5th Test: South Africa v England, Match Report
2-4 January 1996
Day 1: Donald demolishes England
First day: South Africa are 44-2 in reply to England's 153
``The whole nation is behind you,'' President Nelson Mandela assured the South African team on the eve of the fifth Test. So, up to a point, was the English groundsman at Newlands, Andy Atkinson.
After three months of largely sleepy cricket on flat, slow pitches, the final game on his bouncy relaid pitch provided an explosive start for the 21,000 packed in beneath Table Mountain as Allan Donald seized the moment like the champion fast bowler he is.
England, bowled out 40 minutes after tea for 153 as a result of fierce fast bowling, superb fielding and generally wretched batting, left themselves with an awful lot to do; possibly too much, despite winning the toss, a typically pugnacious innings of 66 by Robin Smith and a pitch which is not going to get better.
Five of them were caught behind the wicket on the off side, which showed that the ball was moving, but the other five were bowled or lbw, which also says something about the quality of the bowling. Brian McMillan made three sharp catches at second slip look easy and the ground fielding, Jonty Rhodes brilliantly to the fore, was without blemish.
The South Africans were inspired and it hardly matters whether the incentive came from their President, captain, coach, specialist in sports motivation, the accumulated prize-money of #100,000 or simply pride in playing for themselves and their country.
Only one bowler on either side has looked equal, perhaps even superior, to Donald in the series, Dominic Cork. He collided with Mike Watkinson in the covers in the second over of the South African innings, injuring the ring finger of his left hand. An X-ray revealed nothing worse than a sprain.
He will be of limited use as a batsman in the second innings but in the field he responded to the challenge once more, swinging the new ball on a good, full length to trap Andrew Hudson on the crease and Hansie Cronje with a wickedly late outswinger which gave Jack Russell his 24th victim of the series.
The look of the pitch demanded a spinner, but Mike Watkinson's first overseas cap was the result of Richard Illingworth's side injury
That equalled Alan Knott's record for an English wicketkeeper, set in 1970-71 against Australia, and it would be a surprise if Cork is not the man to help Russell break it today. Gary Kirsten's solid batting, however, has made sure that South Africa will start the second day with a clear advantage, only 109 behind and with a specialist batsman in Jacques Kallis due to come in at No 7.
The decision to replace Craig Matthews with Kallis, whose fastmedium bowling is useful, underlined yet another sharp divergence in strategy. The series started with the home side playing five fast bowlers and England with a spinner and six batsmen. Now South Africa have seven batsmen and only three specialist bowlers, a policy which is feasible when you have two allrounders, whereas England, on a pitch they knew was likely to be the liveliest of the five, reduced their batting resources when most they needed them.
It is South Africa who look now to have got it right, but England did not have an entirely free hand. On the evidence of his Test career so far it is hard to believe that Jason Gallian would have made a great difference and an extra man in reserve was some insurance against Devon Malcolm and Angus Fraser's lack of match practice.
The look of the pitch demanded a spinner, but Mike Watkinson's first overseas cap was the result of Richard Illingworth's side injury. He got some bounce in his exploratory over before the close but not the sharp turn achieved by Paul Adams, who was employed for large periods of Smith's 245-minute innings. He bowled more chinamen than before, suspecting, with apparent good reason, that Smith could not read him.
All the more credit, then, to Smith for providing what little authority there was to England's effort. He was at the crease for 60 of their 68.1 overs. It would indeed be an irony if he solves the recurring problem only for the rest of the top order to fail with the same regularity as the previous incumbents at No 3.
Certainly, he looked the part. Knowing that he had plenty of time, he left the ball outside his off stump with excellent judgment, only once flashing really rashly, and his eight fours were struck with all the old power and assurance.
Graeme Hick managed only three balls against Donald, playing limply at a ball which lifted and left him
Only Graham Thorpe batted with anything like the same confidence, but as too often, he perished by the sword, to his first ball after lunch, driving at a delivery of full length angled across his bows. He and Smith had steadied the ship after an ominous start, during which Mike Atherton had fended to third slip after 25 minutes without a run and Alec Stewart had played on to his off stump with his bat a long way from a rooted left leg.
Graeme Hick managed only three balls against Donald, playing limply at a ball which lifted and left him, but for 21 overs Russell provided some ballast to the innings as Smith put away the bad balls with vigour.
It was only a very partial recovery. Shaun Pollock nipped out two more before tea, Russell steering a lifting ball to second slip and Watkinson, after a couple of fortifying strokes, going lbw to an inswinging yorker. It was from the same Kelvin Grove End that Donald then completed the demolition, yorking Cork and peppering Peter Martin with four short balls in five. The fifth was fended with a glove from in front of his face.
Adams had deserved to get Smith if anyone was going to do so. The wicket finally came when Smith cut the chinaman on to his off stump. One ball tossed into the air was all that was needed for Malcolm. It might have been better for England if Donald had struck him on the helmet.
Day 1: Defiant Smith finds way to delay Old Father Time
Robin Smith reckons he has got a couple of years. He will play for Hampshire he says until he is 40 but he thinks that Father Time knocks at his Test match door. He is sad that doubt has clouded his recent batting, privately he is amazed that doubt has clouded the view the selectors have of him. The two he thinks go hand in hand - after all, he suggests, an average of 44 is not bad for a bloke who gets dropped.
He is not entirely sure where he has gone wrong - after all, he adds, with a furrowed brow, no one has made Shane Warne look a novice and people seem to hang a lot of their mistrust of Smith on his groping at Warne. Fact is, if those that matter showed him faith he would not spend his time fretting. He does, you see, desperately want to play cricket for England. For one thing he is born to the big occasion, for another he is not done yet.
So, as the Port Elizabeth Test match crept to a draw last Saturday afternoon, Robin Smith had a word with Michael Atherton and Raymond Illingworth. He told them that he had sympathy for Mark Ramprakash and Jason Gallian who had been asked to swim with the sharks in the No 3 spot and that he, after years of reluctance, was the man for the job. He sort of thought that the captain was thinking of making space for another bowler in Cape Town by leaving out a batsman and so he pre-empted the situation with his boldness.
Last April Smith asked if he might open for Hampshire and was rebuffed. Instead - and a pity too because he was a month from being ready after a winter of discontent away from the game - England picked him to open at Headingley against the West Indies and he made a Horlicks of it. He wondered then if it was the end, but thankfully the odd adamant supporter within the inner sanctum won the argument that Smith was better suited to international cricket when he responded to the state of the game rather than when he made it.
His next six innings for England were in the middle order and all of them in their way were memorable. At Lord's he effectively won England the match; at Edgbaston - on that minefield - he made two scores of 40 that gave bravery in batting a new dimension; at Old Trafford he was injured so badly by Ian Bishop that he did not play again in the season.
His innings yesterday suggested that his batting, if less dramatic than it was, is smarter than it was
It is astonishing to reveal that Hampshire's favourite son had passed fifty only once on this tour before yesterday. . . and it was yesterday, promoted to bat at first drop, that we saw the new, recycled Robin Smith play the sort of innings that we could come to know and love in the years ahead.
Gone is the flourish of youth: the giggle and the grin with mentor Allan Lamb; the punch on the arm with pal Ian Botham; the nudge and the wink with the comforting David Gower. Now Smith must assume his own responsibility, must forget the honey of leading the pack off the field and begin the vinegar of leading them on it with play that deflects the opposition from their aim and frustrates them into error which, of course, he punishes with certainty.
In the last week, frustrated by his bit-part role on this tour at No 6, it has dawned on him that he could prolong his career, could solve England's voodoo at No 3 and could get back in the mainstream if he shifted up front.
His innings yesterday suggested that his batting, if less dramatic than it was, is smarter than it was. He has been a cricketer more associated with brawn than brain but now, as the eye ages, the qualities may reverse. After the early loss of Atherton you could feel the England dressing room tremble and hear its occupants urge Smith to be the Smith they all so revered. Smith knew that and responded to their call with typical courage and considerable skill.
He has done this before when Hampshire chased Surrey's demanding total in the NatWest final of 1991. Waqar Younis was in his pomp and Hampshire had slipped behind the rate when 27,000 people in the ground and millions on television asked Smith if he could cope. He did so, famously, tearing into Younis and devouring the Surrey second-stringers.
