Another weekend, another record. Morne van Wyk smashed the record for the highest individual score in limited-overs history in South Africa. He scored a blistering 168 for the Eagles against the Lions in the third match of the MTN40. His knock took just 125 balls and included 25 fours and a solitary six. Van Wyk batted for the full 40 overs to surpass Martin Venter's 166 for North West.
Although van Wyk's record dominated the first week of limited-overs action, it wasn't the only action on offer. The competition began in Johannesburg last Wednesday where the Lions would have thought they'd scored enough runs against the Cobras to notch up a win. Neil McKenzie hit 70, Vaughn van Jaarsveld bludgeoned 67 off 55 balls and Zander de Bruyn weighed in with 54 off 34 as the Lions totaled 286 for 6.
Andre Nel dismissed Graeme Smith for a third ball duck but from there, the Cobras controlled proceedings. Andrew Puttick and JP Duminy scored centuries as the Cobras won by seven wickets with an over to spare. Duminy's hundred was the first of his limited-overs' career.
The Lions were on the losing side again on Friday. Morne van Wyk's record-breaking innings took the Eagles to 286 for 5. Ironically, it was the same score the Lions failed to defend in their first match. The Eagles had no problems defending the total though. Johan van der Wath's 3 for 36 contributed to the Lions collapse. They were bowled out for 182, losing by 104 runs.
In Durban, the Warriors beat the Dolphins by 13 runs. Only Craig Thyssen, batting at No. 8, reached a half-century for the Warriors as they totaled 213. It was the bowlers who did the job for them. Lonwabo Tsotsobe took 4 for 27 as the Dolphins finished on 200 for 9. In Centurion, Jacques Rudolph scored 93 off 87 balls as the Titans reached 249 for 8. Rain had the final say there, as the Cobras innings couldn't even get underway.
By Sunday, it was dry in Centurion, and Rudolph was among the runs again. He scored his second half-century in two matches. AB de Villiers also notched up a half-century as the Titans reached 254 for 8. The Eagles stayed on track in their response. Reeza Hendricks and Rilee Rossouw shared a century stand for the second wicket, with both reaching their fifties before Dale Steyn removed them. He took 4 for 36 as the Eagles fell 14 runs short of the target.
The Warriors surged to the top of the table with a comprehensive 59-run win over the Cobras. There were encouraging signs for the national selectors as Monde Zondeki took 3 for 37 and Tsotsobe took 3 for 36. Herschelle Gibbs scored 60 batting at No. 5 for the Cobras, but the rest of their line-up was blown away by the Warriors. They totaled 155 in search of 215.
CSA Provincial Three-Day Challenge
Vernon Philander took eight wickets for Western Province (WP) as they beat Border by four wickets and stormed to the top of the log. Border were bowled out for 258 in their first innings. WP responded with 359, with Alistair Gray top-scoring with 85. Kevin Bennet was the centurion of the Border second innings, as they set WP a target of 179 to win. WP looked wobbly at 83 for 4 but Ryan Canning's unbeaten half-century saw them comfortably home.
In Port Elizabeth, Eastern Province thumped the Free State by 188 runs. JJ Smuts scored 134 as Eastern Province declared on 345 for 2. Free State were bowled out for 206, with Warren Bell taking 4 for 38. Michael Smith scored 100 as Eastern Province set Free State a target of 363 to win. Free State were never within sight and Lyall Meyer's 5 for 33 helped put them out of their misery. Eastern Province are second on the log, 18 points behind WP.
Boland lie third on the log after beating Namibia by 10 wickets in Windhoek. Carl Raubenheimer took 6 for 65 as Namibia were bowled out for 215. Boland were solid in their response, notching up 324. The real sparks flew in Namibia's second innings. Daniel Childs and Hilroy Paulse shared seven wickets as they ripped through the hosts and left them reeling on 47 for 7. Tony Palladino's half-century saved Nambia from an innings defeat. Border needed just 26 to seal victory.
A good all-round performance saw Easterns beat South Western Districts (SWD) by 216 runs in Oudtshoorn. Kobus Pienaar's century allowed Easterns to declare on 321 for 7. Pienaar and Imran Tahir combined to take seven wickets and bowl SWD out for 172. Pienaar scored his second hundred of the match and together with Jaco Booysen put on 196 for the third wicket as Easterns declared on 293 for 4. SWD had a massive 443 to chase for victory. Tahir wove his magic again with 5 for 79 and SWD were dismissed for 226. SWD were left languishing at the bottom of the table.
The only drawn encounter of the weekend was between North West and KwaZulu Natal Inland in Potchefstroom. North West totaled 376 for 6 declared in their first innings. Johan Mostert scored the bulk of their runs with 161. KZN Inland only fell 38 runs short and were forced to declare on 337 for 5. Mario Olivier scored a century. The Inland team bowled fiercely to reduce North West to 76 for 5 in their second innings but Brett Pelser's hundred took the hosts to 297 for 7. They declared, setting KZN Inland 335 to win. North West would have been disappointed with their sporting declaration, since KZN finished on 129 for 7.
CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge
Divan van Wyk scored 75 for Free State as they were bowled out for 176 against Eastern Province. Patrick Botha contributed a half-century but nobody else got past 20. Corbyn Dolley and Sivive Gidana shared six wickets. In response, Eastern Province made light work of the target. JJ Smuts scored 75 as they won in the 29th over. The victory was Eastern Province's first in the competition.
Nambia recovered from 37 for 3 to reach 184 for 9 against Boland. Sarel Burger top scored with 47. Boland lost Henry Davids for just 8 but 79 from Omphile Ramela took them to a three-wicket win. Boland won the match off the second last ball.
Eastern continued their dominance of SWD with a 21-run win. Rushdi Jappie scored a century and Kobus Pienaar a half-century. Easterns put on an imposing 295 for 5. SWD were staring down the barrel of defeat on 46 for 4. Burton de Wett's 88 and William Hanton's 97 took them within sight of victory but it was not to be.
KZN Inland could muster only 201 for 5 against the North West. Doug Watson scored an unbeaten 51 and Morne van Vuuren scored 52. Christiaan Jonker led the North West's response, scoring an unbeaten 96. He was helped by Riyaadh Bhayat's 43 as North West won by six wickets.
Batsman of the week:
Van Wyk is the forgotten wicketkeeper-batsman of South African cricket and he seems to be one of those players who, despite excelling in the domestic leagues, just can't seem to cut it in international cricket. His record this week only adds to his achievements in the one-day competition. He was the highest scorer in the limited-overs competition in 2006 and was named domestic one-day player of the year in 2007.
Bowler of the week:
Tsotsobe has shown good form in the longer version of the game, but really came to the fore this weekend with seven wickets in two matches. His average of just 9.00 and economy of 3.93 make those figures even more impressive. Against the Dolphins, Tsotsobe dismantled the top and middle order, capturing the wickets of both Amla brothers, HD Ackerman and Andrew Hall.
Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg