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The Electronic Telegraph 1st Test: South Africa v Australia, Match Report
CricInfo - 28 Feb - 04 Mar 1997

Day 1 Report
By Peter Deeley

Australia retired to lick their wounds after the first day of this Test series, knowing at first hand the frustration and irri- tation Michael Atherton's side must have felt a year ago against the South African last-wicket pair of Dave Richardson and Paul Adams.

At Newlands the two added 73 to turn the final Test of the 1995-6 tour away from England's grasp and take the series. They yester- day reduced a rampant Australian attack to near impotence in a partnership of 49.

Adams was out at the close trying to late-cut Shane Warne off middle stump, a shot exemplifying his cheeky chappie approach. When McGrath earlier shot off some strong language, Adams just stuck out his tongue, pulled a face and then dared the fast bowler to throw down his stumps.

By then South Africa had reached 302, a total seemingly well beyond them when McGrath had them 25 for three in the first hour, and just after tea, when home captain Hansie Cronje fell to Warne for 76, they were 195 for eight.

It was a mickey-taking exhibition by Adams, who sometimes looks less like a cricketer than an ice-cream vendor, to which several Australians did not take kindly. Steve Waugh gave Adams the bene- fit of his mind and when McGrath bounced him first ball, hitting Adams on the helmet, umpire Venkat offered the bowler advice on the benefits of restraint.

Australian coach Geoff Marsh summed it up perfectly. ``We had nev- er seen Adams before. Now we know what he is like. Very interest- ing! But he is fun - good on him.''

Richardson, the old head in the South Africa side, spoke to Adams like a father at the outset of the stand. ``After he had been hit I straightened his helmet for him and asked him if he was all right.

``I said 'keep your eye on the ball and stop swinging at everything'. It was like playing with my little kid in the backyard at home.''

At one stage Adams even played a good reverse-sweep against Warne which had Ian Healy, behind the stumps, wreathed in smiles - though the bowler was not amused.

Richardson said: ``McGrath couldn't make out how to deal with him. Paul was doing things you would only expect from a 19-year-old.''

Richardson's unbeaten 72, including a six off Warne, in the stands for the last two wickets which boosted South Africa's to- tal by 107 runs, could be of immeasurable value in this game.

Cronje may have been more interested in bowling last than batting first after winning the toss on a pitch with some grass and mois- ture under the surface.

In the first session McGrath bowled with wonderful control, not at his fastest, but moving the ball both ways and after a 90- minute spell his figures were 10-4-10-3. Andrew Hudson nervously prodded at the game's fourth ball and gave a regulation catch; Jacques Kallis edged a delivery seaming away to slip and Gary Kirsten was caught off a bottom edge when he tried to pull round from outside off.

No other bowler matched McGrath's early brilliance. Jason Gil- lespie was erratic and Warne gained little assistance from the pitch, becoming very edgy in the last session when nothing - in- cluding several close leg-before appeals - would go his way.

Four catches went down, including misses by Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh - normally the safest of hands - indicating the tourists' own nervousness in approaching this series, labelled by the spon- sors ``the Real Decider''.

Coincidentally David Richards, the International Cricket Council's chief executive, was present to talk about the prospect for an official world title. His view is that ``there is a fund of goodwill and desire for such an event, perhaps over a four-year cycle. The problem is finding the method.''

Daryll Cullinan, though clearly anxious against his bte noire, Warne, could call it a draw despite being dropped off the spinner. But he became McGrath's fourth victim, dangling out a bat as he went back on to his stumps. Jonty Rhodes was out to Gillespie in similar vein but Cronje slowly salvaged the disas- trous start after taking 33 minutes to get off the mark.

Shaun Pollock actually dominated their 50-run stand, hitting eight fours before top-edging Michael Bevan to backward point. When Cronje eventually went after three hours, crashing Warne into the hands of Mark Waugh at short extra cover, that seemed to be the end of South Africa. But the best was yet to come.

Day 2: Elliott keeps Australian hopes alive
By Peter Roebuck

Untimely rain at tea-time brought to an early end another day of lively Test cricket. This game has changed. It used to be played by grizzled veterans who bowled a length, kept their left elbows up and thought about mortgages. Lots of matches were drawn. And did not Sammy Woods, a colourful old Aussie with ``13 or 14'' brothers once bellow that ``draw[ers] are only good for bathing in''?

Mark Taylor and Hansie Cronje are similarly persuaded. Australia have not drawn any of their last 14 contests, and the South Afri- cans also regard draws as a last resort. These teams are hurling themselves at each other with hardly a thought for safety. Auda- city has replaced craftsmanship as the driving force of their players. It is exciting to watch, though a little exasperating for connoisseurs.

