November 24, 2000

Puttick takes centre stage for Western Province

Marcus Prior MWP

Teenager Andrew Puttick scored his maiden first-class century in just his third game, as Western Province got off to a useful start in their Supersport Series, top-of-the-table clash with Easterns at Newlands on Friday. Province closed on 273 for six, a good return on a pitch that never really favoured the batsmen.

Puttick had to bat himself back into form after making way for both Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis two weeks ago, and took a while to find his timing. By stumps though, Puttick - who faced 317 balls over 386 minutes - had struck 18 boundaries to underline the clinical nature of his strokeplay, particularly through the off-side.

It was a chanceless innings, but there was one flutter for the youngster on 98 when he struck a lofted shot through the midwicket region. Fortunately it beat the infield, but in his desperate bid to complete the two runs he needed, Puttick collided with batting partner Ashwell Prince and very nearly brought about the most catastrophic of demises. Fortunately the two of them recovered quickly to run two and allow Puttick to receive the acclaim of his team-mates and the tiny Newlands crowd.

The innings could hardly have got off to a worse start as Herschelle Gibbs found his feet in concrete and edged a good away-swinger from Andre Nel to be out for just one. His cheap dismissal will have annoyed Gibbs, who needs some heavy run-scoring over the next few weeks to impress the national selectors before his ban from international cricket is lifted at the end of the year.

Easterns bowled with real discipline throughout, Kenny Benjamin returning with the second new ball to take the wickets of captain HD Ackerman, for 50, and Neil Johnson without scoring. If the visitors can make a couple of early breakthroughs on Saturday they will be very much in the game.