December 30, 1999

Cronje looks ahead to Newlands

Durban - South Africa's captain is looking forward to the challenge of the new century and how it might affect the side as they approach the Newlands Test, starting on January 2.

While he described Gary Kirsten's second century at Kingsmead on Thursday in the drawn third Test against England as awesome, he also reflected on the follow on being "new territory for us".

Kirsten joined Dudley Nourse as the second South African batsman with two double centuries to his credit and a Test average this year now near 60, while his career average is back above the 40 mark.

"We have to look ahead, though," he said. "We were asked to do something we have been forcing other sides to do and following on was not nice.

"It was new territory for us and we will be having a close look at everything between now and Newlands," he said.

Cronje felt South Africa's ability to fight back and the character displayed by Boucher and Kirsten before lunch yesterday was a "credit to both".

"You have to hand it to Kirsten," he said. "I thought his innings was awesome. Under the circumstances it was just what we needed," he added.

While 48 hours before it had all been gloom and doom in the team's dressing room at Kingsmead. With the follow on and a mountain of runs ahead, Kirsten's ability to bat South Africa out of tight corners was more than a praiseworthy effort. He shared the man of the match award with Andrew Caddick, England's New Zealand-born fast bowler who took a career best seven for 46 in South Africa first innings of 156.

"We had a long chat before we went out to bat in the second innings and discussed what we had to do and Gary carried it through for us."

Cronje admitted though that his inability to score in either innings was a "little embarrassing", and hoped the New Year and 2000 would bring about a change.