Paul Collingwood guided England home with a composed half-century as last-minute preparations for the World Cup began in earnest here yesterday.
Collingwood led the counter-attack with 78, after England had lost three early wickets, compiled at almost a run a ball. While an unbeaten 55 from the stand-in captain, Alec Stewart, provided the chase with backbone, it was Collingwood's freedom of stroke that took England to victory with five wickets and 10 overs to spare.
Regularly driving through midwicket and extra cover, Collingwood hit eight fours and a towering straight six off Craig Thyssen's medium pace. His boundaries provided momentum that Andrew Flintoff built upon once Nantie Hayward returned to take the edge as Collingwood advanced down the track.
The reply to Eastern Province's 173 for 9 was initially undermined by Hayward, Worcestershire's new overseas signing, who struck twice in his first two overs. Working up a brisk pace, Hayward drew Nick Knight into a loose drive to extra cover from the fifth ball of the innings. Then Craig White, employed as a makeshift opener, had his off-stump sent cartwheeling by another searing delivery as England slipped to 9 for 2.
Michael Vaughan countered with two majestic cover-driven boundaries and a pulled six off Brent Kops. With the runs flowing, Stewart struck Hayward for three consecutive fours before Vaughan checked a drive at Botha's first ball to be caught at cover point.
The England captain, Nasser Hussain, missed the first of two warm-up matches, held to promote cricket in disadvantaged areas, but, contrary to Monday's reports, White was included.
Set on their way by Andrew Caddick's early spell in which he claimed two wickets, the tourists chipped away at the hosts' batting, but the tail wagged to great effect to guide Eastern Province away from 88 for 7. In fact, the hosts looked down and out when Botha walked to the crease with half the side out in the 21st over, but his unbeaten half-century was instrumental in gaining respectability.
Caddick extracted considerable bounce – on a ground constructed from mounds of dirt six months ago – to finish with 2 for 26 from 10 overs. His fellow seamers Matthew Hoggard and Flintoff also contributed on a two-paced surface – the first four wickets all fell via outside edges – and Ashley Giles claimed a wicket on his first competitive run-out since breaking a wrist in the build-up to the Adelaide Ashes Test in November.
A superb piece of fielding from Flintoff got rid of Bruce Frederichs. Collecting the batsman's drive to his left off his own bowling, he swivelled and threw down the stumps to beat a desperate dive and usher Botha to the crease.
Another run-out saw Justin Kemp sacrificed during White's spell of 4-1-9-0, his first competitive bowl following 20 minutes in the nets since tearing a side muscle in December.
White was included in the side despite the team management and the Yorkshire all-rounder saying he would not play at the new ground in one of South Africa's largest townships. White, 33, last played in the fourth Ashes Test and had initially given a deadline to bowl here to prove his fitness for the tournament.
MOTHERWELL SCOREBOARD Eastern Province won toss
C C Bradfield c Stewart b Hoggard 20
W R Wingfield c Flintoff b Caddick 0
J D C Bryant c Stewart b Caddick ..9
B R Frederichs run out 19
D J Callaghan c Stewart b Flintoff ..2
J M Kemp run out 17
J Botha not out ..59
D L Makalima c Giles b Flintoff ..4
C A Thyssen b Giles ..5
M Hayward c Knight b Blackwell ..6
B B Kops not out ..19
Extras (lb5 w5 nb3) ..13
Total (for 9, 50 overs) ..173
Fall: 1-3 2-29 3-35 4-53 5-70 6-80 7-89 8-117 9-124.
Bowling: Caddick 10-1-26-2; Hoggard 9-0- 41-1; Flintoff 10-3-32-2; White 4-1-9-0; Irani 6-3-10-0; Giles 5-1-17-1; Blackwell 6-0-33-1.
N V Knight c Wingfield b Hayward 2
C White b Hayward 0
M P Vaughan c Wingfield b Botha 17
A J Stewart not out 55
P D Collingwood c Frederichs b Hayward 78
A Flintoff c Bradfield b Kemp 16
I D Blackwell not out 4
Extras (w5) 5
Total (for 5, 40 overs) 177
Fall: 1-2 2-9 3-31 4-135 5-165/
Did not bat: R C Irani, A F Giles, A R Caddick, M J Hoggard.
Bowling: Hayward 8-0-42-3; Kops 5-0-30-0; Botha 8-1-32-1; Kemp 9-1-26-1; Wingfield 3-0-9-0; Thyssen 7-0-38-0.
Umpires: B G Jerling and R E Koertzen.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies