It's old or nothing

Lancashire Evening Telegraph

1 July 1998

IF South Africa press home their superiority in the third Cornhill Test starting at Old Trafford tomorrow, it could well be curtains for England's hopes of salvaging the series.

That's the verdict of Western Province batsman Ryan Maron, who is Blackburn Northern's professional in the Vaux Ribblesdale League.

Maron knows what makes his fellow South Africans tick and he also has some intriguing views on why England continue to struggle at Test level.

A shortage of genuine strike bowlers, selection mistakes and a fiercely-critical Press are among the problems.

And, if it is 2-0 after Old Trafford, then he believes it could represent game, set and match - even with three Tests still to come.

South Africa's strengths are obvious - outstanding pace bowlers with Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock second and third in this year's wicket-taking list, a well-balanced side and a terrific, competitive attitude running right through.

Yet they are still virtual newcomers to the Test scene.

They look well ahead of England but Ryan said: ``You wouldn't have thought that would be the case, they haven't been in international cricket for very long.

``But it's a good, settled, well-balanced side with a lot of players like Brian McMillan who can't even get in at the moment.

``I think our guys are just doing the basics correctly, that's one of the main differences between the teams.

``The top order didn't do too well at Lord's but the other guys knew just what they had to do and did it.

``People like Jonty Rhodes have got so much heart. ``I predicted South Africa would win the one-day internationals 2-1 and the Tests 3-0.

``If they go 2-0 up it could well be the series. I don't think England would come back from that. Dominic Cork is a great bowler but I don't think you have enough strike bowlers and, even though Darren Gough was injured, England make the mistake of chopping and changing too much.

``It can be very disruptive.

``Some parts of the media also put on more pressure. It doesn't help.''

Not surprisingly, Lancashire's Michael Atherton enjoys the best Test record at Old Trafford of the current crop of players.

Worryingly, key man Alec Stewart has a highest Old Trafford Test score of only 30 and has made just over 100 runs from six innings at the ground. It is the 50th Test between the countries in England and the eighth in Manchester, where England's record isn't bad with three wins and three draws.

Ticket sales have topped the 1 million mark. But there are still seats available for tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, plus a few remaining for Friday.

To book tickets phone 0161-282-4040 or cash sales will be accepted at the ground on all days.

Alcohol will be on sale inside Old Trafford but spectators will not be allowed to take in their own drink supplies, except for the membership enclosures. Anyone in dress deemed to be offensive, or in full body suits or headgear which causes restricted views, also risks being refused admission.

Ryan Maron is running cricket schools for youngsters of all ages at Blackburn Northern during the holiday period. The first starts on July 21 and the clinics last for four days (Tues-Fri). They will include work on various skills, videos, analysis of the Tests, six-a-side competitions, trophies and ECB certificates.

Cost is 30 for the four days and further details can be obtained from Ryan on 01254-699060.

Source: The Lancashire Evening Telegraph

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 01 Jul1998 - 18:16