England spirits lifted as bowlers hit rich seam

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reports from East London

England 351 Border 166 & 132 England win by an innings and 53 runs

England completed a thoroughly professional innings victory here yesterday as many of the concerns and the cobwebs over the bowlers' inactivity were blown away. Dominic Cork, Darren Gough and Mark Ilott swung the ball, bowled in the right areas and exerted a pressure which the Border batsmen found intolerable. The opposition was fairly inept but, as Raymond Illingworth said, you can do no more than beat the teams put in front of you.

Much is expected of Cork this winter after his remarkable entry to the international stage. The qualities that brought him such success against West Indies were again in evidence in his first first-class bowl of the tour - aggression, outswing and a good degree of guile - and he took eight wickets in the match. Cork is trying his best to remain unfazed by his new-found celebrity and stick to the fundamentals that helped him in the first place. Gough could tell him a few things about the dangers of stardom and the young Yorkshireman is desperate to re-establish himself as a Test bowler following his stress fracture. So Gough's contribution here was equally encouraging. He did not generate top pace but, as in the nets, all discomfort from his injured foot has gone.

Cork and Gough captured the final four wickets from Border's first innings in just 10 balls and England did not hesitate to enforce the follow-on. They would have been keen for Robin Smith to have another innings, but that was far outweighed by the bowlers' need for practice in the middle and the pursuit of victory. Winning is habit-forming and breeds confidence.

Illingworth said: "This wicket had gone to sleep, so we did well to bowl them out twice after losing four sessions to the weather. I'd like us to have played on surfaces quicker and bouncier, because that is what we are likely to get in the first Test. Generally, however, I'm very pleased with the way things are going."

There was an indication of this squad's appetite for hard work immediately after victory was completed, when several players went out to the middle and practised for an hour.

It might be no coincidence that the four players who came to South Africa on England's A tour two years ago - Ilott, Cork, Gough and Crawley - all made telling contributions here. Ilott, the leading wicket-taker on that trip, was the best of the bowlers in the second innings. He employed the classic weapons of the left-armer - inswing and slant across the right- handed batsman - to great effect. The tumbling legside catch by Jack Russell to dismiss Peter Kirsten was quite brilliant. Otherwise, the bowlers needed assistance from fielders only twice more in the second innings - a sure indication of the low bounce.

England remain unbeaten almost three weeks into this tour. It is not often England go so long without losing a cricket match. Indeed, if it had not rained in Soweto, they would surely have won every game. What a contrast from Australia last winter. South Africa will announce their team for the first Test today, with the main interest concerning the possible selection of the 20-year-old Western Province batsman Jacques Kallis.

(Final day of four; England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings 351 (J P Crawley 108, M R Ramprakash 70, R C Russell 64; B C Fourie 4-75).

BORDER - First Innings

(Overnight: 153 for 6)

D J Cullinan lbw b Cork 20

I L Howell c Russell b Gough 11

B C Fourie not out 0

P A N Emslie lbw b Gough 0

M Ntini b Cork 1

Extras (b8 lb6 w1 nb9) 24

Total (58.3 overs) 166

Fall: 1-8 2-81 3-90 4-111 5-141 6-144 7-164 8-164 9-164.

Bowling: Ilott 14-4-34-1; Cork 16.3-2-48-5; Gough 12-4-30-3; Martin 7- 2-23-0; Illingworth 9-4-17-0.

Second Innings

F J C Cronje lbw b Ilott 13

P J Botha c Smith b Cork 21

*P N Kirsten c Russell b Ilott 6

D J Cullinan b Gough 55

P C Strydom lbw b Cork 3

S J Palframan b Cork 10

S C Pope b Ilott 8

I L Howell not out 5

B C Fourie c Russell b Ilott 0

P A N Emslie lbw b Gough 0

M Ntini lbw b Ilott 0

Extras (lb10 nb1) 11

Total (51.5 overs) 132

Fall: 1-18 2-34 3-55 4-63 5-92 6-127 7-127 8-128 9-129.

Bowling: Ilott 13.5-3-36-5; Martin 5-2-11-0; Gough 9-3-9-2; Cork 12-0- 33-3; Illingworth 12-1-33-0.

Giddins applies brakes, page 24