January 5, 2000

Cullinan's hat-trick of Newlands Test centuries

Cape Town - Daryll Cullinan loves Newlands, which is surprising the fractious time he spent with Western Province a decade ago, but these days he seems to do nothing wrong.

He returned yesterday to reel off what is a hat-trick of Test centuries in the lee of Table Mountain, rejoined Gary Kirsten with the most number of three-figure scores and scored his 1,000th run against England.

It makes him the ninth South African to achieve this feat although rather behind Bruce Mitchell, Herbie Taylor and Dudley Nourse who are well past the 2,000nd run mark. It is also his second century against England in this series. The most talented of South Africa's batsmen, Cullinan scored centuries against Sri Lanka, the West Indies and now England in his last three Tests at the 112-year-old venue. And as was the case last summer against Brian Lara's Caribbean tourists, Jacques Kallis also scored a century in the fourth match of that series at Newlands. Both batsmen admitted they had to work "harder for the runs" because of the heavier outfield.

England have decided to strengthen their touring squad a little sooner than planned with the six members of the limited-overs squad arriving five days earlier and in time to play in the three-day game against the South African Invitation XI, led by Northerns captain Neil McKenzie.

The six are Mark Alleyne, Mark Ealham, Ashley Giles, Graeme Hick, Nick Knight and Vikram Solanki, while Andrew Flintoff heads for the chill of an English winter after being ruled out of the squad for the remainder of the tour with a stress fracture in his left foot. Also flying out to England at the same time is Mark Ramprakash who joined the side shortly before Christmas as cover but is no longer needed.

David Graveney, England's chairman of selectors, said the idea to fly in the limited-overs squad was partly to given them a chance to acclimatise as well as giving some a chance to play in the Port Elizabeth match.

"It gives us a chance to rest those bowlers who have played back to back Tests and other players an opportunity to play against quality opposition," he said.