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The Christchurch Press South Africa v New Zealand 'A'
The Christchurch Press - 6-8 March 1999

Day 2: Stead, Lawson make their mark

Geoff Longley

Gary Stead and Robbie Lawson, probably two of the lesser lights in contention for a vacant batting spot in the New Zealand team, shone brightest for New Zealand A against South Africa at Lincoln Green.

Stead, the Canterbury captain, transferred his fine Shell series form this summer up to the next level to make a well-compiled 70 yesterday while Lawson, the Otago opener, also posted an accomplished half-century.

The pair were probably behind the likes of Bryan Young, Mathew Sinclair, and Mark Bailey in terms of test consideration starting the day but did their chances no harm.

Their scores ensured the New Zealand A team's first innings reached some respectability at 276 for nine in reply to the visitors imposing 403 for six declared on Saturday.

The tourists, although carrying a lead of 127, were rocked back to 53 for four in their second innings after left-arm medium-fast swing bowler Shayne O'Connor produced an inspired 10-over spell which reaped four for 22. At stumps South Africa was 98 for four, still leaving the match set for a declaration and fourth innings run chase today.

Ideal start for Kiwis

Lawson and Young gave the New Zealand A team an ideal start looking assured in adding 71 for the first wicket. But the South African pace attack of Shaun Pollock, who produced some sharp deliveries, 34-year-old Steve Elworthy, and Victor Mpitsang reduced New Zealand A to 132 for four by lunch.

Bailey, one of those dismissed, looked unlucky being caught in the gully after the ball appeared to strike his left arm by his elbow.

Another luckless batsman later was Gareth Hopkins who was on the receiving end of a Jonty Rhodes catching special. Hopkins cracked a ball at bullet-like pace behind square but Rhodes, in soccer goalkeeper-style, flung himself far to his right and pulled in a breath-taking dismissal.

Stead, initially with an aggressive Scott Styris, kept Pollock at bay and later with Brooke Walker carried New Zealand beyond the follow-on figure of 254. Stead's 70 was laced with 14 fours and took just 97 balls.

On Saturday the batting quality was a notch higher as South Africa enjoyed the splendid pitch conditions. Gary Kirsten and Jonty Rhodes benefited most, hoisting their 31st and 13th first-class centuries respectively.

Kirsten's was a well-crafted innings, batting six hours and facing 225 balls with 24 fours while the exuberant Rhodes gave a sparkling display with 101 not out from 110 balls, 12 fours, and three sixes.

Four Proteas kept wicket in the New Zealand A innings with regular gloveman Mark Boucher resting - Hansie Cronje, Herschelle Gibbs, Kirsten, and Pollock, the latter two distinguishing their spells with a catch apiece.

Day 3: New Zealand A digs in for draw

Two determined rearguard stands earned New Zealand A a draw against South Africa at Lincoln Green.

To say it was an honourable draw would be stretching the point. The only players to emerge with honour in New Zealand A's second innings yesterday were the lower order, who had to do a salvage operation when it collapsed to 94 for six in the improbable chase for 360 to win.

Matthew Sinclair and Mark Bailey both had the opportunity to settle in for the afternoon and press their claims for the New Zealand team for the second test.

Steve Rixon, the New Zealand coach, said the selectors were looking for someone to score a hundred.

But the top of the batting was dispatched by a hostile spell by the opening bowlers, Shaun Pollock and Steve Elworthy. New Zealand A lost Robbie Lawson at 20 and both Bryan Young and Sinclair at 21.

Bailey had played freely compiling 17, but tried to pull a short delivery from Elworthy and succeeded only in spooning a catch to Darryl Cullinan at mid-wicket.

Gary Stead was joined by all-rounder Scott Styris and they staged a mini-recovery, adding 27 before Stead was out in confusing circumstances. Initially umpire Chris King seemed to dismiss an appeal from the South Africans for caught behind. But 11 gaping mouths and and wide-eyed stares seemed to convince him to raise his finger.

Styris, not one to dawdle at the crease, immediately began to play shots. He lived a little dangerously, but the longer he stayed the more impressive was his innings. He was finally dismissed for 69 in 132 minutes, striking 11 fours.

He featured in a 74-run stand with Brooke Walker, which added some respectability to the innings and did most to earn the draw. Earlier, Jonty Rhodes had made the record books by scoring a hundred in each innings. He made 101 not out in the first innings and followed it with 106no.

Source: The Christchurch Press
Editorial comments can be sent to The Christchurch Press at press@press.co.nz