Now, less explosively, he can exert his authority by the strength of his mind which is finding itself. No more will Smith pull and hook with the power that thrilled; no more will his batting race with strokeplay that holds the breath. But equally, no more need spin torment his impressionable character (yesterday he coped with Adams with comfort) and no more need he concern himself with the insecurity that surprises those who do not know him.
The old faults will plague him from time to time; the early committed move of his front foot; the flicking around his front pad; the hard push at the line of the ball, but they need not worry him for what the critics think, say, analyse, is irrelevant to the gifts of utter bloody-mindedness and inspiration to his colleagues that his batting will reveal.
Fear not, though, for entertainment. The old, searing square cut is still in the bag and now, as the South African bowlers found yesterday, it can fly over point and gully as well as through them. The wonderful punching drives are still in the bag too, both down the ground and through midwicket and that old trademark sway is still there as he drops to his knees and throws back his head to avoid the endless short pitches.
Robin is 32 now and the grey flecks are matting in his famous head of hair. The smile still shines though and the Hampshire selectors can expect it to greet them in April with the request to bat at three. They would do well to respect it for it may be just the move that delays old Father Time.
Day 2:Last-wicket partners run riot to wreck England's fightback
Second day: England (153 & 17-1) trail South Africa (244) by 70 runs
If South Africa win the final Test and the series, everyone who was at Newlands on the second day will remember forever the last-wicket stand between the wicketkeeper and the schoolboy. Dave Richardson and Paul Adams, by inspired and adventurous batting, turned a match in 66 minutes which England had spent more than four hours carefully pulling their way.
It was as if a man had recklessly blown years of diligently earned savings on one afternoon at the races. England had clawed their way back by admirably accurate bowling in torpid heat, notably by Peter Martin and Angus Fraser, only to allow South Africa a last-wicket partnership so astonishing, so out of proportion to all that had gone before, that it has probably decided the match.
Ladbrokes, having quoted South Africa as only narrow favourites at tea, offer no better than 8-1 on them this morning as England's second innings resumes at 17 for one, 74 runs behind.
Richardson and Adams put on 73, comfortably the highest stand of the match to date, and their alliance had much of the same fairy-story romance of the 70 added by Darren Gough and Phillip DeFreitas to turn the Oval Test on its head in the last AngloSouth African series in England 17 months ago. Devon Malcolm became the hero then; yesterday afternoon he was, sadly, the villain as Mike Atherton gave him the new ball with eight wickets already taken and South Africa no more than 13 runs ahead.
Dominic Cork, troubled by a groin strain, soon took his third wicket at the other end, but 26 runs came from four overs from Malcolm, eight from wildly conceded leg byes, four in overthrows from an equally wild throw by Cork. The horse, kept on a tight rein all day long, had suddenly bolted. After that, like two colts bucking and leaping in the green fields beyond the stable, Richardson and Adams began scoring freely off every England bowler in sight.
It was the second time in three Tests that South Africa had escaped with an extraordinary last-wicket partnership. At Durban the 72 added to the 153 put together by the first nine wickets became irrelevant largely because of the weather. This time the admirable Richardson and his plucky little partner, who scored seven times as many as he previously had in his entire firstclass career, transformed a negligible lead of 18 into one of 91, substantial by any standards, but surely decisive in a lowscoring game.
The contrast between the hectic pace of the final session and the water-drip slowness of the afternoon was astounding
Richardson drove and cut fiercely but with fine judgment in his second fifty in successive Tests. Adams, a schoolboy opener dressed in the clothing of a Test No 11, clumped Mike Watkinson heartily over the leg field, glanced the quick men and, crowning glory, drove Fraser on bended knee to the cover boundary, yelling ``wait'' to his partner as he did so. They gave Allan Donald and the other bowlers a perfect springboard for an evening assault, and though Atherton was determined to be positive, his, the most prized wicket, duly fell to Donald in the fifth of the seven overs remaining as he played at a classic ball which lifted and left him. Fraser, coming in as nightwatchman, survived a chance far to Brian McMillan's left off Donald's final ball.
The contrast between the hectic pace of the final session and the water-drip slowness of the afternoon was astounding. Having made 65 in the first two hours, losing only Gary Kirsten when he pulled a long-hop from the otherwise accurate Watkinson to midwicket, South Africa could manage only 38 for three off 25 overs between lunch and tea. They were, undoubtedly, over-cautious, as subsequent events proved, but Martin and Fraser bowled with remorseless accuracy at the off stump.
