South Africans in groove for Tests

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The Independent Online

Graeme Smith led from the front as South Africa shook off the disappointment of their NatWest Series final defeat by England to gain useful batting practice at Taunton ahead of the first Test a week on Thursday.

The captain won the toss against an injury-hit Somerset side, and was able to declare on 326 for 4. His 152 took 214 balls and included 27 fours.

Of those who did not feature in the NatWest Series, Gary Kirsten, who has retired from one-day cricket, marked his first appearance since the World Cup in March with a polished 66, while Neil McKenzie hardly played a false shot on his way to 66 not out.

Somerset then reached 38 without loss against some lively pace bowling from Charl Willoughby and Dewald Pretorius, previously of Durham.

All-rounder Dougie Brown scored a century batting at No 7 as Warwickshire reached 315 for 7 against Middlesex at Southgate. His 113 came off 181 balls with 17 boundaries, and he put on 209 for the sixth wicket with wicketkeeper Tony Frost, who made 84.

In Division Two, Anthony McGrath returned from England duty to score 86 as Yorkshire posted 340 for 6 against Durham at Chester-le-Street. Craig White, who may not get his place back in the England one-day set-up after the success of his captain, remained unbeaten on 82. With Andy Gray, who made 60 not out, he had forged an unbroken partnership of 143 by the close.

Hampshire have released Wasim Akram with immediate effect, following problems associated with the Pakistan all-rounder's health. Wasim, 37, suffers from diabetes.