October 24, 2000

No illusions over difficulty of SA series

Going one down in our one-day series with South Africa is obviously disappointing, especially off the back of our recent success in Kenya.

It is early days in the six-match series and there is by no means any reason to panic as there are four games to go.

But we are under no illusions as to how hard this series will be.

At Centurion on Wednesday we have our next match and it is one that will need a big effort and a better performance from us all.

We knew after our first game was rained out at Potchefstroom that we now faced a series where a winner would definitely be found because only five matches remained which could produce a result.

When we first saw the wicket at Benoni, for the second game on Sunday, everybody was a little shocked. We had played on perfect wickets for the last few weeks while this one looked dry and it seemed there would be some inconsistent bounce.

Brooke Walker was included for his first One-Day International and that, along with Paul Wiseman's inclusion in the team, meant it was our intention to bat first. Flem (Stephen Fleming) obliged by winning the toss yet again and so we had the start we wanted.

The South African combination of Shaun Pollock and Roger Telemachus kept the scoring at a minimum early on and you could see that scoring was going to be difficult as the ball was bouncing indifferently, making it hard for stroke play.

Chris Nevin was lbw to Pollock then Flem got a great yorker from Allan Donald to have us two down for not many.

With some graft from Roger Twose, until he was dismissed by lack of bounce, then myself combining with Nathan (Astle) for a 50 partnership, we always felt a score of 200-220 was going to be hard.

On the back of some good South African bowling at the death we lost our way a little in the last 10 overs and ended a little short of our projected target, setting the South Africans 194.

We wanted to get early wickets to put pressure on them from the outset, and then to make it hard for them to score later on.

I managed to get an early wicket, but this brought Nicky Boje in and, after his maiden hundred in Potchefstroom, he was obviously full of confidence and played aggressively to take the game away from us.

When you score a total like 190 all it takes is for someone like Boje to come off in quick time and really swing the game. He chanced his arm but played the appropriate innings needed for South Africa.

Along with Gary Kirsten, who played the anchor role, their second wicket partnership won the game for South Africa, with Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes combining to see South Africa home with four overs and six wickets to spare.