Cricket: Symcox and Shaw send the tail into a spin

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The Independent Online
South Africa 327-6 dec and 164-3 dec

Nottinghamshire 218 and 139

South Africa win by 134 runs

IT HAS been said that if there is a weak link in this impressive South African tour party it is that they possess no spinner of merit. This thinking may have to be revised. The tourists achieved their first victory of the Tetley Challenge series here yesterday and owed it all to their slow bowlers, Tim Shaw and Pat Symcox, who persuaded a dismal Nottinghamshire to lose their last seven wickets for eight runs in 59 balls.

None of the South African journalists present could remember an occasion, either on this tour or on any involving their post-boycott national team, in which spin bowling alone had won them a game. Opportunities have been limited by the strength of their seam attack, and this was a rare one seized with great purpose by two men who clearly do not feel they are here just to make up the numbers.

Symcox, a 34-year-old attacking off-spinner from Natal, took 5 for 44 yesterday, giving him 8 for 100 for the two innings and deservedly earning the man of the match award. The pitch was not particularly helpful but Symcox made the ball turn sharply at times, too much, in any case, for a Nottinghamshire batting line-up short of experience. Shaw spun it less but was always accurate, returning 4 for 29 in 22 overs.

It is unlikely, even so, that the South African selectors will disturb their successful Lord's team for next week's second Test, but they have another card up their sleeve now, perhaps to be played at The Oval.

Nottinghamshire will be disgusted with themselves for having failed so feebly. At the beginning of the final hour, their objective of securing a draw, which appeared to have been the height of their ambition from the moment the South Africans won the toss, seemed to have been achieved. Having not been tempted, or only fleetingly at best, by the challenge of scoring 274 at four an over, thrown down when the tourists declared at lunch, they were 131 for 4.

The matter of negotiating another 16 overs ought not to have proved difficult but, having just lost their last batsman of experience when Symcox bowled Paul Johnson, they somehow stumbled into self-destruct mode.

Mathew Dowman chose misguidedly to go down the pitch to Shaw, Lindsay Walker trod on his stumps for the second time in the match, which must be something of a record for a player making his first-class debut, and then Greg Mike, driving, sliced a catch to cover, all in the space of three overs.

The South Africans had their tails up and none of the Nottinghamshire tail-enders could resist for long. Both bowlers quickly had them groping in vain and Brian McMillan, at silly point, ended the match with three almost identical catches.

Durham needed a high-class innings of 84 from Jimmy Daley to rescue them from disaster against Yorkshire at Durham University. They slumped to 38 for 4 in reply to 405 before Daley and Chris Scott, with 66 not out, put on 131 for the sixth wicket to steer them to 256 for 6 at the close.