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Monday, November 1, 1999 Published at 20:59 GMT

Sport: Cricket

England flop in SA

Monday's defeat is a major setback for England

England made the worst possible start to their tour of South Africa, becoming the first international team to lose in the traditional opening match against Nicky Oppenheimer's XI.

Pat Murphy reports on England's latest embarrassment
Chasing England's 203-7 declared in 66.3 overs, the hosts raced to their victory target in just 37.2 overs to claim their first-ever triumph in the nine times this fixture has been staged since South Africa were welcomed back into the international cricket fold in 1992.

England were hampered by the loss of Dean Headley with a back spasm after just 1.4 overs while Alex Tudor was restricted to only 6.2 overs after his lengthy absence with injury, but Monday's defeat is still a major setback in their preparations.

[ image: Michael Atherton: A typically resolute 72]
Michael Atherton: A typically resolute 72
The Oppenheimer XI did not seem capable of clinching victory until Ashwell Prince and Dale Benkenstein teamed up with their side on 90 for three and blasted 62 off 50 balls to lay the foundations for the triumph.

Michael Atherton had propped up England's innings with a typically resolute 72 while Yorkshire's Michael Vaughan, making his first appearance for the senior side, hit an unbeaten 59.

"It was a bit of a hammering, but the conditions got better as the day wore on," Tudor said.

"We hadn't played on a wicket like that so far because we've had very good batting conditions at Centurion Park and it takes a bit of time for the guys to adapt.

"It's the kind of day we could have done without, but there were some positives about it. Michael Vaughan batted very well and it was good to see Athers getting some runs and some of the bowlers bowled quite well at times."

Three of England's top-order batsman failed to reach double figures and captain Nasser Hussain suffered the first duck of the tour, leaving England relying on Atherton's expertise to prevent the type of collapse that has characterised their performances all too often in recent years.


England Innings

M A Butcher c McKenzie b Hayward 1
M A Atherton b Kemp 72
N Hussain c Symcox b Kemp 0
D L Maddy c Abrahams b Kemp 2
A J Stewart run out 22
C J Adams c van Jaarsveld b Abrahams 12
M P Vaughan not out 59
A J Tudor b Kemp 3
D Gough not out 22

Extras b3 lb1 w5 nb1 10
Total 7 wkts dec (66.3 overs) 203

Fall: 1-8 2-13 3-27 4-61 5-82 6-142 7-148
Did Not Bat: D W Headley, P C R Tufnell.

Hayward 12 3 29 1, Mpitsang 3 1 6 0, Kemp 15 4 33 4, Benkenstein 11.3 4 41 0, Abrahams 14 2 57 1, Symcox 11 1 33 0

NFO XI Innings

M van Jaarsveld c Vaughan b Hamilton 40
N D McKenzie lbw b Gough 15
A G Prince c Hussain b Hamilton 23
D M Benkenstein b Gough 41
J M Kemp not out 38
N Pothas not out 39

Extras b2 w1 nb8 11
Total 4 wkts (37.2 overs) 207

Fall: 1-27 2-85 3-90 4-152
Did Not Bat: J Oppenheimer, P L Symcox, S Abrahams, M Hayward, P V Mpitsang.

Gough 10 1 46 2, Headley 1.4 0 10 0, Tudor 6.2 1 28 0, Tufnell 10.2 1 61 0, Hamilton 8 1 51 2, Adams 1 0 9 0.

Umpires: K Lavery and S Wadualla

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