Cricket: Bicknell breaks down: Easy win for England's A team

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England A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .189-7

Eastern Province XI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86

England A win by 103 runs

THE GRIM prospect of spending Christmas in Guildford rather than Cape Town loomed for Martin Bicknell last night after he suffered a pulled rib muscle warming up for England A's second township goodwill match yesterday.

Such a change in venue is hardly beguiling at the best of times, but for Bicknell it would be a particularly severe disappointment.

A knee injury cost him his place in the first team before the Oval Test and, ultimately, a place on the Caribbean tour. His presence on this tour was in doubt because of the subsequent knee operation which had restricted his involvement here although he was almost back to full fitness.

The England physiotherapist, Wayne Morton, said it would be 24 hours before the extent of the injury was clear, but it was serious enough for him to be taken to see a specialist in Port Elizabeth last night. He is definitely out of the match with Eastern Province, which begins tomorrow.

The manager, Bob Bennett, who informed Lord's of the injury, said it was premature to talk of replacements, adding: 'He is not in pain - until he tries to bowl. It is a bitter blow to both him and us.'

The injury marred an otherwise successful visit to the Zwide township, just outside Port Elizabeth, in which England completed their fifth successive tour win with some ease.

Last week's match in Alexandra, while remarkable for being played in one of South Africa's most volatile townships, was largely ignored by the locals, but this game was far more of a community event.

The players, who again proved good ambassadors, are certainly seeing more than most sportsmen - a notoriously insular group - do on tour. After the game they were given a tour of the township, which certainly put Bicknell's disappointment into perspective, upsetting as it may be for him personally.

The day will most be remembered by Clayton Wait, who spent his summer with Otley in the Leeds League. He took a hat-trick in the England innings, dismissing Adrian Dale, Robert Croft and, albeit after an over from the other end, Dominic Cork.

He ended with 4 for 34 in nine overs and the run-out of Alan Wells, who was backing up when Wait deflected a Dale drive into the stumps.

Dale made a vibrant 39, John Crawley a violent 58 and Mal Loye 28, including the biggest of the innings' five sixes.

Martin McCague, though troubled by no-balls, was too quick and Croft too deceptive for the Invitation XI, who lost their last six wickets for 19 runs.