Cricket: Loye's joy knows no bounds: A delighted prospect joins the Test queue with an impressive innings against South Africa as a dropped veteran bares his teeth

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South Africa 296-7 dec and 54-1

Northamptonshire 250-5 dec

MAL LOYE rejoiced for John Crawley on his England selection yesterday and felt quite pleased with himself, too. He searches for Crawley's scores in the morning papers and the quest is mutual. They were contemporaries in the England Under-19 team and are firm friends.

Crawley will be delighted by Loye's latest half-century against the team he faces on his Test debut at Lord's on Thursday. At 21, Loye is a year younger than Crawley and has made 711 first-class runs this summer at an average of 47.4.

He has joined the Test queue, in which Crawley has stood for a couple of years, in this match of half-centuries, five in all without a hundred so far. The South Africans, put into bat, have been forced into a contest probably decided by the generosity or otherwise of their forthcoming second-innings' declaration.

Kevin Curran, crucially dropped on nine by Kepler Wessels at slip, scored the quickest fifty, from 81 balls, and was in dismissive mood, hitting 14 fours and winning his most enthralling personal contest with Brian McMillan.

Without a win in five matches against counties, the tourists begin the final day 110 ahead with nine wickets intact after Northamptonshire halted their own advance with the youngsters Jeremy Snape and Tony Penberthy, both within sight of a half-century after an unbroken partnership of 75 for the sixth wicket.

The South Africans, buoyed by Richard Snell's 3 for 7 in 28 balls, could have envisaged a different outcome, although Snell, Aubrey Martin's replacement before a ball was bowled on tour, still looks unlikely to win a Test place.

Their probable side should differ in three choices from the current team: Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers and Andrew Hudson for Snell, Pat Symcox and Gerhardus Liebenberg. Whatever their line-up, Curran and Loye gave the tourists a perspiring time in a 117-run stand lifting the innings from 28 for 3.