Centenary Test Match


Toss: South Africa.

Cronje's tempting declaration 15 minutes before lunch on the fifth day left New Zealand 275 to win in 63 overs and enough time to get themselves out. The hosts, in the middle of what was proving to be a disastrous centenary season, duly obliged, losing their last seven wickets after tea in less than 28 overs.

The first session of the match was lost to rain, but Cullinan celebrated his 28th birthday by scoring 82 by the close as South Africa recovered from the loss of two early wickets to reach 153 for three. Cullinan was unable to push on to his second Test century, however, and was out early on the second morning as the seamers began to work their way through the middle order. New Zealand had brought in Patel to replace the injured Thomson on the eve of the match, but neither his off-spin nor Hart's slow left-arm gained a wicket as the pitch became progressively more placid, rewarding only line and length. The South African batsmen, however, failed to capitalise and only a brisk 41 from Cronje interrupted the steadiness of the bowling.

A cautious 74 from Young and a more flamboyant 89 from Parore took New Zealand to stumps on the third day with a lead of 22 and three first-innings wickets intact, but in the morning South Africa began what was to be a match-winning surge. Donald and De Villiers snipped off the New Zealand tail for the addition of only 12 more runs and then Kirsten and Hudson paved the way for Cronje's fifth Test century. He had also scored a hundred in the team's last Test encounter, two months earlier. Cronje launched into the attack, striking three sixes as he galloped to 50 off 67 balls, and reached three figures on the fifth morning, before calling the innings to a close. Initially, New Zealand picked up the challenge. At tea, with seven wickets standing and 161 needed off 35 overs, the chase was still on. But Fleming went to the third ball after the interval and, when Rutherford pulled De Villiers to mid-on for 56, New Zealand had shot their bolt. De Villiers, coming to the end of an exhausting summer, was so anxious to complete one more five-wicket haul that he protested when Cronje wanted to replace him with Donald. But it was the equally indefatigable Matthews who trapped Nash leg-before to end the match with 7.1 overs remaining.

Man of the Match: W. J. Cronje.

Close of play: First day, South Africa 153-3 (D. J. Cullinan 82*, C. E. Eksteen 0*); Second day, New Zealand 94-1 (B. A. Young 62*, M. D. Crowe 1*); Third day, New Zealand 316-7 (G. R. Larsen 20*, D. N. Patel 11*); Fourth day, South Africa 232-4 (W. J. Cronje 58*, J. N. Rhodes 7*).

© John Wisden & Co