November 2, 1999

Adams help South Africa wrap up first Test

Bloemfontein: It was a typical response from the South African captain, Hansie Cronje, which neatly tied up the post-match conference and highlighted Paul Adams? value as South Africa brushed aside Zimbabwe yesterday.

Victory by an innings and 13 runs is crushing enough but the way South Africa bowled in what turned out to be the final day of the first Test of the two-match series, supported Cronje?s comment that the man who was launched with the nickname ``Gogga'' four summers ago has improved his strike rate as well as his average.

No longer does his action cause mirth or an attitude problem in the crowd at South Africa venues and staid Bloemfontein and a sparsely inhabited Goodyear Park saw Adams? wrap up the Zimbabwe innings for four for 31. It may be short of his best, but as Cronje suggested ``Adams has a habit in wrapping up the end of an innings''.

The way Cronje looked at it was the way it happened: Adams came on after the fast men had done the work and the ball had gone soft and wrapped up the tail in the second innings. Not as much as a match-winning performance as say that of man of the match Jacques Kallis who picked up seven wickets in the match for 132 runs and softened up a few Zimbabwe batsmen as well.

But the Adams factor was always going to prove a handful on a turning surface and his 10.1 overs yesterday unravelled the lower order as they battled to get after the Western Province wrist spinner.

South Africa required a session and 4.1 overs of the afternoon session to wrap up the second Test played between the two nations before a stunning catch by Jonty Rhodes at mid-off off Adams? bowling curtailed what lingering hopes the visitors had of forcing South Africa to bat a second time.

Neil Johnson had, on Sunday night, suggested South Africa would battle to get Zimbabwe out in their second innings and predicted he would bat for six hours if need be to help save the match. But he went second ball of the day when padding up to a ball from Shaun Pollock and after that it was a matter of survival.

Guy Whittall, as he had in the first innings, top-scored for Zimbabwe with a performance which was more circumspect with a half century, but South Africa had the match won and it was a matter of time. You get the feeling that Cronje would have preferred to have a more leisurely lunch. Kallis, however, can be partly blamed for the extension of the day?s play when he dropped Whittall at mid-wicket off Adams when he was 32 and the Zimbabwe total 169 for eight.

It was the sort of professional performance which you would expect from a professional side and which Alistair Campbell, the Zimbabwe captain, admitted was, with Australia, the top two sides at Test level ``and one-dayers as well''.

While the comprehensive victory with more than a day to spare showed the gap between the two sides Campbell?s admission South Africa had three world-class all-rounders who made a major difference to the side. Kallis was in a class of his own while Pollock and Lance Klusener were the sort of all-rounders which made a difference between a good and an average side.

Rushdie Majiet and the rest of the national panel seemed quite happy as well as they named an unchanged side for the second Test in Harare starting on November 11 with Nicky Boje as 12th man.