CRICKET: Home Start Smith Masterminds Punishment of Limited Windies

The Birmingham Post (England), December 13, 2003 | Go to article overview
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CRICKET: Home Start Smith Masterminds Punishment of Limited Windies


Graeme Smith, in his first home Test match as captain of South Africa, scored 132 to lay the foundations for a match-winning total when the four-Test series against the West Indies began at the Wanderers, Johannesburg, yesterday.

Smith, won won the toss, and Herschelle Gibbs, who scored 60, shared an opening stand of 149, a record for that wicket by South Africa against the visitors, beating the 97 shared by Gibbs and Gary Kirsten at Durban in 1998-99.

Later, Jacques Kallis (87 not out) and Martin van Jaarsveld (69no) combined in an unbroken alliance of 128 for the fourth wicket to take the home team to 368 for three after a full, 90-over, day.

South Africa omitted Andrew Hall and uncapped Garnett Kruger, thus banking on the pace of Andre Nel, while the West Indies, who have had to send Marlon Samuels, Omari Banks and Jerome Taylor home injured, did not select the recently-arrived, and untried, left-arm wrist-spinner Dave Mohammed.

They spent most of the day without occasional but handy off-spinner, Chris Gayle, who pulled a hamstring muscle while fielding. The dynamic opening batsman was taken to hospital for a scan to determine the extent of the problem.

The limitations of a specialist fourman pace attack were exposed on a perfect batting pitch, with only Mervyn Dillion and Vasbert Drakes suggesting that they would threaten more than occasionally.

Smith sent the second delivery of the series, bowled by the slinging, tearaway Fidel Edwards, over short leg to the boundary. He would strike 22 fours in his innings, his fifth Test century, which was notable for having less of a dependency on strokes off his legs, as was the case in his two double-century innings in England last summer. There were handsome drives and flashing cuts on a pitch he could trust against accommodating bowling.

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