Cricket: Flintoff passes fitness test to ease the strain

England 303 & 195-8 dec Northerns/Gauteng 201 & 195

England win by 102 runs

ENGLAND COMPLETED their four-week preamble with a 102-run victory over Northerns/ Gauteng, the strongest of their opponents leading up to Thursday's first Test at the Wanderers. It was their second first-class victory of the tour, but if the margin suggests a team peaking at the right moment, there are still enough question marks to prevent their captain from getting a sound night's sleep.

Most worrying for Nasser Hussain, aside from his own sketchy form, must be England's propensity to collapse, as they did on Saturday. Cruising at 88 for no wicket, they suddenly found themselves at 130 for 7. Granted circumstances dictated that they needed to get on with it, but with a history of these things old weaknesses were revealed.

Alec Stewart, another failure with the bat, also remains a cause for concern. As one of several all-rounders, Stewart is under far less pressure than some and has at least until the third Test to keep his place. At present it is his lack of a gameplan for batting in the middle-order, rather than a lack of touch, that appears to be hindering his search for runs.

In the past England's problems tend to compound on tour, and news that a scan revealed a "hotspot" in Dean Headley's lower back, a discovery that means he will fly home immediately for 12 weeks rest, would normally have seen an outbreak of long faces. Fine timing then by Andy Flintoff who, as soon as the bad news had been made public, gave his own back a fitness test by returning an impressive 5 for 23 in the match.

Flintoff can bowl a heavy ball as Clive Eksteen, the home side's captain, will testify after being caught at gully from a bouncer that deflected off both glove and helmet. There was also subtlety, and after Steve Elworthy had hooked him for six he deceived the all-rounder with a slower ball that made its way into his enormous hands.

Although it is perhaps asking too much for Flintoff to get through 16 overs in a day, his availability to bowl after suffering a back strain earlier in the tour certainly frees up Hussain's options. He may even be tempted to include a frontline spinner for the Test, though Michael Vaughan, with 2 for 27, displayed spin and savvy with his part-time off- breaks.

It means also that the batting can be strengthened by adding Gavin Hamilton without over-exposing his bowling, which, although successful on two occasions yesterday, provided easy fodder for Neil McKenzie.

With Gauteng chasing 297, McKenzie showed just what a complete player he is until he was last man out for 87, playing over one of Darren Gough's inswinging yorkers.

Fortunately for England, only Daryll Cullinan came close to matching him and if England were a little jittery after the two had put on 61 for the third wicket, Cullinan's dismissal, cutting a decreasingly rusty Gough to Vaughan in the gully, precipitated a collapse - six wickets for 38 runs - that even England would have struggled to match.

Fourth day of four

Combined Northerns/Gauteng XI won toss

COMBINED NORTHERNS/GAUTENG XI - First Innings 201 (N D McKenzie 62).

ENGLAND 303 (M P Vaughan 85, M A Atherton 81; D J Terbrugge 4-67) and 136-7

ENGLAND - Second Innings

(Overnight 136-7)

C J Adams c Bacher b Eksteen 21

A J Tudor not out 19

A R Caddick not out 24

Extras (b8, lb3, nb6) 17

Total (for 8, 61 overs) 195

Fall: 1-88, 2-91, 3-93, 4-96, 5-97, 6-127, 7-130, 8-156.

Did Not Bat: D Gough.

Bowling: Elworthy 16-3-46-2; Smith 4-0-34-0; Eksteen 26-8-72-4; Terbrugge 4-1-15-0; Bacher 1-0-5-0; Masimula 10-5-12-2.

COMBINED NORTHERNS/GAUTENG XI

Second Innings

A M Bacher c Hussain b Vaughan 18

S V Koenig c Vaughan b Gough 6

N D McKenzie b Gough 87

D J Cullinan c Vaughan b Gough 32

M van Jaarsveld lbw b Caddick 5

N Pothas c Sub b Hamilton 3

S Elworthy c & b Flintoff 6

C E Eksteen c Vaughan b Flintoff 0

D J Terbrugge lbw b Hamilton 4

G J Smith b Vaughan 18

W B Masimula not out 2

Extras (lb10, w1, nb3) 14

Total (48.1 overs) 195

Fall: 1-9, 2-46, 3-107, 4-119, 5-125, 6-138, 7-138, 8-145, 9-193.

Bowling: Gough 13.1-1-69-3; Caddick 12-5-24-1; Tudor 2-0-13-0; Vaughan 8-1-27-2; Hamilton 8-1-35-2; Flintoff 5-2-17-2

Umpires: D L Orchard and W A Diedricks.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor