Famous Test Matches – England v South Africa, Old Trafford, 1998

  South Africa had stormed to a 1-0 lead in the series with a ten-wicket win in the second Test at Lord’s, and came into the third, played at Old Trafford from July 2 to July 6, 1998, riding on a wave of confidence. The visitors replaced opener Adam Bacher and pace bowler Shaun Pollock, both of whom were nursing injuries, with Gerhardus Liebenberg and Makhaya Ntini respectively.

  England, on the other hand, made three changes from the drubbing at Lord’s; Dean Headley and Mark Ealham made way for strike bowler Darren Gough, who was fit again, and uncapped Warwickshire left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, while Nick Knight came in for Stephen James to partner Michael Atherton at the top of the order.

  Hansie Cronje won the toss and made the wise decision of batting first on a slow surface which had little for the fast bowlers. Gough provided an early breakthrough by castling Liebenberg, but thereafter, Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis combined to grind the English bowling into submission. The duo saw through the rest of the opening day and steered South Africa to 237/1 at close of play.

  While the 22-year-old Kallis reached his second Test century on the first day, Kirsten completed the milestone early on day two. Together they stayed put for more than 96 overs, adding 238 for the second wicket, which was a new record for South Africa’s highest partnership for any wicket since their return from isolation. Kallis batted for nearly six hours before being bowled by Gough.

  Kallis’ 132 came from 266 balls and featured 16 fours, but his wicket was but a speck of consolation for the toiling bowlers. Daryll Cullinan came in at number four, and along with Kirsten, further frustrated the hosts by batting dourly and resolutely, effectively snuffing out any hopes that England might have had of gaining the upper hand.

   South African opener Gary Kirsten batted for nearly eleven hours to compile 210 at Old Trafford in 1998 (source – cricket.com.au)

  Kirsten went on to a maiden Test double hundred and was eventually out in the final session, caught behind by captain Alec Stewart off Angus Fraser, for a marathon knock of 210. He occupied the crease for ten hours and 50 minutes, then the longest Test innings by a South African batsman, faced 525 balls and hit 24 fours and a six. His third-wicket alliance with Cullinan fetched 176 runs.

  Nine overs later, Cullinan perished after a defiant effort of his own, 75 in nearly five hours, thus giving 25-year-old Giles his first Test wicket. South Africa finished the day at 487/4 and seemingly on course to bat England out of the match. Cronje collected an unbeaten 69 in the first session of the third day, before declaring his team’s innings one ball short of 200 overs, the total reading 552/5.

  With a considerable challenge staring them in the face, England’s batsmen let their supporters down, succumbing to pace and spin alike. The tearaway Allan Donald applied the pressure first up, snaring Nick Knight and Nasser Hussain to leave England at 34/2. The seasoned pair of Atherton and Stewart dug in to add 60 for the third wicket, before the former was dismissed.

  Atherton was caught behind by Mark Boucher, who pouched his third catch, off Ntini, the first black cricketer to play for South Africa. His 41 would remain the highest score of the innings. Stewart was soon bowled by Kallis, and the score was now 108/4. To worsen matters for England, Graham Thorpe was fighting a back injury and had to be shifted down the order.

  Left-arm chinaman bowler Paul Adams, known for his ‘frog in a blender’ action, took care of the middle order, scalping three wickets, including that of Thorpe for a duck, to tighten the noose around England. The hosts endured another torrid day, ending at 162/8 and were presumably down for the count. They were duly bundled out for 183 the next morning, with Adams returning 4/63.

  With England 369 runs behind and close to five sessions left in the game, Cronje had no hesitation in imposing the follow-on. The start to the second innings was woeful – Knight, caught behind off Donald, and Hussain, cleaned up by Kallis, were again back in the hut cheaply. For the second time in as many days, Atherton and Stewart were under the pump to salvage a fast-sinking ship.

     England’s captain Alec Stewart scored 164 in the second innings to engineer his team’s fightback against South Africa (source – gettyimages)

  England’s aggregate in their last three Test innings was fifteen runs less than South Africa’s first innings total here, and they now found themselves 11/2 against a charged-up bowling attack. To say they were in dire straits would be an understatement. The pair in the middle was utterly crucial for England in the context of the game, what with Thorpe’s lack of fitness.

