March 10, 2001

Victory a formality for North West over Easterns

Grant Shimmin - MWP

Bad light prevented North West coasting to victory over Easterns at Willowmoore Park on Saturday, although with just 29 left for victory for the visitors, with all ten second innings wickets standing, that only represented a stay of execution.

The match looked likely to be over well before the end of the third day, with Easterns, who trailed by 230 on the first innings, struggling on 92 for six shortly after lunch, before a cavalier debut century from 19-year-old Albie Morkel made it far more difficult for North West than it might have been.

Ultimately, Morkel's 117 off 118 balls, which included 17 fours and a six, helped set the visitors 70 to win and by the close they had reached 41 without loss, with Riaan Niewoudt on 25 and Andrew Lawson on eight.

So while it ensured the home side avoided the ignominy of a huge innings defeat, it did nothing to advance their aspirations of reaching a first Supersport Series final, which seems nothing but a distant dream now. Easterns ended the match with just three bonus points and will have to hope Boland somehow upset Border in East London on Sunday to remain in contention.

Morkel's innings did provide rich entertainment for the handful of spectators, however, especially a full-frontal assault that got him off the mark with 18 runs in an over off Barbadian Mark Lavine, including four fours, most of them going off the outside edge through the gap between third slip and gully.

Ultimately six fours went behind square on the off side, but for a man whose previous best was 27 in first-class cricket, that won't matter nearly as much as the fact that he now has a century to his name.