Cricket: Cronje hints at retaining opener

South Africa 406-5 dec & 27-0 Essex 215 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
South Africa 406-5 dec & 27-0 Essex 215 Match drawn

HANSIE CRONJE, the South Africa captain, admitted that the tourists were still some way from deciding their line-up for the final and deciding Test against England on Thursday after the drawn match with Essex at Chelmsford yesterday.

"The conditions overhead will play a big part in our selection," he said. "It will determine whether we will go in with four or five seamers.

"But there will be no panic selection just because we lost the last Test. We will weigh up things very carefully before coming to a decision."

Cronje gave a strong hint that Gerry Liebenberg, who scored 96 in the first innings will keep his place at the top of the order as Gary Kirsten's opening partner despite his poor form in the Tests.

"It was important for him to get runs here, although we realise he was not under the same pressure he can expect in a Test match," Cronje said.

He added that he would not be satisfied emerging from the series level on 1-1. "That would be disappointing because we came over here to win it."

Yesterday's Vodafone Challenge match ended in a predictable draw after heavy overnight rain delayed the start of the final day until after lunch.

When the players arrived in the morning they were greeted with a huge lake at one end of the ground and the local fire brigade engaged in mopping up operations with the ground staff.

From an overnight 102 for 3 Essex collapsed to 215 all out. Tim Hodgson, with 46, was his side's top-scorers, while Shaun Pollock was the most successful bowler with 3 for 37.