  Atherton and Stewart delivered when it mattered the most, ensuring that the South Africans would not find any further success on the fourth day. Stewart was relatively brisker, and reached his century in the final session, remaining unbeaten on 115 at stumps. England began the final day in a much safer position, at 211/2, but by no means they were out of the woods yet.

  England were now trailing by 158, and with eight wickets still in the bank, they had reason to be optimistic of saving the Test as the fifth day commenced. Atherton, eyeing a hundred of his own, and Stewart prodded along with prudence, before the former was taken out halfway through the first session, caught by Ntini off Kallis for a valuable 89, which ate up over six hours and 280 balls.

  The third-wicket stand between Atherton and Stewart realised 226 runs, and more importantly, saw off 83 overs. Mark Ramprakash joined his captain at the fall of the third wicket, and as was expected, went into an uber-defensive mode right away. The total had inched to 293/3 an hour after lunch, with England still 76 short of making South Africa bat again, when Stewart finally buckled.

  England’s unflinching wicketkeeper-captain had done his bit for the team, batting out close to seven hours for a valiant 164 from 317 balls, with 24 fours. Like Atherton, he fell playing the hook shot, caught by Klusener off the indefatigable Donald. This key wicket doubtlessly reignited the ‘White Lightning’, as Donald was known, and he proceeded to give England a rude jolt.

  Thorpe capped a sorry Test with his second duck, bowled by Donald in his next over. To add to England’s distress, Adams ejected Dominic Cork soon after, and the score was now 296/6 – three wickets had fallen for as many runs in as many overs. Glamorgan’s Robert Croft joined Ramprakash, and another 20 overs were cleared before Donald had the latter leg before wicket.

     Speedster Allan Donald bowled his heart out for South Africa in the second innings, taking 6/88 from 40 overs (source – gettyimages)

  ‘Ramps’ held fort for over three hours, scoring 34. Fours over later, Donald collected his fifth victim in the form of Giles. England were now 329/8, with more than 25 overs left to be negotiated. Croft began to show that he was no pushover, stodgily defying whatever the South Africans threw at him. He found support in an equally obstinate Gough, and they set about to thwart the tiring visitors.

  Croft and Gough battled for more than 20 overs and 75 minutes, but when Gough was out, caught by Kirsten off Donald, there yet remained 7.1 overs and England were still two runs away from forcing the fourth innings. However, Croft was unmoved; he levelled the scores amid rising tension, thus covering two more overs, for the change of innings.

  Fraser, the number eleven, played out 13 deliveries at the other end without opening his account, and this last pair had somehow survived for 31 balls to deny South Africa. The draw was ensured in the penultimate over, as even if a wicket had fallen in the last over, South Africa would not have had sufficient time to bat. The Test finished with scores level as England dragged to 369/9 in 171 overs.

  Croft remained unbeaten on a heroic 37 from 125 balls, absorbing the pressure for three hours and ten minutes. Donald led the way for the South Africans, who were on the field for 253.1 overs, with figures of 6/88 in 40 overs. The choice of Kallis as man of the match was perhaps a wee bit surprising, though there is no denying the vital all-round role he played.

  Inspired by this epic escape, England produced a high-impact performance in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge, winning by eight wickets. It all boiled down to the decider at Headingley, which turned to be a gripping low-scorer that the hosts pinched by 23 runs, culminating in a special, come-from-behind series victory.

Match Scorecard


Specials – Memories from the NatWest Tri-Series, Part 1

  It has been ten years since the English cricket summer did away with the tri-series format for ODIs and instead reverted to separate bilateral series. The primary reason for the discontinuation of the NatWest triangular series from 2006 onwards was that crowds were increasingly turning out to be poor for matches not involving England.

  It was in 1972 that England hosted its first ODI series, a three-match series against Australia. Since then, bilateral series consisting of two or three matches were played against the touring sides, sponsored by Prudential Insurance from 1972 to 1983 and by Texaco from 1984 to 1998. Besides, the first three World Cups were also played in England. All these matches featured white clothing.

