Ramprakash digs in to rescue England

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Cricket

JAMES ALEXANDER

reports from Springs

Eastern Transvaal 261-5 England 264-5 England win by five wickets

A match under the floodlights of an ugly converted rugby ground could not provide a greater contrast for England from the opulence of Nicky Oppenheimer's place the previous day.

The differences did not end there, either. Whereas the opening match of the tour was strictly cucumber sandwiches and jolly japes, this had a real sizzle - and England only just stood the heat.

They had to thank Mark Ramprakash for their five-wicket win with one over to spare. He scored 89 not out from 93 balls, surviving two dropped catches and a couple of vehement appeals along the way, and featured in the decisive, unbroken partnership of 99 in 14 overs with Dominic Cork.

Ramprakash, on the back of his 10 centuries in the summer, has looked in prime touch. "I know I enjoyed a few slices of luck this evening and hope the tide has turned for me now," he said. "I don't think I've ever felt so exhausted after an innings - the altitude makes it very hard."

England were far from impressive. Their bowling was wayward in both line and length, the fielding was sloppy - three catches went to ground - and the batting was cavalier. There is no cause for alarm yet, but it was not an auspicious performance by the side trumpeted by Raymond Illingworth as the best one-day team from the 16 players on this tour.

The plain fact was that Eastern Transvaal were more competitive. This was a huge occasion for a team whose standard is above minor county but not quite first-class. Perhaps the portents were not good for England when a tyre on their coach burst at 60mph on the journey to Springs, which is 25 miles east of Johannesburg. Easterns' batting was not quite so explosive, but it certainly contained a few fireworks. Wayne Radford, an attractive and forthright opener, reached his fifty by hoisting Richard Illingworth over mid-wicket for six and went on to 92 until Dominic Cork held a stinging return catch.

Mark Mitchley, son of the Test umpire Cyril who was standing in this match, was among the other batsman who contributed usefully. England's five main bowlers went for around five-an-over and all had difficulty locating stumps that were a curious colour, on the orange side of scarlet.

The target presented a stiff challenge and England attacked it like a runaway roller-coaster. Alec Stewart pulled two boundaries past mid-wicket before falling to a superb, diving catch. Graeme Hick was dropped by the wicketkeeper, before skying an attempted pull. Mike Atherton, who should have been given run out when two, made 33 before going on the charge and missing.

The burly left-arm spinner Corrie Jordaan also accounted for Graham Thorpe as he attempted to work through the leg-side. The South African-born Robin Smith, as the public address announcer called him, prompting a few jeers, was another who became established but failed to capitalise. His run out left Ramprakash as the only specialist batsman, but he made certain there were no further embarrasments.

(Eastern Transvaal won toss)

EASTERN TRANSVAAL

W R Radford c and b Cork 92

M Mitchley b Illingworth 42

C R Norris b Gough 32

C Grainger not out 58

T A Marsh c Smith b Martin 25

S M Skeete run out 2

Extras (lb6, w3, nb1) 10

Total (for 5, 50 overs) 261

Fall: 1-115, 2-158, 3-211, 4-253, 5-261.

Did not bat: G P Cooke, *B McBride, G D Stevenson, J R Meyer, L C R Jordaan.

Bowling: Cork 10-1-48-1; Fraser 9-0-49-0; Martin 10-2-49-1; Gough 10- 0-45-1; Illingworth 9-0-52-1; Hick 2-0-12-0.

ENGLAND

*M A Atherton st McBride b Jordan 33

A J Stewart c Skeete b Stevenson 9

G A Hick c & b Meyer 34

G P Thorpe lbw b Jordan 22

R A Smith run out 33

M R Ramprakash not out 89

D G Cork not out 29

Extras (lb12, w3) 15

Total (for 5, 49 overs) 264

Fall: 1-11, 2-68, 3-107, 4-119, 5-165.

Did not bat: D Gough, P J Martin, R K Illingworth, A R C Fraser.

Bowling: Skeete 9-0-42-0; Stevenson 10-1-50-1; Cooke 3-0-26-0; Meyer 10-0-67-1; Jordan 10-0-34-2; Marsh 7-0-33-0.

Umpires: C Mitchley and B Lambson

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