England vs South Africa: Moving tributes paid to the Queen as ‘God Save the King’ sung at The Oval

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A minute’s silence was held and the first rendition of ‘God Save the King’ at a sporting event for more than 70 years sung as the third Test between England and South Africa at The Oval finally got underway on Saturday morning.

The first day of the series decider was washed out by rain on Thursday, before news of the death of QueenElizabeth II later the same evening saw Friday’s play postponed.

After discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Friday morning, sports were told that the decision over whether to cancel fixtures was at their individual discretion, with no obligation to do so included in official mourning guidance.

While football cancelled all fixtures from the Premier League to grassroots level, cricket, along with most other sports, opted to return to action.

Tributes were paid to the Queen before England vs South Africa started on Saturday (Getty Images)
Tributes were paid to the Queen before England vs South Africa started on Saturday (Getty Images)

A minute’s silence was held, with a sell-out crowd encouraged to arrive to their seats early in order to participate in the tributes, while advertising hoardings and big screens were blacked out and replaced with messages in honour of the Queen.

With play yet to start in the match, both countries’ anthems were then sung by English opera star Laura Wright as players lined up in front of the pavilion having entered the field through a military guard of honour. ‘God Save the King’ was followed by an impromptu and lengthy ovation.

England captain Ben Stokes, who had on Thursday won the toss and elected to bowl before the rain came, called it an honour to take the field in the Queen’s memory.

Laura Wright sung ‘God Save the King’ before play on what is day three at The Oval (PA)
Laura Wright sung ‘God Save the King’ before play on what is day three at The Oval (PA)

“It's been very sad news for not only the nation but the world with the Queen's passing,” Stokes 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.”

Saturday is day three of what will remain a five-day Test match, with South Africa scheduled to fly home on Tuesday and reluctant to extend their stay, with a tour of India and the T20 World Cup in Australia to come.

Stokes, however, said his side would do everything in their power to force a result within the remaining time.

There was also a minute’s silence and military guard of honour in memory of Her Majesty (Action Images via Reuters)
There was also a minute’s silence and military guard of honour in memory of Her Majesty (Action Images via Reuters)

“Sport is something people come to watch and enjoy but it also brings people together,” he added. “The way that we've played we've tried to do that this summer. We've probably got even more of a chance to do that with it only being three days of cricket.

“Everything we do out on the field this week will be to try and get a result. We don't play for draws, so we'll go out there and try to do everything to win.”