Hick strikes to light up England

Cricket: ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL: South Africa prevented from exploiting quick start
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Cricket

DEREK PRINGLE

reports from Bloemfontein

South Africa 262-8 England 265-5 (England win by five wickets)

A thunderous display of batting from Graeme Hick, who reached an electrifying fifty in a mere 33 balls, plus supporting roles of 85 from Michael Atherton and an unbeaten 82 from Graham Thorpe, helped England beat South Africa by five wickets at Springbok Park here last night.

Needing 263 to win, it was the visitors' first victory over South Africa since the tour began 13 weeks ago. It was also the first time England had won a one-day match batting second under lights since they beat the same opposition at Melbourne four years ago in the last World Cup. Needless to say, their task was not helped when play was held up for 40 minutes due to partial floodlight failure.

Atherton, who was named man of the match, said: "I would have given the award to Hick - he deserved it. He really struck the ball magnificently and his innings was vital to us."

He added: "Of course I'm very pleased with this victory, but what is irritating is that we should now be 2-0 up because we played well enough for most of the match in Cape Town to have won that game too.

"But we showed more of a killer instinct today - and that was what was lacking in the opening one-dayer."

Like South Africa, England opened with a pinch-hitter, to take advantage of the fielding restrictions in place for the first 15 overs. But if Phil DeFreitas gave his team the brisk start they were looking for, the real explosion came when Hick began to put bat to ball and few escaped the broadside from his blazing blade.

Having bowled tidily on this pitch earlier, Hick soon realised there were no demons worth speaking of, a belief he demonstrated by smashing three balls in succession from Allan Donald's first over to the cover fence. Each stroke was of thrilling high calibre, in both speed and execution and he had every right to feel aggrieved when he was given out lbw to Hansie Cronje.

Atherton, no slouch when it comes to keeping the score ticking over was swamped in his wake, though he too notched up his fifty albeit from a slightly more measured 76 balls.

Then, in league with Graham Thorpe, who neatly kept the scoreboard moving with dabs and deflections, Atherton seemed likely to guide England home until he was brilliantly held at mid-wicket by Cronje off Shaun Pollock. Luckily for England, Thorpe saw through the job he had failed to complete in Cape Town and it was fitting he finished the game with two fours.

It was not all smiles for England, however. Mark Ramprakash, who scored his first and only run since 1 December, was unlucky to be run out responding to Thorpe's call for a risky single.

South Africa will be even more unhappy with their final total, particularly after the start given them by Richard Snell and Andrew Hudson. Their first fifty came off only 63 balls with Snell, whose fifty came from just 46 balls, being particularly savage on Peter Martin.

However, Martin who was withdrawn almost immediately, his first two overs having cost 21 runs, was not alone in attracting punishment, with both DeFreitas and Craig White almost as expensive to run as South Africa put on 116 for the first wicket.

In the end Atherton was forced to turn to spin sooner than he would have liked, pressing Neil Smith, Hick and Ramprakash into action with their various degrees of off-spin. A change that saw Hudson introduce a range of exotic sweeps, and misses, though the umpires' fingers remained unmoved. In less than a game, the umpiring has veered from the trigger-happy to the impervious.

Curiously, for a man who seems reticent to bowl, Hick was the pick of the three and it was he who had Snell caught by Fairbrother for 63 as he chipped the ball towards long-off. It was Hick too who ended Hudson's 96-ball stay.

South Africa then squandered their good start and in the 10 overs between the 25th and 35th overs, they added just 46 runs. Sensing they had lost the initiative, Cronje came in and began to put bat to ball, in a brief but violent innings, that included a six and a four, before being ended by a straight ball from Cork.

With Cronje gone, his team seemed only too happy to follow suit. In the space of 23 balls they lost four wickets for 22 runs, in a display even more inept than England's three nights ago.

