Somerset v South Africans, Taunton, 1st day July 9, 2012

South Africans given testing opening day


South Africa 96 for 2 (Amla 34*, Kallis 45*) trail Somerset 312 for 8 dec (Trego 104, Hildreth 100, Meschede 50*, Tsotsobe 3-46) by 216 runs

Centuries from Peter Trego, whose hundred came off 60 balls, and James Hildreth plus a half-century from Craig Meschede tested the South African attack on their first day of action in England. The tourists' top order was also under pressure but the trusted duo of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis ensured normal service had resumed by the close.

Trego and Hildreth added 183 for the fifth wicket at more than seven an over and exposed the rustiness of the visitors' support bowling, while Meschede prevented a lower-order collapse with a sturdy, unbeaten 50. In reply, the South Africans also had to rely on their middle order to prop up a wobbly start, but will be pleased to have had a full day's match practice in the lead up to the Test series. However, they had to contend with as serious injury to Mark Boucher who required eye surgery to leave his tour in doubt.

After brushing aside Somerset's top order, who did themselves no favours with two run-outs as they slipped to 32 for 4, the South Africans were unable to stem the flow of runs from either Trego or Hildreth. The pair took control of the morning session helped by ill-disciplined bowling from Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Morkel's first over cost 24 as Trego took him for six boundaries at the beginning of his onslaught and a high-octane morning session ended with Somerset 165 for 4.

Their momentum was maintained after the break as Morkel continued to struggle with another four-over spell that cost 28 where he could not find the correct line or length. After a brief rain delay, Trego brought up his 100 with a gorgeous straight drive off Morkel but shortly afterwards his thrilling innings ended when he edged Vernon Philander to second slip where Kallis took a low catch.

Although Morkel did not improve in his second spell, Tsotsobe did show signs of finding his groove. He had Chris Jones caught behind off the third delivery of his return spell and began to make use of the same subtle movement that he has become known for.

Hildreth's hundred came up with a nudge into the covers off Dale Steyn, the first of an eventful three balls for him. After stealing the strike with that single, Hildreth started Tsotsobe's next over with an edge to Kallis at gully who put it down. It did not cost South Africa anything, however, as Hildreth drove the next delivery to Amla at mid-off.

With South Africa into the tail, Imran Tahir was brought back on and also showed more control. He used his variations sparingly, but when he did bring out the googly it proved dangerous in more than one way. Gemaal Hussain did not read the delivery and was bowled with a bail ricocheting into Boucher's face and cutting his left eye.

AB de Villiers took over from Boucher and South Africa appeared to have lost their concentration. They could not take another wicket and allowed runs to flow again before Somerset ended their time in the field by declaring shortly after tea.

With Alviro Petersen out through injury, the South Africans opened with Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph, who did the job for five Tests last season without success as a partnership. Rudolph did not display any increased aptitude for playing in that position and wafted at a Jamie Overton delivery to be caught behind.

Smith went the same way in the next over, to Hussain, but things settled for South Africa after that as Amla and Kallis took them to the close in typically calm fashion. The pair brought out a range of classic strokes - Kallis with the hook and cover drive, and Amla with the leg glance - and both they and the remainder of the batting order will look to make the most of their opportunity on Tuesday.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    South Africa's bowling attack will come right, its the batting, (Kallis, Amla, De Villiers aside), which concerns me. Its sad about Boucher but with De Villiers keeping wicket for the 1st test, an extra batsman can be included, which will be needed against a strong England attack.

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2012, 0:23 GMT

    @JG: had Strauss failed yet again against the WIndies, I'd have liked to have seen Compton replace him. Given that Strauss has now done enough to retire on his own terms, though - & that that probably won't be until after the Ashes marathon of 2013/14 - it could be that Compton, sadly, will miss that particular boat, as the selectors will almost certainly go with someone younger - Hales, Root or Denly seem to be the prime candidates - after Strauss finally calls it a day.

  • John on July 10, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    @Si Baker on (July 10 2012, 14:47 PM GMT) You're right in that Compo isn't natually a number 6 so maybe it wouldn't work. I just see him as being able to play in any position. The other point is that I believe England are looking for a number 6 in a different mould to Nick.

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    @JG: it doesn't *have* to be an either Hildreth or Compton situation, but the only vacancy at the mo is at No. 6, & Compton's spent his entire career either opening or at No. 3, while Hildreth's always batted in the middle order. The most likely route in for Compton is if one of the top three is either injured or suffers a dramatic slump in form.

  • j on July 10, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    Morkel: 1-0-24-0. Wow. KP and co are licking their lips already.

  • Keith on July 10, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    Firdose seems to forget that the Pietersen and Smith opening partnership from last season was even less successful than Rudolph and Smith

  • Richard on July 10, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    Morne Morkel; the Steve Harmison of South African cricket. Welcome to England.

  • Martin on July 10, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    Very sorry to hear about Boucher. He had a year playing at Lancaster in the Northern League back in 96 or 97 and he seemed like a good bloke when we played against him. Hope he recovers but this is probably the end of his career certainly at Test or International level.

    Not surprising the Saffers bowling looked a little rusty - they all probably needed a run out and Taunton is a very flat deck for any attack if a couple of batsmen get in.

  • Richard on July 10, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    @Randyoz - no , I don't think anyone really is kidding themselves that this is the south Africans' best efforts ; after all , when your lot thrashed Essex in their warm-up match people were saying much the same thing . Oh , hang on - that WAS your best effort of the tour !! OOPS !

  • Martin on July 10, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    @jonesy2. You're funny. Lets have a look at some famous @jonesy2 quotes; Australia will destroy England in The Ashes 2010/11, Sri Lanka will destroy England Summer 2011. india will destroy England Summer 2010. Sri Lanka will destroy England in Sri Lanka 2012. West Indies will destroy England 2012. Australia will destroy England ODI 2012. There's been a lot of talk of destroying lately hasn't there @jonesy2. No chance of your reputation being destroyed though.

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