something Knight reiterated her support for. “It’s hard to keep trying to fight the corner for women’s Test cricket when a lot of the games finish in a draw,” she said.
The South Africa captain Suné Luus said that her team had “thoroughly enjoyed” their first experience of Test cricket since 2014. “The message I gave to the girls every day was to enjoy it as much as we can,” she said. “We don’t know when Test match cricket is going to come our way again, so for us it was to live in the moment and take it all in.”
England had begun the day needing seven wickets for victory, but nightwatcher Sekhukhune proved a stubborn barrier, leaving the bad balls and stoically defending the good ones, finishing not out after facing down 134 deliveries.
England did strike twice at the other end: Kate Cross trapped Luus lbw with her seventh ball of the day, after she came forward to one which swung late; while Cross was in the action again 15 overs later, running backwards from mid-off to take the catch that saw off Lizelle Lee.
But Lee had by that stage almost wiped out South Africa’s deficit, repeatedly smashing fours over the leg side, and reaching a half-century partnership with Sekhukhune for the fifth wicket in just 78 balls.
England did not help their cause with some sloppiness in the field: when Lee drove Issy Wong behind the stumps on 13 not out, Amy Jones shelled what was a straightforward chance; while Sophie Ecclestone went on to put down Sekhukhune at second slip in the post-lunch period, again denying Wong a fourth wicket.
For the most part, though, it was the weather to blame for denying fans the chance to see a positive conclusion to a match which ebbed and flowed in the way that only Test cricket can.