March 16, 2001

Stewart keeps Griquas at bay


Deon Kruis took five for 50 as Griqualand West reached the close satisfied with their first-day performance. At stumps, Griquas were 32 for one having dismissed Natal, who won the toss and elected to bat, for 248.

Kruis obtained awkward lift throughout the day and was all but unplayable in the first hour, in which he accounted for openers Mark Bruyns and Doug Watson.

Natal's batsmen looked shaky, with three exceptions. Ahraf Mall scored a servicable 40, Errol Stewart showed plenty of experience in his 79 and number nine Robbie Macqueen's 42 was a gutsy effort.

But for the rest, it was the same old mediocrity which has blighted the Dolphins' first-class campaign this summer.

After the openers' early departure, Mall and captain Dale Benkenstein stood firm for 16 overs and a stand of 40 runs that ended when Mall was caught behind off Johan Louw.

That dumped Natal back in trouble at 77 for three, and 11 overs later they were 97 for four when Kruis dismissed Benkenstein for 23.

Six overs after that Kruis had Jonty Rhodes caught behind for 13, followed by Wade Wingfield and Gulam Bodi falling cheaply to Zahir Abrahim and Grant Elliott respectively.

At 128 for seven, Natal seemed dead and buried. But their rescue came in the form of an eighth-wicket partnership of 95 between Stewart and Macqueen. Stewart marshalled matters superbly in his more than three-and-a-half hours at the wicket in which he faced 176 balls and hit just six fours in a grafting innings that ended when Kruis had him caught behind to earn his fifth wicket.

Griquas faced 12 overs before the close, and lost Martyn Gidley for 15 when he was bowled by Gary Gilder with the last ball of the ninth over.