South Africa should have scored 400 on Friday's opening day. Everyone slows down a bit in autumn but this Wanderers pitch seems utterly exhausted. Apparently the academy boys play on it throughout the winter. Doubtless the visitors were astonished to find so hospitable a surface awaiting them.

It was a good toss to win and the South Africans wasted their opportunity largely because their back-foot play was faulty.

Having dismissed their flawed opponents cheaply on a placid pitch, the Australians went in adroit pursuit of a substantial lead. Taylor has not reached fifty in 16 attempts in Test cricket and he failed again as Shaun Pollock, much the liveliest of the pace men, persuaded a ball to skittle through his defences. Tay- lor has seemed as relaxed and prepared as the rest of his team. Not that batting presented any undue difficulty, especially as Allan Donald's opening spell was erratic.

Now came a sturdy partnership between Matthew Hayden and Matthew Elliott, neither of whom attended the academy. It is a curious fact that Hayden, Elliott and Greg Blewett are establishing them- selves at 25 years of age. Hayden was solid, a monument at the crease. As befits a man injured since Christmas, Elliott was en- ergetic, driving and pulling at every opportunity. Indeed he hooked Donald for six and although he enjoyed some fortune he confirmed his reputation as Australia's third best batsman.

Neither pace nor mediums unsettled this pair and eventually Cronje turned to the spin of Paul Adams. By lunch, however, Aus- tralia had reached 93 for one and a substantial lead appeared inevitable. It took the return of Pollock to break the partner- ship as Hayden was neatly taken at slip. Mark Waugh immediate- ly set about the bowling in his serene and ambitious way. Alas he went too far, hooking at Donald and edging to give David Richard- son a simple catch.

Suddenly a fourth wicket fell as Elliott's splendid innings ended with a hook to mid-on to give Donald another wicket he did not really deserve. Steve Waugh and Blewett hung on until tea and soon afterwards rain began to fall.

The crowds have been disappointing, 8,000 on the opening day and 14,000 on this second day. But they have been boisterous and mixed. Last week I roamed around the interior regions of KwaZulu Natal and found lots of children who could not afford shoelaces let alone television sets but had still heard about Jonty Rhodes.

This match is being broadcast in English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Zulu, Xhosa and other local languages. Apparently children are starting to play cricket in the streets of Soweto, playing with rag balls and log bats as the West Indians used to do. Whatever the result of this match, South African cricket is moving along well. And everyone is shouting for the local team. It has not al- ways been the case.

Day 3: Waugh and Blewett seize day
By Peter Deeley

Three days into this series and Australia already have that look of invincibility so sickeningly familiar to England sides in re- cent years. This was by any measure a masterly example of their depth in batting. For only the 12th time in Test history, not a wicket fell in a full day with Steve Waugh and Greg Blewett remaining together, each scoring big hundreds.

The visitors closed on 479 for four and are now 177 ahead of South Africa, with the pitch expected to begin to take turn. No doubt Australia will heed Waugh's words: ``I kept thinking what Allan Border would do while we were out there - grind the opposi- tion down until they disintegrate.''

South Africa did not quite break up but this must have been one of the most heart-breaking experiences they have had since coming back to Test cricket. Waugh paid tribute to their fielding. ``They kept at it and saved a lot of runs. We scored 288 in the day but they must have cut off another 50.''

South Africa will hardly be as pleased with their attack. It was a benign pitch but apart from Paul Adams there was an awful same- ness about their bowlers.

Neither Allan Donald nor Shaun Pollock achieved their potential as match-winners. Donald, along with Adams, has already conceded a century of runs and Pollock's problems were illustrated by the fact that when the new ball was taken in mid-morning, he bowled only two overs before coming off. In that time, Pollock sent down four no-balls, received a second warning for running on the pitch and exchanged words with umpire Cyril Mitchley.

Given these self-imposed handicaps, it was hardly surprising that Waugh should take the opposition by the scruff of the neck.

No player in the world is more ruthless in such a situation and Waugh, six years the senior and with 73 more Tests behind him, was able to instil such confidence in Blewett that by the close the junior batsman was almost the dominant hand.

Australia's domination was reinforced by the fact that there was only one half-chance when Lance Klusener bounced Waugh and the ball took an edge which wicketkeeper Dave Richardson got half a glove on as it flew high over him.

There were less than 10 occasions when the ball truly beat the bat, most agonisingly for South African captain Hansie Cronje when, in the penultimate over, his delivery struck Blewett on the pad and streaked a hairsbreadth wide of the off stump.

Adams caused more problems than any other bowler and will have learnt more from this day than any of his previous seven Tests. The third ball he sent down to Waugh produced an edge past slip from what was an attempted off drive and Blewett, too, going down the pitch, got a thin inside edge wide of the keeper.

