March 10, 2001

Kirsten, Kallis ruthless in laying foundation for South Africa


Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis batted with ruthless efficiency to put South Africa in control of the first Test against the West Indies at the Bourda on Saturday with the tourists closing day two on 130-1 in reply to the home side's first innings score of 304.

Kirsten has built an enduring and widely respected reputation on his ability to anchor an innings and rotate the strike with a series of nudges and nurdles but his Dr Jekyll side made an unexpected appearance as he drove and cut savagely at any width offered by the pacemen and then slog-swept impressive leg spinner Dinanath Ramnarine for a glorious six over midwicket.

Kallis, too, began to use his feet against the three spinners used by the West Indies hitting Carl Hooper for a one-bounce boundary straight back over his head and reaching a rock solid 39 not out at the close.

Kirsten's life-long ambition has been to tour the Caribbean and he seems intent on making the best possible start. He enjoyed one moment of luck, on 53, when a classic googly from Ramnarine fizzed onto his glove but took a slight deflection off his pad preventing Ridley Jacobs from accepting the chance. His unbeaten 80 at the close had come from 175 balls and contained nine fours and the six.

Herschelle Gibbs (8) became the only casualty of the South African reply when a Merv Dillon delivery skidded nastily towards the base of leg stump and snuck through his defences. He was on the back foot, however, and should have been playing forward.

If South Africa dominated the final two sessions, however, then the opposite was true for two hours in the morning after the home side resumed on 232-7. Despite the almost immediate loss of Ramnarine to a silly run out error which allowed Gibbs to run in from cover and remove the bails, Hooper guided his fragile team through to lunch at an impressive 300-8.

Then unsung hero in a ninth wicket partnership of 62 was Dillon (9) who showed huge character to defend for almost two hours and 86 balls while Hooper advanced his overnight score from 12 to 67 at lunch.

The controversially appointed new West Indian captain displayed what Sir Vivian Richards said everyone knew he had - "genuine class". Driving and wristily flicking the seamers, sweeping spinner Nicky Boje and, most elegantly, late-cutting anybody to the fine third man boundary, Hooper went a long way towards winning over the critics who said he lacked commitment and the heart for a fight.