March 18, 2001

Rain condemns Griquas v Natal to a watery grave

MWP
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Rain at tea, followed by hail, ended this match, but it was cricket's equivalent of euthanasia as there was no chance of a result being reached.

When the rain came, Natal were 292 for nine in their second innings - a lead of 270 runs after Griquas replied to the visitors first innings of 258 with 280. Natal scored at more than three runs an over but still did not have the time to set Griquas a reasonable target. So the contest was dead on its feet.

Natal resumed on 85 without loss, and Mark Bruyns and Doug Watson took the score to 103 before Bruyns edged a delivery from Johan Louw to the slip cordon in the seventh over of the morning to be dismissed for 41.

Eleven balls later, without a run added, Watson was bowled by Zahir Abrahim for a 58 that included 10 fours, followed by Ashraf Mall being caught behind off Abrahim's next delivery.

Dale Benkenstein denied Abrahim a hat-trick, but he, Jonty Rhodes and Wade Wingfield did not last long and Natal were suddenly 174 for six. But, just as he did in the first innings with the top score of 79, Errol Stewart came to Natal's rescue with a defiant 53.

Stewart arrived at the crease at the fall of the fourth wicket, for 125, and stayed there for 102 balls of which he hit four to the boundary - an indication of the hard work the veteran put in. He found a reliable partner in Gulam Bodi, and they added 87 for the seventh wicket.

Bodi was there until the mercifully premature end, having scored 74 not out in more than two hours at the crease, off 110 balls and with 10 fours and a six.

The match came close to ending on the highest note for Wayne Kidwell. The former Gauteng paceman had Robbie MacQueen caught behind and bowled Andrew Tweedie with consecutive deliveries, and incoming batsman Gary Gilder is as prime a hat-trick candidate as they come. Sure enough, Gilder edged Kidwell's next ball to first slip - where Deon Kruis promptly botched the head high catch.

Instead of leaving the field on the wings of euphoria, Kidwell trooped off having taken a mediocre looking three for 70 off 18 overs. Abrahim claimed three for 56.