  The first international tournament on English soil to feature coloured clothing was a short tri-nation series involving England, South Africa and Sri Lanka in 1998. There was a single round of matches, besides a final in which World Cup holders Sri Lanka defeated the hosts. The following year, England hosted the World Cup for the fourth time.

  The turn of the millenium saw the advent of the NatWest Series, a fresh tri-series concept featuring ten matches played in between the two Test series of the summer. Each team played the others thrice, with the top two making it to the final at Lord’s. The six years of the NatWest Series churned out a fair share of compelling ODI cricket. In this post, we look back at the first three editions.


  The West Indies and Zimbabwe were the participants in the first edition of the NatWest Tri-Series. The tourists faced each other in the opening match at the County Ground in Bristol. This low-key clash was significant for being the first official day/night international in England.

  Brian Lara cracked an entertaining 60 but the West Indian total of 232/7 was inadequate as Neil Johnson’s unbeaten 95 saw Zimbabwe home by six wickets. Zimbabwe went on to make it two out of two as another disciplined bowling effort ensured a five-wicket win against England at the Oval.


      England’s Craig White celebrates after getting the prized wicket of Zimbabwean captain Andy Flower in the 2000 NatWest Series final (source – cricinfo.com/gettyimages)

  Marcus Trescothick scored 79 on debut but his dismissal triggered a collapse of 8 for 57. The modest total of 207 was chased down in the 49th over thanks to Alistair Campbell’s 80. England’s game with the West Indies at Lord’s was rained off with the hosts struggling at 158/8.

  Zimbabwe extended their winning spree at Canterbury, where they subdued the Windies again. Facing a target of 257, the West Indies crashed to 57/6 and eventually limped to 186/8. Guy Whittall starred for the victors with a knock of 83. The law of averages caught up with Zimbabwe at Old Trafford, where they were bundled out for 114 en route to an eight-wicket defeat to England.

  England continued in the same vein against the West Indies at Chester-le-Street, where openers Trescothick (87*) and captain Alec Stewart (74*) gunned down the target of 170. At the same venue, the West Indies faced a must-win situation against Zimbabwe. Sherwin Campbell (105) and Lara (87) powered them to 287/5.

  However, a stunning unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 186 between Murray Goodwin (112*) and Grant Flower (96*) knocked Jimmy Adams’ men out. Stewart’s 101 guided England to a 52-run win over Zimbabwe at Edgbaston. In the last league match, the West Indies scored a thrilling three-run win after posting 195/9, Stewart’s century (100*) going in vain this time.

  The final was largely one-sided – Stewart missed out on a third successive hundred by three runs, but it was enough to help England win by six wickets after the bowlers, led by Darren Gough (3/20) had restricted the inserted Zimbabweans to 169/7. The England captain was deservedly named player of the series for his tally of 408 runs, besides 12 catches behind the wicket.


  England faced two superior ODI outfits in Australia and Pakistan in what was a tough summer. Pakistan condemned the hosts to a 108-run thrashing in the first game at Edgbaston, after Saeed Anwar (77) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (79) led their side to 273/6. World Cup champions Australia then chased down Pakistan’s challenging 257 to win by seven wickets.

  Australia’s batting firepower was evident in the next game at Bristol as well, where England’s 268/4 (Nick Knight scoring 84) was overhauled with five wickets in hand thanks to Ricky Ponting’s 102. Lord’s witnessed a thriller as England fell just two runs short of Pakistan’s 242/8, despite Trescothick’s career-best 137.

Gillespie has just bowled Wasim for 17

     Jason Gillespie is jubliant after bowling Wasim Akram in the final of the 2001 NatWest Series between Australia and Pakistan (source – espncricinfo.com/gettyimages)

  The hosts were then shot out for 86, their lowest ODI total, in pursuit of 209 against Australia at Old Trafford. With England needing to win to stay alive, an ugly crowd invasion overshadowed a fine performance by Waqar Younis at Headingley. Waqar (7/36) reduced the hosts to 58/7 before the total recovered to 156.

