Albie Morkel finds form amid rain
Last week Morne Morkel bowled a superb spell to stake his claim for national selection and this week was the turn of brother Albie at Durban. The older Morkel took four for 70 although he was the most expensive of the Titans bowlers. Morkel was overshadowed by the Dolphins' Yusuf Abdulla. The left-armer, who rose to prominence during the IPL, showed that he is not simply a 20-over player. His five for 62 demolished the Titans as they were bowled out for 164.
However, the weather had the final say as the Dolphins ended on 128 for three in their second innings, a lead of 197. There wasn't too much to speak about with the bat in this match, with Ahmed Amla notching up a half-century. The draw means the Eagles still top the table.
Rain also played its part at Randjesfontien, the Oppenheimer-owned ground, where the Lions hosted a Warriors outfit rich in national talent. But it wasn't only the international players who starred. Arno Jacobs scored a century in his 100th first-class match and Justin Kreusch notched up his first century. Together with Johan Botha's 88, the Warriors amassed an imposing 474. The Lions bowlers all toiled hard, with Friedel de Wet, Cliffie Deacon and Robert Frylinck each picked up three apiece.
The Lions top four batsmen had three half centuries between them, with Neil McKenzie and Alviro Petersen once again finding form. But it was national under-19 captain Jonathan Vandiar who held the innings together though with a confident, undefeated 128.
McKenzie made a challenging declaration for the second match in a row, calling the batsmen back on 395 for seven, and giving the Warriors a 79 run first-innings lead.
McKenzie's decision looked like it might pay off when Friedel de Wet had Ashwell Prince out for a duck but most of the final day was rained off.
In the Provincial three-day league, the Free State and North West drew their match. Mohammed Akoojee and Andrea Agathagelou scored centuries while the pick of the bowlers was the North West's Johan Mostert with four for 40.
The Free State earned a comprehensive 92-run victory in the limited-overs game. Jonathan Beukes' 130 not out helped the home side to 242 for six but it was Hancke von Rauenstein six for 21 that won the game for the men from Bloemfontein.
Glen Addicott scored 104 and 21 year old Kyle Nipper took four for 97 as the KZN Inland team drew with Western Province at Pietermaritzburg. The Inland team's enforced declaration occurred when they were on 250 for six. In response, they bowled Province out for 266. Alastair Gray's good form continued as he scored 46. Natal's second innings ended on 124 for three.
Western Province had the better of their opponents in the limited-overs game, winning by six wickets. Mario Olivier's five for 37 saw the Inlanders restricted to 199 for eight. Gray scored 49 opening the batting and Martin Walters was undefeated on 56 as Province reached the target with four overs to spare.
Batsman of the week
Jonathan Vandiar announced his comeback to first-class cricket properly this week by notching up his second hundred. After suffering an horrific Achilles injury last season, Vandiar made a fairly quiet return to the game last week. This week, though, he catapulted himself into the top six batsmen in the table, joining two other Lions players, McKenzie and Petersen.
Bowler of the week
Von Rauensterin's match-winning performance earns him this week's award. He removed Akoojee when the Free State were still very much in the game on 78 for two in the 13th over and then removed two middle-order batsmen (Riyaadh Bhayat and Brett Pelser) in successive balls. Four overs later, Agathagelou, who was on 51 also succumbed to the legspinner and he added two of the lower order batsman to his tally for good measure as well.
Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg