Cricket: Hick on form in England warm-up

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The Independent Online
FOR Graeme Hick it may have been but one small step. Indications from Antigua yesterday nevertheless hinted that the giant leap England expect of their most enigmatic batsman may not be that far away.

Conveniently, there was no sign of Curtly Ambrose, of course, when the party split in two for a limited- overs practice match on the St John's Test ground before tomorrow's first match of the tour against an Antigua XI. Still, the value of an early injection of confidence can never be underestimated and Hick felt good enough about his form to retire after stroking 45 from 53 balls, primarily off Devon Malcolm, Andy Caddick and Angus Fraser.

While Caddick and Fraser bowled tightly enough, Malcolm came in for some punishment, conceding 26 off his first five overs and 51 in all from eight. Hick arrived at the crease after Mike Atherton, sufficiently recovered from a throat infection to captain one side, had clipped Caddick to square leg and departed for 12.

Atherton's team - helped by 27 from Alec Stewart and Chris Lewis's rapid unbeaten 38 - totalled 136 for two from their 37 overs. Pick of the bowlers for Robin Smith's XI was Phil Tufnell, who conceded just 12 runs from seven impressive overs.

After the break Mark Ramprakash (two) and Graham Thorpe (nought) - both of whom have looked impressive in the nets this week - lasted only five and four balls, respectively, as Steve Watkin and Alan Igglesden gained early successes.

But Smith (46) and Matthew Maynard (60) restored order despite an encouragingly accurate 10-over spell from Ian Salisbury on his birthday. The 24-year-old leg-spinner conceded just 33 runs, helping Atherton's team to triumph by a margin of eight runs.

By then, though, the game had become entirely friendly with Ramprakash and Thorpe allowed to return and bat on after the official close.

South Africa beat Australia by 28 runs in the first instalment of the best-of-three World Series Cup finals in Melbourne yesterday. Gary Kirsten, the South African opener, won the man of the match award for an unbeaten 112. His main rival for the award was his team-mate Richard Snell, who took 5 for 40.

SOUTH AFRICA

P N Kirsten c Healy b S Waugh 28

G Kirsten not out 112

* W J Cronje c Jones b Warne 40

J N Rhodes c Healy b McGrath 31

D J Cullinan c Hayden b McDermott 7

R P Snell c Jones b McGrath 3

D J Callaghan not out 3

Extras (lb2, w3, nb1) 6

Total (for 5, 50 overs) 230

Fall: 1-53 2-143 3-196 4-217 5-223.

Did not bat: B N McMillan, D J Richardson, P S de Villiers, A A Donald.

Bowling: McDermott 10-1-40-1; McGrath 9-0-52-2 (1nb 1w); Reiffel 7-2-23-0; S Waugh 7-0-27-1 (1w); Warne 10-1-45-1 (1w); M Waugh 3-0-15-0; Border 4- 0-26-0.

AUSTRALIA

M A Hayden b Snell 20

D C Boon run out 45

D M Jones c Cronje b McMillan 3

M E Waugh c Richardson b Donald 36

S R Waugh c P Kirsten b Snell 27

* A R Border b Snell 42

I A Healy c P Kirsten b de Villiers 0

P R Reiffel b Snell 18

S K Warne c McMillan b de Villiers 1

C J McDermott b Snell 1

G D McGrath not out 5

Extras (lb-1 w-3) 4

Total (48.5 overs) 202

Fall: 1-41 2-53 3-84 4-128 5-150 6-150 7-192 8-195 9- 197.

Bowling: Donald 10-0-48-1 (1w); de Villiers 9-1-26-2; Snell 9.5-0-40-5 (2w); McMillan 10-2-38-1; Callaghan 5-0-27-0; Cronje 5-0-22-0.

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