2nd Test: South Africa v England at Lord's

Reports from Trevor Chesterfield

18-22 June 1998

Day 1

There was a heavy feeling of nostalgia and tribute at Lord's yestereday as the stirring spirit of Jackie McGlew lifted South Africa's miserable first day's play.

Wearing black arm bands to honour the memory of the former Test captain and their mentor who was buried on Wednesday, Jonty Rhodes and Hansie Cronje successfully negotiated two tricky periods of light rain and bad light to lift the toursist to 135 for four at the close.

Their unbroken partnership of 89 before play was called off with only 34 of the possible 90 overs bowled brought back memories of South Africa's test at headquarters in 1960 when bad light also wrecked their first day.

But yesterday the gutsy Rhodes, missed at third slip by Mike Atherton off Dean Headley shortly after tea with the score at 59 for four, was the pin point of light South Africa needed on a gloomy day of fractured play. It was also the lucky break the touristss needed to give them some chance of survival.

Rhodes had 47 and Cronje, on an uncertain 38, had equalled his highest test score in England.

There was further drama a few runs and an even more daming twist of fate as Atherton picked up a slip catch off a no ball from Headley. Lord's was not smiling on England on this rain-shortened day.

Dominic Cork, swinging the ball around as if attached to an extended rubber band, had four for 38 and looking for a fifth wicket as he put South Africa's batsmen under pressure. Bowling down the famous Lord's slope, he performed a few interesting tricks to pick up the four wickets to fall.

With plenty of cloud cover, the was no qestion when he won the toss that England's captain, Alec Stewart, would ask South Africa to bat first. With Angus Fraser galloping in from the pavilion end and Cork doing his bit from the Nursery End (rpt cap N) it was not going to be an easy day for South Africa's batsmen.

It was late afternoon when the heavy grey blanket finally allowed a few chinks of blue to actually peep through, not that it mattered. After three days of heavy cloud cover, the term Land of the Long White Cloud took on a new hue and major shift in geography as well.

And the way Cork was swinging the ball it did not matter what hemisphere we are in it was his dynamic use of the slope which unravelled South Africa's top-order. Bowling from the Nursery(rpt cap N)end the Debyshire all-rounder ducked the ball around the way Fanie de Villiers did four years ago.

The weather was much kinder then: no cloud cover and steaming heat in keeping with Durban in January, not high summer in the arctic.

First we had Gary Kirsten bailing out of a hook and edging the ball into his stumps with four next to his name. Only 14 balls later Jacques Kallis opened himself up to one which nipped thrrough to knock back his off stump, and without a run to his name. And the lad who knew so much about Lord's, with his seasson at Middlesex, left with aa questionmark hovering over the No3 position

Although Adam Bacher and Daryll Cullinan negotiated a period of uncertainty in damp conditions, the rain which interupted their partnership seemed to unsettle their concentration as well. Play had been going only 30 minutes after an early lunch when the gentle trickle was enough to disrupt play again with the score 21 for two.

Bacher went first when his attempt to drive on the up to the covers ended in edging the ball to Alec Stewart to give Cork his third wicket of the day. And when 13 balls later Cullinan gave the impression of someone who had lost his concentration or challenge for a fight.

He wafted outside the off, giving Stewart his second catch and at 46 for four, South Africa were repeating the bad habits of the tests against Australia and Pakistan.

Day 2

Two months ago Jonty Rhodes was happy to have made the side to tour England and anxious to make what he called a worthwhile ``contribution'' if given the chance.

Around mid-afternoon yesterday a packed Lord's, which for a change was bathed in mid-summer sunshine, gave him a standing ovation while his ``contribution'', his second test century was stencilled in gold on the honours board at headquarters.

His innings of 117 against England was the sort of five star performance which at times evoke memories that made epic battles such as Rorke's Drift synonmous with bravery and professional pride.

And South Africa, who eventually managed a first innings total of 360, owed much to the quicksilver Rhodes and his captain Hansie Cronje. Between them they wrote a new chapter in South Africa's test history with a fifth wicket partnership of 184 that had stood for 33 years.

At the close on the second day, England at 40 for three South Africa had wrested the inititive in a game which at one stage on Thursday found Cronje's tourists as gloomy as the dreary weather. With Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock sewing early seeds of destruction in the first 13 overs of their innings.

