Cronje leads chase

By George Roberts in Soweto England 332 SA Invitational XI 209- 9
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The Independent Online
NO heads of state pitched up here yesterday although Raymond Illingworth, whom many believe is the deity when it comes to the England team, did hand over pounds 50,000 to help South Africa's cricket development programme in the black townships. The cheque, a gift from the Test and County Cricket Board, was one of the few acts of generosity on an attritional second day of this historic match.

After the glorious goings-on of the first day - every England player was genuinely thrilled to meet Nelson Mandela - this was very much an anti-climax. England took their first-innings total to 332 and the South African Invitation XI, thanks largely to an enterprising ninth-wicket partnership of 69, responded with 209 for nine.

Richard Illingworth, who took five, and Mike Watkinson have already shared eight wickets and, with the pitch offering ever-increasing turn, England should be able to secure their third successive victory on tour some time during the next two days.

By passing the 183 necessary to avoid the follow-on, the Invitation XI prevented an interesting insight into England's philosophy. Would they have made their opponents bat again in the ruthless pursuit of a, hopefully, habit-forming victory? Or would they not have enforced the follow-on in order to give batsmen practice in the middle? Bearing in mind Illingworth's oft-stated desire to slip into the rhythm of winning - unlike in Australia last winter when England suffered a string of early defeats - the first option would have been the more likely.

There were casualties during England's first lengthy spell in the field. Robin Smith was struck on his right thumb while fielding at silly point and Angus Fraser went off briefly with a bruised foot. It meant 42-year- old John Barclay, the assistant manager and former Sussex captain, acted as substitute for a while, and he rather enjoyed himself.

The crowd was less than half of Friday's 10,000 and, once more, they paid only scant attention to the cricket. The biggest cheer by far came when the public address announced that Orlando Pirates from Soweto had won through to the final of the African Cup of Nations football tournament. For all the time and money poured into cricket development, football remains the game of the townships.

England's last three wickets added a further 47 runs, with John Crawley taking his score to 85 in more than six hours. It was a feat of application and Crawley knows there must be many more runs if he is to change Illingworth's mind and win the No 3 position ahead of Mark Ramprakash. Crawley's best chance of selection for the Test matches might be in one of the other batting places, and Smith's looks the most vulnerable at this early stage.

It has been a tumultuous week for Devon Malcolm, what with talk of management unhappiness over his failure to try to refine his action and his emotional meeting with Mandela. Malcolm tried as hard as ever, but his sting was drawn by the inert pitch. The spinners were always going to pose the principal threat. Illingworth wheeled away and collected five wickets for the second time in a week.

Among them was Jonty Rhodes, brilliantly caught off the under edge by Jack Russell as he attempted to cut. Rhodes is the most popular cricketer in South Africa, but his place is under severe threat after registering just one 50 in his last nine Tests. However, the chairman of selectors Peter Pollock said yesterday that Rhodes is likely to start the series. Hansie Cronje, the Springbok captain, made 56, in which his only slice of belligerence was taking 14 from one Illingworth over.

Lulama Masikazana has played for South Africa Under-24s and although there was an element of tokenism in his selection - he is the third-choice wicketkeeper at his own club - he showed he can bat. He added 69 runs at a rate better than one a minute with Meyrick Pringle to take the Invitation XI beyond 200 before Pringle aimed a swing at Illingworth and missed.

Not a bad match for Pringle. He performed the hat-trick on Friday.

Scoreboard

(England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings

(Overnight: 285 for 7)

J P Crawley c Rhodes b Davis 85

R K Illingworth c Rhodes b Davis 19

A R C Fraser st Masikizana b Davis 6

D E Malcolm not out 0

Extras (b9, lb14, nb16) 39

Total (131.4 overs) 332

Fall: 8-312, 9-325.

Bowling: Pringle 26-4-75-3; Snell 13-6-30-0; Williams 29-9-73-0; Cronje 8-3-17-0; Davis 21.4-8-68-4; Strydom 34-14-46-3.

SA INVITATION XI

M Arthur c Russell b Ilott 1

P Amm c Crawley b Illingworth 30

*W J Cronje b Watkinson 56

J N Rhodes c Russell b Illingworth 1

G Toyana st Russell b Watkinson 3

P C Strydom c Crawley b Watkinson 11

R P Snell c Hick b Illingworth 14

L Masikizana not out 44

M J G Davis c Russell b Illingworth 1

M W Pringle st Russell b Illingworth 36

H S Williams not out 1

Extras (lb8, nb3) 11

Total (for 9, 76 overs) 209

Fall: 1-2, 2-53, 3-63, 4-92, 5-97, 6-118, 7-128, 8-138, 9-207.

Bowling: Malcolm 14-4-32-0; Ilott 14-6-41-1; Fraser 9-2-14-0; Illingworth 24-9-76-5; Watkinson 15-4-38-3.

Umpires: M Bagus and W Diedricks.

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