If you were anywhere near South Africa last week, you may have mistaken the usually sunny shores for somewhere in the Northern hemisphere. Summer was nowhere to be seen. It had gone into hiding behind the cold front and sheets of rain. That meant the match between the Dolphins and the Cobras was robbed of two days.
When play got underway in Durban, the Cobras bowlers, who were assisted by the overhead conditions, bowled the Dolphins out for 237. Vernon Philander took 4 for 45 and Rory Kleinveldt took 3 for 49. Dave Miller was the Dolphins' top performer with the bat, scoring 46. In reply, the Cobras batted the rest of the match away. Andrew Puttick's magnificent season continued, as he scored an unbeaten 169. Puttick now lies fifth on the batting rankings.
In East London there was enough play to force a result in the match between the Warriors and the Eagles. The Eagles batted first and Boeta Dippenaar's century helped them to 391 for 4 declared. Then, the Warriors made a surprising move by declaring their innings closed on 315 for 6, 76 runs behind. Jon-Jon Smuts scored an unbeaten 150. Reza Hendricks was the centurion for the Eagles in the second innings. Dippenaar made a sporting declaration on 273 for 6, setting the Warriors a target of 350 to win the match.
Ashwell Prince gave the national administrators something to smile about as he scored 136 in the winning chase. His opening partner, Michael Smith, chipped in with 63 and Smuts was among the runs again with an almost run-a-ball 73. The Warriors won by four wickets, to go to the top of the table.
Provincial three-day challenge
The inclement weather meant no play was possible in Pietermaritzburg where KZN-Inland were due to play Border. There was also no play inland, in Alberton, where Gauteng were scheduled to meet Free State.
In Benoni, there was action on just one day between Easterns and KwaZulu Natal. Natal reached 73 for 2, before the rest of match was washed out. Wicketkeeper batsman Bradley Barnes was unbeaten on 51.
Things were drier in Kimberley where Griqualand West beat Western Province (WP) by 107 runs. Rowan Richards took 4 for 41 and Dane Patterson 3 for 31, as Griquas were bowled out for 210. WP managed to get a 60-run lead after their first innings. They were bowled out for 270, with Martin Walters top scoring with 88. Jandre Coetzee took 4 for 54 and Ruan Pietersen 3 for 60 for Griquas.
The hosts' second innings began in disastrous fashion and they found themselves stumbling on 64 for 5. Mario Olivier ripped through their batting line up, ending with figures of 6 for 97. Charl Pietersen's 140 saved Griquas, as they totalled 307, and set WP a target of 247. It's a surname that's not liked much in South Africa, but it was a match for the Pietersens, as Ruan took 7 for 41 to help dismiss WP for 140. Griquas top the table, 0.46 points ahead of Eastern Province.
In Oudtshoorn, South Western Districts (SWD) beat Northerns by eight wickets. Northerns were bowled out cheaply for 174 in their first innings, despite having Titans opening batsman Blake Snijman at their disposal. Douglas Baartman took 4 for 41. SWD were reeling at 30 for three, before Gerhard Strydom's 74 and Pieter Stuurman's 108 rescued them. Nathan Murray, batting at No.10, contributed 60, as SWD declared on 328 for 9.
Northerns put on a better show in their second innings. Hendrik van der Dussen scored 64 and two other half-centuries, from Christiann Schoeman and Mpho Selowa, took them to 278. SWD needed just 125 to win, and they got hom with little difficulty. Burton de Wett scored 56. The three-day competition takes a break until the middle of December.
Provincial one-day challenge
The wet weather took Sunday off to allow the full complement of one-day games to take place. KZN-Inland posted 254 for 6 in their 40 overs in Pietermartizburg, thanks to 45 by Deepak Anand and an unbeaten 76 from Chad Barron. Border started strongly in reply, with Shaun de Kock 54 off 64 balls. Then, the spin twins got to work. Left arm spinners Kyle Nipper and Morne van Vuuren took six wickets between them, as Border reached 191 for 9. KZN-Inland were the victors by 63 runs.
In Alberton, Jonathan Beukes' unbeaten half century helped Free State reach 222 for five against Gauteng. The home side were in a precarious position on 87 for three but Richard Cameron's 74 took them home safely. They won by three wickets to go top of the log. In Benoni, KwaZulu Natal were in serious trouble on 8 for 2 before Greg Fotheringham scored 109 and Khayelihe Zondo an unbeaten 95. They totaled 230 for three. Gulam Bodi led Easterns to a comfortable six-wicket win with an unbeaten 103.
Griqualand West completed the double, as they beat WP in the one day match by five wickets. WP were in danger of being bundled out cheaply, when they had reached 99 for 4, but Sybrand Engelbrecht scored an unbeaten 69 off 67 balls. They finished on 216 for 8 with Frikkie Holtzhausen taking 3 for 33 for WP. Griquas were left reeling on 21 for 2, but half-centuries from Aubrey Swanepoel and Wendell Bossenger steered them to victory with 25 balls to spare.
There were two big centuries for Northerns as they thumped SWD by 105 runs. Blake Snijman scored 157 off 145 balls and Pieter Malan scored 101. Northerns put on 348 for 6 and before SWD had started their innings, they had been batted out of the match. SWD put on a brave fight with a first-wicket stand of 106. Strydom scored 83 but the rest of the order folded around him. SWD were bowled out for 243, with Eden Links taking four for 22.
Batsmen of the week
Ashwell Prince and Andrew Puttick get the award this week. Prince is peaking at just right the time with the Test series against England a few weeks away. The Warriors were set a tough chase, needing to score over 350 runs on a single day. Prince showed his class as a leader and as opening batsman in his century. It was a well paced innings, with his 136 coming off 147 balls and made even more valuable because it was in a winning cause. Puttick's achievement may not have been in pursuit of a win but it did bat the Dolphins out of the match. Puttick is making his case for higher honours clearer every week and showed his maturity with a six-and-a-half hour long stint at the crease. It was a tough weekend for the bowlers, with none of them standing out enough to earn the title.
Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg