St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - Basil D'Oliviera's EP XI vs SA Invitation XI.
Basil D'Oliviera's EP XI vs SA Invitation XI.

The first South African cricket XI since 1958, when Basil D’Oliveira captained a side to East Africa, attracted the biggest Port Elizabeth crowd to the Adcock Stadium on November 24 and 28, 1972, but failed to impress in their two-day invitation game against Eastern Province.

Although the match provided Eastern Province - second on the Dadabhai Cup first round log - with some much needed tough opposition in their pre-Cup preparation, the cricket played over the two days was dull and far from entertaining.

One felt that the crowd was let down and for future invitation games of this kind, emphasis should definitely be placed on attack when selecting players.

The SA Invitation XI and Eastern province scored a combined total of 385 in their first innings in a total of 645 minutes batting time. The runs came from 158 overs - a crawling rate of 2,4 runs per over - positively slow for eight ball overs.

The brightest cricket came in the final two-and-a-quarter hours, when with all the interest gone, the SA XI rattled up 114 runs for five wickets in their second knock.

The Transvaal all-rounder, Abdullatief Barnes, who recently returned after a season with Colne in the Lancashire league, turned in the best batting average of the match with a chanceless unbeaten 59.

As for other performances, Alec Douglas, Neville Francis and young Desmond Jacobs, despite charmed lives, all batted well for EP and must have clinched their places for the opening second-round Dadabhai Cup against Transvaal.

It was Douglas and Francis who laid the foundation for EP’s first innings win a 72-run partnership for the second wicket.

Left-arm away swinger Charles Houlie had never bowled better than on Saturday when he started the batting collapse of the visitors by dismissing Barnes and Conrad in his first three overs without conceding a run.

In fact, he conceded his first run after 56 minutes play when the lanky Transvaler Solly Chothia pulled a short ball in Houlie’s sixth over to the square-leg fence.

A great display of accurate new-ball bowling. His figures at the end of his first spell read: six overs, five maidens, four runs and two wickets.

It was Houlie again who broke a threatening seventh-wicket partnership between Coetie Neethling and Kulu Maclons, that seemed like rescuing the Invitation innings from 85 for six.

The pair were going well at 132 for six until Houlie replaced Basil D’Oliveira from the North end.

In his first two overs he got rid of both, again without conceding a run. At the end of his ninth over his figures read four wickets for four runs including eight maidens - remarkably outstanding by any standards.

Except for D’Oliveira’s four for 42 from 20 overs the rest of the EP attack looked far from promising.

One of the few players regarded by many observers to be a certain choice for the Springbok side is the Natal left-arm spinner Ismail Ebrahim. He lived up to his reputation with a fine spell of five wickets for 44 runs from 21,6 overs, including the priceless scalp of Basil D’Oliveira, bowled for eight.

Although the SA XI dropped a surprisingly large number of catches - six in all - three players, Barnes, Conrad and Majiet drew rounds of applause with brilliant performances in the field.

Michael Patrick, the Maritzburg and Natal left-arm all-rounder, turned in a fine economical spell with the ball - conceding only 17 runs from 16 overs.

All in all, despite the slow cricket, EP’s morale has been boosted sky high and they should tackle Transvaal on December 26 with much greater confidence.

Eastern Province Herald.
November 29, 1972.

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