Yet it was Rhodes whose acts of bravery which created the drama and high theatre on a day which saw South Africa re-establish their batting credentials. Shaking off a crack on the helmet by Dean Headley when on 97 after surviving an confident lbw appeal from the England paceman, Rhodes eventually pulled Dominic Cork to reach the coveted three figures score which had eluded him so long.

In fact visions of The Oval incident of 1994 arose as he stood and shook his head, and there were thoughts he might be forced to retire. Although Headley was not as fast as Malcolm Devon was when he sent Rhodes to hospital for summers ago, Rhodes displayed maturity during his innings of 298 minutes.

And the England bowlers found they could not afford to bowl short to Rhodes. His approach sent the fieldsmen scurrying as the England attack, at one stage during the Rhodes-Cronje South African record fifth-wicket partnership, looked as shapeless and as pale as the new grandstand.

While Rhodes' footwork was decisive, allowing him to pick up a six and 14 fours, Cronje, so laboured on Thursday, finally began to blossom as the sun broke through for the first time in three weeks. There was more confidence about his driving and he seemed to adjust to the pace of the pitch.

First Rhodes and Cronje dismantled the South African fifth wicket record of 94 at Lord's, held by Jack Cheetham and Geoff Fullerton since 1951, and then the highest for any wicket by South Africa at Lord's tumbled when they passed the 139 mark. The Percy Sherwell-Maitland Hathorn second wicket record had stood 91 summers; set in 1907 when headquarters had a totally different shape to the one we now have.

The SA record they broke was 157 held by Tony Pithey and Johnny Waite in the seocnd Wanderers test of the 1957/58 series.

But statistics and records cannot do not give a true picture. And Cronje, having reached the 80s for the 11th time in the last 17 tests, paid the penalty for using his bottom hand too often. An expansive drive undid all the hard work as was picked up in the covers when in fact the ball should have rocketed square for four off Mark Ealham.

The day's drama was far from over, however as first Donald and then Shaun Pollock ripped out the England top order with Pollock getting rid of Mike Atherron (0)and Alec Stewart (15).

Day 3

South Africa's pacemen may have been modest about the carnage they created in the second test at Lord's on Saturday, but the long-term message is more impressive.

Although the start of Old Trafford test is still some 10 days away, the spectre of Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock is likely to rise again and haunt England's batsmen in the wake of their first innings batting debacle on a misty London morning at headquarters.

While such conditions aided and abetted the blond and the red head, a former England captain, Mike Brearley, went as far as to suggest they have become more danderous than the West Indies pairing of Curtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, who should be seen in South Africa later this year when the Caribbean lads make their first test tour of the country.

And these days, what with the strange affects of El Nino, tests at venues such as the Wanderers, Kingsmead and Cape Town seem to attract a fair share of overcast conditions helpful to the seam and swing bowlers and those of rocket-propelled pace. In fact, anything which contains lateral movement can be dangerous.

Yet the lasting memory of South Africa's pace bowling carnage at headquarters, with its midsummer nightmare for England's batsmen, has been the difference between the aggressiveness of the South African bowlers and the England quartet. Whatever Englang's supports may wish, neither Dean Headley nor Mark Ealham are test class bowlers. And there is no doubt the Poms certainly missed the fighting spirit engendered by Darren Gough.

Brearley later backtracked on his view that South Africa also need stronger support in the seam and swing department for the remaining three tests of this series and the five against the West Indies in the southern summer.

He initially suggested that while Lance Klusener and Jacques Kallis may provide fair support on the harder South African pitches, they had not, until last Sunday, found the sort of conditions to aid them.

Perhaps it was feeling the sun on their backs and being able to bang ball in on a surface, and where the ball zipped off the surface at pace, which gave them their extra lift at a sunbaked Lord's.

England's misery, however, is now heavily cloaked by the shroud of yet another defeat at headquarters. And certainly the South Africans have an edge as they go to Old Trafford 1-0 up with England losing the high ground they had after Edgbaston.

Chances are now that Gough will be recalled for Headley and Graham Hick brought in for Mark Ramprakash. More for Ramps appearing like a novice against Doanld et al than his bad mouthing of Darrel Hair. This last incident earned him a fine worth around R8 300: enough to make most splutter over their scrambled eggs and toast at breakfast.

