Tour Match, East London, December 11 - 12, 2009, England tour of South Africa

Match drawn


Sidebottom shines to press Test claims

James Anderson was the focus of attention as England wound up their four days of practice at East London, but Ryan Sidebottom was the most impressive bowler on show

Cricinfo staff
England XI 317 for 5 (Strauss 100 ret, Pietersen 71) drew with South Africa Invitational XI 263 (Wiese 80, Pietersen 64, Sidebottom 5-42)
James Anderson was the focus of attention as England wound up their four days of practice at East London, but Ryan Sidebottom was the most impressive bowler on show as he took 5 for 42 against the South African Invitational XI to make a late bid for Test selection. Anderson, who is battling a unknown injury to his right knee, got through 15 overs in his first bowl since the fourth ODI although he managed just a single wicket.
Charl Pietersen (64) and David Wiese (80) ensured England didn't have things all their own way with a seventh-wicket stand of 119 after the home side had fallen to 101 for 5. Sidebottom took two wickets in his first spell and return after tea to mop up the tail as the final four wickets fell for one run. Although there were still more than 24 overs remaining when the innings ended, England didn't bother batting again and the match was called off.
The result, clearly, was academic, but the South African resistance was nevertheless timely for an England bowling attack that was in need of a competitive workout ahead of next week's first Test at Centurion. After their successful morning, they were limited to a solitary scalp during a hard afternoon session - that of Yaseen Vallie, who was bowled by Graeme Swann for 56.
The most significant aspects of the day's play were the performances of Anderson, who took a major step towards proving his fitness for Centurion, and Sidebottom, who shrugged off his recent side strain with impressive results to put pressure on Graham Onions for a place in the Test side.
Anderson had not bowled competitively since claiming 5 for 23 at Port Elizabeth to set up England's one-day series win two weeks ago. He showed few signs of injury, however, as he struck with his tenth delivery of the morning to remove Andrea Agathagelou for 2. By tea, he had bowled 15 rust-removing overs, claiming 1 for 58.
Sidebottom has been a peripheral figure for England throughout 2009, and has not played a Test since the tour of the Caribbean in March. He enhanced his prospects with an effective morning's work, bowling the opener Divan van Wyk for 22, before inducing a nick from Sammy-Joe Avontuur that flew through to Matt Prior behind the stumps.
Luke Wright, who is widely tipped to make his Test debut as England's allrounder next week, had a hand in each of the other two wickets to fall before lunch. First he found Mangaliso Mosehli's edge to give Prior his second catch of the morning, before catching Wendell Bossenger at mid-on to give Stuart Broad his one wicket of the session.
But after the break, the South African batsmen began to find their feet. Vallie converted his lunchtime 34 from 38 balls into a well-deserved half-century, whereupon Pietersen and Wiese repelled everything that England could throw at them on a slow and unresponsive surface.
However, once Sidebottom removed Pietersen after tea the end was swift as Wright also claimed a second scalp. After all the rain in recent weeks, England will leave East London content with their work although questions still remain to be answered in the next three days.

SAf Invit XI Innings
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