Darryl Cullinan alone batted with any real authority until the bouleversement. Despite being tied down by the Martin-Watkinson combination, he cut and drove his arch-rival, Cork, for two glorious fours in an over to reach his fifty just before lunch. Fraser, however, had already got more bounce than anyone, having been the last of the faster bowlers to be called upon. Once Malcolm, strangely preferred to him again, had delivered his second innocuous spell at the start of the afternoon, the innings became as sticky as the heat.
Martin's first reward, after Steve Randell had denied him three near-lbws, came from bounce and away movement to Cullinan. It gave Jack Russell his 25th victim of the series, thus breaking the record, in only six South African innings, which Alan Knott had set for England in 12 innings in Australia in 1970-71.
Jacques Kallis had advanced the score by only 19 when Cork made his inevitable mark Five overs later, the 57th, Rhodes's struggling 100- minute stay was concluded in identical fashion by Fraser and in 10 more overs the alliance of McMillan and Jacques Kallis had advanced the score by only 19 when Cork made his inevitable mark. Not at his sharpest, he nonetheless swooped at cover and hit the stumps at the bowler's end to run out McMillan five overs before the interval.
Martin had Kallis leg before, when the lead was only one, with a ball which pitched on and straightened and the fall of Shaun Pollock, at 163, to a brilliant catch by Robin Smith at short leg was swiftly followed by Atherton's fateful decision to take the new ball.
Yesterday's crowd was just under 21,000, many of the seats in the shade and relative cool of the Members Stand being unoccupied all day. They were eyed longingly by the mass of English spectators, baking in the sun in front of the Castle Brewery which separates their seats from the slope of Table Mountain and scarcely able to believe what followed.
There has been considerable disgruntlement among tour groups, and the ex-Test cricketers acting as their travel guides, that the Western Province Cricket Association has issued them with what Trevor Bailey described as ``the worst and hottest seats in the ground and the worst my clients have been given anywhere in the world''.
It has added to the disillusionment that the seats cost #20 a head, more than twice as much as the cost to local spectators of better-placed seats closer to the bowler's arm, but the complaints will recede if England should make 300 in their second innings on a pitch which has slowed but on which the cracks have widened.
The odds are against them, but, after yesterday, nothing is certain.
Day 2: Mark Nicholas sees Martin and Fraser bowl their boots off
At half past four yesterday afternoon it seemed that England, through the virtues of patience and resilience, had worked their way back into the strange and unpredictable Test match that is confusing all who sit beneath Table Mountain to watch it. Michael Atherton, England's oft-beleaguered captain, will have thought that his bowlers had done him just the job and that he could look forward to an hour or so at the crease in the powerful evening sunshine with the opportunity to build his team a handy little advantage. He would have concluded that, after the sloppy batting of Tuesday, he and the boys had got out of jail.
But no: no, no, no. When it mattered most, when the final nail needed hammering home, when England had fresh bowlers and a new ball available they missed the main chance and instead, in a dramatic reversal of fortune, the cool, clerical figure of David Richardson and the chirpy Cape Coloured boy, Paul Adams, put on 73 for the last wicket and gave the game back to their country.
As if to add insult to Atherton's injured heart and mind, Allan Donald convinced the England captain to push fatally outside his off stump and he wandered from the field looking to the sky and thinking, no doubt, ``Ye Gods''.
Ye Gods indeed, for England have had their chances. They won the toss, which seemed imperative, and blew that; then they bowled their boots off and blew that too. Between lunch and tea yesterday South Africa mustered a miserable 38 runs and lost three wickets while they were at it. In all, in a total of 101 overs, England bowled an amazing 34 maidens, using all the best virtues of English professional cricket to suffocate batsmen who appeared petrified to play a stroke.
The heroes were the accurate medium pacers, Angus Fraser and Peter Martin, and the fielders who threw themselves this way and that, scrapping for their life and never, which has become the most appealing feature of Atherton's team, giving up.
Fraser has long been miserly; he has based a career on it
At the start of this tour Martin was ribbed by his mates for being in time - and with performance and luck - might step into the big man's size 12s and lock up an end for England while Cork and company wheel away with their attacking instinct.