For some in South Africa it is a month's wages and would suggest that Ramps might not want another brush with authority. especially as the match fee is a year's salary for some junior reporters.

There were also some fair grumbling (in private) in the England dressingroom over umpiring decisions which wrecked any chance of a recovery last Sunday, with Alec Stewart, the England captain, unhappy with Georg Sharpe, the England umpire who had such a poor first tests involving South Africa and India at Ahmedabad 19 months ago.

Day 4

Pigeons have a good nose for rubbish and those swirling around Lord's yesterday feasted well on the pickings after lunch as a disciplined South Africa thrashed a disorganised England.

As comprehensive as was the record margin of victory by 10 wickets so was the spirit of adventure shown by the tourists who went up 1-0 in the series with three games remaining.

It was mixture of swing bowling from Jacques Kallis and tight control from Lance Klusener which precipitated England's slide into yet another large cow pat as they batted without either conviction or determination. Just the sort of emabrrassment for a Sunday afternoon crowd which packed the ground.

Yet England were always up against it. Destroyed on Saturday by the venom and pace of Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock and dimissed for 110, they needed to bat with care, caution and attention if they hoped to take the game into the final day. Being bowled out for 264 in their second innings was more a tribute to Nasser Hussain's good fortune and South Africa's misfortune. Hussain scored his seventh test century and Alec Stewart reached hiss 1 000th test run at Lord's on his way to 56.

But South Africa were always lurking and waiting for the opportunity to turn the game around. Kallis returned a Test career best four for 14 in 19 overs (at one stage his third bowling spell read an impressive 6-5-2-3) and Klusener revelled in the conditions, England's middle-order capitulated. Sliding from 222 for four to 233 for nine is the sort of thing you would expect from Easterns, who are used to such calamities.

England's fightback had been valiant, if not a tad fortunate as Stewart and Hussain, who profited from a couple of dropped catches and a lbw decision ruled in his favour by Darrel Hair, showed a touch of true batting grit.

They had added 116 in more than three hours during a display of tight selective batting skills: the sort England desperately need if they are to claw back into the series.

And just when we assumed the game would drift into a fifth and final day the English proclivity for collapse again emerged with their known inability to handle presssure.

It was Kallis who made the breakthough mid-afternoon by getting rid of England skipper Stewart, driving and edging the outswing to Mark Boucher few expected such a miserable batting performance on a hot mid-summer's day. After that the innings subsided as five wickets tumbled for only 11 runs.

Klusener's invaluable contribution to South Africa's cause were the wickets of the disgraced Mark Ramprakash bowled for a duck after facing only four balls. He followed the left-hander Graham Thorpe back to the pavilion and the middle-order had been blased apart in a double salvo of aggressive seam up bowling.

As well and as fast as Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald bowled yessterday it was Kallis and Klusener who grabbed the attention with left-arm wrist spinner Paul Admas chipping away with the sort of bowling that is useful when it comes to keeping the run rate down.

It is interesting to note how Hair, who gave a rash of poor lbws against South Africa at Adelaide four years ago, turned down the sort of appeal which sent Peter Kirsten and Andrew Hudson back to the pavilion.

Ramprakash, was not so fortunate. He was adjuged to have edged Donald to Boucher when in 12 in the first innings and was seen giving Hair a mouthful of advice. Like Peter Kirtsen, Ramprakash earned a 25% match-fee fine but had a one match suspecsion slapped on him. The match suspension has been suspended for six months.

Yet it in the end yesterday it came down to a matter patience as South Africa's bowlers, after plugging away for just one wicket before lunch were forced to work that little harder for their wickets. After that they were well coshed by a rampant South African side eager for a victory before heading for Cambridge and a three-day game against British Universities.

Postscript: Adam Bacher's right shoulder injury could see him rested between now and the start of the third test at Old Trafford say team management officials at Lord's last night.

Bacher bruised his right shoulder when diving to stop a boundary in front of the new grandstand at Lord's yesterday and was on the balcony when South Africa completed their 10 wicket victory to wrap up the test after tea on the fourth day.

Source: Reports from Trevor Chesterfield, Pretoria News

Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 30 Jun1998 - 14:15