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Ken Borland

Rain saves Gauteng Invitation, denies dominant England A 1

Posted on March 12, 2015 by Ken

The smart money was always on an England Lions victory over the Gauteng Invitation XI in their tour match at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus Oval on Wednesday, but rain ultimately saved the hosts.

Resuming on 43 for three in their second innings, England A captain Jonathan Trott went shopping for runs, scoring a confidence-boosting 79 not out before declaring shortly after lunch on 176 for five, leaving

Gauteng with an impossible target of 441, but, more pertinently, with 55 overs to survive.

Seven of the eight English bowlers used in the afternoon then took a wicket as Gauteng crashed to 120 for eight in 42 overs, before a Highveld thunderstorm came to their rescue.

It was another disappointing batting performance from a team which is largely made up of players in the Gauteng semi-professional programme, with Yaseen Valli (22), Bradley Dial (35) and Brian Barnard (18) the only batsmen to reach double-figures.

Apart from Trott looking solid, the fact that Sam Billings managed to score 53 retired and that leg-spinner Adil Rashid took two for 14 in eight tidy overs will also please the England Lions management.

They were also able to see pace bowlers Matt Dunn and Craig Overton, and off-spinner Adam Riley in action for a few overs in the second innings.

Matthew Arnold claimed two for 24 in 12 overs in a much-improved display in the England Lions second innings, while left-arm quick Cormi le Roux looked like someone who would not be out of place in first-class cricket.

The tourists now travel to the Cape, where they will play South Africa A in the first four-day ‘test’ in Paarl from Sunday.

England A show not to judge a pitch until both sides have bowled on it 0

Posted on March 08, 2015 by Ken

The old proverb of not judging a pitch until both sides have bowled on it was applicable at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus Oval on Tuesday as the England Lions racked up 443 and then bowled the Gauteng Invitation XI out for just 179 on the second day of their tour match.

The tourists were 43 for three in their second innings at lunch, a lead of 307 going into the final day.

It was the hosts who actually set the tone for a much better day for the bowlers. The Gauteng attack had taken a pounding on the first day as they conceded 361 for four (two batsmen retired), but they showed some pride and rebounded well on Tuesday, claiming the last six English wickets for 82 runs.

Alex Lees, who had mixed reserve with aggression in going to 82 not out on the first day, added just three more to his score beforeWesley Landsdale gobbled up the catch at second slip as the batsman edged a drive off Keith Dudgeon.

Jonny Bairstow, the son of a former England wicketkeeper and considered for some time to be the successor to Matt Prior, became the third Lions batsman to retire, having scored a fine 62 off 95 balls and the tourists’ tail did not offer much else.

Seamers Dudgeon (20-6-51-2) and Nono Pongolo (22-7-70-3) were the best of the Gauteng bowlers with five wickets between them, while Zaid Saloojee claimed the last two wickets with his off-spin.

The Gauteng reply was rocked by the early loss of openers Yassar Cook (4) and Karabo Mogotsi (5) to the new-ball pair of Liam Plunkett and Jack Brooks.

Change bowlers Boyd Rankin and Mark Wood then kept the England A side right on top by removing Yaseen Valli (11) and Landsdale (15).

Bradley Dial (23) and captain Sizwe Masondo (27) briefly stabilised the innings with a stand of 45, but the batting honours went to Brian Barnard (39) and Pongolo (36), who added 65 for the seventh wicket.

The tail then collapsed to Wood, who finished with four for 29, while Plunkett was also impressive with two for 17 in nine overs.

Trailing by 264 runs, Gauteng were able to claim three English scalps in the 11.3 overs before the close with Matthew Arnold, Cormi le Roux and Lazarus Mokoena each taking a wicket.

First-innings centurions Sam Robson (1) and Adam Lyth (25) are both gone, but Jonathan Trott is still there on 10 not out and looking to stamp his return to international cricket with a major innings.

Trott fails but Robson & Lyth give England A emphatic start 0

Posted on March 07, 2015 by Ken

Jonathan Trott may have failed on his return to South African soil, but openers Sam Robson and Adam Lyth both scored centuries as the England Lions made an emphatic start to their tour against a Gauteng Invitation XI at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus Oval on Monday.

Trott may be the centre of attention as he tries to resurrect his international career after a self-imposed exile due to a stress-related condition that left him too mentally vulnerable to play cricket, but the South African-born batsman lasted just 20 minutes and 13 balls at the crease, leaving the spotlight to Robson and Lyth as they powered England A to 361 for four at stumps.

Lyth and Robson added 176 for the first wicket before Robson retired on 109, having stroked 12 fours and a six in a fluent 152-ball innings befitting England’s current Test incumbent opener.

Lyth retired 12 overs later on 106, having started watchfully and then sped up as he faced 171 balls and hit 16 fours and a six.

When an actual wicket did finally occur, it was Trott’s, the 49-Test veteran sparring outside the off stump and being caught behind for six off Keith Dudgeon, a 19-year-old seamer with just one first-class wicket.

James Vince also fell cheaply for seven, caught at cover off Nono Pongolo – a dismissal which advertised the slow nature of the pitch as the ball ‘stopped’ on the batsman – before Alex Lees played some sparkling cricket in going to 82 not out off 136 deliveries.

Jonny Bairstow was also showing signs of living up to his billing as he crunched 32 not out before stumps, capitalising on a second new ball that was woefully used by Gauteng.

Dudgeon (17-6-41-1) and Pongolo (17-4-59-1) both bowled tidily enough on a flat pitch, but fellow seamers Matthew Arnold (16-1-102-0) and Lazarus Mokoena (15-3-73-0) were both expensive.

Left-arm spinner Dale Deeb (22-4-66-0) will be disappointed his accurate bowling did not bring reward, but first-day pitches like the one at the scenic Soweto Campus Oval are not going to provide much turn.

This is a vital tour for the likes of Robson, Lyth and Lees, who are all aiming to be included in England’s touring party to the West Indies in April and, with former head coach Andy Flower watching from the sideline, they all would have kept themselves firmly in the selectors’ thoughts.

“It’s another good opportunity to play high-standard cricket for the Lions and obviously, on a personal level, it’s nice to get runs and put on a good show. I managed to get a partnership going with Adam and we’ve started the tour well before the ‘tests’. It’s going to be a good, hard tour leading up to the West Indies tour, which a number of us are hoping to get on to,” Robson said.

“They bowled pretty well with the new ball and then went quite negative, with a seven-two field and bowling wide, so I had to rein myself in, leave well, not give my wicket away and then cash in later when the bowlers were tired,” Lyth added.

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