March 2, 2002

Langer, Mark Waugh go on the rampage against South Africa 'A'

With the notable exception of Steve Waugh, Australia's batsmen ripped into what some consider South Africa's second-best attack, rushing to 452 for five on the second day of their four-day match against the South African `A' team at St George's Park on Saturday.

Justin Langer made 161, his 55th first-class century and his first hundred of the tour, while Mark Waugh hammered out a furious 110 as the two shared a 207-run partnership for the third-wicket, tearing the home team's bowling to shreds during the final session of the day.

With Darren Lehmann clubbing 60 and Ricky Ponting dashing to a run-a-ball 40, only Steve Waugh, given out caught at the wicket for four, failed to advantage of a flagging attack on a long, hot and windy day.

The A side added only13 to their overnight 288 for seven before being bowled out for 301, thereby setting themselves up for a long day in the field. And by the time the Australians had finished in the evening, the A team might have felt they had been out there for longer than the 97 overs they eventually got through.

By lunch the Australians had moved to 72 without loss with Lehmann the more aggressive of the opening pair. He made his intentions perfectly clear during the first over in the afternoon when he hoisted Gulam Bodi over mid-on for six and went on to take the Australians into three figures before falling leg before to Dewald Pretorius.

Ponting dashed about for less than an hour before he miscued a pull off Charl Willoughby to be caught at mid-off and then the younger Waugh joined Langer to first wear down and then break the back of the A team's bowling.

No one escaped punished, but some suffered more than others, left-arm spinner Robin Peterson most particularly. At one point Waugh and Langer took 27 off two overs from Peterson with one of Waugh's sixes sailing over the scoreboard, out of the ground, down the hill and quite possible rolling all the way down to the harbour.

Justin Kemp also felt the sting of Waugh's bat, conceding four boundaries off one over as Waugh took just 24 balls to race from 50 to his 80th first-class century.

Langer, meanwhile, just kept going at the other end as Australia moved to 387 for two before both batsmen were out within five balls of each other. Dewald Pretorius bowled Waugh through the gate and Langer lifted Willoughby to cover without a run being added.

"I've worked really hard in the nets," said Langer afterwards. "I wanted to spend some time in the middle. It's a massive Test match, the next one in which we can retain the number one spot which we think is ours."

Waugh, meanwhile, described St George's Park as one of his favourite grounds. So he should. It was here where he scored a century in 1997 to enable Australia to clinch their last series victory in South Africa.

It very nearly became 387 for five - Shane Watson surviving an appeal for a catch at the wicket off the first ball he faced - before Steve Waugh was the fifth man out, given out caught behind off Pretorius for 4 off the sixth ball he received.

The Australian captain did appear to agree entirely with umpire Rudi Koertzen's decision, standing at the wicket for an age before trudging off. Not that it made a great deal of difference to the overall picture, Watson and Adam Gilchrist adding a further 61 before the close.

The A team bowling figures made ugly reading with the two spinners almost completely ineffective. Peterson conceded 128 off 20 overs and Bodi 63 off 12 with neither ever looking like taking a wicket.

Pretorius toiled hard for his three for 101 as did Willoughby for his two for 74, but at no stage did the bowling give any hint of how South Africa might bowl Australia out twice in the second Test match at Newlands next weekend.