Already virtually down and out in the series, West Indies adopted desperate measures for a desperate situation in the Third Test at Kingsmead here yesterday. They made little difference to their troubles.
They made five changes to the eleven humbled in the Second Test that left them 2-0 behind with three to play, among them Daren Ganga, the untried 19-year-old batsman with less than a dozen first-class matches to his name.
They completely changed their openers, using the once-more-fit Philo Wallace and reserve wicketkeeper Junior Murray as their ninth different pair since 1996-97 in Australia, 23 Tests ago. As he said he would, the struggling captain Brian Lara demoted himself one place from his usual No.3 position.
They also abandoned their traditional policy of a quartet of fast bowlers to include leg-spinner Rawl Lewis in their attack on the evidence of a pitch already revealing cracks and tried Franklyn Rose as the support fast bowler to Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh instead of Nixon McLean and Merv Dillon.
It was a clear indication of their confused frame of mind. The only wonder was that manager Clive Lloyd and coach Malcolm Marshall weren't coaxed into comebacks.
The upshot was an all-out total of 198, a marginal improvement on their paltry 121 and 141 in Port Elizabeth but, even though they were sent in, another highly unsatisfactory return on the best batting pitch in the series so far.
The floodlights, switched on 20 minutes after tea to allow play to continue on a dank, overcast day, were of no help for, by then, five wickets were already down for 165 and, as usual, the last five fell in a heap for 20.
Their woes were compounded as the South African opener Gary Kirsten, on four, benefitted from the first catch they have dropped all series, put down, two-handed to his right, by Ganga in the unaccustomed position of gully off Courtney Walsh. He and Herschelle Gibbs used the last 16 overs to put together 46.
In contrast to the West Indian alterations, the confident South Africans kept their winning eleven from the first two Tests and revealed the depth of their resources through the spread of their wickettakers.
Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock, who shared 27 of the 40 wickets in the first two Tests, managed only one between them yesterday, leaving the support cast, all-rounders Jacques Kallis and captain Hansie Cronje, with three each, and David Terbrugge, with two, to further embarrass their inept opponents.
Ironically, some of the West Indian changes paid minor, but welcome, dividends.
Wallace, recovered from the glandular fever that kept him out of the Second Test, and Murray, pressed into service as the eighth opener since Australia, batted without many alarms through the first hour and 20 minutes in adding 50, the best opening partnership of the series on either side.
When the bustling Kallis, with nippy away swingers, and the tall Terbrugge combined to remove them and the left-handed Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the promoted No.3, in the space of three overs and seven runs, Lara was more recognisable as Lara than he has been previously in the series. His authoritative 51 included a six and eight fours, five off Donald in an intriguing confrontation, but it was a hundred or so short of what was required.
When he was out, the right-handed Ganga batted with more aplomb than anyone for 28 spread over two hours until he played on to Pollock 35 minutes after tea. It was a doubly unfortunate dismissal. First, the ball was diverted into the base of the off-stump off his boot; secondly and more especially, Umpire Russell Tiffin missed the obvious no--ball, clearly revealed by the TV replay.
He and the left-handed wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs, who was last out for 39, added 45 before the fragile tail was exposed. It is the first series for both and if a few more cricketers can be found in the Caribbean with their temperament and heart for the fight, we will not have to put up much longer with the spineless nonsense that has so repeatedly shamed West Indies cricket in recent times.
Inevitably, there were several of the same reckless dismissals that have been a feature of the batting throughout the tour.
No one was more culpable than Carl Hooper, the vice-captain in his 76th Test and, in his 11th year, the second longest-serving Test player on the field.
After he doggedly sought to restore the balance after the early setbacks in a stand of 48 with Lara either side of lunch, he went after Kallis's third ball of a second spell that was so wide it was barely within Durban city limits. He just managed to get his bat on it to give Daryl Cullinan at first slip a sharp catch above his head.
