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The Electronic Telegraph New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd Test
Reports from the Electronic Telegraph - 18-22 March 1999

Day 1: Stead the trusty one for New Zealand

By Neil Manthorp in Wellington

NEW ZEALAND battled admirably to recover from 58 for four to finish the first day of the decisive third Test against South Africa on 211 for six.

Matt Horne and Bryan Young both fell early to good slip catches, especially Young who could barely fathom Jonty Rhodes' effort at third slip.

At lunch the home side were 50 for two but within six balls of the resumption Steve Elworthy had plunged them to 58 for four. Nathan Astle, dropped by Paul Adams at cover on two, was superbly yorked on 20 and Roger Twose, cracked on the elbow two balls earlier, edged to the keeper for a dour 12 from 79 balls.

Then the rescue, initially led by the unheralded Gary Stead and then carried on by Chris Harris, who survived a public bout of vomiting shortly before the close to finish 66 not out. The sunshine so appreciated by the crowd after two rain-affected draws in the series, was not enjoyed by Harris.

Stead, 27, the Canterbury captain, got his chance because of injuries and it was his fighting qualities that were required. Short in stature, he seldom tried to hit the ball, preferring to use the pace of an increasingly frustrated pace quartet to guide the ball behind square on either side of the wicket and accumulate runs.

He and Harris had put on 145 before Stead perished to Elworthy courtesy of a brilliant slip catch by Shaun Pollock. Elworthy then had Daniel Vettori picked up by Jacques Kallis at second slip two overs before the close.

Day 2; Pollock and Gibbs pressurise Kiwis

By Neil Manthorp in Wellington

SOUTH Africa's overwhelming domination of this series was never more obvious than yesterday when Shaun Pollock wrapped up New Zealand's first innings in a 20-ball burst of high-quality fast bowling before the batsmen continued the orgy of runs that has characterised their tour.

Herschelle Gibbs added a chanceless 115 not out to his unbeaten 211 of five days ago and Daryll Cullinan shared in an unbroken third-wicket stand of 130 as the tourists claimed a 13-run lead before the end of the second day.

Resuming at 211 for six with Chris Harris on 66, New Zealand had hopes of reaching 300. Pollock, though, did not bowl a single bad ball and all four wickets were fast bowlers' classics, with two caught at slip, one at short leg and Harris fending a lifter to gully just two runs richer than when he started.

Pollock's five for 33 was his ninth five-wicket haul in 33 Tests but did not quite match his father Peter's six for 47 on the same ground in 1964.

Gibbs reached three figures from 184 balls with 14 boundaries and added two more before the close while Cullinan, for once, played second fiddle with 56 from 112 balls with nine boundaries. Gibbs has now scored 360 runs for one dismissal in the series while Cullinan has accumulated 331 in two innings without losing his wicket.

Gary Kirsten was earlier involved in an incident when Harris seemingly knocked a ``clean'' low edge into the air at first slip for Bryan Young to grab the catch at second slip. Kirsten stood his ground while Brent ``Bowden, the third umpire, compounded the drama by viewing a poor-quality television replay six times before, to general bewilderment, ruling the batsman not out.

Day 3: Cullinan's runs spree continues

By Ihithisham Kamardeen

DARYLL Cullinan piled the misery on New Zealand's weak bowling attack with a brilliant 152 as South Africa batted the home side out of the decisive third Test in Wellington.

After New Zealand's 222, South Africa, led by centuries from Herschelle Gibbs (120) and Cullinan and useful contributions from Hansie Cronje (72) and Shaun Pollock (43 not out), amassed 498 for eight. At close of play on the third day South Africa were 276 in front, and well on target to force a 1-0 series win after the first two Tests were drawn.

Cullinan, fresh from a record-breaking 275 not out in the first Test in Auckland, batted for 5hr 27min before finally being dismissed for the first time in the series when part-timer Nathan Astle took a return catch.

