South Africa were deprived of batting practice yesterday before the Test series against England. Play on the second day of their only first-class fixture ahead of the First Test at The Oval on Thursday was abandoned after only 22 overs. It was hardly time for middle-order stalwarts, Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla, to find any form on English pitches, and both looked alternatively rusty and assured. Amla was unbeaten on a stoic 35 from 69 balls, Kallis was unusually expansive in his 23 against a largely unthreatening but adequate Kent attack.
The only wicket was that of Alviro Petersen lbw, much to his surprise, to the veteran seamer Simon Cook.
The tourists' assistant coach, Russell Domingo, claimed to be unconcerned by the lack of preparation. He said: "I can't remember the last time we had 12 days to prepare for Test matches as a national side," he said. "Whether we've gone to New Zealand or even at home in South Africa it's two or three days. This is as much preparation as we've ever had leading into a Test series.
"I'm not worried. We had such a good week of preparation in Switzerland the guys were almost saying, 'We're mentally ready to play already'. Whether we practised with 10 games or two games I don't think it would make too much difference, because the guys are mentally ready." In Switzerland, of course, they do not play cricket.