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Recent Match Report – South Africa vs England, ICC World Test Championship, 3rd Test

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South Africa 208 for 6 (de Kock 63*, Philander 27*) trail England 499 for 9 dec by 291 runs

Dom Bess became the latest of England’s young bloods to leave his mark on South Africa but the old foe of bad weather, coupled with some much-needed defiance from the home batsmen (plus a few dropped catches), prevented the tourists from maximising their advantage on day three in Port Elizabeth.

With Bess producing his most impressive display in an England shirt to secure a maiden Test five-for, the threat of the follow-on loomed large for South Africa. But they were able to recover from a position of 109 for 5 thanks to Quinton de Kock‘s third half-century of the series, as well as 136 balls of dogged resistance from the nightwatchman, Anrich Nortje.

De Kock was unbeaten on 63 at the close, having put on partnerships of 45 with Nortje and a further 54 alongside Vernon Philander. He might have been dismissed three times by spin but on each occasion Ben Stokes was unable to hold on to sharp chances at slip – and with another 26 overs lost due to rain, England’s prospects of capturing a series lead before the teams move on to Johannesburg looked to have taken a hit.

South Africa’s captain, Faf du Plessis, pronounced before the third Test that his team had made “huge steps in the right direction” against England, following a run of five consecutive defeats. While du Plessis could not extricate himself from his own run of bad form, falling to Bess for the second time in as many innings, the bloody-minded efforts of de Kock and, in particular, Nortje, gave his side something to rally around.

Although there was no doubting England were on top, they seemed likely to find themselves in a battle against time, the elements and an unforgiving pitch – with de Kock’s rearguard blocking their path to enforcing the follow-on, and 92 runs still needed for South Africa to take the decision out of Joe Root’s hands.

The morning session could scarcely have gone better for England, with Bess striking three more times to claim each of the five South African wickets to have fallen, before a delay of more than three hours began to impinge on hopes of a positive result in this match. When play was able to resume in mid-afternoon, de Kock succeeded in seeing off the fiery Mark Wood as he and Nortje combined to frustrate England further.

South Africa’s wicketkeeper produced a number of fine strokes during a counterattacking innings, although at times he lived on the edge. Root might have removed him twice, on 30 and 56, with Stokes the culprit on both occasions. Another chance came late in the day, when de Kock was cramped by Joe Denly’s legspin and top-edged a cut low to Stokes’ right – but again England’s most-reliable catcher could not cling on.

Stokes did have a more familiar impact with the ball, although the fact England waited until the 61st over to turn to his bowling – so galvanic in the victory at Newlands – raised questions about what might been after the allrounder proceeded to dismiss Nortje with his 10th delivery.

Nortje had already benefited from lapses in the field, Root putting down a simple chance at slip that would have given Bess his five-for. Having demonstrated his ability with the bat in South Africa’s victory in Centurion, Nortje dug in manfully in the face of Wood’s 150kph/93mph hostility – a half-chance to Ollie Pope at short leg the closest Wood came to getting his man. By the time Stokes drew an edge to slip, Nortje had played by far his longest first-class innings and kept England at bay for more than three hours.

Such fighting spirit seemed to be lacking as South Africa set about their attempts to build a convincing first-innings reply. Resuming on 60 for 2, after Bess had struck twice on the second evening, they lost Dean Elgar in the fourth over of the day, smartly taken by the diving Pope at silly point as the ball ricocheted off bat and pad.

Du Plessis seemed intent on taking the attack to England’s rookie offspinner, a 22-year-old playing in just his fourth Test, twice leaving his ground to stroke fours through mid-off. But Bess changed his line of attack to over the wicket, found some drift and grip and another inside edge plopped safely into the hands of Pope, at short leg this time.

South Africa had been left in a mess against Bess, whose fourth wicket ensured career-best figures. He was not to be denied a fifth – becoming the youngest England spinner to take a Test five-for since Pat Pocock in 1968 – as Rassie van der Dussen dragged the ball into his stumps to give the unexpected tourist an unexpected starring role. But the rain and de Kock meant the day was not simply about Bess.



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Recent Match Report – Derbyshire vs Yorkshire North Group 2020

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Yorkshire 171 for 4 (Root 60*, Brook 50*) beat Derbyshire 167 for 6 (Wood 67, Godleman 49, Coad 3-40) by six wickets

Joe Root and Harry Brook led Yorkshire Vikings to a dramatic six-wicket victory off the final ball against the Derbyshire Falcons in the Vitality Blast at Headingley.

Root scored an unbeaten 60 from 50 balls while Brook smashed 50 off 29 to take the Vikings to their target of 168 and end a run of four straight T20 defeats.

