St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - Game Windies Self-destruct
Game Windies Self-destruct
Neale Emslie

THE West Indies’ woes on their South African cricket safari continued unabated on January 28, 2004, as they kept their fingers firmly on the self-destruct button to lose the second Standard Bank limited overs cricket international against South Africa by 16 runs at a packed St George’s Park.

The visitors, who lost by 16 runs, now trail 2-0 in the five-match series and their chances of keeping the series alive in the third game in Durban on January 30, 2004, looked remote after their poor effort.

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Facing a modest South African total of 179 for seven in 50 overs, the Windies were the masters of their own downfall with no less than three run-outs, while the home team’s senior bowler, Shaun Pollock, contributed massively to the victory with an important innings of 26 and a bowling return of four for 26, the best one-day effort by a South African player at St George’s Park.

During his innings, Pollock became the fourth player in limited overs international cricket to pass the landmarks of 2 000 runs and 250 wickets.

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The match, however, almost came to a dramatic finish in front of the capacity crowd of 18 700 when Windies tailenders Ravi Rampaul and Corey Collymore put on 37 for the 10th wicket to give the tourists a whiff of victory after they had been on the ropes at 126 for nine.

But Lance Klusener, who had little time to display his hitting powers when he batted, relieved what seemed an increasingly anxious situation by taking a good caught and bowled chance to end the Windies effort on 163 in the 43rd over.

South African skipper Graeme Smith called the St George’s Park pitch “substandard”. “Yes, it was a close result but I really think people come to ODIs to see a lot of runs being scored. This wicket was tough.”

Smith’s comments come less than a year after Australian skipper Ricky Ponting also criticised the pitch following a World Cup game against England.

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Smith said the situation had been a little anxious towards the end and that the team was “emotionally drained” following the win.

Brian Lara, Smith’s counterpart, felt differently.

“While we were in the field and in the short time I was at the wicket I did not notice anything in the pitch that would suggest why we were under such pressure.

“Instead I think we bowled and fielded well. It was the three run outs that cost us the game. You shouldn’t be making mistakes like that at an international level.”

Smith said the South Africans’ intensity may have dropped a notch after they reduced the Windies to 126 for nine. “It’s possible we went down a notch and perhaps we were trying to knock them over and finish it off. In the end, we needed to get back to basics.”

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Boeta Dippenaar, man of the match for his 83, said they had been forced to revise their targets after seeing the nature of the pitch. “In the end we thought 180 would be a defendable target,” he said.

Looking ahead to the rest of the series, Smith said he felt South Africa, who last night named an unchanged squad for the remaining three matches, were capable of winning 5-0.

“But the Windies have got players who can still win a match from nowhere, so we need to get back to earth and get hungry again.”

The match received enormous support from the public, resulting in a rare sellout at St George’s Park by 4pm.

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Responding to various queries from the public about the seating availability, EP cricket chief executive Dave Emslie said in a statement: “For the World Cup, our ground was surveyed and the number of available seating in both reserved and unreserved seating was determined at 18 700. This was done by experts in their field and the sophisticated ticketing system was programmed accordingly.

“We would like to thank the public for their wonderfully spontaneous support of the match. We are proud that we have had such a good response and look forward to continued support at domestic and international matches.”

THE HERALD

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