South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0-0 dec and 258
Kent win by 34 runs
CUNNING fellows, these South Africans. Having seen New Zealand lull England into a false sense of security by losing to the likes of Yorkshire, they appear to be following suit. Yesterday they became the only side to be beaten by Kent in first-class cricket this summer - and that in two days, albeit with some contrivance.
It would be wrong to read much into this result. On South Africa's last tour here, in 1965, they lost their opening match but were then unbeaten and won the series. It remains, however, an unexpected defeat which revealed a considerable rustiness among their batsmen, despite a pre-tour training camp.
They had been set 293 to win in a generous-looking 93 overs, Kent forfeiting their second innings after South Africa had declared their first after just one ball in the morning. The tourists ran into trouble after just seven balls, Andrew Hudson being beaten by Dean Headley's opening delivery, and by lunch they were 58 for 5.
As in Kent's innings, seamers dominated, with Headley taking 5 for 60, and Alan Igglesden - who has fallen right out of the England reckoning despite being unusually fit while everyone else is injured - 3 for 51.
It was a brutish Igglesden delivery that had Hansie Cronje caught off the shoulder for the second wicket - though whether it was the shoulder belonging to his bat or his body was a subject of dispute between he and Dickie Bird, Cronje showing rare dissent with a pointed rub before departing.
Headley, whose lively opening spell brought him three wickets for 16, induced Gary Kirsten to give Steve Marsh the second of six catches then saw Daryll Cullinan caught as he rashly attempted to get off the mark with a hooked six. From 21 for 4, Jonty Rhodes and Kepler Wessels added 35 in comfort until Chris Penn, playing his first match of the season, had Rhodes leg before.
When Igglesden returned to dismiss Wessels after a grinding 26 in 24 overs, a tea finish looked on but Dave Richardson, a regular contributor of useful Test runs, and Tim Shaw then batted well enough to entertain thoughts of victory.
That proved their undoing for, having added 163 and with 72 required in 23 overs, Richardson was bowled charging Min Patel. The spinner was again watched by the England selector, Fred Titmus, but lacked his usual penetration. The seamers returned and, after Shaw gloved an attempted pull, Kent won with 6.4 overs to spare.
'I was disappointed to lose but it was good exercise for us,' said the South African coach, Mike Procter, adding: 'Overall, I am happy with the start to the tour, especially the bowling.' For Kent, their first win over South Africa since 1924 - when Frank Woolley's runs and Tich Freeman's wickets earned an innings victory - might give a talented side the confidence to realise their ability. With several thousand refunded after Saturday's wash-out, the pounds 4,000 from Tetley Bitter will come in handy, too.
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