Stokes and Gurney share seven in win
England Lions 173 for 6 (Roy 43) beat South Africa A 172 (Stokes 4-22, Gurney 3-26) by four wickets
Ben Stokes led an impressive England Lions bowling display that ultimately led to victory in the opening one-day match of the limited-overs leg of their South Africa tour.
It was a good day for the World Cup discards among the Lions attack as Harry Gurney also picked up three. Both he and Stokes, who has been playing the Big Bash, were part of the Sri Lanka tour before Christmas but were the players to miss out on the final squad as James Anderson and Stuart Broad returned. The performances were timely from Stokes and Gurney as any replacements required at the World Cup due to injury would come from this tour.
The batsman laboured in a small chase but did just enough to reward the Lions bowlers, led by Stokes whose 4 for 22 started with a wicket first ball of his spell and saw South Africa A bowled out cheaply. David Wiese top-scored for the hosts with 39 in 38 balls but there were few partnerships to get the innings moving.
Stokes eventually removed Wiese for his third wicket as the hosts were dismissed with over 10 overs of their allocation available.
Gurney's three wickets included a strike in his opening over that set the tone for the innings. It wasn't until the sixth wicket pair of Wiese and Dane Vilas got together that a meaningful stand was compiled - their 56 was the highest stand of the innings.
The Lions made a bright start to their chase through Jason Roy who struck nine boundaries in his run-a-ball 43. And even though James Vince, leading the one-day side, and Jonny Bairstow fell cheaply the Lions were in control at 132 for 4 but two quick wickets meant Liam Plunkett was needed to finish the chase with a six and two fours.
"It's a really good start," Stokes said. "Obviously I wasn't here for the 'Test' matches but it looks like the lads have carried their form into the one-day matches, and it's great to take a 1-0 lead.
"There was a bit in it for the seamers, and everyone put their hand up and performed really well when Vincey asked them to. My rhythm and form have been a bit off for the last couple of months, but that's the best I've felt for a long while."