Cricket / Second Test: England draw comfort from Hick's high-class hundred: South Africans preserve series lead

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England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 477-9 dec and 267-5 dec

South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .447 and 116-3

Match drawn

SCARCELY anyone turns up for the last day of a Test match, and the best thing that can be said about yesterday's tepid anti-climax is that there were relatively few people to feel sorry for. It was the first drawn Test match here since 1980, and the first draw since 1968 that was not caused either by bad weather, or by late-night intruders vandalising the pitch.

The latter took place as a clandestine, wall-scaling operation, and ruined a gripping game, but as far as this pitch goes, there ought to be a complimentary pass at the main gates for anyone with a day off and a Rotavator. The ball hobbled through at negligible pace and varying heights, and the few periods of flashing strokeplay were almost entirely the result of sub-standard bowling.

South Africa found it relatively straightforward to bat out time after being asked to make 298 in the final two sessions, and will be pleased enough at preserving their 1-0 series lead with only the Oval Test to come. The TCCB treasurer will also be a happy man this morning (counting record receipts of pounds 1,098,000 at a notoriously sluggish venue for ticket sales) as will Graeme Hick, who made his first Test century in this country, and only his second in 28 Tests.

Hick, 48 not out overnight, is probably as puzzled as everyone else as to why he has been such a braces-bursting run-gorger in first-class cricket, where he has made 74 other three-figure scores, but a near anorexic when it comes to tucking in at Test level.

Raymond Illingworth had a long talk with him at the start of the summer, and as the England chairman is not the molly-coddling type, the speech may not so much have been along the lines of: 'keep going lad, we know you can do it . .' as 'pull your finger out, son, or you're on your bike'.

Whatever, Hick has adopted a visibly more positive approach since returning from the West Indies, and while reservations still remain - yesterday's effort was against bowling designed to contain rather than get him out, and with Allan Donald injured - Hick is now looking the part, rather than a spare one.

Some of his strokeplay yesterday was of the highest class, in particular a pick-up for six over square leg off Craig Matthews. England attacked boldly enough to make sufficient runs yesterday morning (124) for a lunchtime declaration, and Hick's personal acceleration was reflected in his 139- ball half-century, and only 53 more balls for his final 60 runs.

Hick took over as senior partner once the ebullient Graham Thorpe had been run out (following TV replay evidence) attempting to scamper a leg bye, and Alec Stewart (36 not out off 37 balls) was again in vintage form. Stewart found himself in something of a ridiculous position in this game, as the only way he could 'prove the selectors wrong' (as Mike Atherton put it) in shoving him down to No 5 was by not scoring any runs.

However, ridiculous is probably too kind a word for what happened to John Crawley after Hick, three minutes before lunch, pre-selected a near yorker from Brian McMillan and was lbw swinging across the line. If Atherton wanted a few more violent blows before declaring, Phillip DeFreitas should have been promoted. Crawley's dismissal for 0, caught at deep backward square leg, would yesterday have been recognised as nobly dying for the cause, but sometime in the future it is the sort of thing that tends to get forgotten when selectors are examining Test-match averages.

South Africa were never serious about attempting to make the runs, neither was there a serious prospect of an England victory once the tourists had made it through to tea for the loss of only one wicket. Andrew Hudson was caught and bowled by Philip Tufnell for 12, his highest score in the series, and may not be given the chance to improve upon it.

Gary Kirsten and Hansie Cronje had enough narrow squeaks to keep England interested, and had the bowling been as accurate on Sunday morning as it was yesterday afternoon, England would probably have won. However, even though Kirsten was given out caught behind off DeFreitas and Kepler Wessels was bowled out of the footholds by Tufnell, Atherton called it off with six overs remaining.

(Final day; England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings 477 for 9 dec (M A Atherton 99, A J Stewart 89, G P Thorpe 72, S J Rhodes 65no).

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings 447 (P N Kisrsten 104, B M McMilan 78, C R Matthews 62no; P A J DeFreitas 4-89)

ENGLAND - Second Innings

(Overnight: 144 for 2)

G A Hick lbw b McMillan. . . . . . . . . . . . 110 (270 min, 192 ball, 9 fours, 3 sixes) G P Thorpe run out (Richardson). . . . . . . . .73 (173 min, 125 balls, 10 fours) A J Stewart not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 (65 min, 37 balls, 6 fours) J P Crawley c Cronje b McMillan. . . . . . . . . 0 (2 min, 2 balls) Extras (lb1 nb3). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Total (for 5 dec, 340 min, 78.3 overs). . . . .267

Fall: 3-190 (Thorpe), 4-267 (Hick), 5-267 (Crawley).

Bowling: De Villiers 25-3-98-1 (nb3) (3-0-10- 0, 7-2-10-1, 5-0-17-0, 10-1-61-0); McMillan 15.3- 0-66-2 (nb1) (3-0-15-0, 5-0-22-0, 3-0-10-0, 4.3- 0-19-2); Matthews 24-8-53-1 (10-6-12-1, 7-1-15- 0, 7-1-26-0); G Kirsten 2-1-10-0 (one spell); Cronje 12-3-39-0 (7-2-17-0, 3-1-6-0 2-0-16-0).

Progress: Fifth day: 150: 236 min, 58.1 overs. 200: 290 min, 68.1 overs. 250: 327 min, 76 overs. Declaration at lunchtime.

Thorpe's 50: 115 min, 81 balls, 7 fours.

Hick's 50: 171 min, 139 balls, 4 fours, 1 six. 100: 259 min, 184 balls, 9 fours, 2 sixes.

SOUTH AFRICA - Second Innings

G Kirsten c Rhodes b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . 65 (155 min, 128 balls, 11 fours) A C Hudson c and b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . . . 12 (82 min, 66 balls) W J Cronje not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 (134 min, 124 balls) *K C Wessels b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 (31 min, 20 balls, 1 four) P N Kirsten not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 (29 min, 31 balls, 2 fours) Extras (b2 lb2 nb7). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Total (for 3, 217 min, 60 overs). . . . . . . .116

Fall: 1-43 (Hudson), 2-93 (G Kirsten), 3-104 (Wessels).

Bowling: DeFreitas 14-3-41-1 (nb7) (7-2-22-0, 7-1-19-1); Gough 10-5-15-0 (4-2-7-0, 6-3-8-0); Tufnell 23-8-31-2 (nb1) (9-4-6-1, 3-0-10-0); Fraser 7-2-19-0; Hick 6-3-6-0 (one spell each).

Progress (final day): 50: 100 min, 26.1 overs. Tea: 68-1 (G Kirsten 44, Cronje 5) 34 overs. 100: 167 min, 45.3 overs. Match called off at 5.33pm after nine of the 15 overs available in the final hour.

G Kirsten's 50: 134 min, 110 balls, 9 fours.

Umpires: S R Dunne and D R Shepherd.

TV Replay umpire: J C Balderstone.

Match Referee: P J P Burge.

Man of the match: P N Kirsten.

Adjudicator: R D Jackman.

Glenn Moore, Henry Blofeld, County cricket, page 30

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