England's losing habit

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Cricket

ROBERT WINDER

reports from Cape Town

England 196 Western Province 200-7 W Province win by 3 wickets

England's impromptu match against Western Province ended in a floodlit defeat when Faiek Davids struck a late half-century to bring victory in a match England seemed to have all but won.

With 12 overs remaining Western Province needed 80 runs with five wickets standing but Davids, finding the boundary with increasing ease, knocked off the runs with an over to spare. In a dramatic flourish, he clouted Craig White for two fours and a towering six which went, as luck would have it, clean over the heads of the Barmy Army.

For England, the game represented an unexpected chance to recapture the one-day habit, and they didn't take it. They went into the match without Cork, Hick, Smith or Stewart. But Western Province were themselves without Adams, Callis, Gary Kirsten and McMillan, not to mention their overseas player Desmond Haynes.

England's total was, at least, a noticeable advance on anything they managed in the last Test match. But the collapse began early. Thorpe was sent out to open with Atherton - a promising experiment which soon went wrong. Meyrick Pringle found Atherton's outside edge, and then bounced one into Ramprakash's glove - or was it his arm? - first ball. It was Ramprakash's third consecutive duck.

Those who thought it a waste to risk Thorpe against the new ball had their fears confirmed when he promptly lifted a drive to cover, and England were three wickets down for just 13. Fairbrother and White put a stop to what was starting to look like a rout in progress with a careful partnership of 82 off 22 overs and Reeve and Russell carried England to a modest but defendable total.

They then restricted Western Province to 105 for 5 after 37 overs. But repeating the pattern set in the Tests, the opposition's tail whacked them in the teeth.

For England it was, if nothing else, a chance to look at the newcomers, none of whom exactly dazzled. DeFreitas and Smith were neat; White batted well and was slippery with the ball until he was badly humiliated in the slog; Fairbrother looked less than jaunty though he did secure England's innings. As a collective performance however, it was hardly one to frighten the South Africans.

(England won toss)

ENGLAND

G P Thorpe c Gibbs b Pringle 7

*M A Atherton c Kirsten b Pringle 4

M R Ramprakash c Davids b Pringle 0

N H Fairbrother c Commins b Davids 46

C White c Davids b Rundle 46

D A Reeve st Kirsten b Rundle 23

R C Russell b Martyn 29

M Watkinson c Commins b Mitchell 14

P A J DeFreitas b Pringle 6

N M K Smith not out 14

D Gough run out 0

Extras (lb6, w1) 7

Total (49.5 overs) 196

Fall: 1-11, 2-11, 3-13, 4-95, 5-129, 6-134, 7-153, 8-166, 9-196.

Bowling: Pringle 10-1-34-4; Martyn 9.5-1-36-1; Cilliers 4-0-29-0; Mitchell 10-1-37-1; Rundle 10-2-27-2; Davids 6-0-27-1.

WESTERN PROVINCE

S Koenig c and b Smith 24

D Rundle c Thorpe b DeFreitas 15

H D Ackerman b Watkinson 21

J Commins c Gough b Watkinson 24

M W Pringle b Gough 0

H Gibbs c Atherton b Reeve 5

F Davids not out 55

T Mitchell b White 8

P Kirsten not out 32

Extras (lb7, w6, nb3) 16

Total (for 7, 49 overs) 200

Fall: 1-31, 2-50, 3-91, 4-91, 5-97, 6-119, 7-132.

Did not bat: A Cilliers, A Martyn.

Bowling: Gough 10-2-31-1; DeFreitas 10-2-37-1; White 10-1-42-1; Smith 6-1-16-1; Reeve 8-1-44-1; Watkinson 5-0-23-2.

Umpires: N Bagus and R Brooks.

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