It was a pity the New Wanderers Test hardly got going © Getty Images
It was a pity the New Wanderers Test hardly got going © Getty Images

December 12, 2000. A drab, rain-washed Test, in which less than 200 overs were possible, came to an end. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at an uneventful day that had a surprise in store after the match was over.

South Africa had already clinched the series by the time the two sides met at the New Wanderers for the third Test. An emphatic 160 from Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini’s 6 for 48 in the second innings had left South Africa to chase a mere 101 at Bloemfontein. Daryl Tuffey fought back, reducing the hosts to 75 for 5, but South Africa reached home.

Matthew Sinclair’s 150 took New Zealand to 298 at St George’s Park, and despite Neil McKenzie’s 120, Chris Martin restricted South Africa’s lead to 63. Unfortunately, nobody other than Mark Richardson put up any fight, and chasing 86, South Africa won by 7 wickets.

New Zealand dropped Craig Spearman and Kerry Walmsley at New Wanderers, recalling Tuffey and drafting in debutant Hamish Marshall. With Allan Donald injured, South Africa handed a cap to 21-year old tearaway Mfuneko Ngam.

Protean seamers lead rout

Heavy rain and waterlogged outfield prevented any play on Day One, but the groundsmen did an excellent job. Pollock gave Ngam new ball, and he found the edge of Adam Parore (opening in place of Spearman) in his first over; Daryll Cullinan grassed the chance at slip. He did it again in Ngam’s third over.

Boeta Dippenaar, meanwhile, dropped both Richardson and Parore at short-leg. They grinded along, putting up 37 before Ntini struck in the 21st over, sending Parore back.

Richardson and Sinclair added 46 in an hour before they were dismissed in the space of five balls, the former being Ngam’s first Test wicket when he nicked one to Mark Boucher for 46. New Zealand were soon reduced to 117 for 6, and it took some gritty batting from Marshall (he was hit on his helmet multiple times en route to his 40) to see them reach a round 200. READ: Two or more people sharing Man of the Match award in Tests

Martin had picked up his customary duck, but he struck in the evening, removing Gary Kirsten caught by Richardson at short-leg before stumps. Dippenaar and Nicky Boje batted out time, and the hosts finished on 18 for 1. On a lighter note, they still needed 133 to save the follow-on.

Scott’s work, followed by Dippenaar’s

All chance of a result disappeared when it rained incessantly Days Three and Four. There was no chance of cricket on Day Five either, but Chris Scott and his team of groundsmen did a tremendous job.

Chris Scott’s award remains one of its kind in the history of international cricket. Photo Courtesy: LMSA Group.
Chris Scott’s award remains one of its kind in the history of international cricket. Photo Courtesy: LMSA Group.

When play eventually got underway, Dippenaar and night-watchman Boje added 69. Pollock could probably have declared at this stage. There were over 75 overs left in the day, and with some aggressive declaration, Fleming and Pollock could have breathed life into the Test.

But Pollock decided otherwise. To be fair to him, it had been a year since Hansie Cronje’s infamous declaration against England at Centurion. Anything unusual might have caused a stir.

Dippenaar continued to bat on in the company of Kallis, and eventually reached his hundred off 190 balls. He was bowled by Shayne O’Connor soon afterwards. The partnership, too, had added 100 in 236 balls, killing the match and letting Scott’s work go waste.

With Brooke Walker ruled out of action, New Zealand were left without a spinner. Reluctant to put strain on his fast bowlers, Stephen Fleming got Nathan Astle and Craig McMillan, brothers-in-law, to send down 17 overs between them.

Kallis and Cullinan played out time, and things reached a new low when they scored 9 from 14 overs after tea. They decided to end the torture on 261 for 3, with Marshall and Sinclair providing the final touches with their bowling.

A pleasant surprise awaited Chris Scott and his team after the match. They had, after all, done all the hard work over three days, while the players had slogged it out over two, one innings each. Ted Wood adjudicated the groundsmen the Men of the Match.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 200 (Mark Richardson 46, Hamish Marshall 40*; Makhaya Ntini 3 for 29) drew with South Africa 261 for 3 decl. (Boeta Dippenaar 100, Jacques Kallis 79*).

Man of the Match: Chris Scott (head groundsman) and his team.
Man of the Series: Makhaya Ntini.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)