South Africans Roll On
Keith Lane - 22 May 1999
The match up of tournament hosts and tournament favourites at the Oval was billed as ‘the match’ of the first round. Sufficiently mouth watering to draw a host of celebrities to South London, the match started out as a contest but ended a South African tour de force. There seems little that can stop the South Africans now.
England Captain Alec Stewart won the toss and putting the South Africans in to bat. The decision looked poor when Gary Kirsten and especially Herschelle Gibbs
pushed the South African score to 111 off 24.5 overs. Gibbs was in aggressive form and punished Fraser, possibly the most experienced World Cup debutant ever, whose lack of variety was painfully exposed. South Africa were in danger of losing their sense of occasion and running away with a victory. It was appropriate then that they first stumbled when they reached the ‘Nelson’ as Gibbs holed out to Hick off Ealham.
Nine balls later Ealham struck again and has Kirsten caught behind by Stewart. With two new batsmen at the crease, and both bowlers maintaining their tight line the game started to swing England’s way. Gough, brought back into the attack to stop a threatening partnership developing between Hansie Cronje and Jonty Rhodes, did all that his captain could ask of him. After Mullally had got rid of Cronje(16), Gough took two wickets with two balls to get rid of Rhodes (18) and Pollock (0, first ball) while the score stayed on 168.
Lance Klusener with an unbeaten 48 and Mark Boucher battled back and took the score to 225/7 from the allocated 50 overs.
Kallis opened the bowling with a disgraceful wide way down the leg side and looked out of touch, but with the last ball of the over he trapped Stewart LBW.
Stewart may feel slightly unlucky as the ball struck him very high on the pad. Kallis struck again when Hussain flashed at a delivery going down the leg side, and, much to the Englishman’s surprise, umpire Venkat raised the finger.
Graham Thorpe joined Graeme Hick in the middle and together they pushed and nudged singles around the wicket in an attempt to rebuild the innings. Pollock bowling from the Vauxhall end was disciplined in line and length, Kallis a bit wayward bowling on both sides of the wicket. Hick pulled the first boundary of the England innings off Kallis in the 11th over and followed that up with a classic cover drive off the very next delivery.
Thorpe lasted long enough to drive Donald for a four through the covers but was given out then stepping in front of the next ball. When Hick was trapped pulling Elworthy off the front foot and sending a catch to Gibbs, who had just been moved into a square mid wicket position the England innings looked a lost cause.
Soon enough England’s 44/4 became 45/5 when Andrew Flintoff, lasting only nine balls without troubling the scorers, spooned a simple catch to Rhodes off Donald. Mark Ealham showed some resistance but drawn forward to a Donald delivery in the 24 th over edged to Cullinan who took a good low catch to his right at slip. Neil Fairbrother as he has done in various encounters between the two nations showed a lot of application and together with Robert Croft advanced
the score to 78 when Lance Klusener became the next bowler to taste success, assisted by the brilliance of Jonty Rhodes at backward point. Croft on the square drive forced Rhodes to leap high and with an outstretched left hand he palmed the ball up, kept his eye on it and caught it on the dive before the ball reached mother earth.
Incumbent batsmen Darren Gough played some neat looking shots outside the off. But trying to reach the boundary once to often was his undoing as he lofted a drive off Elworthy to Cronje at mid off to be caught for 10 off 34 balls. Fairbrother followed him to the pavilion when Donald straightened one trapping him right in front for 21 off 44 balls. Four runs later, Fraser tried to loft Pollock to the long on fence only to see Kirsten get under it, and England were all out for 103 from 40.5 overs.
Donald concentrating on line and length and not pace finished the innings with 8-1-17-4, while Shaun Pollock ended on 9-3-13-1. In all a convincing win for the World Cup favourites, and England's lowest ever One Day International total against South Africa.