Cricket: Captaincy for Cook: South Africa A trust to experience

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The Independent Online
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JIMMY COOK has been given another chance to resurrect his international career with the captaincy of South Africa A who meet England A in the end-of-tour 'Test' in Port Elizabeth from 27 to 31 January. The former Somerset opener, 40, leads a side that has been picked with the emphasis on getting a result rather than giving young, or non-white players experience.

The former Derbyshire all-rounder Adrian Kuiper, 34, his Western Province captain Eric Simons, 31, and 27-year-old international bowlers Clive Eksteen and Meyrick Pringle provide further experience in a side with only four players below the age of 25.

The youngest, 21-year-olds Gerhardus Liebenberg and the left-arm quick bowler Aubrey Martyn have both impressed against England but there was no place for Northern Transvaal's Steve Elworthy, widely regarded by the England players as the best bowler they have faced.

The inclusion of two spinners, and lack of a genuinely quick bowler, suggests the Port Elizabeth wicket will be slow-paced and take spin. England are thus likely to play both spinners with Martin McCague's inclusion dependent on whether they play five or six specialist batsmen. To that end England will change their batting order for today's match with Border, John Crawley opening with Mark Lathwell at No 5.

'We are still looking to fill one or two places for the 'Test' and this will be an experimental side,' Phil Neale, the team manager, said.

SOUTH AFRICA A (v England A, Port Elizabeth,7-31 January): M Arthur, G Liebenberg, R Steyn (all Free State), J Cook (Transvaal, capt), A Kuiper (Western Province), L Wilkinson (Free State), E Simon (Western Province), D Crooks (Natal), S Palframan (Border), C Eksteen (Transvaal), M Pringle, A Martin (both Western Province).

The England captain, Michael Atherton, has a throat infection and will probably miss today's team practice match in St John in the hope of being fit for the four-day game against Antigua starting on Sunday.