Cricket: Crawley displays a rare discipline: Timid Stephenson allows England A to escape

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Orange Free State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .370 and 262-9 dec

England A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180 and 321-5

Match drawn

THE brilliance of John Crawley, and the generosity of Franklyn Stephenson, enabled England A to emerge with an honourable draw against the powerful Orange Free State side yesterday.

Faced with the need to bat all day to avoid the second defeat of their South African tour, England, two wickets down overnight, lost just one more per session. They were 321 for 5, still 131 runs behind, when Stephenson agreed a draw with 14 overs remaining.

It was the sort of disciplined performance the senior side have regularly failed to deliver in recent years and, though he was given excellent support, it was primarily due to Crawley.

The young Lancastrian made a masterly 128 in 276 minutes and 80 overs. With Hugh Morris, he added 96, with Alan Wells, 104. He was imperious with anything on leg stump and was equally adept against the wily pace of Stephenson and the pitch-assisted turn of Nicky Boje.

While not as awesome as his 286 at Port Elizabeth, it was unquestionably the innings of the tour, made under far greater pressure in tougher conditions.

'The 286 was a mammoth effort of concentration in which he applied himself on a good wicket,' Morris said. 'This was a different knock. He had to bat two sessions and showed a responsibility and maturity beyond his years. He is without a shadow of a doubt good enough to play Test cricket now,' the captain added.

Crawley's first-class tour average now stands at 84 runs, with a total of 675 runs. He will hope that luck stays with him when the team arrive in East London today. Having been called back in the first innings after being given out, he survived a confident - and convincing - appeal for caught behind when on two.

The bad feelings lingered long enough for several of the generally courteous Free State side to abstain from applauding his century. How Mark Lathwell, given leg before when he had hit the ball at Kimberley and bowled behind his legs here, must wonder. Crawley yesterday scored as many runs in a day as he has in five weeks.

But if fortune favours the brave - with the exception of Lathwell - then Stephenson got what he deserved. Having declined to enforce the follow- on when England were dismissed 190 behind on first innings, and then having declared late after slow batting on Sunday, he had only himself to blame for Free State's shortage of time. He even called the match off early. England, 132 runs behind, had five wickets and 14 overs left. Though Mal Loye and Adrian Dale were batting solidly there was little to follow, the out-of-form Steve Rhodes being the only competent batsmen left.

However, when Crawley and Wells were flowing in mid-afternoon, his delayed declaration was looking far more sensible as England dared to dream of victory. Crawley and Morris, 25 overnight, had batted comfortably until Morris was defeated by the left-armer, Boje, spinning in from the rough. It was a valuable, composed score of 64 but, although he has made four tour half-centuries, he has yet to produce a big innings.

Wells chanced a single to mid-off and was beaten by a stunning swoop and throw from Louis Wilkinson. Crawley continued to score freely, his hundred coming off 175 balls, and at tea England needed 191 in 36 overs. But Crawley, once again, was caught behind driving outside off-stump and thoughts of winning went with him.

(Final day of four: Orange Free State won toss)

ORANGE FREE STATE - First Innings 370 (G F J Liebenberg 82, P J R Steyn 80; M J McCague 4-72).

ENGLAND A - First Innings 180 (A P Wells 53).

ORANGE FREE STATE - Second Innings 262 for 9 dec (J M Arthur 106).

ENGLAND A - Second Innings

(Overnight: 59 for 2)

* H Morris lbw b Boje. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 J P Crawley c Radley b Player. . . . . . . . . .128 A P Wells run out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 M B Loye not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 A Dale not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Extras (b3 lb6 nb4). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Total (for 5). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .321

Fall: 1-59 2-59 3-155 4-259 5-282.

Did not bat: S J Rhodes, D Gough, M J McCague, P M Such.

Bowling: Stephenson 16-2-46-0; Bakkes

22-5-64-0; Venter 26-6-79-0; Player 15-4-34-1; Boje 35-7-89-3; Steyn 1-1-0-0.

Umpires: W Wilson and C Mitchley.

Comments