December 29, 1999

Caddick's thoughts on his career best performance

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Durban - On a day when what looked like an ice cream van was press-ganged into rolling the Kingsmead pitch, up steps England's Andrew Caddick to lick South Africa's batsmen into shape.

What with the heavy roller's battery doused with water from the overnight thunderstorm, and objection raised, allegedly by England at the use of the roller trotted out for the occasion, the ice cream vendor's contraption, was all that was available to the umpires.

It left South Africa's senior administrator, Dr Ali Bacher, issuing an embarrassed apology to all, Geoff Boycott fuming at the shabby treatment of the paying public and later in the day South Africa following on for the first time in 33 years. Not even a Graeme Pollock double century rescued that match at Newlands against Australia.

If South Africa's second innings follows a similar pattern to the first this one could become known as Caddick's match with a record bowling performance in the offing. Almost 12 months ago West Indian Franklyn Rose broke Clarrie Grimmett's long-surviving record of seven wickets for 100 with seven for 84.

Hardly has the sign writer's white paint settled than he has to look for space on an ever-shrinking Test honour's board to get the New Zealand-born Caddick's name on the list with his career best seven for 46.

Not quite as good as good perhaps as Hugh Tayfield's eight for 69 against Peter May's team of 1957/58, but we are not about to argue on that score. What with Grimmett being a transplanted Kiwi there is nothing wrong with Caddick, now dressed as a Pom, at keeping it within the "Antipodean circle", although Caddick, with his unmistakable South Island tawng mixed in with a touch of Quantocks burr is unlikely to take too kindly to the suggestion.

Yet he did play for New Zealand in the 1987/88 Youth World Cup and then arrived in England with the same side a few months later only to spurn future Kiwi offers and decided, what with his British background through his parents, to play for England. You cannot argue with that although it cost him a few Tests until Nasser Hussain, who admires his man, got him right and the new coach, Duncan Fletcher, who has also worked on Caddick's bowling.

The two-metre tall, rangy 31-year-old, bowler of the series against New Zealand with 20 wickets at 20.00, has a lot of time for Hussain and Fletcher. The new captain and coach combination which may take England into the new century with more hope than they had last August 22 when beaten within four days by New Zealand at The Oval by 83 runs.

Caddick is about the nearest South Africa are going to see to Sir Richard Hadlee's economical style: run-up, delivery, high side-on action, it is all there, and he is not afraid to admit that he modelled his action on the first man to take 400 Test wickets.

Right now, though, he wants to concentrate on helping England square the series, rain permitting, at soggy Kingsmead where Hussain's day one go-slow may now work in their favour. Who would have thought that 72 hours ago? Caddick was blunt in his admission that he did not think he had bowled well at Kingsmead in a display South Africa's captain, Hansie Cronje, agreed was not a good batting performance with a certain lack of discipline.

"I thought I had bowled better in Port Elizabeth where I did not get many wickets," said the Somerset county bowler who, for some unexplained reason, was overlooked by England during the 1998 series against South Africa.

"It is getting better though and thankfully the rewards came today," he agreed. "It is the same in the county game. Some days they nick them, some days they don't: you bowl badly and get five and you bowl well and get none.

"Thankfully today I got the five or more. But there is still a long way to go. "If there had been more time available we might have had more time to have a go at them, but the evenings close in fairly early here so we did not have much time after forcing them to follow on," he agreed.

Almost a full session, 28 overs, were lost on day three and what with early closures on days one and two about two and a half sessions have been lost in this third match of the series; not quite what either captain would have liked.

In normal conditions the Test may have taken another course. Hussain's decision to declare, though, was no doubt persuaded by the conditions of the pitch and his bowlers did not have two hours bowling ahead of them.

"If we had bowled them out earlier we would have had a long opportunity to bowl at them again after tea," he said. Caddick admitted Hussain did not issue any special instructions to the bowlers at tea, as they knew the idea was go out and "knock them over as quickly as possible". Shaun Pollock made is easy when he played possibly the sort of stroke which he could not have contemplated playing in his worst nightmares.

Cronje refused to criticise his vice-captain who before tea had played with a certain amount of modest bravado by taking on the England attack. There was two-step six over long on off Phil Tufnell and a charge for four through mid-wicket the previous ball. The safety of the follow-on landing bay moved closer.

Pollock's wicket gave Caddick the record for a Test innings by an overseas bowler. It was a nice prize. Asked what he had thought about the prospect of bowling on such a pitch where there was plenty of bounce after two near days of inertia, Caddick grinned.

"I expect any pitch I bowl on is going to be hard work: some of the balls in the right area and they nicked them; another day they would not. This time it came out better for me than it did for them.

"Look I am not one who worries about the opposition: the Aussies, the South Africans. If they play well they will play well. I don't go into a Test thinking that I can't get the batsmen out: I might as well not bother playing. "You have to have hopes and be determined," was his philosophy.

He was unimpressed when Hussain erred by bowling him into the wind from the city end of the ground and made his thoughts known. Whether he relayed these to Hussain is unclear, but you can bet he did his fair bit of grumbling over what was the third spell of his 16 overs.

Caddick shrugged off the warning from umpire Dave Orchard for running on the pitch as "one of those things" during the ninth-wicket partnership with Paul Adams. "It was not because of the follow through as the wind may have been pushing me across, so Orchard warned me," he said matter of factly.

No doubt the theory of bowling into the wind was to induce swing, but when this did not work according to plan Caddick was switched back to the Umgeni end, which he admitted he preferred. At this stage he felt the Hussain/Fletcher combination was starting to shape England's fortunes in the series and there was a very relaxed atmosphere about the team.

"Certainly I am a lot more relaxed on this tour than I have been on others," he said. "If you have a good coach behind you it gives you confidence. But make no mistake there is still a lot of hard work ahead of us in this Test. "I know we have a lead and there are runs on the board, yet when you go out there to bowl you don't really think about runs on the board. I don't think about the scoreboard, it is more of a case of going out and doing a job," he commented.

While the humidity was a factor it had not bothered him too much: each bowler had to adapt to the conditions and work accordingly. "It is one of the things about playing Tests, you have to put up with the conditions," he commented.

Caddick was not into admitting the wicket of Jacques Kallis had been planned, almost coyly saying there were "certain plans for various players" when Hussain moved a man backward of square leg and slanted the ball down leg.

With Fletcher an integral part of the England brains trust you can bet the Poms have worked out a plan for all the top order. The way they pulled in two gullies to Lance Klusener showed that Hussain had a ploy to get wickets. For Klusener the defining moment was when he jabbed the ball to Darren Maddy. For Caddick it was his 11th over: three wickets in five balls was as effective as a bazooka barrage, exposing the vulnerability of a new-look batting order which failed to deliver the substance needed to avoid the follow on.

At least Caddick knows there is an honours board in South Africa which has not just his name on it, but he holds an innings performance record. It took Rose 64 years to edge out Grimmett and barely 12months for Caddick to nudge to the top. Anyway, Port of Spain, in Trinidad, where he collected his previous best, six for 65 in the 1993/94 Tests against the West Indies.