Northerns Women v England Women, Pretoria February 9, 2004

England off to a winning start

England 238 for 7 (Newton 84, Greenway 47, Connor 41, de Beer 3-35, Bronkhorst 3-41) beat Northerns 123 (van der Merwe 44) by 115 runs

England dusted off the cobwebs and started their South Africa tour with a comfortable 115-run victory over Northerns at Pretoria.

Winning the toss and batting, England found conditions very trying, losing two early wickets to Lonell de Beer, who surprisingly opened the bowling with her legspin.

Showing a lot of patience, Laura Newton was rewarded with a well-played 84 before being bowled in the final overs by a ball that stayed very low. During her innings she struck seven boundaries executing some excellent cover and straight-drives.

Newton was well supported by Clare Connor, England's captain, who lost her wicket in trying to up the tempo. Lydia Greenway, quick on the pull, gave the innings the impetus it needed and was involved in a 100-run partnership with Newton.

Northerns were not overwhelmed and maintained a steady length throughout the innings. Twenty-six wides and some sloppy fielding was their undoing with de Beer and medium-pacer Yolandie Bronkhorst rewarded with three wickets apiece. England scoring 238 for 7 was no disgrace.

Northerns lost quick wickets at regular intervals and fell behind the asking-rate, but a 50-run partnership between Mignon du Preez, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, and Yulandi van der Merwe was the highlight of the innings. Du Preez, who has scored a 200 in a senior league game, is a definite star of the future, playing well off both the front and back foot while van der Merwe showed why she is included in the national women's team.

England now move on to Port Elizabeth for the official start of their tour.