Rashid, Lyth keep Lions in the hunt
South Africa A 29 for 1 trail England Lions 260 (Rashid 68, Lyth 65, Kleinveldt 3-53) by 231 runs
For England Lions, who, perhaps through South African sense of humour were told they would be billeted right next to Bloemfontein Zoo for this, the second first-class fixture of their short tour, there was scant scavenging on the opening day of their second four-dayer. Winning the toss on a pitch which was damp at first and hence initially had a little more movement in it than at Paarl, they lost their first three wickets for 16, recovering somewhat through decent innings by Adam Lyth, Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid, before being all out for 260.
That was a good 100 runs less than they would have expected: indeed, probably 150. In the three days between the exhaustive draw at Boland Park and commencing this match, South Africa A have looked afresh at Jonathan Trott's technique. They had to do so, given his unbeaten double century in Paarl, and, besides, their coach, Vincent Barnes, knows Trott's game better than anyone from his youth in the Cape. As do one or two members of their side, who also grew up with him in schools representative cricket and for Western Province.
Hence a leg slip was positioned for Chris Morris' in-swing by Justin Ontong, who was returning to the side and taking over the captaincy from Rory Kleinveldt. Four balls later, Trott was gone, flicking the ball round the corner, a thoroughly instinctive shot. Having in vain tried the bouncer and 'fourth stump' bowling at Paarl, this was clever cricket from the South Africans.
Sam Robson and Alex Lees had already gone to Kleinveldt, who later found some in-swing to bowl Bairstow. As at Paarl, he was the pick of the South Africans' attack and hence could be forgiven on another hot day for a piece of fielding at mid on that was fondly reminiscent of Norman Graham, another tall performer, in his Kent days. Kleinveldt is evidently a better fast medium bowler than he was in his brief career as a Kolpak signing for Hampshire in 2008. Now 32, he will be kept well occupied when playing for Northamptonshire this summer.
James Vince, who has surprisingly extensive experience of batting in South Africa, Hampshire having come for pre-season tours before settling for Barbados, contributed 31 before being snaffled close in on the leg side off Dane Piedt.
Lyth, the beneficiary of some advice from Geoffrey Boycott when he and Bairstow were entertained at his home in Paarl - to "a nice meal," he said - concentrated as impeccably as a Yorkshire opener should do before, surprisingly, he wafted at a wide ball of no great pace and was caught at the wicket. His 65 included eight fours and came off 133 balls.
Liam Plunkett, who has looked more allrounder than tail-ender on this tour, went leg before to Piedt - who claimed a wicket first ball in Test cricket before injured forced a lay-off that ruled him out of the recent series against West Indies - and Mark Wood and Adam Riley departed cheaply, the latter caught and bowled off a leading edge. But for Rashid, whose clean driving emphasised that the specialist batsmen simply had not made the weight of runs expected of them, made 68 off 103 balls with nine fours born of wristy flicks through the on side and some sumptuous cover driving. He was eventually caught behind trying to work Morris to leg.
South Africa A, who made four changes, bringing in players unavailable or ill at Paarl, were left with 11 overs batting. Wood bowled Stiaan van Zyl in his second over through a trimmer that beat a late jabbed defensive shot, but the second wicket pair survived. So ended another day of considerable heat for the Lions, who, incidentally, found their accommodation had been switched from zoo-side to Nelson Mandela Drive. Gravitas had prevailed.