Cricket: Speight alone in disturbing dreamers

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Sussex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .282-7

South Africa

THERE is nothing quite like a quiet day beside the seaside, in which case the South Africans enjoyed themselves in the sunshine here. After all, the news from home was of snow in Johannesburg, while keeping Sussex quiet presented very few problems apart from a flurry of runs from the shotmaker Martin Speight.

With Allan Donald, their main strike bowler having a rest, any thoughts of ripping out the opposition on this wicket was the stuff of dreams and the tourists might well have groaned upon losing the toss yesterday. An avalanche of boundaries, though, was not forthcoming thanks to disappointment hidden behind line- and-length bowling that only Speight really threatened to


Even with Donald, the South African's Canterbury tale was one of woe and the immediate response was to concentrate on a belt-tightening exercise. In which case the hosts appeared only too happy to oblige with a scoring rate hovering around the two-an- over mark for much of a slow day. In the deckchairs, dozing was the easy option.

Adapting to English bowling conditions is never easy for the newly arrived, but it does seem that the South Africans are catching on fast. Not that anyone was expecting too many fireworks from the painstaking Bill Athey, whose opening responsibilities weighed heavily enough for him to have made only 33 by the time he gloved Craig Matthews behind two overs before lunch.

Jamie Hall was also struggling to put these South Africans away, Brian McMillan denying him a half-century after he had faced 148 balls in gathering 48.

As for Alan Wells, he looked thoroughly out of sorts before Richard Snell, who two summers ago had hardly set Somerset alight as their overseas player, put him out of his misery.

At 119 for 3, then, things were going well for the tourists, but with Neil Lenham holding up one end, Speight at least mounted some sort of an assault. This included a lovely pulled boundary off the tall off-spinner Pat Symcox, who does not take kindly to such punishment.

Not that Symcox suffered too badly apart from a closing couple of blows from the unbeaten Paul Jarvis. There were 11 maidens in his first 33 overs which cost only 62 runs.

While Speight could hardly wait for more plunder, it was the seamer Hansie Cronje who ended the fun. Speight went for a legside hit across the line and, instead of securing an eighth boundary, had his stumps rearranged.

That left Lenham to soldier on and be the top scorer with 76 after nearly three hours, McMillan celebrating his return by bowling the Sussex No 3. McMillan also accounted for Peter Moores in similar fashion, while Matthews completed a good day of containment, when he had Carlos Remy caught behind.