  When Pakistan were 153/4, the crowd stormed onto the field, leading to the injury of a steward and the conceding of the match by captain Stewart. This incident rightfully led to the prohibition of spectators from coming on to the field. Another Waqar special of 6/59 enabled Pakistan to beat Australia by 36 runs at Trent Bridge. 

  Another tame defeat to Australia, this time by eight wickets at the Oval, meant that England failed to win a single game in the tournament. Two years after the lop-sided World Cup final, Australia and Pakistan met at Lord’s again and Steve Waugh’s men came up trumps with a similarly thumping win, by nine wickets and with 141 balls to spare. Waqar was named player of the series.

  Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals after electing to bat first, and at 60/4 in the 20th over, a deja vu of 1999 was already on the cards. Penetrative bowling from Brett Lee and Ian Harvey was aided by Shane Warne’s guile as Pakistan were dismissed for 152. Adam Gilchrist completed the formalities with an unbeaten 76.  


  The presence of two subcontinental teams ensured that most grounds were packed to full houses. The evergreen Stewart, still going strong, scored 83 in the first ODI at Trent Bridge before Andrew Flintoff’s timely strikes ensured Sri Lanka fell short of England’s 293/6 by 44 runs.

  India were a tougher nut for the hosts in the second game at Lord’s, where they won by six wickets facing a target of 272. Rahul Dravid (73*) and Yuvraj Singh (64*) added an unbroken 131 after Virender Sehwag’s quick 71 had laid the platform. India went on top after a four-wicket win in a tricky chase of 203 at the Oval against Sri Lanka, whose batsmen fell to Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar.

  Sanath Jayasuriya’s 112 went in vain in a 32-over affair at Headingley, as the hosts rode on Trescothick’s equally attacking 82 to chase down 241 for the loss of seven wickets. Sachin Tendulkar’s 105* against England at Chester-le-Street helped India pile up 285/4, but rain had the final say.


     The Indian players rush to congratulate Mohammed Kaif after he guided India to victory in the 2002 NatWest Series final (source – skysports.com)

  Sri Lanka, after being bowled out for 187 at Edgbaston, had India in trouble at 59/4 and it took a mature 64 from Dravid to help his side score a scratchy win by four wickets. The Lankans finally opened their account after four defeats with a 23-run win at Old Trafford over England, who failed to chase 229. Interestingly, Michael Vaughan scalped 4/22 with his part-time off breaks.

  In another rain-shortened match of 32 overs, England won by 64 runs with Ronnie Irani’s 5/26 bowling India out for 165. Tendulkar stroked a vintage 113 out of a total of 304/5 in the last league game at Bristol as Sri Lanka, who were already out of the race, lost by 63 runs. Harbhajan Singh starred with the ball, taking 4/46.

The final was one of the most nail-biting ODIs ever played. After England opted to bat, player of the series Trescothick (109) and captain Nasser Hussain (115) shared in a second-wicket stand of 185. This was Hussain’s only ODI ton. Openers Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly (60) replied to England’s 325/5 by adding 106 in 15 overs, but a collapse soon saw India slide to 146/5.

  Yuvraj and Mohammed Kaif turned the tide by adding 121 for the sixth wicket. When Yuvraj was out for 69, India still needed 58 from 50 balls. Kaif (87*) kept going and was given valuable company by Harbhajan. Two wickets fell at 314, but Zaheer held his nerve to score the winning runs off the third ball of the final over, inspiring captain Ganguly to take his shirt off in celebration on the Lord’s balcony. 

Famous Test Matches – England v Pakistan, Lord’s, 1992

  This was the second Test of Pakistan’s five-match series in England, played between June 18 and 21. The two teams renewed their battle at Lord’s after the first Test at Edgbaston resulted in a rain-affected draw.

  Graham Gooch elected to bat first and immediately blunted the much-vaunted Pakistan attack, which comprised of the swing twins Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Gooch was involved in a solid 123-run opening partnership with Alec Stewart, before he was cleaned up by Akram for a fluent 69. Stewart contributed 74 – the highest score in the innings – and was fourth out at 197.

