Northerns top log

Trevor Chesterfield
25 October 1998

CENTURION - Cool hand Luke, better known as Rudi Steyn, put together an impressive half-century which steered Northerns to the top of the limited-overs series log yesterday.

Although the man of the match award went to Greg Smith for a four-wicket haul, it was Steyn's undefeated 66 which enabled the Titans to grab their second victory within 48 hours when they crush Eastern Province by five wickets.

Not only were they able to retain their unbeaten record in this season's Standard Bank League, yesterday's victory the success following Friday night's success over Easterns at Willowmoore Park in Benoni where the combined talents of Dirkie de Vos and Gerald Dros saw the Sky Blues home by 47 runs.

De Vos, in a remarkable display of bowling, took only the seventh hat-trick in South African domestic day-night games and the first by a Northerns bowler.

Northerns are now unbeaten in this season's limited-overs series and yesterday's win at SuperSport Centurion, with 8.4 overs of the innings remaining, was the 30th out of 34 games since the start of the 1996/97 season when they won the league trophy.

Yet it was a victory which must have had coach Peter Kirsten worried as the ball flew and skidded around. At 26 for three in the 10th over, the victory target of 155 must have seemed a long stretch down a road pitted with uncertainty. It was far from your typical Centurion limited-overs surface normally packed with runs and where bowlers sweat and toil for scant reward.

An early indication how the pitch was more difficult than normal for the batsmen was the way Greg Smith, who won an accolade in Benoni against Easterns with what was a superb display of left-arm bowling, helped rip through the revamped Eastern Province line up. At 55 or six, the Jumbo innings was on a respiratory system and only resolute batting from Dave Callaghan and Shafiek Abrahams, who added 58 to push the total toward a more respectable total.

Smith (the bowler) who ended with four for 25, gave away only one boundary in another display of aggressive, controlled bowling which might fined the national selectors taking a more serious view of his performances.

Brought in as a replacement for Steve Elworthy, Smith has shown no sign in the last two games of any problems from the injury which kept him out of the South Africa A side which toured Sri Lanka in July and August.

Yet, as Callaghan and Abrahams showed in the Eastern Province innings, all it needed was a sensible display of batting and sound technique to put together a match-winning innings. It was always going to be a challenge against quality bowling of Meyrick Pringle and Eldine Baptiste.

Perhaps watchful is the better word for Steyn's performance as he eliminated any risky shots. And the 57 runs he added with De Vos for the fifth wicket was equally crucial to Northerns cause.When Dennis Smith arrived and started knocking Pringle about, it was a matter of time before Northerns wrapped it up.

Smith (the wicketkeeper) was aggressive as he was audacious, with a far happier performance behind the stumps.

Source: CricInfo