South Africa gets rigorous workout
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, March 4 (AFP) - South Africa's cricketers were given a rigorous workout on the first day of their three day match against a combined Busta XI on Sunday, scrambling to 271-9 by the close against a determined bowling attack.
Vice captain and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher was the only man to reach 50 on a day when the entire middle order made a start without capitalising although the intensity of the competition served the tourists well ahead of the first Test on March 9.
Openers Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs added exactly 50 for the first wicket on a pitch that offered variable bounce from the beginning before Gibbs lashed left arm spinner Sulieman Benn to backward point to depart for a fluent 36 from 72 balls.
Kirsten (21) looked less fluent, particularly against an aggressive Merv Dillon with the new ball, and perished in attempting to revive a sluggish scoring rate, driving seamer Kerry Jeremy to extra cover.
Daryll Cullinan (20) was unfortunate to see a powerful drive against Benn rebound off the short leg fielder to cover but Neil McKenzie (13) did not offer a convincing shot against opening bowler Ricky Christopher and was adjudged lbw by English umpire John Hampshire, who will stand in the first test.
Jacques Kallis looked least comfortable of all the batsmen and was hit on the fingers by both Christopher and test bowler Dillon before finally perishing to a sweep shot against Benn which flew of a top edge to short fine leg. His painful 45 spanned 139 deliveries and nearly three hours.
Boucher, however, made light of conditions to blast his way to 56 from 101 balls with a series of lavish strokes that brought him six fours and a six before Dillon finally claimed a deserved wicket when Boucher drove around a straight a delivery.
The Busta XI seemed likely to face a handful of overs before the close of play when South Africa slipped to 243-9 but last man Makhaya Ntini smashed an unbeaten 24 from just 14 balls with two fours and a huge six to see the tourists through to the close.