  However, no batsman thereafter made more than 30 as Younis proceeded to rattle the middle order. Younis finished with 5/91 – his eighth five-wicket haul in his 16th Test – as England were bowled out for 255, losing all their wickets for only 132 and the last six for 42. Pakistan motored to 31/0 before play ended on the first day.

  Aamer Sohail led Pakistan’s charge with an attractive knock of 73, and he put on 80 for the second wicket with Asif Mujtaba (59). Persistent rain meant that the second day ended early, with the score reading 123/1 at stumps. On day three, Pakistan looked set for a big lead at 228/3 with Mujtaba and Saleem Malik at the crease, the two already having added 85.


            Alec Stewart top-scored in both innings for England (source – skysports.com)

  However, Devon Malcolm struck twice in three balls, removing Mujtaba and then Inzamam ul-Haq for a duck. He later accounted for Malik (55) too and the visitors were suddenly 235/6. The tail could not do much as Pakistan were bowled out for 293, the eventual lead of 38 being much less than what they had hoped for until Malcolm’s burst.

  Malcolm took 4/70, while Phil DeFreitas chipped in with 3/58. England ended the day at 52/1 – ahead by 14 – with Stewart unbeaten on 21. The fourth day would turn out to be one of the most dramatic ever seen at Lord’s. England, on resumption, were done in by both pace and spin. Except for Stewart, no one scored more than 15 as the home team crashed to 175 all out – losing their last four for just one run.

  Akram picked 4/66 while Younis added two more to his tally. But it was the leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed (3/32) who hastened England’s collapse, as he got rid of Greame Hick, Robin Smith and Allan Lamb in the space of 22 balls to have England at 137/5, a position from which they could not recover. Stewart carried his bat for a fine 69, thus ending as the top-scorer again.  

  Pakistan’s target was only 138 with plenty of time to go. However, England were right back in the contest courtesy a high-quality fast bowling spell from Chris Lewis, who had Rameez Raja caught at slip and then had Mujtaba and skipper Javed Miandad caught behind – all for ducks – to reduce Pakistan to 18/3 in front of a Sunday crowd of 26,000 who had gathered to watch the proceedings.


        Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis thwarted England with the bat this time (source – thecricketblog.com)

  The rot steadily deepened as the debutant leg-spinner Ian Salisbury removed Malik to make it 41/4. Inzamam was then needlessly run out while Sohail, who made 39, was bowled by Salisbury. Pakistan were now on the mat at 68/6. Gooch had a problem though – DeFreitas and Botham were both down with injuries and none of them could bowl in the second innings.

  Salisbury continued to bowl his heart out, scalping Moin Khan to make it 81/7 which later became 95/8 when Malcolm removed Ahmed. While England looked good to remove the last two men, it must not be forgotten that they were playing short of two bowlers. Pakistan had Akram and Younis at the crease – the two fast bowlers who would go on to torment the hosts as the series progressed.

  The two Ws decided to frustrate England as a batting pair this time as they calmly inched toward the modest target. With England’s three-man attack getting tired by the over, they were well aware that the target was within reach. When the last over of the day began, the scores were level before Akram drove Salisbury through the covers for a boundary to ensure a memorable win

             The Pakistanis rejoice after beating England at Lord’s (source – gettyimages)

  England had tried their best, but it was Pakistan’s time to celebrate as the team rushed on to the ground to congratulate their two unlikely batting heroes. Akram made 45* from 64 balls, while Younis provided valuable company with 20* from 33 balls as Pakistan reached 141/8 to win the Test by two wickets, thereby taking a 1-0 series lead.

  Perhaps the result would have ended in England’s favour had two of their prime bowlers been fit to bowl in the second innings. Nonetheless, it was a brave effort from England, especially from Lewis and Salisbury, both of whom took three wickets apiece. England levelled the series in the fourth Test to set up a decider at the Oval, where Pakistan crushed them by ten wickets to win the series 2-1.

  Akram took 21 wickets in the series and Younis 22. The series was marred by Pakistan’s complaining of the umpiring standards, often rightfully, while England throughout suspected Pakistan’s swing twins of tampering with the ball – whereas in actuality they were simply done in by two of the best exponents of swing bowling ever seen.

Match Scorecard