They looked to be heading for another disappointment when Sam Conners removed Adam Lyth and Dawid Malan in the space of three balls and were well off the pace at 80 for 4.

But Root and Brook shared an unbroken stand of 91 to overhaul the Falcons 167 for 6 which was built around a T20 best of 67 from 48 balls by Tom Woodwith Ben Coad taking 3 for 40.

The Falcons, who finish bottom of the North Group, looked on course for a bigger total after Wood and skipper Billy Godleman plundered 80 from the first 10 overs.

Wood ramped Coad for six and cut the seamer for four as 20 came from the third over and he reached his first T20 50 off 31 balls by pulling Root onto the Western Terrace for another maximum.

Godleman swept Root to backward square in the 14th over and although Wayne Madsen marked his 500th innings for Derbyshire by launching Jordan Thompson over long on for six, the Falcons lost momentum in the closing overs.

Coad completed an excellent comeback by having Wood caught at deep wicket and Leus du Plooy edged behind swinging at Thompson to give wicketkeeper Ben Birkhead his first Blast victim on debut.

Madsen was well caught by Lyth at extra cover and Matt Critchley could only sky his first ball to mid-off.

After Alex Hughes pulled Duanne Olivier to deep square, Luis Reece took consecutive fours off the South African but it had been a good recovery by the Vikings bowlers who kept their discipline to restrict the Falcons to 32 from the last four overs.

Lyth started the chase with two boundaries from Madsen’s opening over but Conners struck two huge blows in the third.

The Vikings skipper top edged a pull and was caught behind and Malan went two balls later when he got an inside edge driving at Conners.

Will Fraine responded by pulling Madsen for six and Root pulled and clipped Conners for successive fours but the Vikings suffered another blow in the 6th over; Fraine chipped Dustin Melton to midwicket and at the halfway point, the Vikings were well off the pace, needing another 103 runs.

Thompson opened the throttle by pulling Critchley for six as 13 came from the 11th over but he holed out to long-off in the next.

Root launched Reece over the long-on boundary as 20 came from the 15th and Brook twice dispatched Conners for two fours to reduce the target to 33 from three.

Brook drilled Melton for six over long-off and when it came down to nine off the last, Brook lofted the final ball for four to end a disappointing Blast campaign on a positive note.



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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Surrey South Group 2020

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Surrey 161 for 4 (Roy 72, Evans 73) beat Kent 159 for 8 (Billings 50, Plunkett 3-19) by six wickets

Jason Roy‘s first half-century of the summer helped Surrey to confirm top spot in the South Group and lock in a home quarter-final in the Vitality Blast.

Chasing 160 to win – and 127 to ensure they won the group ahead of Kent on net run-rate – Surrey started slowly, losing the in-form Will Jacks early on and with Roy looking out of nick as he struggled towards 18 off 21 balls.

But Roy started to find his rhythm with a flurry of boundaries off Fred Klaassen in the fifth over, and was soon up and running. He was ably supported by Laurie Evans, who has now made 268 runs for twice out in his last four T20 innings after a lean start to the Blast, with their 135-run partnership setting up a convincing victory.

It has been a difficult summer for Roy, who managed only 49 runs in his six ODI innings for England, and missed all of their T20Is due to a side strain. His two previous Surrey appearances had yielded 24 runs in three innings, across the Bob Willis Trophy and the Blast, and he would be the first to admit that things had not gone his way.

“He’s a bit grumpy at the minute, and we’ve lost four golf games in a row, so he’s not speaking to me on the golf course either,” Evans joked. “Me and Jase said it was a wicket that if you bowled well on, it made it quite difficult to score. We took options at the right time and put them under pressure, and I’m glad we got over the line.”

Roy’s best shot came off Imran Qayyum, when he skipped down the pitch to loft the left-arm spinner into the building site to the right of the pavilion, and he reached his half-century with a slash through extra cover off the same bowler.

Evans, meanwhile, appears to have found his groove after a quiet start to the competition. He batted superbly for his 45-ball 73, with a towering six over extra cover off Matt Milnes to bring up his half-century demonstrating his form: he picked a 61mph/98kph slower ball outside off, hung back in his crease, and launched it into the stands with a full extension of his arms. He smote another into the top tier of the pavilion, putting his inexplicable drop of Sam Billings in the first innings to the back of his mind.

Kent’s 159 had appeared a par score on a slow, used pitch, and owed plenty to Billings’ 33-ball 50. After Daniel Bell-Drummond continued his impressive season with a fluent 37 at the top of the order, Kent had begun to stumble in the middle overs with two wickets in as many overs.

Billings drove them up towards a useful total as he extended his form with the bat, taking a particular liking to Jamie Overton, Jacks and Reece Topley, all of whom were hit for two fours in an over, but they ultimately paid for a poor finish.

