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The Electronic Telegraph New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test
Reports from the Electronic Telegraph - 27 February - 3 March 1999

Day 1: Tourists punish Nash decision

By Nick Alexander in Auckland

GARY Kirsten and Daryll Cullinan put South Africa in the driving seat on the first day of the first Test at Eden Park after a curious decision by New Zealand captain Dion Nash to ask the tourists to bat on a slow, flat wicket.

Before a small crowd of about 500, South Africa reached 245 for two by the close, with Kirsten on 109 and Cullinan on 85. Kirsten batted through the day but appeared to struggle for timing. He took 4.5-hours for his ninth Test century, equalling Dudley Nourse's record for South Africa.

Apart from two lbw appeals from Simon Doull, he gave the bowlers no chance and usually put away the bad balls efficiently, reaching the boundary 11 times.

In contrast to Kirsten, Cullinan fresh from a century against Northern Districts in Hamilton, was fluent, hitting 11 fours and one six in his 147-ball innings. He used his feet against left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, the most effective of the bowlers.

The pair put on 148 for the third wicket, a record for South Africa against New Zealand.

Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs rattled up a quick 71 before lunch before the first of four rain interruptions halted their progress. Soon after lunch, Gibbs, on 34, was bowled by Vettori when he failed to play a shot to an arm-ball that drifted in to take his off stump.

Doull trapped Jacques Kallis leg before wicket for seven to reduce the tourists to 97 for two.

Of Kirsten's innings, South African coach Bob Woolmer said: ``He played well. He wanted to bat on this wicket and has done so admirably.''

Day 2: Cullinan on verge of batting record

By Neil Manthorp in Auckland

THROUGHOUT Daryll Cullinan's 16-year first-class career he has threatened, and sometimes produced, great batting feats. Now he stands on the verge of the best of all - the highest Test score by a South African.

Cullinan is likely to be given an hour on the third morning to stretch his 246 not out past the 274 Graeme Pollock made against Australia in Durban in 1970 with South African captain Hansie Cronje indicating further punishment for the toiling Kiwis.

So far the tourists have been remorseless in compiling 562 for five, their fifth highest score ever and their highest post-isolation total, surpassing the 552 for five made at Old Trafford last year. Gary Kirsten, who equalled Dudley Nourse's South African record of nine Test centuries on the first day, departed for 128 after adding 183 with Cullinan for the third wicket.

Chris Harris's straight but harmless leg rollers accounted for Cronje (30) and Jonty Rhodes (63) through frustrated drives, but Cullinan simply marched on.

A mistimed pull off Geoff Allott lobbed nervously over Roger Twose's head on 97 and a rasping pull off the same bowler was spilled by Simon Doull on 132, but thereafter he never offered a sniff.

It was the fifth double-century at New Zealand's home of rugby, a sequence started by Wally Hammond's then world record 336 in 1993. Keith Fletcher grafted to 216 in 1975 while Gordon Greenidge used the short boundaries to make 213 in 1987.

The fourth, 271 by Javed Miandad in 1989, shared a theme with Cullinan's innings. It was the last time the groundstaff were worried enough to spread wood glue on a bare pitch in order to keep it together.

Cullinan is the youngest first-class century-maker in his country, achieving the feat at 16 years and 304 days in 1983-84, and is also the highest individual scorer with an innings of 337 three years ago.

So far he has batted five minutes short of 10 hours and struck 25 fours and two sixes from 436 balls faced. With the home side's bowlers having given up long ago, only his concentration - or his captain - can deny him the biggest record yet.

Day 3: Horne refusing to come unstuck

By Neil Manthorp in Auckland

WHEN New Zealand's turn came to test the wood glue that had been used to bind the pitch together before the start of the first Test against South Africa here, they still found it rock hard and utterly faultless.

Only Allan Donald made any impression at all when he persuaded former Warwickshire colleague Roger Twose (31) and Nathan Astle (41) to nibble thin edges to Mark Boucher.

Matt Horne, though, combined bursts of power-hitting with long spells of concentration. He finished within eight runs of his third Test century with Craig McMillan, on 21, for company.

Even Donald, it seems, may struggle to prevent a draw unless, of course, the glue comes unstuck.

Daryll Cullinan was the first to take full advantage of the flattest batting surface imaginable to score 275 not out and displace the great Graeme Pollock as South Africa's highest individual Test scorer as the tourists finally stopped the punishment an hour into the third day on 621 for five.

Oddly, Hansie Cronje allowed Cullinan to chase the record but immediately declared when he scrambled a second run off the medium-pacer Craig McMillan.