Having reached 3,000 Test runs on 45, Cullinan cracked 22 boundaries and a six off 272 balls as he took the series aggregate to 427. It surpassed Gary Kirsten's 322 (average 53.67) in India in 1996/97.

Day 4: Elworthy helps put S Africa on brink of victory

By Neil Manthorp in Wellington

STEVE Elworthy and Paul Adams, as contrasting a pair of bowlers as it is possible to find, took South Africa to the verge of victory on the fourth day of the final Test at the Basin Reserve yesterday with their combination of slingy pace and unorthodox spin.

Needing 276 to make the tourists bat again, New Zealand finished the day still 59 runs in arrears on 217 for seven with Dion Nash and Daniel Vettori needing to bat for virtually all of the final day to save the match and the series.

Ironically, South Africa might not have been as close to victory had they stuck to their original plan of batting for another hour in the morning in search of a further 30 or 40 runs.

In the event, the presence of heavy cloud, and possible rain, persuaded Hansie Cronje to change the plan and declare on the overnight 498 for eight.

A Shaun Pollock bouncer flicked Bryan Young's raised gloves on its way to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher to get the New Zealand innings off to a bad start in the fifth over and the 34-year-old Elworthy, playing in place of the injured Allan Donald, then claimed two more wickets in the 12th over.

Roger Twose, who had made five, flapped a bouncer to fine leg from in front of his face and Matthew Horne missed a pull shot and was leg before for 27.

Elworthy took the next two wickets as well to finish with four for 58, breaking stands of 65 and 52 with fast, ripping off-cutters which accounted for Gary Stead, leg before for 33, and Nathan Astle, bowled after making a charmed 62 that included, amazingly, three dropped catches by two of the safest fielders in the South African team. Herschelle Gibbs spilled two good chances at cover and Jacques Kallis one off his own bowling.

Adams, the left-arm wrist spinner, confirmed that only rain can save the home side on the last day by removing the stubborn pair of Chris Harris, who was on 41, and Adam Parore for 19 in consecutive overs shortly before the close.

They were very good deliveries, too. The left-hander Harris left a ball that fizzed from the rough a foot outside off stump to hit leg and Parore was brilliantly caught at silly point by Jonty Rhodes.

Stephen Fleming, meanwhile, has been passed fit for the remaining three limited-overs internationals against the South Africans.

Fleming has been sidelined since the opening one-dayer against India at Taupo on Jan 9 when he suffered a groin injury. He had an operation and the recovery time has been longer than expected.

Ross Dykes, the New Zealand chairman of selectors, confirmed that Fleming is finally ready to return.

``The selectors have been advised by the New Zealand Cricket medical panel that Stephen is now 100 per cent fit and available for selection for the remaining one-day internationals,'' Dykes said yesterday.

Fleming has been missing from New Zealand's last seven one-day matches and all three Tests against the South Africans.

He will return as captain in place of the all-rounder Dion Nash, who has been in charge of the team in his absence.

Day 5: Woolmer ends Test reign on high note

By Neil Manthorp in Wellington

BOB WOOLMER ended his five-year reign as coach of South Africa's Test team on a winning note as his side crushed New Zealand by eight wickets in the third Test yesterday.

Woolmer, who took over after a player rebellion against Mike Procter in 1994, has turned the Proteas into one of the top two Test teams in world cricket, along with Australia. South Africa's one-day team have also flourished under Woolmer, who will bow out after the World Cup this summer.

New Zealand went down kicking yesterday, not only forcing South Africa to bat a second time but claiming two wickets after setting a victory target of 16.

Resuming at 217 for seven and needing another 59 to avoid an innings defeat, Simon Doull hit an unbeaten 38 from 33 balls and Dion Nash made 27 in the home side's total of 291.

Gary Kirsten's 12 not out in South Africa's second innings took him past Bruce Mitchell (3,471) as the leading run-scorer for South Africa with an aggregate of 3,476 while Daryll Cullinan nervously protected his record-breaking series average of 427 with four dot balls before Kirsten hit the winning runs.

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