Centuries galore in provincial games
There was no SuperSport series action this weekend. The Cobras and the Eagles are both in India competing in the Champions League Twenty20, while the Lions and the Dolphins were given a bye. The match between the Titans and the Warriors was abandoned after seven overs at Willowmoore Park in Benoni, as the field and pitch were found to be too damp.
Cricket South Africa has indicated they would like the fixture to be rescheduled, rather than have the teams share points for a draw. While that may happen at a later stage, this past weekend saw no cricket take place and meant that eight international players, including Makhaya Ntini, Wayne Parnell and the Morkel brothers, who may have been able to get valuable match time, were unable to.
All five of the Provincial Inter-State were drawn. In the derby between the KZN Inland team and KZ Natal, there were two notable performances. Quinton Friend claimed eight wickets in the match and Loots Bosman scored a half century for KZN.
There were three centuries in the match between Boland and Griqualand West. 17-year-old Gihahan Cloete was the only centurion for the visitors, although Griquas notched up a slender first-innings lead of 27. The pitch appeared to get considerably better as the match wore on, and hundreds from Emile Kriek and Uwe Birkenstock took Boland to 331 for two declared. Griquas finished on 110 for three. The match had one blast from the past worth noting: the once-tipped-to-play-for-the-country keeper, Wendell Bossenger is still around. In typical reliable fashion, he took five catches and was involved in one run-out.
Pieter Malan's 168 saw Northerns reach 333 for five declared in their first innings against Border. Five wickets from Tumi Masekela saw Border bowled out for 219, and Northerns ended on 87 for one in their second attempt. The only encouraging thing about the contest was that the stars for Northerns were two of their youngest players: Both Malan and Masekela are 20.
Namibia got their first taste of this season's local competition in their encounter with Free State. There was little difference between the teams (Namibia scoring 311/6 declared and Free State bowled out for 312). Sarel Burger scored a century in the second innings for the Nambians, as they declared on 289 for seven. Free State ended on 83 for one.
Gauteng gave a number of their franchise players a run against Eastern Province. Steven Cook and Dane Vilas both scored centuries with Jean Symes and Grant Mokoena reaching half-centuries, as Gauteng notched up 438 (for six declared) in their first innings. Eastern Province fell just a hundred runs short of that, ending on 338 with Michael Smith scoring a hundred. Jean Symes blasted a hundred in Gauteng's second innings to take them to 278 for two declared and Eastern Province ended on 122 for one.
The round of draws sees Free State on top of the log, although they have played two matches, while most of the rest have only played one. Gauteng got the most points (10.76) from one match.
After the drabness of the three-day matches, it was hardly any consolation that only one of the limited-overs matches could be completed.; Gauteng beat Eastern Province by 71 runs. A good batting performance, with a half-century from Steven Cook, saw Gauteng bowled out for 251. Their bowlers did the job for them though, with Pumi Matshikwe taking four for 28 and Aaron Phangiso three for 40, as Eastern Province were bowled out for 180.
Batsman of the week:
With a glut of centuries in drawn contests, this one was tough. It goes to Jean Symes for scoring over 150 runs this weekend in the first-class match. He has surged to second on the rankings, just 20 runs behind Dean Elgar, at a sterling average of 70.25.
Bowler of the week:
Matshikwe takes the honours this week for a match-winning performance in the one-day game. His first two strikes saw both the Eastern Province openers back in the hut, and his next two cleaned up the tail.
Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg