Cricket: Kirsten's double century

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The Independent Online
Durham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .228 and 34-0

South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .428-4 dec

DURHAM yesterday had a little foretaste of what life may be like for England soon. The South Africans kept them in the field for most of an increasingly testing day and, led by Gary Kirsten's pugnacious, unbeaten 201, all their batsmen made runs, some with less certainty than others.

From an England viewpoint, there was nothing more ominous than the sight of Gary, the younger and left-handed member of the Kirsten family, facing 306 balls and overtaking his previous highest first-class score, 192 for Western Province against Northern Transvaal.

As if England did not have problems enough disposing of sundry left-handers in the West Indies, they now have to devise ways of prising out not only Kirsten but Kepler Wessels, who gave another illustration of his priceless ability to hang around and aggravate bowlers without looking completely in touch.

The morning departure of Andrew Hudson disappointed admirers of a cover drive that will adorn the rest of the season, but those sentiments were not shared by Simon Brown. His improving line earned him Hudson's wicket. Hansie Cronje became a notable first victim for David Cox when the left- arm spinner's first ball drifted in between bat and pad, and Wessels was grinding along when Brown had him lbw with the new ball.

Durham, meanwhile, found themselves the victims of untaken half-chances. Graeme Fowler, especially, found the ball following him around like a faithful dog.

By the time the declaration finally came, leaving a decidedly baffled Brian McMillan stranded in the middle after facing just one ball, Kirsten had hit 25 fours and three sixes, and had walked off. Apparently he retired, which is permitted under Law 2. He was later deemed to have 'retired ill', which seemed odd for a man who had made his last 50 from 52 balls.

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