March 15, 2001

Easterns ward off threat of military haircuts

Marcus Prior - MWP

Easterns turned a corner at Boland Park on Thursday, producing a gritty batting display which will have warmed the heart of coach Ray Jennings, who accused his side of 'meek capitulation' in last week's ten-wicket defeat at the hands of North West.

While a place in the Supersport Series final is now mathematically out of reach, Easterns did at least show some pride in seeing off a plucky Boland attack for much of day one of this Supersport Series Super Eight match, eventually closing on 289/8.

While it was never inspired, rarely absorbing and played out in front of 30 spectators (a generous estimate as the few there made their presence known in no uncertain terms), it was a thoroughly professional performance and the military haircuts Jennings has threatened in the past week would seem to be on hold for the time being.

Things got off to a good start with correct call at the toss. It was another Winelands stinker of a day and another pacid Boland Park pitch, so there was absolutely no question that the right decision was to bat.

However, when the first three wickets fell with just 49 on the board, there was legitimate cause for concern, Henry Williams taking two of the wickets.

But a partnership of 128 for the fourth wicket between Derek Crookes (95) and Aldo van den Berg (59) turned things back the visitor's way, and although there were one or two middle-order hiccups, solid contributions from Anthony Botha (33) and Pierre Uys (26) ensured Easterns finished the day with the upper hand.

Crookes will be annoyed at falling five runs short of what would have been his 11th first-class century, the veteran bowled around his legs by the slow left-arm spin of Con de Lange.