South African cricketIt was test match, more about frequent interruptions and called off playing sessions than any action in the middle. Despite that, patience on part of players on both sides was laudable. A drawn game in test cricket has a funny side to it. It can be a hard-fought encounter, where one side would try to outdo the other; or it could be one of the most boring displays, where a side would try its utmost to block balls that are fit to be hit and fill in the time somehow; or a game which could be keenly poised and heading to a result and weather would interfere; or lastly it could be like the recently drawn game between South Africa and the West Indies at Port Elizabeth, where one would wish the weather to show some mercy. But the bottom line is a draw, whatever be the circumstances.

At Port Elizabeth, the waterlogged outfield and grounds-men doing their utmost became a familiar sight during the five days of the second test match between South Africa and the visiting West Indies. Just 201 overs could be bowled over five days of the test match. Interestingly however, when play was possible, the contest in the middle had been keen. The players on either side had hopes that were finally dashed by either the persistent rain or the bad light. Regardless, four batsmen scored centuries; Dale Steyn played T20 style and completed his fifty in 26 balls and 17 wickets fell. Even the first innings’ play could not be completed as West Indies’ 275/9 on the fourth day remained their final score.

On the last day, no play could be possible as the ground conditions didn’t improve. As players and officials waited in their dungeons, the umpires kept inspecting the outfield every hour in the time between 1000 hrs and 1300 hrs. The two gentlemen found that conditions of the pitch and outfield were still far from satisfactory and no further play would be possible. It was officially announced at 1305 hrs that play had been called off. The draw that was imminent anyway, got an official tag for record books.

Beginning with Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis on first and second days and Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels on the fourth day, two batsmen on either side came up with centuries. It was decided to name West Indian Brathwaite as the Man of the Match for his innings of 106. After their crushing defeat at Centurion’s first test, there was onus on the West Indies to prove a point. They did show a few glimpses by taking the wickets of Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers on the third day but later, Dale Steyn thrashed them in swashbuckling fashion.

As the teams go to the third and final test at Newlands, Cape Town beginning January 2, 2015, South Africa is faced with the problem of keeping wickets in the absence of the injured Quinton de Kock. AB de Villiers has long stopped standing behind the wickets and he is out of practice because of that. But South Africa coach, Domingo said he would have to persist with him one more time. However, in the ODIs and T20 games, de Villiers will not be entrusted with the same responsibility. West Indies, on the other hand, have a bigger problem of trying to match their opponents in this larger format of cricket.