Majestic McGrath

England U-19 223 & 528-7d South Africa U-19 346 & 5-0
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THE Rainbow Nation may have been all the rage on the rugby front this summer as they stormed to victory in the World Cup, but as far as cricket is concerned at this level the learning curve for the South Africans appears to be a sharp one. Hence the fact that yesterday, in the first Under-19 Test, much of the colour was provided by strokes from the home camp.

A record was in order, too, on an outfield as slick as they come, Marcus Trescothick and Anthony McGrath gliding along largely effortlessly to centuries and superseding a pair of household names of the English game in the process. As for entertainment, you could not have wished for better on a glorious day.

Having recorded two comprehensive victories by 10 and nine wickets in the preceding one- dayers, England had paid for over-confidence in the first innings. Yesterday, though, the South Africans were incapable of forcing the issue, which said much about their lack of application, and quite a lot about the ability of Trescothick and McGrath to wrest the initiative. In a couple of sessions, the match had turned.

Trailing by 24 overnight, Trescothick, the Somerset left-hander, and McGrath, the Yorkshire right-hander, swiftly put on 247 for the first wicket. It left Mike Atherton and Mark Ramprakash in their wake, the pair having set the previous English record at this level of 208 in 1987.

Trescothick rode his luck after flashing the ball through the slips in the 90s. He had made 136 by the time Bruce Stigant had him leg before; he faced 187 balls, striking 16 fours and a six.

McGrath made 84 for Yorkshire here in June and reached three figures just before lunch. At this point, England were 143 ahead and the lead had risen to 314 when McGrath was finally out for 187 after 407 minutes at the crease. Nor did the punishment end there as England set a target of 406.