Second Test

South Africa v West Indies 1998-99

Toss: West Indies.

This was by some way West Indies' worst performance of the tour - they were beaten just after tea on the third day after twice being bowled out in under 40 overs. Immediately after the match, they locked themselves in their dressing-room to conduct a post mortem which lasted two hours, not much less than the duration of each innings. Lara hinted at division within the team when he admitted that "we are not all giving 100 per cent," adding that no one apart from Walsh and Ambrose was pulling his weight.

Such spineless West Indian batting cannot have been witnessed since the 5-1 trouncing in Australia in 1975-76. There was a lot of grass left on the pitch, making life extremely hazardous against the new ball, but that was no explanation for the recklessness and indiscipline that characterised both West Indian innings. When South Africa batted, their top order twice ran into the same sort of trouble, but the tail played a critical part in regaining the initiative. They were greatly helped by some particularly poor second-string West Indies bowling. At 142 for seven on the first day - after Lara had won another good toss - South Africa should have been bowled out for less than 175. But an excess of short-pitched bowling played into the hands of Symcox and Donald, who bravely withstood the barrage to add 66 vital and quick runs for the ninth wicket. Donald ended with 34, his highest Test score.

A dreadful shot by Lambert in the second over set the tone for West Indies' batting. Lara had surely miscalculated by ordering the light roller when a heavy one would have flattened out first-day indentations in a damp pitch. Donald found some steep bounce by hitting these pockmarks, and Lara fell to a vicious lifter. Williams, Hooper and Reifer all succumbed to loose strokes, while Chanderpaul went fatally back to a fullish ball. A tight, accurate spell from Terbrugge was rewarded with three for four from seven overs, until McLean, swinging four sixes in his 12-ball 31, made his figures look more ordinary.

South Africa themselves foundered against some fine bowling from Ambrose and Walsh, slipping to 53 for five. Had the last five wickets gone at similar cost, West Indies would have had a chance. But once more the support bowling was poor, particularly from Hooper, who came on at 79 for five and conceded 35 in one seven-over spell. Rhodes and Pollock put on 92 for the sixth wicket, punishing a surfeit of loose deliveries, many of them short. The next morning, more useful runs came from Symcox and Donald, who was poleaxed by an Ambrose bouncer. Duly fired up, he then proceeded to bowl with withering pace in return.

The pitch, to which Lara ascribed no blame whatever, had lost a little of its liveliness. But from 40 for one, having seen off both Donald and Pollock's opening spells, West Indies lost their last nine wickets in 25 overs. Poor shots proliferated, and two unnecessary run-outs hardly helped. Lara, who came in at No. 5 to shield himself from the new ball, watched four wickets fall within eight overs of his arrival. He hit Donald for three fours in an over, and then hooked him for six, but tried to repeat the shot next ball only to miscue to mid-on. Fittingly, Ambrose was last out, fending off a Donald bouncer. Barely 18,000 watched the three days, more than half of them on the third.

Man of the Match: S. M. Pollock.

Attendance: 18,682.

Close of the play: First day, South Africa 223-8 (Symcox 30*, Donald 27*); Second day, South Africa 143-5 (Rhodes 50*, Pollock 40*).

© John Wisden & Co