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1st unofficial Test, Paarl, January 11 - 14, 2015, England Lions tour of South Africa
504/8d & 92/2

Match drawn


Cloete provides glue as Lions get stuck

Gihahn Cloete and Theunis de Bruyn made centuries to ensure that England Lions were kept in the field throughout the hottest of days

South Africa A 379 for 4 (de Bruyn 126*, Cloete 123, van Zyl 65) v England Lions
Gihahn Cloete, who was making his debut for South Africa A, luxuriates in the delightful second name of Love. His nickname of "Le Glue", in the sense that he is a thoroughly adhesive opening batsman, is equally fetching in addition to being well chosen. On the flattest of pitches at Boland Park, both he and Theunis de Bruyn made centuries to ensure that England Lions were kept in the field throughout the hottest of days.
It might have made more sense for this first-class fixture to have been staged at Newlands, where both sides are staying, or at the nearby Claremont Cricket Club, where the Lions practised last week. There might well have been more than a smattering of spectators, the ever-prevalent wind in Cape Town would have made for cooler conditions, and there would have been far less travelling involved. Still, two significant matches have just been staged at Newlands and this remains a beautiful venue.
In all probability Jonathan Trott, or someone else in the Lions' upper order, would have batted for much of the day, too, but their turn will come. Their side was largely chosen on the basis of form in county cricket last season: hence the likes of Alex Lees and Adam Lyth were given the chance to press their case as possible Test openers while there was no place for the equally gifted Sam Billings.
As for the bowlers, Liam Plunkett, who took the first two wickets, was probably the pick. There was little pace, however, and Adil Rashid will do well to find any spin throughout the four-day match.
Omar Henry, the personable former South Africa spinner who still runs this ground, said that more grass had been left on the pitch to try to ensure a balance between bat and ball that was wholly lacking in the last fixture here. There was a little movement at the start of the day, when Cloete reckoned Plunkett, who maintained a fuller length than anyone else, was unlucky. Nevertheless, an opening partnership of 122 between him and Stiaan van Zyl, who is odds on to replace Alviro Petersen as an opener in South Africa's full side, was as watchful as it was dominant.
Both van Zyl and Andrew Puttick were taken at first slip by Lees off Plunkett, the second of these a particularly smart catch. There were scant other successes for the Lions' bowlers. Cloete and de Bruyn, who, incidentally, is no relation of Zander de Bruyn (and is regarded as potentially a finer cricketer) are room mates of old from their South Africa U-19 days and hence know how to judge a run as well, quite clearly, as the right ball to hit.
Cloete made 123 off 221 balls with 16 fours and a six; De Bruyn an unbeaten 126 from 156 balls with 22 fours. The Lions never appeared ragged in the field, however. The bowlers, other than Rashid being struck for six by Cloete to take him to 96 from the last ball before tea, never lost their lengths but there would have been no shortage of takers for ice baths at the end of this day. And Cloete's second name? It derives from his grandmother's surname.
There was nothing so prosaic about his batting. He grew up not far from Paarl but his family moved to Kimberley when he was ten years old. He now opens for Chevrolet Knights in four day cricket. "This will help my game go forward," he said, for this was only his sixth first-class century. Anticipate plenty more over the coming years.