Mixed results for Bopara in guest outing
South Africans 262 for 7 (Morkel 41, Parnell 41, Bopara 3-43) beat Gloucestershire 261 (Housego 132, McLaren 3-29) by three wickets
Ravi Bopara failed with the bat in his guest appearance for Gloucestershire but contributed three wickets with his medium pace as they ran the South Africans close in their one-day warm-up match. No one reached fifty in a South African side that was markedly different to the one that beat England 2-0 in the Tests but they reached their target with an over to spare, when No. 8 Robin Peterson hit David Payne for four.
Bopara, who is part of England's squad for the ODI series against South Africa, which starts on Friday, was drafted in after Gloucestershire's request to the ECB for a guest player to drum up interest. The ECB may have been tempted to try and exile Kevin Pietersen to Bristol but while Bopara is not be such a marquee name, he has become a mainstay of England's one-day plans and was in need of practice after missing a month of cricket due to personal problems.
He lasted only four overs at the crease in scoring 3, however, and Gloucestershire were reliant on the talents of 23-year-old Dan Housego to set a competitive total. Housego, who joined Gloucestershire from Middlesex over the winter, has made an encouraging start to life in the west of England despite an injury earlier in the season, and reached his maiden one-day hundred from 123 balls.
It looked like he might run out of partners when Lonwabo Tsotsobe removed Will Gidman at the end of the 36th over, to leave Gloucestershire 156 for 6, but James Fuller joined Housego to second-top score with a merry 39 at a run-a-ball, the pair adding 94 in 11.2 overs. After recording his century, Housego lashed 32 from 13 balls before becoming Ryan McLaren's third wicket. Albie Morkel, recovered from an ankle injury, and Wayne Parnell also picked up two wickets apiece, though Imran Tahir had a less successful day, going for 32 off 4.5 overs, including being hit for consecutive sixes by Fuller.
In response, the South Africans were indebted to partnerships of 69 between Dean Elgar and Justin Ontong and 67 from Morkel and McLaren, as well as a rapid 41 down the order from Parnell. Hashim Amla, after scoring 482 Tests runs against England at a stately strike-rate of 58.85, switched smoothly into one-day mode with a 30-ball 32 out of a stand with Elgar worth 39, before the No. 1-ranked ODI batsman was caught by Bopara off the bowling of Payne.
Bopara then broke the South Africans' second-wicket association by bowling Ontong, as three wickets fell for ten runs, but contributions from Morkel, McLaren and Parnell kept the tourists in the game. With the required rate rising above six, Ed Young's final over - the 46th - went for 14 and despite Bopara returning to dismiss Parnell, the South Africans had done enough to maintain their unbeaten record since arriving in the country. If England are left to rely on Bopara with the ball on Friday, that run may well continue.