Benson & Hedges World Cup 1991-92, qualifying match


At Melbourne, March 12 (day/night). England won by three wickets, their target having been revised to 226 from 41 overs. Toss: England. The first meeting of old adversaries since 1965 produced a thriller; England overcame a fine South African performance, assorted injuries, and the infamous rain rule to notch up their 12th limited-overs international without defeat. Deputising for the injured Gooch, Stewart trusted in the weather and chose to field. No wicket fell until the 36th over, when South Africa were 151. England's attack lacked Lewis, restricted by a side strain; Defreitas bowled ten overs though he was limping so badly he left the field after each spell; Small proved too expensive to be risked; and Reeve fell, bruised his back and could not go on. His replacement, Hick, made the break-through, with a return catch from Hudson. Wessels batted on watchfully for 46 overs and South Africa reached 236.

Stewart wasted no time: in 12 overs he was 40, and England 62 without loss. Rain transformed the target, and the match too. They were set to pass the 225 scored in South Africa's best 41 overs. Then Botham was bowled, and within seven balls Smith and Hick were caught behind. But Fairbrother, anxious to impress, added 68 in 13 overs with Stewart, 34 with Reeve and a glorious 50 in six overs with Lewis. Like Stewart, Lewis was run out by the athletic Rhodes. England then needed ten off two overs. Eight came from Meyrick Pringle's last over, but with the scores level Derek Pringle drove a full toss to short mid-wicket. Defreitas emerged to hit the winning run with one ball to spare.

Man of the Match: A. J. Stewart. Attendance: 25,248.

© John Wisden & Co