(South Africa won toss)

SOUTH AFRICA

A C Hudson c Stewart b Hick 64

(120 min, 97 balls, 5 fours)

R P Snell c Fairbrother b Hick 63

(83 min, 65 balls, 4 fours, 1 six)

B M McMillan b Martin 44

(65 min, 54 balls, 4 fours)

J H Kallis c Hick b Smith 29

(53 min, 35 balls, 2 fours, 1 six)

*W J Cronje b Cork 19

(18 min, 18 balls, 1 four, 1 six)

J N Rhodes b Cork 4

(13 min, 6 balls)

G Kirsten c Fairbrother b Cork 2

(5 min, 3 balls)

S M Pollock c Ramprakash b Smith 5

(8 min, 5 balls)

D J Richardson not out 13

(16 min, 10 balls)

N Boje not out 2

(9 min, 7 balls)

Extras (b6, lb4, w7) 17

Total (for 8, 199 mins, 50 overs) 262

Fall: 1-116 (Snell), 2-164 (Hudson), 3-197 (McMillan), 4-226 (Cronje), 5-228 (Kallis), 6-236 (Kirsten), 7-237 (Rhodes), 8-248 (Pollock).

Did not bat: A A Donald.

Bowling: Cork 10-0-44-3 (w4) (4-0-15-0, 4-0-22-0, 2-0-7-3); DeFreitas 6-0-30-0 (5-0-23-0, 1-0-7-0); White 6-0-37-0 (3-0-20-0, 3-0-17-0); Martin 6-0-43-1 (w1) (1-0-7-0, 1-0-14-0, 3-0-20-1, 1-0-2-0); Smith 10-0-46-2 (7-0-27-0, 3-0-19-2); Hick 10-0-38-2 (w2) (7-0-2 5-1, 3-0-13-1); Ramprakash 2-0-14-0 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 40 min, 63 balls. 100: 76 min, 122 balls. 150: 109 min, 183 balls. 200: 154 min, 242 balls. 250: 193 min, 292 balls.

Hudson's 50: 94 min, 76 balls, 5 fours. Snell's 50: 63 min, 46 balls, 4 fours, 1 six.

ENGLAND

P A J DeFreitas c Rhodes b Pollock 17

(24 min, 19 balls, 2 fours)

*M A Atherton c Cronje b Pollock 85

(147 min, 110 balls, 5 fours)

G A Hick lbw b Cronje 55

(56 min, 42 balls, 9 fours, 1 six)

G P Thorpe not out 72

(125 min, 85 balls, 5 fours)

M R Ramprakash run out (Rhodes) 1

(6 min, 4 balls)

N H Fairbrother c Rhodes b McMillan 12

(23 min, 16 balls, 1 four)

A J Stewart not out 13

(28 min, 16 balls, 1 four)

Extras (lb4, w5, nb1) 10

Total (for 5, 207 min, 48.2 overs) 265

Fall: 1-37 (DeFreitas), 2-108 (Hick), 3-198 (Atherton), 4-200 (Ramprakash), 5-223 (Fairbrother).

Did not bat: C White, D G Cork, N M K Smith, P J Martin.

Bowling: Pollock 9.2-0-48-2 (nb1,w1) (6-0-24-1, 2-0-8-1, 1.2-0-16-0); Snell 6-0-39-0 (w2) (5-0-34-0, 1-0-5-0); McMillan 7-0-46-1 (nb1) (3-0- 27-0, 4-0-19-1); Donald 10-1-44-0 (6-1-29-0 2-0-6-0 2-0-9-0), Cronje 7- 0-32-1 (4-0-14-1, 2-0-10-0, 1-0-8-0); Kallis 5-0-27-0 (w1); Boje 4-0-25- 0 (w1) (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 37 min, 56 balls. 100: 64 min, 97 balls. Floodlights failed: 8.25-9.07pm, 129-2 (Atherton 46, Thorpe 6) 23.4 overs. 150: 116 min, 167 balls. 200: 151 min, 223 balls. 250: 199 min, 281 balls.

Atherton's 50: 108 min, 76 balls, 4 fours. Hick's 50: 37 min, 33 balls, 9 fours, 1 six. Thorpe's 50: 108 min, 72 balls, 1 four.

ENGLAND WON BY FIVE WICKETS

Umpires: R E Koertzen and W A Diedricks.

Man of the match: M A Atherton.

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