Kent nullify South Africa attack
The South African bowlers were unable to take a wicket on their final outing ahead of the first Test against England at The Oval next week. Kent's openers, Sam Northeast and Daniel Bell-Drummond, aged 22 and 18 respectively, combated them impressively for the second time in the match as the pair put on 105 in 22 overs to keep the likely Test attack at bay.
It means South Africa's preparations for the first Test have not been without problems. Earlier they lost five wickets for 49 runs against largely unthreatening Kent bowlers although there was useful time in the middle for a number of their batsmen. Jacques Rudolph was the third player to score a half-century, after Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis did so in the morning session, but the lower order flagged at the end.
It took the visitors 27 balls before they scored their first run of the morning as Ivan Thomas and Simon Cook showed discipline without threatening. Amla dabbed a Thomas delivery into the off side and scurried through for a single to open the morning's account but he showed more aggression with back-foot punch past point to bring up his fifty, the second for him on the trip after the 64 he made against Somerset.
It was only when Alex Riley, the offspinner, was brought on that South Africa pushed on the scoring rate. Kallis greeted him with a drive through the covers and then charged down the pitch next ball. Kallis missed but so too did Sam Billings as the stumping opportunity was not taken and Kallis reached his 50 in the same over, in which he hit Riley for two more boundaries.
Runs came more easily after that, particularly off Charlie Shreck, and the pair batted for a further six overs, by which time they both looked comfortable. At the end of 55th they retired at the same time, Amla on 77 and Kallis on 54, to allow the other batsmen time in the middle.
AB de Villiers adopted the same aggressive approach that he employed in Taunton but it did not pay off. After hitting three fours he went for a pull off Matt Coles and was caught in the deep by Bell-Drummond shortly before lunch.
Rudolph was more circumspect and resumed after the break with a confident-looking JP Duminy, who is likely to start the first Test at No. 7 following the loss of Mark Boucher. Duminy was particularly assured against spin and hit Riley for a straight six over his head.
Kent took the second new ball as soon as it became available and needed fewer than six overs to have success when Duminy went for a booming drive off Thomas and played on. Vernon Philander was next in and needed to spend time at the crease after a brief stay at Taunton, but he lasted only two balls before edging to second slip. Riley claimed the catch immediately but the umpires met to discuss whether the ball had carried to him and after consultation decided that it was clean.
The South Africans lost a third wicket for just 17 runs when Dale Steyn was given out lbw to Riley although Steyn stood his ground despite the confident appeal and seemed to think he had hit the ball.
Rudolph continued stoically and brought up his fifty off 114 balls with a well-placed hook before scooping the next delivery back to Riley. South Africa were due to end their innings after 100 overs but were effectively bowled out when Morne Morkel was trapped lbw with Kallis and Amla now registered as retired out.
Morkel was given the new ball which he shared with Philander but neither could make anything happen as the Kent opening pair left well and attacked the loose deliveries. Even Steyn could not breakthrough; Northeast drove him through the covers off the first ball he bowled.
While Bell-Drummond looked the more assured of the two for large parts of the innings, Northeast was the more aggressive and he was the one to bring up a half-century with a lofted shot over mid-on. Bell-Drummond drove well throughout but finished two runs short of a well-deserved fifty and both gave the South African bowlers plenty to think about in London.