From 136 for 3 after 16 overs, they failed to hit a boundary off the bat in the final four overs, with Liam Plunkett in particular impressing with a series of cutters and back-of-a-length balls. Kent paid the price, too, for picking an extra batsman: Heino Kuhn and Jack Leaning contributed two runs from four balls between them, while captain Billings had no choice but to give Joe Denly his full four-over allocation.

“Joe Denly has been brilliant with the ball so we get four overs out of him, and Jack Leaning’s also bowled well with his offspin but with two right-handers and the way they were playing, I thought it was a risk to get a couple of overs out of him [today],” Billings said, defending their combination.

“Timmy Groenewald is on the bench at the moment, and maybe that’s something we can look at – that experience, coming into those latter stages might be something to lean on – but I think the boys have done really well in this tournament, and trying to get back to what they were doing, that’s all.”

The fixture also served as a warm-up act for next month’s quarter-final, with the same two teams returning to The Oval on October 1.

Vitality Blast quarter-finals:

Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire
Surrey v Kent
Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire
Sussex v Lancashire
All fixtures to be played on October 1





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Recent Match Report – Somerset vs Gloucestershire Central Group 2020

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Gloucestershire 163 for 8 (Cockbain 89, Sale 3-32, Davey 3-24) beat Somerset 161 for 7 (Gregory 50) by two wickets

Ian Cockbain played the starring role as Gloucestershire eliminated arch-rivals Somerset from the Vitality Blast with a thrilling two-wicket Central Group win in Bristol.

The visitors posted 161 for 7 after winning the toss under cloudless skies, Lewis Gregory hitting 50 and Babar Azam 42. Tom Smith was the pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers with 2 for 25.

In reply, Gloucestershire reached 163 for eight off the final ball of the match, Smith hitting a boundary off Ollie Sale through midwicket. Cockbain had set up the victory with a brilliant 89 off 57 balls, including nine fours and three sixes.

The result meant a home quarter-final for the hosts, while Somerset were left to reflect on a bitterly disappointing campaign.

They were given a brisk start to their innings by Babar and Steve Davies, who took the score to 53 by the end of the fifth over. Davies was timing the ball sweetly but, having moved to 31 off 19 balls, he pulled a catch to deep midwicket off Josh Shaw.

Gloucestershire then applied their customary mid-innings squeeze, taking pace off the ball with left-arm spinners Smith and Graeme van Buuren, well supported by the wily medium pace of Benny Howell.

Somerset could score only 24 runs between the fifth and tenth overs, the last of which from Howell saw Will Smeed caught at mid-off.

Smith removed Tom Abell to a catch at point in the 11th over and in his next claimed the big wicket of Babar, the Pakistan batsman giving a return catch, having faced 35 balls and hit five fours.

Tom Lammonby reverse-swept a catch to deep cover off van Buuren and Somerset were struggling at 105 for 5.

But Gregory supplied much-needed acceleration, hitting the first six of the innings in the 18th over and following up with another maximum over deep square off David Payne. The Somerset skipper also hit four fours in his 28-ball innings. When he fell to the second ball of the final over, his team could add only two off the last four deliveries.

Sale struck a major blow for the visitors by have Chris Dent caught at deep square off the final ball of the second over of Gloucestershire’s reply.

Miles Hammond feathered a catch to wicketkeeper Davies off Josh Davey to make it 20 for 2. That became 27 for 3 when James Bracey mishit a catch to mid-on to give Sale a second wicket.

When Ryan Higgins holed out to deep midwicket off 19-year-old left-arm spinner Lewis Goldsworthy, it was 50 for 4 and much rested on Cockbain, who was looking in dangerously good form.

The first six of the innings was struck by van Buuren off Goldsworthy in the 12th over, but he then fell to a catch at short third-man off Josh Davey.

Cockbain moved to a classy 35-ball half-century, with seven fours. He and Jack Taylor both hit straight sixes off Goldsworthy as the 15th over went for 19 runs.

Taylor then drove a catch to long-off to give Gregory a wicket. Cockbain cleared the ropes again off Sale and Howell hit Gregory for a straight six to leave 24 required from two overs.

Another Cockbain six off Davey made Gloucestershire favourites, but the batsman then cross-batted a catch to long-on.

The last over, bowled by Sale, began with 13 runs needed. Two Howell boundaries followed, but there was another twist then he was caught at long-off.

Three runs were still required when Smith faced the last ball, which he smote over wide long-on for four to loud cheers from Gloucestershire fans in the flats adjoining the ground.

Vitality Blast quarter-finals:

Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire
Surrey v Kent
Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire
Sussex v Lancashire
All fixtures to be played on October 1



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