The two raced together into the nineties but Blewett won just be- fore lunch, his third Test hundred coming in just one ball more than Waugh's 12th.

After the interval, Waugh reached the middle then promptly broke down with cramp in both legs before the restart. He laughingly blamed it on old age but was able to continue after swallowing pills. ``I don't know what they were,'' Waugh said. ``Probably Smarties.''

The Wanderers crowd, normally boisterous, were shell-shocked into silence long before the end. At least they saw a record broken: the 305 partnership is the highest for any wicket by Australia against South Africa.

Curiously, the two men who shared in the last stand which went unbroken through a full day were at the ground: Australia's coach Geoff Marsh and captain Mark Taylor, who scored more than 300 runs together against England at Trent Bridge in 1989.

Test Days In Which No Wickets Fell

1924-25: England v Australia; J B Hobbs & H Sutcliffe, 283 runs (3rd day), Melbourne.

1954-55: West Indies v Australia; D St E Atkinson & C C Depeiza, 307 runs (4th day), Barbados.

1955-56: India v New Zealand; M H Mankad & Pankaj Roy 234 runs (1st day), Madras.

1957-58: West Indies v Pakistan; C C Hunte & G St A Sobers 357 runs (3rd day), Jamaica.

1959-60: West Indies v England; G St A Sobers & F M M Worrell 207 runs (5th day), Barbados.

1964-65: Australia v West Indies; W M Lawry & R B Simpson 263 runs (1st day), Barbados.

1971-72: West Indies v New Zealand; A I Kallicharran & T M Findlay 55 runs, G M Turner & T W Jarvis 163 runs (3rd day), Guyana.

1978-79: India v West Indies; S M Gavaskar & D B Vengsarkar 291 runs, S F A F Bacchus & D A Murray 15 runs (4th day), Calcutta.

1981-82: India v England; G R Viswanath & Yashpal Sharma 217 runs (2nd day), Madras.

1985-86: Sri Lanka v Pakistan; A P Gurusinha & A Ranatunga 240 runs (5th day), Colombo.

1989: Australia v England; G R Marsh & M A Taylor 310 runs (1st day), Trent Bridge.

Day 4: Warne's spin offers final grim warning
By Peter Deeley

South Africa need a saviour in the mould of Michael Atherton if they are to avoid going one down to Australia in today's final act of the first Test. The England captain batted for over five sessions on this ground 17 months ago to save a game that seemed irredeemably lost at the end of the fourth day.

Whether South Africa have their own knight on a white charger is a moot point. More pertinently, Australia - with Shane Warne al- ready causing some consternation - have the attack and the lust for success that should deliver the killer punch before bad weather can intervene.

The home side are already 99 for four, needing another 227 runs to save the innings defeat after a day in which Greg Blewett reached a double century and Steve Waugh, out grudgingly for a mere 160, showed his enormous gifts as the complete all-rounder.

When Andrew Hudson, who had gone solidly to 31, tickled Warne to leg his partner, Jacques Kallis, belatedly called for a single. Waugh, at fine leg, scooped the ball up, swivelled round and, from fully 30 yards, scored a direct hit on the stumps with Hud- son a couple of feet short of safety.

Then Waugh replaced Warne in the attack and, with his third ball, induced the home captain, Hansie Cronje, to chase a ball swinging wide of his pads into Ian Healy's gloves.

South Africa's coach, Bob Woolmer, later talked about ``one-day mentality'' entering his side's batting. This was surely an exam- ple and Cronje recognised the flaw with a severe shake of the head on the way out. So much had depended on him and his 22 runs have scarcely made a dent in the mountain his side must still climb.

Waugh and Blewett carried on where they had left off on Sunday for all but 15 minutes of the morning's play, taking their huge stand to 385 20 short of the highestfor the fifth wicket in Tests and the 12th highest Test partnership of all time - before Waugh pushed forward defensively at Kallis to give him a first Test wicket as Dave Richardson held the thin edge.

Waugh trudged off grumpily after 8.25 hours, but then he never likes getting out. In his 12 Test hundreds, he has only been out five times -and seven times he has scored between 150-200.

As for Blewett, Woolmer summed up South African feelings when he said: ``We were surprised the Australians left behind batsmen like Law and Ponting. But now we know why.''

Blewett came here off a 99 against West Indies and in his only two meetings with England, on their 1994-95 Ashes tour, scored back-to-back hundreds.

He was then dropped after a poor home series against Pakistan's Mushtaq Ahmed but the South Australian is now equipped to give his side a frightening degree of batting depth from the No 6 po- sition against England this summer.

Blewett stayed until after lunch when he was out for 214 slicing Lance Klusener into the deep as he went for quick runs. He hit 34 fours, significantly not giving a chance in over 8.5 hours.

Paul Adams's deserved wicket did not come until his 51st over and, after four South African bowlers had gone over the hundred mark, Mark Taylor eventually declared closed an innings which, at 628 for eight, was the highest in meetings between the two coun- tries.

This left South Africa to bat for just under three hours in the day. But in eight overs, Warne dismissed Peter Kirsten and Daryll Cullinan when they went on to the back foot to force him away square.

Following a ballot for tickets, the first four days of the second Cornhill Test against Australia from June 19 to 22 are al- ready sold out. So, too, is the third and final Texaco match on May 25.

Leading Test Partnerships:

467: AH Jones & MD Crowe (NZ v SL,1990-91);
451: WH Ponsford & DG Bradman (Aus v Eng, 1934);
451: Mudassar Nazar & Javed Miandad (Pak v Ind, 1982-83);
446: CC Hunte & G St A Sobers (WI v Pak, 1957-58);
413: MH Mankad & Pankaj Roy (Ind v NZ, 1955-56);
411: PBH May & MC Cowdrey (Eng v WI, 1957);
405: SG Barnes & DG Bradman (Aus v Eng, 1946-47);
399: G St A Sobers & FMM Worrell (WI v Eng, 1959-60);
397: Qasim Omar & Javed Miandad (Pak v SL, 1985-86);
388: WH Ponsford & DG Bradman (Aus v Eng, 1934);
387: GM Turner Td W Jarvis (NZ v WI, 1971-72);
385: SR Waugh & GS Blewett (Aus v SA, 1996-97).

Day 5: South Africa left reeling as Warne and Bevan strike
By Peter Deeley

It is almost risible to talk in terms of South Africa being a contender for any unofficial world Test championship after Australia's overwhelming win in the first game of this series.

Not only was the size of their victory truly emphatic - an in- nings and 196 runs - but Australia dwarfed their opponents both man-for-man and collectively.

The home selectors now have a dilemma familiar to their England counterparts. What can they do to turn things round in a three- Test series with the pitch at Port Elizabeth, where the second starts a week on Friday, reported to be as slow and without bounce as the one at Wanderers?

Depending on fitness, all-rounder Brian McMillan may come back for Jonty Rhodes, but he enjoys spin no more than his compatriots and after the destruction wreaked by Shane Warne and Michael Be- van yesterday that would be akin to equipping a sinking boat with a punctured life-belt.

Both took six wickets in the match and Bevan finished the game in spectacular fashion with four in 12 balls as South Africa's last five batsmen went down in as many overs for three runs. The left-armer has now taken 21 wickets in his last five Tests.

It was as ignominious a collapse as those we have seen from Eng- land sides in recent times. The promotional rubbish claimed be- forehand it would be a ``humdinger series''. For South Africa that should read ``hamburger''.

The game was also a flop from an attendance point of view. Less than 50,000 turned up altogether and a sizeable number of those were black township schoolchildren admitted free.

Their cheerfulness and enthusiasm was a joy to behold, but the United Cricket Board will be pondering long why so few turned up less than for the India Test earlier this year.

South Africa were probably mortally wounded before the final day began 99 for four and still needing 227 runs to avoid the in- nings defeat. But Australia, led by their chief game-hunter Warne, stalked the dying impala ruthlessly.

In his fifth over he drove Rhodes on to the back foot and the flipper brought an undeniable leg before, removing the only batsman remaining with the experience to graft through a long, hot day.

Jacques Kallis, in his third Test, showed more grit than his seniors but inexperience proved his undoing after three hours. He padded away several leg-breaks which turned extravagantly, then moved across his wicket, as Warne bowled one which spun only modestly but enough to take the exposed leg stump.

It was almost like being cruel to dumb animals when captain Mark Taylor called Bevan on at the other end. Lance Klusener and Dave Richardson were out to the opening and final ball of the first over they faced from him, each caught at short leg off bat-pad. Allan Donald and Paul Adams were bowled off the fourth and sixth deliveries of the next over.

This is by far the biggest drubbing South Africa have had since coming back to the game and reinforces Taylor's view that in terms of being 'battle-hardened' in Tests there is no comparison.

South African Hansie Cronje conceded they needed to lift their game ``by 200 per cent'' to match Australia. ``I don't think we were on the same ground as them in this game. They look a very well oiled team.''

Taylor admitted he would not have fancied facing Warne in such a desperate last day situation: ``He is close to coming back to his best. He only took high-order batsmen: he bowled very few bad balls and the flipper is coming through right.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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