It was a shocking example for Ganga, with whom he crossed paths on his way into what should have been a depressed dressing room. For the next two and three-quarter hours, the teenaged debutant, and then Jacobs, provided an object lesson in application and discipline which his senior colleagues would be advised to copy.
Only Ganga's judgement of a single could be seriously faulted. He would have been clearly run out when on 12 and attempting an unnecessary single into the covers had Jonty Rhodes not missed the stumps at the bowler's end.
Of the other main batsmen, Wallace and Chanderpaul were also victims of careless, expansive drives to balls wide of off-stump off Kallis that were edged behind, while Lara fell to a stroke that cleared the midwicket boundary once but always threatened to bring his downfall, a pull off Terbrugge that spooned to mid-on from the topedge. Twice earlier off Donald, he had miscued the stroke, seeing the second time just lob over the head of the bowler on his follow-through.
Until Ganga, only Murray was dismissed without attempting to belt the cover off the ball. The pinch-hitting opener fulfilled his new role confidently until, moving across his crease, he was lbw to Terbrugge. Once Ganga was out, the tailenders were exposed and they once more demonstrated their inabilty to cope with half-decent swing bowling. Lewis and Rose drove at Cronje's gentle away swerve with feet planted, the former edging to first slip, the latter picking out short extra-cover. Ambrose gave Rhodes an open invitation to demonstrate his throwing accuracy and was out by metres when the world's best fielder duly obliged.
Left only with Walsh, the frustrated Jacobs diverted Cronje back onto his stumps, having planted sixes over mid-wicket off the off-spinner Pat Symcox and Cronje in his 39 off 71 balls. It had been the same, sad, old story again-and it is unlikely to get any better.
Day 2: Rose rises to challenge
Franklyn Rose, who was fast becoming one of the many forgotten men of West Indies cricket, all but single-handedly maintained a tenuous hold on the Second Test for his desperate team here yesterday.
In his first Test of a tour almost brought to a premature end by a painful heel injury, the 26-year-old Jamaican prevented South Africa from fully capitalising on the dismal first day failure of the West Indies's batting.
His fast, accurate, full length outswing bowling under overcast skies earned him six thoroughly deserved wickets and his rocket return from third man effected a critical run-out.
He set South Africa back with the first three wickets in an exemplary spell of 11 consecutive overs at the start of the day and, when the ebullient Jonty Rhodes was directing them towards a match-winning advantage, he repeatedly intervened to check the advance with his work in the field and, later, with three more, equally telling wickets with the second new ball.
After his auspicious arrival on the Test cricket scene against India in 1997, Rose has gradually slipped down the list of support bowlers for Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, superseded by Nixon McLean, Merv Dillon and Ian Bishop.
Given his chance again-it was only his second Test in the last eight-he quickly vindicated the opinion of the tour selectors that the conditions at Kingsmead would be ideal for his swerve through the air. Throughout his 25.2 overs, he maintained just the right combination of length, line and pace to accommodate his away movement on a pitch of generous, but true, bounce.
Ironically, the first time they have received worthwhile support in the series, the venerable Ambrose and Walsh fell below the high standards that have become second nature to them while Rawl Lewis's leg-spin was expensive and ineffective.
In the circumstances, Rose, on his own, filled the breach admirably.
Only Rhodes defied him for any time. Half-an-hour after lunch with the innings at the crossroads at 140 for four answering the inadequate West Indian total of 198, he entered to the predictable rapturous reception from a hometown crowd of over 14,000. When the premature end came owing to fading light, he was still unbeaten with a chanceless and enterprising 85 off 123 balls.
Typically all action from the beginning, he dominated successive partnerships of 42 for the fifth wicket with Daryll Cullinan and 80 for the sixth with Shaun Pollock that guaranteed South Africa a healthy lead.
At 293 for eight, it was worth 95, with two wickets still intact, when umpires David Orchard and Russell Tiffin halted play 12.4 overs ahead of schedule. It was an incongruous decision under floodlights that were in use since 25 minutes after lunch for the second successive gray, sunless day.