At that point, the team total was also within two runs of a new record. Pollock had scored his 274 against Australia in 1970 out of 622 for nine.

``I've dreamt of doing something like this but I do feel a little embarrassed. Graeme was such a great player,'' Cullinan said.

Shaun Pollock, poignantly, was at the other end when the record was broken. He, like every batsman seen so far, played fluently to finish 69 not out, his first fifty for 12 Test innings.

Day 4: Allott delighted with record scoreless vigil

Neil Manthorp in Auckland

GEOFF Allott, the 26-year-old left-arm seamer who bats right-handed, admitted after the fourth day's play in the first Test against South Africa at Eden Park yesterday that he would never score a better nought.

New Zealand, chasing a follow-on target of 422, were 320-9 when Allott joined Chris Harris for the last wicket. Almost the entire final session was left to play. By the time he fended an awkward lifter to slip, New Zealand's openers had only one over to survive after following on 269 behind. They finished 4-0.

``It was the best duck I'll ever make,'' said Allott after breaking a 53-year-old scoreless batting landmark set by Godfrey Evans, who required 97 minutes to open his account against Australia, in Adelaide, in 1946. Allott's vigil, comprising 77 deliveries, lasted 101 minutes.

The day began promisingly for the tourists when Hansie Cronje, bowling first because the new ball was due six overs later, persuaded the impetuous Craig McMillan (25) to chase a wide outswinger to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.

In the second over Matt Horne, who batted so well for his 92 the previous day, played back to a quick chinaman from Paul Adams and was bowled for 93. Adam Parore, forced to postpone a court appearance for dangerous driving, fell to Pollock for a stubborn nine from 54 balls.

Lance Klusener took two wickets in successive overs after lunch to pile further pressure on the home side but Daniel Vettori scored a bright 32 out of 43 with Harris to resurrect hopes of survival.

New Zealand's openers were, nonetheless, facing the prospect of a horrible final session when the ninth wicket fell. At that stage 120 overs still remained in the match and few would have backed the home side to save it. But Allott, who has more first-class wickets than runs (86 to 83), batted with a mixture of determination, confusion and humour to leave the home side facing just 90 overs for survival on the final day.

Understandably unaware of the record until the public address announcement, Allott raised his bat to all corners of the ground, with a wide grin on his face, to acknowledge rapturous applause from a small but good-natured crowd. Following Daryll Cullinan's national record 275 not out for South Africa, this batting record represented a shift from the sublime to the ridiculous, but it may prove to be the more valuable.

``I had no idea of the record until the public address announcer said that I'd broken the New Zealand record [previously held by John Wright, who took 66 minutes to open his account against Australia in Wellington, 1981-82].''

Asked whether he was afraid he might edge a four through the slips on the way towards the world record, Allott scoffed at suggestions he was aiming for the record.

``A tailender is never afraid of getting runs - in fact, if Harry [Harris] hadn't turned down about five easy singles then I might never have got anywhere near it,'' Allott said.

Day 5: Twose defiance ensures a draw

By Neil Manthorp in Auckland

NEW ZEALAND lost only three wickets on the final day to earn a draw with full honours in the first Test against South Africa at Eden Park yesterday.

Matt Horne scored his second half-century of the match and Nathan Astle finished with a belligerent 69 not out. Minutes mattered more than runs however and in this respect Roger Twose, coached in his formative years by Bob Woolmer, took the main honours.

The burly left-hander, chiselled and cajoled into shape by the coach of South Africa during his days at Warwickshire, survived several ferocious attacks from two more Warwickshire men - Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock - before succumbing to a slip catch off Lance Klusener for 65, made in exactly four hours.

Twose played at nothing wide of the stumps against the seamers, preferring to wait for bad balls from Paul Adams, of which there were plenty, to gather his runs.

Twose calmly helped four long hops into the terraces off the left-arm spinner and collected another five fours in his innings which spanned 185 balls.

In the first session Matthew Bell was caught by Donald at fine leg off a top-edged hook against Pollock for six and in the second session Horne, who was bowled by a beauty from Adams in the first innings for 93, fell to the same bowler and the same manner of dismissal but in rather different fashion. Horne missed an attempted pull shot, the ball bounced from his pad on to arm, thigh and foot before trickling on to the stumps.

Twose was out in the final session when the draw was secure.

With the controversial wood glue applied to the pitch playing the lead role in the result, the match will be remembered for Daryll Cullinan's 11-hour 275 not out and also for Geoff Allott's record, 101-minute duck.

By batting most of the final session on the fourth day, the New Zealand tail-ender broke the tourists' belief in victory and played the pivotal role.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk