February 2, 2001

Bryant helps Jumbos close in on North West

Craig Ray - MWP

Eastern Province were on 230 for four at the close of play on the second day of their Supersport Series match against North West in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Earlier North West were dismissed for 341, having started the day on 304 for seven, leaving the hosts a deficit of 111-runs to make up by the close of play.

Off spinner Shafiek Abrahams ended with five for 37 from 22.1 overs. In the Jumbos innings, right-hand bat James Bryant was the pick of the line-up, scoring 70.

It was his first half-century of the season which, considering he scored five centuries the previous summer, highlights the problems he has had this year. It was a timely return to form for one of the bright prospects of the game.

He was ably supported by new international Justin Kemp, who ended the day unbeaten on 53. The big all-rounder came to the crease after the dismissal of veteran Dave Callaghan who scored 38.

Callaghan fell with the first ball after the tea break, but had managed to put on 89 for the third wicket with Bryant.

At the top of the order, openers Mark Benfield and Umar Abrahams posted 38 for the first wicket before right-arm seamer Francois van der Merwe snapped up the first of his three wickets when Benfield was caught by Jannie Dreyer for 19.

Abrahams was bowled by Alphonso Thomas for 26. Bryant's innings consisted of eight boundaries and three sixes, all coming off the slow bowling of Morne Strydom. He disappeared for 33 runs off just four overs, which exacerbated an already difficult bowling situation for the visitors.

They had lost the services of opening bowler Mark Lavine who left the field with an apparent ankle injury, while fellow opener Dreyer was smashed for 71 runs in just 15 overs. That resulted in eight bowlers being used on the day, which, given the state of the match, was not good news for the Dragons.

Kemp and Murray Creed (7) will resume on Saturday.