May 10, 2001

South Africa thrashed West Indies

Mike King

About 12 000 hometown fans cheered, whistled and waved flags supporting the West Indies, but it was not enough to prevent South Africa from wrapping up the Cable & Wireless One-Day International cricket series yesterday at Kensington Oval.

Shaun Pollock's highly-drilled unit, considered the second best in the world at the moment, crushed the West Indies by seven wickets to take an unassailable 4-1 lead in the seven-match series.

Herschelle Gibbs, brilliant in the field and spectacular with the bat, propelled the South Africans to their fourth commanding conquest with a dazzling century, his second of the series. The shaven-skull Western Province opener must now be the favourite to win the coveted Man-Of- The-Series award.

Knowing that nothing less than a victory would do to sustain interest in the series, about 7 000 fans were already in the Oval even before the 9:30 a.m. start.

When it was clear the West Indies' meagre score of 199 would not challenge the South Africans, however, most of them were heading home by 4 p.m.

After the dust had settled, it was the South Africans and not the West Indians who were swarmed by over-zealous autograph hunters in front of the Players' Pavilion.

Jonty Rhodes, rated the best fielder in the game, and fast bowler Makhaya Ntini were among the favoured.

Most fans grudgingly acknowledged that Pollock's men were the better team but felt the West Indies could have put up a better fight.

The boys seem to give up too early. We can't expect to beat teams like South Africa with low scores such as this. I would have felt better if we had gone down fighting, lamented one man.

Dozens queried why the West Indies selected fast bowler Kerry Jeremy and did not give the Antiguan a chance to bowl.

The Jeremy thing was baffling to me. Why was he selected and then didn't bowl? The West Indies are struggling and there are no easy answers. It will be a while before we become a force again. It hurts to see the boys perform so badly, said another disappointed fan.

The series moves to the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad for the sixth One-Dayer on Saturday.