St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - Dros Leads Way as Northern Titans Make Perfect Start to Supersport Series
Dros Leads Way as Northern Titans Make Perfect Start to Supersport Series
EP Jumbos slide to defeat
Neale Emslie

Northerns made the perfect start to the SuperSport Series cricket competition as Eastern Province collapsed in an ignominious heap to hand the Titans a decisive 82-run victory at St George’s Park yesterday.

Leaving the Jumbos 303 to win in 81 overs, Northerns skipper Gerald Dros led the visitors to victory, setting the tone for their outstanding last- day performance by smacking 43 not out off 21 balls to hasten their second innings declaration and then handling his bowling changes expertly as EP were dismissed for 220 with 4.3 overs remaining.

In the end, things got terribly close as the light faded and Northerns battled to dismiss the stubborn EP last-wicket pair of Bob Homani and Mfuneko Ngam. Showing tremendous grit, the Jumbos tail-enders, with seven fielders clustered around the bat, kept the Titans at bay for 11 overs and caused the floodlights to be switched on before Ngam was finally dismissed by a bat-pad catch – to the visitors’ undiluted jubilation.

This time, Northerns had the advantage of the floodlights while EP will reflect with some dismay on their match the previous weekend when they had North West nine wickets down, only for play to be called off with 10 overs to go without recourse to the floodlights.

It must be said, though, that Northerns thoroughly deserved their victory yesterday. Having trailed all the way in this match, the least EP could have expected was to bat out the final day for a draw on an excellent pitch.

Sadly, they failed miserably and the batsmen will need to take a long, hard look at themselves before they take on Gauteng at the Wanderers on Friday.

In their opening game against North West, the Jumbos appeared to have made giant strides with their batting. The past four days they took big steps backwards and it brought home just how much work remains for them before they can compete with the top sides in the domestic first-class competition.

The performance was particularly disappointing in that all the top-order batsmen did the hard work before losing their wickets. The inability to push on to big innings has been a major inhibiting factor in EP’s progress in recent seasons and they will not be serious contenders in the SuperSport Series until they can rectify that aspect of their batting.

On the plus side, paceman Mfuneko Ngam came through the game unscathed and will probably take his place in the national side this week. But he’s far from his best and perhaps needs a season of domestic cricket to work himself back to top form.

Talk of him playing in the World Cup is premature and only time and more intensive play will get him back to the level where he’s a genuine contender for the South African team.

Nantie Hayward, on the other hand, is ready for a recall, if not to the limited-overs side, at least to the Test line-up. He was aggressive throughout the match and bowled at pace to pick up five wickets.

For Northerns, runners-up to Natal last season, their opening match could not have gone better. Although Easterns also won on Monday to lead the pool B log, the Titans have a match in hand and their confidence after an efficient all-round performance at St George’s Park will be high.

Their outstanding player was Pierre Joubert, who starred with bat (50) and ball (5/65 and 3/28), while Friedel de Wet showed a lively pace with the new ball. Openers Alviro Petersen and Jacques Rudolph created the ideal platform in both innings for men like Martin van Jaarsveld, Neil McKenzie and Dros to build on.

The Herald
October 1, 2002

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