September 17, 2000

Zimbabwean called for throwing in New Zealand Test victory

New Zealand has beaten home side Zimbabwe by seven wickets in the First Test, played at Bulawayo - but not before Zimbabwean Grant Flower was no-balled for his bowling action.

New Zealand were chasing 132 for victory on the fifth and final day of the match when Australian umpire Darrell Hair, officiating from square leg, no-balled Flower three times in his second over. After the third no-ball, Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak relieved Flower and called on Gavin Rennie to complete the over.

Hair and Flower have both been involved in previous incidents over bowling actions.

In 1995, Hair called the bowling action of Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in a Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Meanwhile, Flower has been no-balled for throwing in Zimbabwe's domestic Logan Cup competition. Flower is better known for his batting than his left-arm slow bowling, which in Tests has returned just six wickets at an average of almost 100.

By the time Flower was called, New Zealand were well-placed to win the match. The modest target was reached after the lunch interval by Craig McMillan and opener Mathew Sinclair, who followed up his first-innings century with 43 not out.

The victory also took New Zealand to 11 Test wins from 28 matches under the captaincy of Stephen Fleming - placing him equal with Geoff Howarth as the country's most successful cricket captain.

Earlier in the match, Zimbabwe had put itself in a solid position, grafting its way to 350 in the first innings. The home side then gained a 12-run first-innings lead thanks to the efforts of spinner Paul Strang, who finished with the remarkable figures of 8/109 off 51.5 overs.

However, the Zimbabwean batsmen failed to capitalise as New Zealand's Chris Cairns took 5/31 in the second innings. Alistair Campbell - who had top-scored for Zimbabwe with 88 in the first innings - again offered the main resistance, making 45 as Zimbabwe crumbled to be all out for 119. Zimbabwe then took the early wickets of opener Mark Richardson and key New Zealand batsman Fleming, but a steadying 50-run partnership between Sinclair and Nathan Astle put the result beyond doubt.