Cricket: Hussain retort builds belief

By Myles Hodgson in Benoni
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NASSER HUSSAIN provided a positive response to England's opening tour match disappointment on Monday by guiding his team to victory over Easterns here yesterday.

The opposition may be regarded as one of the weakest teams in South African domestic first-class cricket, but a second successive defeat following Monday's embarrassing loss against Nicky Oppenheimer's XI would have been most damaging to squad morale.

Hussain, though, top-scored with 64 crucial runs and looked at ease from the moment he arrived at the crease to help England complete a comfortable, but nevertheless, important victory to take into their opening first-class match against a combined Western Province/Boland XI in Cape Town on Friday. His display and Andrew Flintoff's 54 off 56 balls helped England reach 234 for 9 in their 50 overs despite losing their last five wickets for 30 runs, and Easterns struggled to maintain the run rate to finish on 215 for 7.

"We've got some momentum just by getting a win," said Hussain. "[Monday] was probably the worst innings of my life - I missed five and hit one straight to gully but I wasn't too worried about it because the wicket was a bit damp and it probably needed a bit more grafting on it."

Hussain helped the tourists press on from 83 for 2 with only 27 overs remaining despite a mix-up which saw the run-out of Chris Adams, who had not scored. He found a more than able partner in Flintoff - played solely as a batsman after his recent back stiffness - who crashed the ball around like a latterday reminder of Denis Compton's fastest-ever triple hundred in just 181 minutes on this ground against North East Transvaal 51 years ago.

Flintoff was unfortunate to fall to a brilliant catch from Pierre de Bruyn on the boundary attempting a third six, but at 203 for 5 with seven overs remaining England were still on course for a considerable score.

However, Andre Nel, the young fast bowler, scuppered those plans by removing the next four wickets in a four-over spell which gave Easterns hope of undermining England's morale.

But after Alan Mullally removed both Easterns openers inside the first six overs of their reply, England received a welcome lift from the Surrey bowler Alex Tudor, who removed Anthony Botha and the West Indian Phil Simmons in the space of 11 balls, ending their promising 42-run partnership.

David Smith, the Easterns wicketkeeper, and Hussein Manack came together with their team requiring 147 from the remaining 25 overs and by carefully keeping the scoreboard ticking over they progressed to within 50 of their target with a 97-run partnership spanning 20 overs.

Just as another damaging defeat seemed possible, however, Andrew Caddick bowled them both in successive overs to allow England a relatively calm finish.


Easterns won toss


M A Butcher c Manack b Kruger 20

M A Atherton c & b de Bruyn 29

N Hussain c Botha b Morkel 64

C J Adams run out 0

A Flintoff c de Bruyn b Morkel 54

G M Hamilton c Botha b Nel 26

G P Swann b Nel 3

C M W Read b Nel 0

A J Tudor not out 7

A R Caddick lbw b Nel 3

A D Mullally not out 1

Extras (lb9 w17 nb1) 27

Total (for 9, 50 overs) 234

Fall: 1-40 2-83 3-83 4-165 5-203 6-216 7-216 8-224 9-233

Bowling: Nel 10-1-33-4; Morkel 10-0-34-2; Kruger 7-1-43-1; de Bruyn 10- 1-35-1; Jordaan 6-0-32-0; van den Berg 4-0-27-0; Botha 3-0-21-0.


S Ahmed c Flintoff b Mullally 8

D Jordaan b Mullally 0

A G Botha lbw b Tudor 22

P V Simmons c Butcher b Tudor 29

A M van den Berg c Adams b Swann 6

D J Smith b Caddick 75

H A Manack b Caddick 26

P de Bruyn not out 15

A Morkel not out 13

Extras (b1 lb8 w9 nb3) 21

Total (for 7, 50 overs) 215

Fall: 1-0 2-21 3-63 4-68 5-83 6-184 7-190.

Did not bat: C Kruger, A Nel.

Bowling: Caddick 10-2-33-2; Mullally 10-0-45-2; Hamilton 8-0-47-0; Adams 7-0-25-0; Tudor 5-0-17-2; Swann 10-0-39-1. Umpires: K Hurter and C J Mitchley.

England A added only 87 runs during the rain-affected second day against Bangladesh in Dhaka yesterday. The tourists resumed on 192-3 and by the close had progressed to 279-6 as the four-day match appeared destined for a draw.