Cremer leads Zim fightback
ZIMBABWE captain Graeme Cremer led from the front, plucking his team from a precarious position with his maiden Test century, which helped the Chevrons avoid the follow-on and limit the first innings deficit to 164 runs on the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Cremer arrived at the crease with his team in all sorts of trouble, after the visitors had dominated the morning session, but - like a true leader - he fashioned a way to fight back and, at the end, was unbeaten after running out of partners having struck a century full of guts and showing his top order players how to handle the pressure.
He became the first Zimbabwean captain to take four wickets and score a 100 in the same innings as the Chevrons posted 373 after they had slumped to 139 for 6 in the morning.
Peter Moor put his wicketkeeping woes behind him to contribute with an 84-ball 79 and Donald Tiripano struck a composed 46 as the lower order frustrated Sri Lanka who, at the close yesterday, had moved to five without loss for a lead of 169.
“It has not sunk in yet. When play began, we wanted to get past the follow-on score, that was the main thing for us,” said Cremer.
“But then, after I got 50-60, I thought there could be a chance here and it just was my day today. We were struggling a bit in the morning and just to get us back into the game, that was a big thing for me.
“We’ll go with in-out fields tomorrow (today); we don’t want them to score too quickly and then we have too much time to bat, because we think that tomorrow the wicket might get quite tough to bat on.”
Cremer, batting at No. 8, played an attritional Test innings, waiting for anything overpitched.
He received plenty such deliveries and drove elegantly to accrue seven of his 10 boundaries through mid-off and extra cover. His timing was superlative and placement impeccable, important requisites for boundary scoring. The highlight of Cremer’s innings was his discipline with straight-bat strokes, even if the ball was short or wide. He milked the spinners, particularly with the spin to long-on or square on the leg side. On 58, he was dropped at backward square leg by Asela Gunaratne. Other than that opportunity, Cremer looked impregnable with a tight defence - bat close to body, head over the ball and a good judgment of which balls to play at and which to leave. Such was his fluency that his hundred never looked in doubt as long as he didn’t run out of partners. Overnight th e
po s i t i on looked hopeful, with a score of 88 for one wicket, and Tino Mawoyo, on 41, and Hamilton Masakadza, on 33, had batted confidently and positively the previous evening.
However, the morning session saw Zimbabwe lose five good wickets, in a series of feeble or ill-judged strokes, and by lunch a good response to the Sri Lankan total of 537 was almost impossible.
PJ Moor fighting.
He did not hide his aggressive instincts, and had faced only a few balls when he lofted a ball from Perera over long-on for six.
He lashed the next ball through the also came out covers for four, but the experienced bowler held the next back and Moor only just sliced it short of backward point. He hit another six off Herath just before lunch, again hitting with the spin, which meant it carried over the long-off boundary. At the interval the score was 174 for six, with Moor on 25 and Cremer, batting with good common sense, 10. After lunch both batsmen thrived, making a nonsense of the five wickets that fell during the morning. Cremer’s previous highest score in Test cricket was 43. “I think we bat quite well together because PJ plays some big shots and keeps the scoreboard ticking, and I know that I can block out a maiden if I need to and just get off strike,” said Cremer. “So that helps me a lot, knowing there’s someone on the other end scoring.” Moor went on to score a careerbest 79 in a 132-run stand with Cremer which only ended when Lahiru Kumara produced a fearsome bouncer that Moor fended to slip. - -
Sri Lanka Zimbabwe Stumps Scores 537 and 5 for 0
373 all out in 107.5 overs Day 3: Graeme Cremer struck his maiden Test ton to lead Zimbabwe’s recovery.