Tempers flare amid tedium as South Africa take series

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The Independent Online

The fourth and final Test, a match consumed by a glut of runs on the type of lifeless pitch for which the Antigua Recreation Ground has become infamous, ended in a predictable draw that secured the series for South Africa 2-0 and with an unexpected flash of anger on the field.

As South Africa batted out time in their second innings, West Indies medium-pacer Wavell Hinds carried over the front crease by nearly a yard in delivering a short ball with a bent elbow to the South African captain Graeme Smith who under-edged it for four.

Umpire Billy Bowden called no-ball for the front foot infringement and, as Hinds directed a verbal volley at Smith, summoned fellow umpire Simon Taufel, the West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Hinds. It seemed to cool tempers and there was no further confrontation as the match petered out.

The incident, coming at the end of a series in which relationships between the teams have been friendly, was reportedly triggered by alleged comments by Smith to West Indies batsman Dwayne Bravo as he advanced to his maiden Test hundred earlier in the day.

On the final day, the ARG, unofficially renamed by fans here the Antigua Records Ground, added yet another batting landmark to the several it has witnessed in its 24 years as a Test venue.

Chanderpaul, who carried his overnight 84 to 127 before he was run out, and Bravo, the 21-year-old all-rounder who was last out for 107, carried the number of three-figure innings to eight, among them Chris Gayle's 317 for the West Indies. None of the previous 1,749 Tests over 132 years had seen as many.

Except for statisticians and the averages of Chanderpaul and Bravo, the exercise devalued Test cricket. It was reduced to a farce as all 11 South Africans bowled in the innings.

The West Indies, 565 for 5 at the start replying to South Africa's 588 for 9 declared, were dismissed for 747, only four short of their 751 for 5 declared against England on this ground a year ago when Brian Lara reclaimed Test cricket's highest score with an unbeaten 400.

South Africa batted out time at 127 for 1, Smith's unbeaten 55 carrying his tally in the series to 505.