South Africa 515-3dec & 215-6dec; Somerset 249 & 115-3 (Match drawn): Tourists on the mend
Wednesday 02 July 2008
The South African crocks are on the mend, proof of that is yesterday's announcement by the Proteas' coach Mickey Arthur that he expects to field his test line-up in the second and final warm-up match against Middlesex at Uxbridge starting on Friday.
Captain Graeme Smith (hamstring), all-rounder Jacques Kallis (elbow) and batsman Hashin Amla should all be in action again together with the world's Number One fast bowler Dale Steyn.
"We feel our bowlers will really start hitting their straps at Uxbridge," explained Arthur. "Our focus is on 10 July and the first test at Lord's, everything we do is about getting it right for that day."
Coincidentally coach Peter Moores and the national selectors met to discuss the possible make-up of the England team yesterday and will announce it tomorrow, with the name of Andrew Flintoff no doubt featuring prominently.
Arthur settled any debate over the recall of the Lancashire all-rounder by saying: "It would be tempting to play him if he is fighting fit.
"If I had a Flintoff I'd have him back. It might be a gamble, but Peter Moores knows what he is doing , he will assess the risk.
"I think Andrew Flintoff certainly gives the attack a different flavour, because he's got that bustling pace. Flintoff coming back strengthens England. I wouldn't be surprised if he came straight back in.
"It does alter the balance of their side when he is in it, and I wouldn't want to be selecting their side because I am not sure if you can bank on him coming straight back in and giving you the amount of overs that a Stuart Broad or a Jimmy Anderson would, so then he really has to take the place of one of the top six, that is what they have to weigh up.
"I am not sure they will get the balance right there. But if you have a quality player like him around you certainly want to pick him."
On the field there was some evidence of the South African attack 'hitting its straps', but these could probably, and no doubt will be, be tugged a notch or two tighter at Uxbridge.The match fizzled to an inevitable draw with Somerset a mere 367 runs away from the victory target of 482 when they shook hands.
The Tourists had batted slowly and at length on a typical Taunton track, only declaring when there were a notional 46 overs remaining in the match for Somerset to try to conjure up an unlikely victory. But the Tourists had plenty to take from the match and they head towards the first test in good spirits and with no serious fitness problems. England had better be on their mettle.
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