Cricket: Kent mesmerised by South African mastery - South Africa 320- 6 Kent 150 S Africa win by 170 runs

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The Independent Online
SOUTH AFRICA went at half pace, Kent went at half cock, the result was a victory which suggested that Hansie Cronje and his men are justifiable favourites to win the World Cup. They did not even break sweat, winning with more than 15 overs to spare. Kent just broke the hearts of their supporters as they subsided tamely in a mis-match of a warm-up.

At least the crowd, all 6,300 of them (1,000 more than watched England on Friday) were given an exhibition, even if it was by the wrong side. And at least South Africa got some play after spending a frustrating time at Hove last Friday. Everything went right for the South Africans, even moving wicketkeeper Mark Boucher up the order from nine to adopt the role of pinch-hitter at the fall of the first wicket. Boucher did not disappoint, scoring his maiden hundred in limited overs cricket.

If Boucher did the damage with the bat, then it was Cronje who shredded the Kent reply with a spell of four wickets in 15 balls (and a remarkable return of 4 for 6 off three overs). Although it has to be said the Kent batsmen did their best to give him a helping hand with some appalling shot selection. Andrew Symonds, their Australian import, was top scorer, just as he had been against England, but it was not a great innings and he was dropped on six.

His dismissal was typical of the rest of the Kent middle order, mis-timed shots presenting the South Africans with straightforward catches in the deep. There were also a couple of unnecessary run-outs - one of which allowed Jacques Kallis to demonstrate his footwork without a bat when he side-footed the ball on to David Fulton's stumps. Seven Kent wickets went down in 12 overs for 44.

Boucher's innings was an attractive affair liberally sprinkled with boundaries and a couple of sixes off successive Min Patel deliveries. He favoured the mid-wicket area, pulling powerfully during his 114-ball innings. He was out to the penultimate ball of the innings when he sliced an attempted drive off Symonds, having reduced the Kent attack to perspiring ineptitude.

He shared in two century stands, the first of 118 for the third wicket with Kallis and the second, a more belligerent fifth wicket partnership of 104 off 74 balls, with the burly Lance Klusener, who thumped a 39-ball 50.

The Kent bowling made for hideous reading. Five of the attack were dispatched for at least 50 runs, Patel finishing with one for 66. Captain Matthew Fleming cost 64 in eight overs without a wicket.

Afterwards the Kent side were locked in for half an hour to chew over their shortcomings. In contrast South Africa, for whom Jonty Rhodes will play against Middlesex at Southgate tomorrow having recovered from the injury to his right wrist, went straight out for some net practice. Clearly they had not been tested enough. They had not been tested at all.

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