``In time'' are important words for Fraser, who does not reckon his time has come yet, but he cannot convince the selectors to agree. He was told before this Test - as, incidentally, was Devon Malcolm - that he would not be required for the one-day matches, so he will fly home on Sunday.
Strange way to motivate a man, but Fraser shrugged it off, with the usual grumble no doubt, and went to work. Yesterday, before the storm of the last-wicket stand - and he was not badly affected by that - he bowled 15 overs which included 10 maidens and took the wicket of Jonty Rhodes for a miserly 25 runs.
Fraser has long been miserly; he has based a career on it. He scuffs the ground with his flying right boot if you steal a boundary from him, hangs his head in disgust if it is his bad bowling that has allowed it. He is hard on himself because he has lofty standards, standards that have become regular, almost commonplace pieces of the Middlesex and England jigsaw.
In his pomp, for a couple of years between 1989 and 1991, he was the best bowler of his type in the world and was mentioned in the breath of England's most complete medium-fast bowler since the war, Alec Bedser. 'Gus' made the ball spit at the batsman as if it were dangerous fat from a frying pan; 'Gus' jarred the bottom hand of all his opponents with bounce and nip from a good length; 'Gus' landed the ball on the seam with such nagging accuracy that batting mistakes were inevitable.
Then, in Melbourne, when he was busy capturing six Australian wickets in the first innings of the 1990 Christmas Test, he felt a weakness in his hip that he could not understand. He played on in Adelaide but was below par and then, quite sadly for an England team who needed him as badly as he needed to play for them, he did not walk onto the international field for a further two years.
Martin walks to his mark with his shoulders drooped in the Fraser fashion
The hip injury was bad and it threatened his career but, typically, he hung on in there, trained hard and, in the main, kept his spirits high. He has been back now, on and off, for 2.5 years, during which time he took eight for 75 in Barbados on England's tour of 1994 and helped the underdogs who had previously been steamrollered by the West Indies to a thunderous victory.
His effort was a measure of his heart and the absolute reflection of a man who cannot accept defeat. He has been written off by his chairman before and his captain has had to fight for his inclusion. It is his captain who understands the burden that Fraser is prepared to carry and who realises the responsibility that Fraser thrives on. He thrived yesterday all right and might have caused more damage had Lady Luck turned his way.
The shadow thrived too: Peter Martin, the big Lancastrian with the Fraser lumber and the lugubrious look. His figures were even more impressive than those of his role model as he bowled a marvellous spell after lunch and finished the day with nine maidens and the crucial wickets of Darryl Cullinan and Jacques Kallis, also ending the embarrassment by having Adams brilliantly held at slip.
Martin walks to his mark with his shoulders drooped in the Fraser fashion. He bowls from a longish run to gather his momentum at the crease and then, from a surprisingly front-on action, manages to get genuine and often late outswing. It is this outswing which has caused South Africa so many problems as he drags their bats away from their bodies and they edge into those safe Jack Russell mitts.
Martin arrived on the scene at the start of last summer when he won a limited-overs game against the West Indies with important wickets, which included the ultimate prize of Brian Lara. If his Test career stuttered - remember he was chosen for the 'A' tour this winter and was lucky to replace the injured Richard Johnson - the support of the selectors did not and surprisingly they backed him in Durban ahead of, would you believe, Angus Fraser. He took four for 60 and looked the part, and he followed his performance in the fractured Durban Test with some tidy, intelligent stuff in Port Elizabeth.
Ideally, he would put on a yard of pace and more ideally he would put on a growl of aggression. The pundits who bowl, the likes of Willis, Snow, Procter and Allott, would like to see a tougher, meaner Martin. Martin agrees but does not quite know how to find something so unnatural in so naturally gentle a guy.
The answer of course is to ask Fraser, who has made a living from such qualities and who does not plan to relinquish them yet. For the moment Martin can be pleased as Punch with the contribution that he made on an afternoon when England should have cemented their superiority.
Day 3: Brittle England lose it all
Third day: S Africa (244 & 70-0) beat England (153 & 157) by 10 wickets
South Africa's 10-wicket victory inside three days in the fifth Test, and their first win against England on home soil for 65 years, were too clear-cut in the end to brook argument. Their bowling was too good for England's batting on a pitch which caused problems through occasional extra bounce but was never tricky enough for a side to be bowled out for 153 and 157.
