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South Africa v West Indies, 5th Test

Reports from the Electronic Telegraph
15-18 January 1999

Day 1: Kallis and Boucher to the rescue of S Africa

By Geoffrey Dean in Centurion

JACQUES KALLIS continues to score heavily in the most accomplished manner. A crucial 83 in 273 minutes yesterday took him past 450 runs for the series, but more importantly rescued South Africa from 123 for six, enhancing his side's prospects of an historic whitewash over West Indies.

Mark Boucher's maiden Test hundred, from 182 balls, was no less significant, if less technically impressive. His seventh-wicket partnership of 92 with Kallis was followed by another of 55 with Lance Klusener.

Kallis's innings was almost without fault. Moving his back foot behind the ball on a bouncy surface, he played his strokes close to his body. But for him, Brian Lara's decision to field first would have been vindicated.

West Indies' four fast bowlers could find no way through Kallis, and it was only when Carl Hooper tied him down with an excellent containing spell from around the wicket with a 6-3 legside field that he made his first unforced error, miscuing a pull to square leg.

Kallis had come to the wicket after only two balls when Gary Kirsten, like Hansie Cronje later on, was strangled down the legside. Soon Hershelle Gibbs, flirting loosely outside off stump, was gone to a notable catch at third slip; and when Daryll Cullinan was taken at short leg, South Africa were 18 for three.

While Kallis provided the calming influence the innings needed, Cronje and then Jonty Rhodes took on the bowling. Too much of it was short or poorly-directed, with the exception of Courtney Walsh, whose five wickets were fully deserved.

Given that Ambrose broke down 10 days ago, management must take some of the blame for failing to fly the debutant Reon King in until the day before the match. It was hardly surprising that he looked stiff-legged and listless, nor that Lara gave him only 11 overs. Nixon McLean and Mervyn Dillon also bowled too many bad balls.

Boucher profited from several moments of good fortune, notably on 94 when he top-edged Walsh over the slips, but some of his driving was first-rate. He also cut particularly well, scoring the bulk of his runs on the offside, in contrast to Kallis whose on-drives could not have been bettered nor could his flat pulled six of McLean. Boucher, however, outdid him 16-8 on the boundary count.

Day 2: West Indies humbled again

By Geoffrey Dean at Centurion

A BANNER in the crowd at Centurion Park touched uncomfortably close to the truth. ``West Indies - Stop Playing the Fool. Try Cricket'' it read. The reality is that Brian Lara's side have performed in only one Test in this series, the first, which they lost narrowly. A humiliating 5-0 whitewash now looks certain after yet more dismal batting in the fifth Test.

However well South Africa bowled - and they did - it was inexcusable for West Indies to lose their last eight wickets in 17 overs for 42. At 102 for two, they were back in the game thanks to a brilliant assault by Lara, who charged to 50 in just 38 balls. But once he had gone, the rest folded pitifully.

Lara's duel with Allan Donald was compelling. Yet again, Lara had found himself at the crease with the ball only a few overs old. All depended on him, and his response was magnificent. For this was no reckless counter-attack. It was calculated shot selection and execution of the highest class.

After announcing himself with two sumptuously-timed boundaries off Shaun Pollock, Lara got down Donald's end. Of the next 12 balls Donald bowled to him, Lara hit six for four, all off the back foot. The pair exchanged frank words more than once, but Lara had won the first round.

The second began some 90 minutes later - after lunch - and a refreshed Donald continued to generate withering pace on a pitch offering bounce. Coming around the wicket, Donald got one to rear spitefully from short of a length. Lara tried to take evasive action, but fended to gully. Donald celebrated threatrically, having dismissed Lara for the sixth time in the eight innings he has bowled to him in this series.

Now followed a procession as Carl Hooper, whose confidence seems to have deserted him, was bowled off an inside edge. Shivnarine Chanderpaul's first indiscreet shot in his 170-minute stay proved to be his last when he top-edged a pull to long leg. Donald blasted through the feeble tail to complete his 17th five-wicket haul in a Test innings.

West Indies looked a beaten side in the field in the final session. Herschelle Gibbs, playing some expansive shots, at last got to 50 - at the eighth attempt in this series - while Gary Kirsten, making his 50th consecutive Test appearance, gave the visitors a tutorial in application.

