March 17, 2001

Ackerman and Prince put Province in the driving seat

Grant Shimmin

Ashwell Prince and skipper HD Ackerman both struck centuries as they carried Western Province to a position of dominance with a superb partnership of 227 for the fourth wicket at Supersport Park on Saturday, setting Northerns to make the highest score of the match, 364, for victory, assuming Province declare on Sunday morning.

The pair came together at 87 for three and were never separated as the visitors totalled 314 for three before bad light ended play nine overs early, Prince finishing on 120 and Ackerman on 109 in a perfect dress-rehearsal for next week's home final against Border.

The pace of the innings seemed slow at times, but that was not a true reflection. Eighty-seven were made in the first session, 105 in the second and 122 in the third. What made it seem that the game might be drifting a little was that the batsmen were scoring the bulk of the runs in boundaries.

Both centurions struck 17 fours in going to their tons and both got to three figures from 44 scoring shots, although Prince was significantly quicker, taking 159 balls to Ackerman's 260.

Both individual innings' were timely ones, with the South Africa A side to tour India later in the year set to be announced in the next week. Prince, who made his first half-century (79) of the season in the first innings, has played in that side before and must surely have clinched his place again with his fifth first class century.

Ackerman, who has had a brief flirtation with Test cricket, playing four matches in the 1997-8 campaign, has been widely touted as captain of that side, with KwaZulu-Natal's Dale Benkenstein surely having missed the Test boat, and a 16th first-class ton, in which he battled through from an uncertain start, will have done his chances no harm.

In the match context, a declaration with some 10 overs left in the day would have been logical, but with the light fading, it was likely Northerns would have successfully appealed against the light early on, so Province batted on, clearly hoping to give themselves more runs to play with on Sunday.