With his side already on the ropes when South Africa resumed at 46 without loss, Brian Lara entrusted the ball to Rose, in partnership with Walsh, from the beginning. It was an appreciated show of confidence in his back-up bowlers to which the captain has not often been inclined and Rose responded by disposing of openers Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten and, for good measure, Jacques Kallis without sending down an identifiable bad ball.
Gibbs failed to keep down an on-drive in Rose's second over of the morning and Philo Wallace went low to his left to hang on to a good, two-handed catch. Three-quarters of an hour later, the left-handed Kirsten's forcing backfoot stroke found its way into Carl Hooper's adhesive hands at second slip and, quarter of an hour after that, Kallis was induced to drive at an outswinger wide of off-stump and Ridley Jacobs pouched the resulting edge.
For an hour and a half on either side of lunch, Daryll Cullinan and captain Hansie Cronje diligently rebuilt South Africa's position in a partnership of 60. Both were quick to pounce on the loose balls, most of which came from Lewis, and Cronje was looking dangerously solid when Walsh brought one back between bat and pad to hit middle-stump.
This brought in Rhodes who conducted the remainder of the day on South Africa's behalf much as Rose did for the West Indies.
Whenever the situation seemed to be slipping completely out of their grasp, Rose intervened. His whistling, low return to wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs from third man ran out the dangerous Cullinan by a couple of inches as he attempted a second run and, with Rhodes and Pollock entrenched, he returned to strike three times with the second new ball, taken after 81 overs at 236 for five following a flurry of 34 runs from seven overs of spin from Lewis and Hooper.
Hooper's breathtaking, tumbling catch at second slip, clasped in an elastic right hand, accounted for the upright, straight-batted Pollock after he had spent an untroubled hour and a half over his 30.
Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher had no answer-and few would have-to an unstoppable late outswinger three balls later and Pat Symcox, after a couple of hearty blows, was bowled off his pads from another full-length outswinger that dislodged the bail just as umpire Orchard was raising his finger for lbw.
For almost three hours, Rhodes held the fort for South Africa. On replacing Cronje at a delicate stage, he immediately counter-attacked. Quick of eye and nimble on his feet, he had two sixes and eight fours in all directions against his name at the end.
He was especially harsh on the off-colour Ambrose. Twice he pulled him full onto the grass banks at square-leg, taking 16 off one over, and gained another four from one of two embarrassing Ambrose misfields that allowed boundaries.
Lacking his usual rhythm, Ambrose sent down 10 no-balls and went wicketless for 14 overs on the day. Walsh plugged away with his usual persistence for 27 overs but was seldom threatening while only one of Lewis's 120 balls, a leg-break to Cullinan, beat the bat.
Fortunately, Rose took up the slack.
Day 3: Windies facing defeat
For just over three uplifting hours on the third day of the third Test yesterday, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brian Lara presented South Africa with their first genuine batting resistance of the series and gave West Indian spirits an overdue fillip.
Between them, the two left-handers stroked 23 boundaries in their contrasting styles, sharing a glittering partnership of 160. By tea, they had erased a first innings deficit of 114 and earned the West Indies a lead of 79 with eight wickets in tact.
It was time to relish the restoration of West Indian panache and fight. After the crushing defeats in the first two Tests, there could even be happy thoughts of a spirited comeback. The smiles of the 20 or so supporters in the stands, who have journeyed from the Caribbean to witness just such a phenomenon, said as much.
Within 40 minutes, the illusion was dramatically shattered by the tenacious South Africans as the innings went into a collapse spectacular even by recent West Indian standards.
In spite of the free-scoring assault by Chanderpaul and his captain, the South Africans never lost their focus. Their shoulders never drooped, their bowling seldom wavered, their fielding remained sharp and athletic.
