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The Christchurch Press South Africa v New Zealand (2nd Test)
The Christchurch Press - 11-15 March 1999

Day 1: Black day for Black Caps

Geoff Longley

New Zealand already needs a salvage job of colossal proportions to prevent South Africa going one up in the test cricket series, after just the first day of the second BNZ test at Jade Stadium in Christchurch.

The Black Caps revisited a past they thought they had left behind when crumbling to be all out for 168 yesterday while South Africa marched solidly to 54 without loss at stumps.

Poor shot selection cost New Zealand. A clutch of soft wickets swung the advantage to the Proteas, who are poised to play the home side out of the game. Just when it seemed the Black Caps had shed the batting horrors which have beset them in past years, along came another nightmare.

The pitch, which New Zealand chose to bat on, had nothing to do with the Black Caps' downfall. It played fairly throughout and did not offer a lot of assistance to the bowlers.

Most of the Kiwi top order brought about their own demise. Ironically, the chance was there for New Zealand, which went to lunch at 104 for three, to push on to a score around 300. The loss of three wickets for three runs, including Nathan Astle and Gary Stead who had a partnership under way, eroded the innings.

South Africa's pace bowlers had not made the most of the cloudy overhead conditions in the first session and the Black Caps had prospered, hitting 20 fours in their first 100 runs which came in just 114 minutes.

But, as coach Steve Rixon noted, there was a fine line between aggressive and reckless stroke-play and the Black Caps too often crossed it.

``We capitulated quite badly and have got ourselves into a difficult situation. It is shades of revisiting the past, hopefully it's just a temporary visit,'' he said.

Bryan Young's return to the test arena was brief when he left a gap between bat and pad the width of a set of wickets and was bowled. Roger Twose probably did not need to play at the ball which brought about his downfall nor did Matthew Horne, who had been making good progress.

Nathan Astle played in his usual free fashion and put away eight fours in his lively 83-ball innings of 44, but one cramped attacking slash found Lance Klusener on the third-man boundary.

Stead, after making an excellent fist of his debut innings to reach 27, had a concentration lapse outside off stump and suddenly the South African bowlers were performing with greater vim and accuracy.

Chris Harris could only fend a short-pitched ball from Shaun Pollock, the Proteas most consistent performer, to short leg.

Adam Parore and Dion Nash sought to lead a revival but Parore, just after raising his 2000th test run, fell into a catching trap, clipping the ball to deep mid-wicket.

Nash and Daniel Vettori succumbed to the wiles of unorthodox spinner Paul Adams, Nash not playing a shot to complete the demolition.

Pollock recovered from getting a warning for running on the wicket to claim four wickets. He was on a hat-trick after dismissing Parore and Simon Doull with successive balls but was denied by Geoff Allott.

The comfortable manner in which South African openers Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs went about their work was an ominous sign for the home team.

South African coach Bob Woolmer said the wicket was not a 168-run pitch.

``I thought at lunch it we could keep them to 260-270 we would be doing all right. But to bowl them for 168 was a bonus,'' he said.

Woolmer said South Africa would have bowled first because he believed it was easier to win matches having a batting break between innings rather than trying to enforce a follow-on and bowl sides out in consecutive innings. ``Nowadays, you don't get a rest day to freshen up and I think it's better to have a break in between,'' he said.

Day 2: Gibbs makes his point

Geoff Longley

Coloured cricketer Herschelle Gibbs took a significant step to consolidating a permanent place in the South African side with an unbeaten century against New Zealand in the second cricket test at Jade Stadium.

Gibbs, a converted opener because he is unable to find a place elsewhere in the powerful Proteas batting line-up, dedicated himself to batting the day yesterday in the belief he should have a hundred if he could remain.

He achieved the target, moving to a patient, unbeaten 101 from 412 minutes, as South Africa moved to an impregnable position, reaching 229 for one in reply to New Zealand's meagre 168 at stumps on day two.

Gibbs, 24, was at the centre of a racism row earlier in the tour over the selection of an all-white South African side for two one-day international against New Zealand last month.

The United Cricket Board of South Africa then reinforced is insistence on selecting multi-racial teams. Gibbs had played the first one-day game, but was then dropped for the next two.

Gibbs wants to be picked on purely cricket grounds and his hundred yesterday showed a growing maturity to go alongside the outstanding ability which had earned him international honours.

South African coach Bob Woolmer said Gibbs was an extremely talented player, but had been a late developer in understanding and reading the game.

From Gibbs's previous 22 test innings his highest score was 54, with many knocks ended by his aggressive instincts, which make him a dazzling stroke-maker when underway.

But he curbed those in favour of crease occupation and only occasionally unfurled drives of quality.

Gibbs said in the past he had been more nervous and indecisive with the fear of failure uppermost in his mind.

``But I probably took a leaf out of Daryll Cullinan's book, the way he batted in Auckland, being more patient.'' Gibbs was made to sweat for his century by the Black Caps' attack, which toiled away assiduously on a wicket offering little assistance.

He stalled on 97 for 38min and was conscious of the delay.

``The New Zealand bowlers made me work really hard for those extra runs.

