Fifth Test

South Africa v West Indies 1998-99

Toss: West Indies. Test debut: R. D. King.

As early as tea on the second day, by which time West Indies had been dismissed 169 behind, the spectre of a 5-0 whitewash loomed large. They might have gained a lead themselves after reducing South Africa to 123 for six after lunch on the first day, but poor bowling led to the familiar scenario of protracted South African tail-end resistance. Ambrose, out with a hamstring injury, was badly missed. Kallis, once more, played a key part with a technically accomplished 83, but Boucher's maiden Test hundred proved even more damaging to West Indies. They bowled consistently short or wide, or both, allowing him to pull and cut most of his 16 fours. Klusener, recalled in place of the injured Terbrugge, also made an important, if small, contribution.

On a pitch with bounce but no great pace, West Indies recovered from their customarily bad start to reach 102 for two, thanks to a magnificent counter-attack from Lara. He rushed to fifty from 38 balls, 12 of which he hit for four (including six in two overs from Donald). But his dismissal sparked a collapse, and the last eight capitulated in 17 overs in the manner of a team no longer believing in the cause. Donald, who had removed Lara with a vicious bouncer, bowled as fast as at any time in the series, deservedly collecting a 17th five-wicket haul in Tests. In doing so, however, he aggravated the hamstring strain he sustained in the Fourth Test and, after bowling for two overs in the second innings, was forced out of both the rest of the match and most of the one-day series.

When Walsh broke down early in the South African second innings, West Indies were left with an inexperienced seam attack, including the jet-lagged debutant Reon King; none of them bowled well. Only Hooper, who adopted a defensive line into the rough, checked the scoring-rate. Kirsten, after a poor run of form, took advantage to grind out a painstaking hundred, and joined Cronje as the only South African to score Test hundreds against five different countries. Gibbs hit his first fifty of the series and, like Cronje, played positively. But it was Rhodes who batted most aggressively, flogging a wilting attack to reach a hundred in just 95 balls. His first Test century on home soil arrived in the grand manner, with his sixth six. All came from pulls.

Cronje was able to declare before the close on the third day, and was rewarded when Wallace was almost immediately caught down the leg side to complete a wretched series. The next morning, wickets fell steadily, with Ganga dismissed by Pollock for the sixth time out of six. Lara denied himself in his 93-minute 14 and, after he missed an attempted sweep off Adams, only Jacobs offered serious resistance. His 78 was another Test-best, and took him past Lara as the leading West Indian run-scorer in the series. Cullinan claimed a maiden Test wicket (and his first in first-class cricket since 1986) when Dillon was bowled trying to reverse sweep.

Adjudicator Dennis Lindsay gave the match award to the South African team - a fitting, if unusual, decision. Kallis, who would surely have passed 500 runs in the five Tests (finishing with 485) but for a bad decision in his second innings, was the obvious choice for the series award.

Men of the Match: South African team.

Man of the Series: J. H. Kallis.

Attendance: 42, 991.

Close of the play: First day, South Africa 311-9 (Donald 11*, Adams 6*); Second day, South Africa 100-1 (Kirsten 37*, Kallis 5*); Third day, West Indies 18-1 (Ganga 4*, Chanderpaul 8*).

© John Wisden & Co