Aware by recent experience that a West Indian capitulation is seldom far away, they regrouped during the tea interval, and, inspired by two breathtaking catches by the flying Hershcelle Gibbs, the first to remove Lara, along with another of dubious authenticity by wicket-keeper Mark Boucher, it took them 40 minutes to regain the advantage and virtually settle the outcome of the match and the series.
The West Indies' hope of 201 for three, with the two left-handers entrenched, was transformed into the despair of 214 for seven in the space of eight overs.
When umpires Dave Orchard and Russell Tiffin deemed even the artificial light from the ground's pylons, switched on for the first successive day, too poor to continue, the position had only marginally improved to 246 for eight.
South Africa, a mere 132 in arrears, needed only to get rid of the two last wickets on the fourth morning to set out after a straightforward target that would confirm their superiority, their team spirit and their commitment and enhance their aim of an ironically appropriate whitewash.
The dismissal of Lara quarter-hour after tea set off the latest debacle. In gathering 79 off 139 balls, he had refused numerous temptations to repeat the pull shot that caused his downfall in his previous two innings. His 15 boundaries were mainly through point and cover with the full, thrilling swing of the bat.
Kept scoreless for 24 balls by the accurate medium-pace of David Terbrugge on either side of tea, he allowed himself the liberty of a pull to the first shortish ball that came along. He hit it fiercely but neither kept it down nor far enough away from square-leg where it was intercepted two-handed and wide to his left by the horizontal Gibbs to the gasps, and then cheers, of his energised teammates and a crowd of 12,000.
Chanderpaul followed five balls later for 75 spread over four hours and 169 balls with 13 fours that also favoured the off-side through cuts and drives. His final shot presented a return catch to Shaun Pollock at the same score, and the collapse was truly in train.
It was helped along by Boucher's controversial catch off Carl Hooper's inside-edge and Gibbs' second spectacular left-handed take, running with his back to the play from square-leg to gather in Daren Ganga's ill-advised and miscued hook, both off Pollock.
Hooper walked off once the tumbling Boucher came up with the ball, apparently accepting the keeper's claim that he ha s gathered it in and hugged it to his body without it touching ground.
If Hooper had waited for standing umpire Dave Orchard to consult the magnified TV replay, he would have remained as it showed the ball brushing the ground before entering the keeper's gloves. Whatever else, it brought Boucher's integrity into question.
West Indies manager Clive Lloyd did not dwell on the incident later and whatever sourness it may have engendered was counterbalanced when captain Hansie Cronje withdrew a run out appeal after Franklyn Rose collided with bowler Jacques Kallis on follow through.
Rose came in after Rawl Lewis fell for his second duck nibbling at an outswinger. He hit some hefty blows in reaching 17 when, taking off for a single from the non-striker's end, the bowler crossed his path. The two went sprawling and Rose was stumbling to his feet when Boucher broke the stumps 15 yards away.
Rose did not make the most of the gesture, hoisting Pollock into Gibbs' safe hands at midon five balls before the umpires called play. South Africa extended their first innings lead to 114 in the morning and quickly took care of the two openers before they were delayed by the artistry of Chanderpaul and Lara.
Jonty Rhodes, within 15 of his third Test hundred at the start, advanced by only two before he popped a return catch to Courtney Walsh off the leading edge and, after the last pair added an annoying 17, Rose flattened the off-stump for the second time in the innings.
Rose's final, deserving figures of seven for 84 elevated him into the company of the great West Indian fast bowlers who have taken as many in a Test innings - Wes Hall, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.
Soon, he would have been wondering if his work was in vain.
Wallace, his main run-scoring area blocked by the installation of a third man from the first ball, attempted to cut an uncuttable ball from Allan Donald and was predictably caught behind in the sixth over.
By then, Junior Murray had been reprieved by Pollock's no-ball that he edged to first slip when one. He proceeded to his first innings score, 29, at which point he pulled at the first ball he received from Kallis and lobbed it to square-leg.
Lara joined Chanderpaul when the fury of a hostile opening blast from Donald and Pollock was over and Chanderpaul had settled after an anxious beginning.
