This week NatWest became sponsors of the entire Young England programme, at Under-19, Under-17 and Under-15 levels. No one has ever questioned the quality of the raw material in English cricket. It is what happens to these boys afterwards,what they have to go through as they develop towards Test level, that is of most concern.
This generation are a powerful demonstration that things are looking good. Nine have either appeared at first-class level or are on the verge of doing so, and five, short of injury or illness, seem certainties for full caps within the next five years.
South Africa, newcomers at this level, are still in the early stages of building a side. They lost the two one-day games but drew the first Test at Taunton. and here they were on roughly level terms for the first two days. Yesterday morning, though, the England tail displayed their ability in formidable fashion.
David Nash and Umer Rashid, both of Middlesex, set a new eighth-wicket record of 146 in 45 overs as South Africa used seven bowlers trying to displace them. Nash, the wicket-keeper, has scored 56 not out, 25 not out and now 69 in two Tests.
Rashid, a slow left-arm bowler, looks far too accomplished to be a No9 batsman. Even when South Africa's persevering Pierre Joubert had Nash caught behind, Rashid found a useful partner in Surrey's giant 17-year- old fast bowler, Alex Tudor, who drove and cut nicely until deceived by Bruce Stigant's change of pace.
Tudor was dropped at cover on 27, off the bowling of the off-spinner Hendrik Dippenaar, one of several fielding lapses. Rashid was left on 97 not out (202 balls, two sixes, 10 fours) as England finished 196 in front, an advantage expanded by the dismissal of Ashwell Prince in the first over from Andrew Flintoff.
After tea, England soon reverted to using spin on the encouraging surface. Mark Boucher and Dippenaar were watchful and painstaking in reaching 111 before Yorkshire's Alex Morris, knocked out Dippenaar's off stump. The Durham off-spinner, Jason Searle, had Neil McKenzie caught behind and then bowled the defiant Boucher.Reuse content