South African batsmen upbeat ahead of first Test against England

Hashim Amla scored 77 before retiring against Kent AFP

London: Jul 16, 2012

Several of South Africa‘s leading batsmen spent some useful time in the middle ahead of next week’s first Test against England as their tour match against Kent ended in a rain-affected draw on Sunday.

After Saturday’s second day of three at Canterbury, south-east of London, was washed out, the final result of this match was rarely in doubt.

All the Proteas’ top seven made double figure scores with both Hashim Amla (77) and Jacques Kallis (54) retiring after a third-wicket century stand before Jacques Rudolph‘s 50 helped take South Africa to 314 in reply to Kent‘s first innings 210.

There was still time for young Kent openers Sam Northeast (54 not out) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (48 not out) to compile an unbroken partnership of 105 to follow their first innings stand of 81.

Amla and Kallis showed their customary class and concentration ahead of the first Test at The Oval on a slow pitch offering occasional low bounce.

Amla pulled Charlie Shreck and then cut him for successive boundaries to go to his 50 from 99 balls.

And when off-spinner Adam Riley came on, Kallis drove him for three fours in his first over to complete a 66-ball fifty.

Riley did though catch Rudolph off his own bowling.

“I think it was good preparation, specifically from a batting point of view — everybody got starts, got in,” said Rudolph, who will be looking for more runs in the first Test at The Oval starting on Thursday.

“It was a little difficult for the bowlers. The wicket didn’t really give them any assistance.

“But the way we’ve batted here as a unit was exceptional.

“We’re pleased with the work we’ve done, and I can promise you all the boys just want that first Test to start now.”

When Kent commenced their second innings, South Africa gave the new ball to Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander but neither could manage a breakthrough.

And when Kallis came on, Bell-Drummond struck him for three back-foot fours in the seam-bowling all-rounder’s first over.

Fast bowler Dale Steyn, South Africa’s spearhead, was eventually brought into the attack only for Northeast to drive his first ball past cover.

Any sort of series win for South Africa in the upcoming three-match series will see them replace England at number one in the International Cricket Council’s world Test rankings. (AFP)