Martedì, 16 Febbraio 2016 22:33 | England shove aside SA ‘A’ again

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Paarl – It has been a conspicuously bad summer for thesupposedly next-in-line cricketers for the Proteas.

The South Africa A side were beaten for the third time onEngland’s 2015/16 safari to these

shores, in a Twenty20 fixture here on Wednesdaynight, succumbing by 44 runs before a healthy crowd on the grassed banks of balmyBoland Park.

At least there were flickering signs of a decent contest attimes, in contrast to the previous meetings during the tour – a thrashing by aninnings and 91 runs in a first-class match at Pietermaritzburg, and no lessworrisome reverse by 163 runs in a 50-overs encounter in Kimberley.

It wasn’t too many years ago that SA ‘A’ sides would pridethemselves in either giving visiting teams a serious run for their money oractually beating them, so this trio of setbacks will do little to subdue amounting theory that the domestic game is struggling at present for bothquality and depth.

This was probably the “best” showing by the second-stringersagainst the English -- yet they still landed well short of a demanding targetof 203.

That they avoided outright humiliation on this occasion wasprimarily down to a breezy second-wicket alliance of 88 runs in 10.2 oversbetween the young Titans right-hander Theunis de Bruyn (56) and his almost 37-year-oldskipper Morne van Wyk (32).

Once they were separated, however, the innings graduallyregressed, not helped by failures from two senior Proteas stalwarts, DavidMiller and Farhaan Behardien.

De Bruyn played some resounding drives as he negotiated 38balls, and could feel chuffed to have come off against England again, havingscored an unbeaten 73 in the Kimberley clash.

The England innings of 202 for six had been notable formeaty contributions from two batsmen who experienced rather contrastingfortunes in the recent one-day international series.

Their brains trust may have quietly viewed opener AlexHales’s authoritative 78 off 52 deliveries as more of a curse than a blessing,given that his form is hardly in doubt and by staying at the wicket into the 16thover, he slightly limited the opportunity for more needy members of the touringparty to get in for significant vigils.

Still, he ended up notching a remarkable sixth knock of 50or more in a row; this came on top of his scores of 112, 50, 65, 99 and 57 inthe ODIs, where he was fittingly named player of the series despite ending onthe losing side.

Captain Eoin Morgan could only have yearned for such astellar sequence over the past couple of weeks – he failed to reach doublefigures in any of the last three contests and had a wretched personal series asa whole – but in a whirlwind stay at the Paarl crease he found some short-livedbut positively pyrotechnic mojo.

The left-hander blasted 42 off 13 balls, including fivemostly cleanly-struck sixes, and found the left-arm seam fare of BeuranHendricks (not the talented Cape Cobras star’s most productive game as heleaked 50 off three overs) particularly to his liking on a good, true pitchwhich made front-foot play very inviting.

Amidst the relative chaos, ICC World Twenty20-bound AaronPhangiso did some pretty good pull-back work after an expensive first over, whilstDolphins all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo, 19, also kept credible control.

But the standout bowler was that enduring enigma WayneParnell, who registered 4-0-26-3 on an otherwise sitting-duck sort of day forfaster bowlers and produced a really exemplary closing over of the Englishinnings.

Showing good composure and mix-it-up skill, Parnell onlyconceded four runs and grabbed two scalps into the bargain.

England play the first of two KFC T20 internationals againstthe Proteas at Newlands on Friday.

*Follow our chiefwriter on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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