Cricket: Cronje eases irritation

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The Independent Online
South Africa 327-6 dec

Nottinghamshire 32-2

THE continuing saga of the England captain's trousers is becoming a matter of serious irritation to the South African tourists, who have reached another stopping-off point of rich historical significance feeling more than a tad unappreciated.

It is not that Nottingham has failed to lay out the welcome mat for their return to the scene of their last pre-boycott Test win on English soil. It is just that their most recent triumph, with which they are understandably quite pleased, appears from where they stand to have been entirely submerged by enormous fuss over not very much.

'We are finding it very frustrating,' Allan Donald said here yesterday. 'We are over here for the first time in 29 years and have won a Test match but all we are getting is what the England captain is supposed to have had in his pocket.'

Given that Donald took seven wickets at Lord's with a breathtaking exhibition of pace and swing, it is not difficult to understand his feelings. 'All we have achieved has been overlooked.' he added, conceding that Michael Atherton had been 'a bit silly' but describing his behaviour as 'a minor issue'.

Donald was rested yesterday, as were five other members of the team responsible for England's humiliation. Even in their absence, the South Africans dominated the first day. They have not yet beaten county opposition but may remedy that now after declaring at 327 for 6 and reducing Nottinghamshire to 32 for 2 by close of play.

Graeme Pollock's brilliant 125 in the 1965 Test is still discussed in reverential awe here. The ground witnessed another century yesterday, not one to compare with Pollock's but one to bring satisfaction to its author, Hansie Cronje, it being his first of the tour. He drove with exhilarating power on both sides of the wicket, collecting 13 fours, and twice struck the ball over the head of Richard Bates, the off-spinner, for six. He raced from 50 to 100 in 55 balls.

Further entertainment stemmed from the bats of Peter Kirsten and Jonty Rhodes, whose unbeaten 71 from 74 balls included 10 fours and a six. A thin-looking Nottinghamshire attack - Chris Lewis, surprise, surprise, was missing through injury - found little in the pitch to encourage them, but the fledgling pace bowler Bobby Chapman, whose father Sammy played football for Notts County and Nottingham Forest, was not the least impressive in only his second first-class game.

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