By lunch, taken at 91 for two, both has asserted themselves with a succession of off-side boundaries and they upped the tempo with seven more in the first half-hour after resumption.
They took advantage of some loose off-spin from Pat Symcox who could not properly exploit the rough outside their off-stumps and were travelling along at run-a-minute when Terbrugge returned with his controlled medium-pace in the last half-hour before tea to hold Lara scoreless for 25 balls.
At tea, the partnership was worth 152, the closest South Africa had come to a wicket was when Symcox' big off-break left Chanderpaul down the pitch but turned and bounced over Boucher to first slip and the session had yielded 102 off 29 overs. Recent experience and the proven resilience of the South Africans were warnings that the danger was far from past. It did not take long to materialise again.
Day 4: Windies face clean sweep
Once again superior in every department of the game, as much off the field as on, South Africa completed their third successive victory over the disspirited West Indies by nine wickets midway through the fourth day of the third Test yesterday, securing the series with two matches remaining.
The difference between the teams in all-round depth and more especially in attitude was as evident as it was in the first two Tests and is such that the West Indies are in danger of the clean sweeps that were their own speciality at the height of their powers in the 1980s under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd, now their bemused manager.
South African captain Hansie Cronje warned afterwards there would be ``no compromises'' over the remaining Tests.
``We're getting stronger and stronger all the time but we won't be satisfied until we reach the pinnacle of Test cricket,'' he added. West Indian woes were compounded on the day by the sombre sight of their oldest and most faithful campaigner, Courtney Walsh, stretchered to the dressing room, writhing in pain.
He strained his right hamstring muscle in an outfield chase to third man as South Africa comfortably gathered the 146 runs they needed for the solitary loss of opener Herschelle Gibbs, lbw on the backfoot to Carl Hooper with only 49 required.
Team physiotherapist Denis Waight reported last night the injury was less serious than it first appeared but it is likely to put the 36-year-old Walsh out of the fourth Test starting in Cape Town on Saturday.
His experience of 105 Tests, his quality fast bowling that has earned him 16 wickets in the series and a West Indies record 391 wickets all told and his proven commitment to the cause would be sorely missed by a team desperately in need of inspiration.
There is also some doubt about Walsh's perennial partner, Curtly Ambrose, who failed to take a wicket in the match. He has been carrying a dodgy knee for some time, not a complaint to be disregarded for long by a 35-year-old fast bowler in a struggling side.
Ahead by an insignificant 132 with only Ambrose and Walsh as remaining company for the resolute Ridley Jacobs, the West Indies could not even find the motivation from England's remarkable fightback against Australia in Melbourne, the progress of which was relayed through the ground's public address to delighted cheers from a crowd of just over 9,000.
Ambrose heaved a catch to deep midon off his fifth ball, providing Shaun Pollock with his fifth wicket of the innings, Walsh missed one from Donald that would have tested the best No.3, far less than worst No.11 in Test cricket and South Africa were setting out for their straightforward target within 35 minutes.
The West Indies, mainly through Ambrose and Walsh, have retrieved such hopeless situations several times in the past but the fight has long since gone out of this team.
They trooped onto the field with the unmistakeable air of individuals who knew their fate was long since sealed and went through the motions.
Ambrose's motions on the way out were mainly from the waist to the beat of a local steelband under the scoreboard.
The West Indies' plight was typified in the over before lunch when Gibbs' topedged stroke off leg-spinner Rawl Lewis lobbed gently towards midwicket where Jacobs, one of the few successes so far, ran from behind the stumps in front of the waiting Daren Ganga and dropped an embarrassing dolly, his first miss of the series.
It was Lewis' second denial within a few minutes. The first had been umpire Russell Tiffin's refusal of a palpabale lbw decision against Kirsten, padding out a leg-break that must have hit between middle and leg stumps. Like the team as a whole, it has been a frustrating time for him.