December 7, 2000

Ngam in Test side as Donald withdraws

Mfuneko Ngam, the 21-year-old Eastern Province fast bowler, will make his Test debut for South Africa against New Zealand at the Wanderers on Friday following the withdrawal of Allan Donald from the side on Thursday.

Donald is suffering from a stomach muscle strain and informed the team management that he did not think he would be able to last the full five days of the Test.

While his withdrawal of South Africa's premier fast bowler is clearly a blow for the home team, it has opened the door for Ngam, a Michael Holding lookalike who has been time at speeds of up to 150km/h this season.

It is not clear whether Ngam will take the new ball with Shaun Pollock or if it will be entrusted to the more experienced Makhaya Ntini. Whatever happens, though, if the Wanderers pitch has any pace in it and he can control his nerves, Ngam is likely to come as an unpleasant surprise to New Zealand.

Known as "Chew" by his EP team-mates, Ngam has enjoyed a quick rise to Test level. He made his first class debut for the EP B team two seasons ago, but only played full provincial cricket last summer.

His pace earned him a trip to the West Indies with the South African A in August and September and his willingness to absorb advice has impressed both his peers and his coaches.

"He is inexperienced, but I have been very impressed with him," said South African coach Graham Ford. "He's got good pace and control and it will be a very worthwhile learning experience for him as well as a great investment for South African cricket.

"He's a very nice, level-headed guy too, for which a lot of credit must go to Adrian Birrell who kept him out of the limelight until he as ready.

"Hylton Ackerman is a very shrewd judge of cricketers and he's pretty sure Ngam is ready to play for South Africa. He's got so much going for him," said Ford.

New Zealand, meanwhile, could make two changes to the side that lost the second Test, and the series, in Port Elizabeth last weekend. It is understood that Hamish Marshall is in line to make his Test debut with Craig Spearman dropping out and Adam Parore moving up the order to open the batting.

Fast bowler Kerry Walmsley has an abdominal strain and could make way for Daryl Tuffey to return to the side after being dropped for the second Test.

Teams

South Africa: Gary Kirsten, Boeta Dippenaar, Jacques Kallis, Daryll Cullinan, Neil McKenzie, Mark Boucher, Lance Klusener, Nicky Boje, Shaun Pollock (capt), Makhaya Ntini

New Zealand: (probable) Mark Richardson, Adam Parore, Mathew Sinclair, Stephen Fleming (capt), Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Hamish Marshall, Brooke Walker, Shayne O'Connor, Chris Martin, Kerry Walmsley or Daryl Tuffey.

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