Day 3: Rhodes sets up clean sweep

By Geoffrey Dean in Centurion

AFTER a weekend of unmitigated woe for Brian Lara's side, the West Indies face what was unthinkable at the start of the series but is now inevitable - a 5-0 whitewash. Two days of this final Test remain, and the likelihood is that only one more will be needed.

South Africa have once more played some compelling cricket with the best of it coming from Jonty Rhodes whose 95-ball hundred was the fastest by a South African in a Test match.

Rhodes would acknowledge that this, his first Test century on home soil, was his least demanding. Without Courtney Walsh, who again pulled his hamstring on Saturday, West Indies did not possess either the experience or the skill to restrain South Africa, for whom Gary Kirsten ground out a valuable 134 in his 50th Test appearance.

Day 4: W Indies decline confirmed by Test whitewash

By Geoffrey Dean in Centurion

ONLY the seventh 5-0 whitewash in Test cricket was achieved in front of 5,500 jubilant spectators at Centurion Park yesterday. For the West Indies, who had never experienced such a humiliation, this will long be remembered as the nadir in their proud history. For South Africa, it was not perhaps their zenith but the first time they had administered a 5-0 drubbing.

It was almost a sad spectacle to witness and especially for the 20 or so West Indian supporters, who will carry back painful memories to the Caribbean. A once omnipotent cricketing nation had lost their eighth successive Test match away from home, one of the worst runs in 122 years of Test cricket. The rise and fall of West Indies cricket was complete.

Throughout this most unexpectedly one-sided series, West Indies were overpowered by opponents who were more aggressive, committed, united and confident. Above all, South Africa were better prepared, carrying out exhaustive planning at a special camp in Bloemfontein while Brian Lara and company were bickering over pay at Heathrow. South Africa bowled and fielded extraordinarily well, showing West Indies not the slightest respect, let alone deference.

The end came relatively quickly - 13 minutes after tea. After the customary lack of resistance by the top order and equally customary defiance by Ridley Jacobs, who became his side's top run-scorer in the series (317), last man Courtney Walsh heaved at Paul Adams, missed and was bowled. Not once in the series had West Indies reached 300, the main reason for their capitulation.

Lara, who has often shown glimpses of his brilliance in this series without ever making a big score, has now gone 13 Tests without a hundred. Yesterday, he tried desperately hard to apply himself, taking 35 minutes to get off the mark. But having crept to 14 in 71 balls, he missed an attempted sweep off Adams and was plumb lbw on the back leg.

Jacobs, whose 78 from 91 balls was a Test best, has emerged as the only real West Indian plus of the tour. He became Jacques Kallis's 17th victim of the series, which together with his 485 runs at an average of 69, earnt him the man-of-the-series award. South Africa and Glamorgan have an outstanding all-rounder to cherish.

Lara was generous in his praise of South Africa. ``We were beaten by a better side in all departments. They are better cricketers and have played as a unit. I'd love to see us copy them. This was my first tour overseas as captain, and I've learnt a lot from Hansie's leadership. We must ensure that this never happens again.''

Lara admitted his side needed to be more of a unit. ``I've got the support of the players here, but we're not together as a team. The unity needs to be better. You've got to remember that we're from different islands and backgrounds. I accept that we played well below our best but West Indies' cricket has been in decline for some years. This is the end result of it. A lot of heads have got to come together as to how we improve. But our problems are really deep-rooted.''

Cronje confessed he was extremely proud after the disappointment of losing to England. ``We had a tough chat with the board before Bangladesh and they said we were a better side than the results of the last two to three years. We proved that in this series,'' he said.

The South African selectors yesterday named 18-year-old black fast bowler Victor Mpitsang in their squad for a seven-match limited-overs series against the West Indies.

Makhaya Ntini, who has been charged with rape, was not included in the 17-man squad but Peter Pollock, convenor of selectors, said his exclusion was on the grounds of poor form and not because of his pending criminal trial.

S AFRICAN SQUAD.- H Cronje (capt), S Pollock (vice-captain), G Kirsten, M Rindel, D Cullinan, J Kallis, J Rhodes, H Gibbs, M Boucher, L Klusener, P Symcox, S Elworthy, N Boje, D Benkenstein, A Hall, V Mpitsang, H Williams.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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