``Geoff Allott bowled really well to me. Because they were pretty tight all day I didn't get the chance to loosen up.''

Gibbs said the innings meant alot to him as the game at test level was the pinnacle.

``One-day cricket is for the crowds and more hit and miss.''

Gibbs's sporting gifts are not just confined to cricket, where he is also an outstanding fieldsman rivalling Jonty Rhodes.

As a dashing first five-eighths he was considered during his teenage years to have the skill to become a double Springbok. Such was his promise that in 1992 he was selected to spend some days with the-then visiting All Blacks, rooming with Inga Tuigamala.

Gibbs was also a talented athlete, being a South African schools sprint champion, but opted for cricket after tearing a cruciate ligament in 1994.

South Africa now probably wants to bat for most, if not all, today and accelerate the scoring to build a lead of 300, Gibbs being well supported yesterday by Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis, who both scored half centuries.

For the Black Caps to have any chance it needed early wickets, but they only secured one in the middle session when Kirsten, after completing his 18th half-century, fell to Daniel Vettori, New Zealand's most likely wicket-taking threat.

Ironically, bad light ended play early, although the floodlights were on, used for the first time in a test match in New Zealand. The umpires ruled that more natural light was needed as players were having difficulty sighting the red ball against the backdrop of the No. 1 stand. To make up the lost time play begins at 10am today.

Day 4: Proteas may regret record batting stand

Geoff Longley

South African batsmen Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis created a welter of cricket records at Jade Stadium yesterday but the Proteas' delayed declaration may have cost them a chance of winning the second test against New Zealand.

By batting to stumps last night and reaching 442 for one, South Africa, whose over-all lead is 274, may have used too much of the time it needs to bowl the Black Caps out on today's final day. A minimum of 105 overs is available - weather permitting.

South Africa's tactics were spoilt by the bad weather which has so far robbed the match of 167 overs - almost two days of play. Instead of asking New Zealand to bat yesterday, South African captain Hansie Cronje decided to bat on. He appeared to think that, with the weather closing in again, a declaration was not worthwhile.

However, it held for the final session, enabling Gibbs and Kallis to create personal test bests. Gibbs, who finished on 211 not out, left his previous highest test score of 54 far behind. His unbeaten double century in 10 hours 59 minutes was the 11th by a South African player and included 23 fours and three sixes.

The pair shared an unbroken 315-run second-wicket stand, the third highest in South African history. It was the biggest partnership by South Africans against New Zealand.

Kallis scored his unbeaten 148 in 450 minutes, from 340 balls.

Day 5: O'Connor set for test recall

Left-arm pace bowler Shayne O'Connor is poised to play in the third cricket test against South Africa as New Zealand seeks to inject some verve in a bid to dislodge the determined Proteas.

Selection panel convener Ross Dykes said the same New Zealand 12 would assemble in Wellington for the third match of the BNZ series, starting on Thursday, and he agreed O'Connor would probably play.

O'Connor was called into the team, but made 12th man, for the rain-hit second test at Jade Stadium, which ironically ended in bright sunshine yesterday. The Black Caps safely batted out time to reach 127 for one from 54 overs after another rain-delayed start. So the series remains 0-0, despite South Africa's dominance.

The selectors hope O'Connor's inclusion will bolster the Black Caps' beleaguered bowling line-up which has conceded 1063 runs, including 25 extras, for just six wickets at 177 per wicket in two tests.

New Zealand captain and pace bowler Dion Nash believed the bowlers in the Black Caps line-up were the best available. Of late they had not shown the ability to take 20 wickets to win a match. ``But we have struck two very flat wickets and some fine batting,'' Nash said.

``Hopefully in Wellington where conditions have been more favourable we will have more success. It's frustrating for all the bowlers.''

Nash said Simon Doull was one of the top 10 bowlers in the world. He hoped that a return to the Basin Reserve, where Doull took seven for 65 against India to help set up victory there, would act as a spur.

Dykes said the Wellington wicket was more of a seamers' track. O'Connor, the form bowler in the Shell Trophy competition, made an impact for New Zealand A against South Africa in the match before the second test. He took four for 22 in an inspired 10-over spell.

Dykes felt Nash, who has not taken a wicket in the series, was struggling with his rhythm.

The inclusion of O'Connor could force out fellow left-armer Geoff Allott, who bowled considerably better in Christchurch, but has conceded two century-plus run tallies in successive innings.

Dykes said a second specialist spin bowler was not seriously contemplated for Wellington, where off-spinner Paul Wiseman played against India. Chris Harris will fill the other slow bowling role.

Nash said he knew his team had a lucky escape with the weather leading to more than two days play being lost.

``Getting just 168 in the first innings meant we had played ourselves out of the test match from day one on a pitch which showed it didn't have too many evils. We showed a lack of application with our batting.''

Better second-innings concentration was shown by openers Matthew Horne and Bryan Young yesterday in posting an opening stand of 107. It was the first century stand between New Zealand opening batsmen for 23 tests.

The partnership was broken when Horne was run out, the third calling mix-up between the pair after two length-of-the-pitch embarrassments in the one-dayers against India.

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