Cricket: Such a glow in the gloaming

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The Independent Online
England A . . . . .320 and 175-5 dec

Border 200 and 189-9

Match drawn

IF YESTERDAY'S A tour match had been played in England - and given the rainy mist it felt like it was - there would have been five scoreboard lights blazing in the gloom.

Instead, there was just a single glowing beacon as England, despite having 29 balls against Border's last-wicket pair, were ultimately frustrated by the loss of the morning's play to rain.

The glow was from Peter Such, whose lean figure, topped by a bob so sun-bleached it could have been dipped in fluorescent paint, was the central figure in their quest for an 11th tour win in 13 games.

Such took 4 for 51 in 31 overs as Border, set 296 to win in what became 77 overs, held on for a draw.

Both Such, and his off-spin partner Robert Croft, who took 2 for 67, went close in the tense finish. With seven balls to go, a Croft delivery drifted by Alan Badenhorst's bat, deflected off his pad and, said the captain Hugh Morris, 'was a coat of paint away from knocking the bails off'. Then, in the final over, Such spun the ball past Brenden Fourie's bat and over middle stump to agonised gasps from the nine close fielders.

This has been a difficult tour for Such. Having been an Ashes regular he was left out of the Caribbean party largely because West Indians struggle against the ball turning away - the selectors presumably forgetting three of their top six are left-handers. Here, he has met unresponsive pitches and has sometimes been outbowled by Croft - although the figures are distorted as Such has played the tougher matches.

On a helpful wicket, however, he is always a threat, and yesterday he teased Border's batsmen as they gamely chased the total until it became impossible - though calculations were hindered by a scoreboard whose operators followed the South African policy of taking long meal breaks.

By then, there were so many close fielders the umpires could barely see the batsmen, who must have been grateful Sunday's lunch of hake-in-garlic had not been on yesterday's menu. The umpires also did an excellent job in keeping play going, even returning with alacrity when rain forced a break with eight overs remaining.

Although denied victory, England go to Port Elizabeth today in good heart for Thursday's 'Test' with South Africa A. All 13 remaining players are fit and most in form, which is more than can be said for their opponents, whose wicketkeeper, Steve Palframan, appeared to pull a hamstring batting yesterday and ended his innings with a runner.

(Final day of four; England A won toss)

ENGLAND A - First Innings 320 (S J Rhodes 108, M B Loye 71).

BORDER - First Innings 200 (B M Osborne 50).

ENGLAND A - Second Innings 175 for 5 dec (at overnight score; * H Morris 55).

Did not bat: R D B Croft, M J McCague, M C Ilott, P M Such, J P Taylor.

Bowling: Badenhorst 9-0-21-0; Howell 11-1- 43-0; Fourie 21-4-59-3; Bauermeister 9-3-16- 0; Botha 8-3-14-1; Cronje 4-0-12-1.

BORDER - Second Innings

M P Stonier c Taylor b Croft. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 A G Lawson c Morris b McCague. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 B M Osborne c Wells b Taylor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 P J Botha c Wells b Such. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 P C Strydom b Such. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 K Bauermeister b Such. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 F J Cronje c Loye b Croft. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 ] S J Palframan c Rhodes b Ilott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 * I L Howell lbw b Such. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 B C Fourie not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 A Badenhorst not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Extras (lb2 w2). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Total (for 9). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .189

Fall: 1-8 2-48 3-95 4-127 5-127 6-130 7-164 8-172 9-180.

Bowling: McCague 9-1-22-1; Ilott 9-3-24-1; Such 31-13-51-4; Taylor 5-1-23-1; Croft 23-4- 67-2.

Umpires: K Liebenberg and E Baillie.

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