Day three of the third Test between England and South Africa began with a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 96.
In a moving 10 minutes before play got underway on Saturday, the Test match became the first sporting occasion in which God Save The King has been played since 1952, after rain had prevented the anthems being played on Thursday, prior to the accession of King Charles III.
Both teams entered the field to silence as the capacity crowd stood in anticipation of the tributes. The players and officials passed through a military guard of honour before lining up facing the Pavilion, while the respective management teams stood at the edge of the boundary.
A minute’s silence took place at 10:54am, followed by a one-bell chime by Senior NCO Robert Brockelsby Miller of the Irish Guards. The South African national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika then rang out across the silent ground, with no musical accompaniment from the singer, Laura Wright, before the crowd joined in with the first rendition of the updated English national anthem. Both were given ground-wide applause.
Despite the solemnity of the occasion, flags were at full mast at the start of play, due to this being the day of the Accession Council’s meeting at St James’ Palace – the occasion at which the new King was formally proclaimed. According to protocol, the Union Flag and all other official flags should be raised to full mast between the hours of 9am and 10:30am and remain at full mast until 1pm the following day, at which time the Union and official flags should return to being flown at half-mast.
“It’s been very sad news for not only the nation but the world with the Queen’s passing,” he said. “She was someone who dedicated her life to the nation, someone that we take incredible inspiration from and we are honoured to be able to walk out on the field in memory of the Queen.
“We know how much the Queen loved this sport, and the show must go on. I’m sure she’ll be looking down on all the sport that’s still going ahead over this weekend and that we’re going out there in her honour. I’m very pleased and proud we can do that.”
After day two was cancelled as a mark of respect following the Queen’s passing, the decision was made on Friday afternoon to play on, following consultation with officials from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Cricket South Africa. but without an extension into Tuesday, meaning there will only be three days of play.
The first-day (Thursday) washout means there will be 98 overs scheduled each day, with play able to run until 7pm with the extra half-hour. The series is tied 1-1. England struck hard with the new ball, having chosen to bowl first on Thursday, claiming three wickets inside the first seven overs of play.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor for ESPNcricinfo
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