England A: Franks returns to relive memories (25 February 1999)

25 February 1999

England A: Franks returns to relive memories

By Charles Randall in Johannesburg

THE wheel has turned for Paul Franks, who returns to Wanderers with England A for their four-day match against Gauteng, starting today.

Last February at this magnificent stadium, the Nottinghamshire seam bowler enjoyed the most satisfying moment of his short career by helping England win the Under-19 World Cup final, along with Graeme Swann and Robert Key, team-mates on this England A tour.

Just as Franks's career seemed to be blossoming last summer - his ability to hit the seam earned him 52 championship wickets in 12 matches for Nottinghamshire - he was overlooked for the England A tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

He only joined the tour just over a week ago as a replacement for Jason Lewry, the second seam bowler to fly home because of injury, and he established himself almost immediately during England's 3-0 one-day series win over Zimbabwe A.

England go into the game with two spinners, suggesting the pitch, prepared by the former Essex groundsman Andy Atkinson, should test all England's bowlers.

Gauteng, formerly Transvaal, will be at half strength. They will be led by Adam Bacher - the nephew of Ali Bacher and the only Test player included - who steps in for Ken Rutherford, the usual captain.

Melvyn Betts again failed a fitness test on the groin injury that has ruined his tour and Steve Harmison, his Durham seam colleague, is being rested for the final game - a five-dayer in either Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, depending on how the South African first-class programme ends this weekend.

Despite Gauteng's problems, England A manager Phil Neale still expects a stiff examination from them.

He said: "The main thing for our players is to pick up where they left off in Zimbabwe - and probably raise our game a little bit.

"We would like to see the top order getting some runs on the board and, having played a lot of one-day cricket, we need to get back into the four-day mode. Obviously playing at Wanderers is great experience for the lads."

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)