Johannesburg – In another week, the Free State Knights would be getting all the plaudits for a thumping innings victory like the one they achieved in Potchefstroom against the North West Dragons.
It was set up by a big first innings, featuring centuries from skipper Pite van Biljon – his second in as many weeks – and Patrick Kruger who smashed a career best 192 not out. The bowlers backed that up with some disciplined work, including Mbulelo Budaza, who continues to impress this season, by picking up 4/64 in the first with Kruger adding 3/12 for good measure and then Gerald Coetzee taking 4/47 when North West followed on.
However the Central Gauteng Lions delivered another awesome display against the Eastern Province Warriors at St George’s Park, with the outcome almost a throwback to another era, when pitches weren’t covered. The Lions won by an innings and 20 runs, having scored only 170 when it was their turn to bat. The Lions skipper, Dominic Hendricks could scarcely believe it and said he’s never been involved in a match like it.
The Warriors were bowled out for 96 and 54 as they succumbed to another bruising from the Lions potent pace-bowling quartet; Duanne Olivier, Malusi Siboto, Sisanda Magala and Lutho Sipamla.
Magala and Sipamla, who both started their careers in the Eastern Cape before moving to Gauteng, each took ‘six-fers’ with the full and straight ball proving too much in conditions that assisted swing.
Marco Jansen also picked up 6/38 in what were unusually seamer friendly conditions at St Georges.
The win puts the Lions at the top of Division 1, but on account of an outstanding accumulation of batting bonus points, thanks to Van Biljon and Kruger, the Knights are just five and a half points behind in second place.
The Dolphins had to make do with another draw as once again the last day of their match against the Titans was washed out. It had been the same in Cape Town in the first round, which would have been more painful given they only had three more wickets to get at Newlands.
The Centurion match was a high scoring affair, with Titans making 424 in their first innings thanks to young Jordan Hermann’s maiden first class century of 112. The Dolphins responded with 433, with Sarel Erwee scoring 163.
Erwee’s been included in the Proteas Test squad this year, and that innings will certainly ensure the national selectors’ attention remains on him ahead of the India series later this summer.
Pieter Malan has played three Tests, and showed he had a taste for more scoring 96 and 117 not out for Boland in their draw against Western Province at Paarl. The ‘Cape Derby’ was a high scoring affair with Tony de Zorzi also scoring a century while Zubayr Hamza, missed out on one by six runs.
There was a highlight for the bowlers, with 21 year old Mihlali Mpongwana taking 5/39 in Boland’s first innings, putting him in the category of ‘one to watch’ as the season unfolds.
*Northern Cape were the only Division 2 side to win, beating KwaZulu-Natal Inland in Kimberley by 130 runs thanks to first innings half-centuries from Jonathan Vandiar and Rivaldo Moonsamy. Skipper Aubrey Swanepoel then claimed 6/42 with his mixture of off-breaks and wrist spin, to seal victory.
BATTER OF THE WEEK
Sarel Erwee has been ‘Mr consistency’ for the Dolphins in the last few seasons and was deserving of that national call up last summer. Barring injury to Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram, he won’t crack a starting spot for the India series, but it’s good that he will be keeping the incumbent Test openers on their toes.
A shout out to Patrick Kruger for thrashing his way to a career best 192 not out off just 216 balls hitting 22 fours and four sixes in Potchefstroom.
BOWLERS OF THE WEEK
The Lions attack. Again. Not satisfied with bowling out an opposition side for under 200 twice as they did in their opening match of the competition against North West Dragons, the Lions then bowled out the Warriors for under 100, in both innings in Gqeberha.