This was, however, no unblemished triumph for Hansie Cronje, the South African captain. The dismissal of Graham Thorpe, following Cronje's flagrant abuse of ICC regulations in forcing an inexperienced umpire to reverse his initial run-out decision, led to a #600 fine for dissent by the match referee, Clive Lloyd.
Lloyd was also obliged to fine England 20 per cent of their match fees for being five overs too slow. England could not cavil at that but they had reason, happily unexpressed, to complain of inconsistent lbw verdicts by the senior umpire, Steve Randell.
He gave their bowlers nothing, in either innings, but made the dubious decision against Graeme Hick which ended a spirited and high-quality partnership of 72 with Thorpe when England, after a dreadful start, had opened up a precarious lead of 47, 16 overs into the afternoon session.
In the hectic 50 minutes which followed, the last six England wickets tumbled in 10 overs for 19. One by one they condemned yet another England winter tour to failure in the most important of its objectives. In the 1990s England have lost seven and won only one of nine Test series overseas. They had a great chance here when Mike Atherton won the toss, but the quality of Allan Donald's fast bowling and too many ill-judged shots prevented them from taking it. Although they had no luck whatsoever on the third and, as it transpired, final day, it was being bowled out for 153 in the first innings and failing to knock over the last South African wicket quickly on the second afternoon which really lost them the game.
There was a recovery of sorts yesterday, with Thorpe hitting brilliantly through the off-side and Hick lifting Adams for two magnificent straight sixes, until Hick was given out leg before to a ball from Shaun Pollock which looked just as likely to miss the leg stump as to graze it. Four balls later Jack Russell was caught in the gully as he attempted to push the lively Pollock square on the off-side, and in the following over came the incident which effectively ended the contest.
Bellows of disapproval from spectators
Mike Watkinson called Thorpe for a quick run to Andrew Hudson after he had turned a ball from Paul Adams to short fine-leg. Thorpe responded late and Hudson's throw hit the stumps directly as the umpire at the bowler's end, Dave Orchard, standing in his second Test, moved into a good position and gave Thorpe not out. As soon as television replays were shown round the arena, showing Thorpe short of his ground, there were bellows of disapproval from spectators, whereupon Cronje appealed to both Orchard and Thorpe.
After consulting his colleague, the Australian Steve Randell, Orchard called for a replay and, amid bedlam, Thorpe had to go. Thorpe said later; ``He said not out but after the crowd's roar he asked me if I minded him calling for a replay. I said: 'No; you've made the decision.' He said: 'OK, let's play on' but then Cronje came over and had a go about using the technology.''
Orchard was wrong not to call for a slow motion playback in the first place and wrong to give in to pressure in the second, though that second decision was devilishly difficult and one which would arguably have been wrong either way. Certainly the soured atmosphere would have been a good deal worse if the crowd's rage had spread as more and more replays were shown.
Things had gone South Africa's way from the start. Alec Stewart was caught at slip without moving his feet against Pollock and Donald proved too quick and nasty for Angus Fraser, who fended to short leg, where young Adams took the first of two good catches. Smith and Thorpe, despite some playing and missing against both Donald and Brian McMillan, had calmed things down when Smith was given out caught behind from a googly. His bat was behind his pad, and the television slow motion showed that the rebound just missed his glove.
Having started the collapse, Pollock also took the last two wickets to finish with his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket. That he and Adams, 22 and 18, should have been in harness as the last wickets fell bodes wonderfully well for South Africa's future.
South Africa ended with all the spoils, as winners do
Gary Kirsten and Andrew Hudson, with a series of handsome shots, needed only 15 overs and four balls to knock off the required runs and by 4.22pm it was all over. Umpire Randell shook his head when Hudson appeared to be plumb in front to a ball of full length from Devon Malcolm in the second over. That was probably inconsequential, but not to poor Malcolm.
South Africa, however, had won on merit and there could be no disputing the award to Donald as man of the match for his five first-innings wickets and his dismissal in the second of the man who had kept the series alive, Atherton. Whether he deserved the #5,000 series award too, ahead of McMillan, Atherton, Cork and Russell, was debatable.
South Africa ended with all the spoils, as winners do. The manner of Thorpe's dismissal ought to have given the champagne at least a slightly sour taste but the truth, in all probability, is that after a 10-week battle to win a hard and (mainly) honourably fought Test series, they will feel that the end had justified the means. Cronje thanked the crowd and his team, in both his languages, before Atherton made a brief and gracious speech of congratulations to his opponents.
Later in the evening, as coincidence had it, Atherton and Cronje found themselves at the same restaurant in Sea Point. There was genuine affection and respect in the handshake offered by the England captain, who clearly has no bitterness whatsoever about the outcome. These two teams still have seven internationals to play against one another, so such amicability is encouraging.
England have agreed to play Western Province in an extra one-day match on Saturday, as compensation to those who had bought tickets in advance for today's play at Newlands.
Day 3 Report
It was in South Africa that the genie of the third umpire was first conceived and then released into Test cricket at Durban in November 1992.
The point may still be debatable whether it was a good or an evil genie, but the events in the fifth South Africa-England Test at Cape Town yesterday afternoon assuredly suggest that more harm than good has come from the apparent logic of letting camera evidence decide, whenever it irrefutably can, whether or not a batsman was out.
That justice was done when Graham Thorpe was finally given run out is only part of the argument. After all, the very cameras which proved him out of his ground had also proved that the ball had not hit Robin Smith's glove and later suggested that the ball which got Graeme Hick would have missed his leg stump.
Does one justice make up for other injustices, or would it be better to leave all decisions either to the umpires in the middle as of old, or exclusively to an umpire ruling on the evidence of slow motion replay?
That is an appalling thought, surely, not least because 99.9 per cent of cricket matches are not televised anyway. Yet Thorpe's dismissal was a further step on the road to the takeover of the game by television.
It is television money which pays the bulk of players' salaries and for world-wide ground improvements, either directly or indirectly through the sponsorship, which would be so much less lavish without the cameras.
Television increasingly dictates the conduct of the game by dissecting every nuance of every ball bowled, influences the laws and makes umpires lives incomparably more difficult by expecting perfection where perfection is impossible. Since 1992 it has even abrogated some of their decisions.
Few came out of this with credit
All this is not to say that television does not do compensating wonders for the game by promoting it as no other medium can, but that is not now the point. It was not the umpire who gave Thorpe out yesterday: on the contrary he initially gave him not out which, pre 1992, would have been the end of the matter.
The real arbiters, in chronological order, were the television commentators, who instantly replayed the incident; the crowd in the chalet boxes which nestled close to the scoreboard on the mountain side of the ground, who saw the camera's verdict and reacted angrily; the South Arican captain Hansie Cronje, who appealed again, first to umpire Orchard, then to Thorpe.
The sequence continued with the same umpire Orchard, who walked across to seek help from his more experienced colleague from Australia, Steve Randell; the aforementioned Randell, who advised his partner to call for another verdict; and finally the third umpire Karl Liebenberg, who had known all along that the throw by Andrew Hudson from fine-leg had hit the stumps before Thorpe had regained his ground.
Few came out of this with credit. Cronje had no right to dispute the original verdict, however understandable his behaviour might have been in view of the crowd's reaction.
The umpire's decision is final, states Law 27, although it adds that, provided he does so promptly, he may alter his decision.
The law only allows a second appeal to the umpire who has not made the original decision, in this case to Randell, although it was to Orchard that Cronje spoke in what amounted to an attempt (and a successful one) to take the law into his own hands.
The captains have a special responsibility to ``ensure that the game is conducted within the spirit of the game as well as within the laws''.
Cronje was bound by regulation number 2f of the latest ICC regulations respecting conduct and the duties of the third umpire: ``The on-field umpire has the direction (sic) whether to call for a TV replay or not and should take a common sense approach.''
The regulation continues: ``Players may not appeal to the umpire to use the replay system. A breach of this provision would constitute dissent and the player could be liable for discipline under the code of conduct.''
If Cronje was not aware of this, he should have been. Clive Lloyd had no option but to fine him, and Cronje was lucky not to be suspended as well.
It is unlikely that he did not know that Brian Lara had been suspended for one match by the referee, Raman Subba Row, in 1994, for calling for a replay during a one-day international in India.
Or indeed that his opposite number, Mike Atherton, had resisted appealing to the umpire Darrell Hair in Australia last winter after Hair had failed wrongly, twice, to call for a replay.
In both cases the batsmen would have been given out by the television verdict. Atherton played by the rules, and England won neither match.
Cronje did not play by the rules, and South Africa went on to win. He may feel that the huge prize justified his action, but that way anarchy lies and immorality rules.
Day 3: England need not seek any scapegoats By Mark Nicholas
The first 'Big Mo' at Cape Town, as the Americans call it - the split second when the momentum switched irretrievably - came just after 4.30 on Wednesday afternoon when Paul Adams, who was not off the mark, squirted a Devon Malcolm full-toss to the offside and scampered a single.
Dominic Cork, who was high on adrenalin, threw needlessly for the run-out and missed the stumps at the non-striker's end by the same country mile that the fielders who were backing up were unable to save the resulting boundary.
England hung their heads, their supporters jeered - which was typical but a pity, for Cork deserved better - and South Africa roared its hysterical approval.
At the sombre press conference, which followed yesterday's extraordinary play of this fifth Test, Michael Atherton was asked if, given the heart-breaking Richardson-Adams last- wicket partnership again, he would do anything different.
No, he said, in fact things had gone rather well with the planned dismissal of Shaun Pollock by spin and with the old ball and the planned dismissal of Allan Donald by Cork and with the new ball.
Then he added that he had a fresh bowler - and he meant Devon Malcolm - who was fast and also had the new ball and who had a rabbit to knock over. ``Draw your own conclusions,'' he muttered.
The Management are not pleased with Malcolm, then again they have not shown him much faith, and talk of the town is that his days are numbered. From that 'mo' the wheels came off the England wagon and the hours of selfless industry from Cork, Peter Martin and Angus Fraser were put to waste.
Scapegoats, though, are not the answer. Truth is that when it mattered, when confronted by the crunch, England bailed out. Their vaunted batsmen, the key to withstanding South Africa's excellent bowlers, produced scrappy, inconsistent offerings that gave their limited bowlers little chance of recovering the ground.
In the small, sweaty conference room Atherton sat freshly shaven, hair combed, nice and dandy for the world. ``It's been a moderate series for our batsmen,'' he said. ``Not enough of us go on to get big scores.''
He said that the attitude of the team had improved markedly from last winter in Australia when he had sat in the same sort of room in Perth and looked washed out with the hassle of it all.
``The difference between the sides was Brian McMillan, who is a world-class all-rounder''
He thought that the series was tight enough for England to have won. ``The difference between the sides was Brian McMillan, who is a world-class all-rounder,'' he said, pin-pointing the balance and flexibility that McMillan gave South Africa.
``We chose six batsmen and four bowlers in previous Tests, but found we were stepping off the gas without a specialist fifth bowler to press home the advantage of taking early wickets cheaply.''
The forbidding figure of Clive Lloyd stood above Hansie Cronje, who was barely able to raise a smile in victory so forlorn did he look about his fine for dissent in the Graham Thorpe third umpire incident.
Ray Illingworth, England's manager, said: ``Vital decisions have not gone our way, but I am not going to slag off the umpires, who have a difficult job these days.''
``There has been good sportsmanship throughout this series, and I am proud to have been involved in it''
The umpires were gagged by the code of conduct, so the mighty Lloyd spoke limply for them: ``There has been good sportsmanship throughout this series, and I am proud to have been involved in it.''
That was before he surprised everyone by saying: ``Umpire Orchard was considering changing his decision anyway and he checked with umpire Randell if it was possible to ask again for the technology or had he left it too late.''
This was nonsense since David Orchard had made his own wrong decision and was standing by it as he prepared for Paul Adams to bowl the next ball. Only Cronje's insistence moved him to rethink.
Lloyd did say ``we should make further use of technology'', which was sensible and which craftily deflected from the main issue. By the finish of the probing questions he must have thought that he had defused things quite nicely thank you.
Cronje echoed Lloyd when he said that the series had been played in good spirit and he managed to smile with the satisfaction of it all.
Atherton who, had warmly shaken hands with his own men and then, in his chivalrous way, with the opposition, agreed with Cronje but not surprisingly, did not manage to find much of a smile.
Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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