Nat Sciver and Davidson-Richards’s centuries give England lead over South Africa

Nat Sciver and Davidson-Richards’s centuries give England lead over South Africa

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29 Jun 2022
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England vs South Africa

Centuries from Nat Sciver and debutant Alice Davidson-Richards put England in barely strong positions on the second day of the Test against South Africa. Sciver ended the day on an unbeaten 119, while Davidson-Richards’ 107 took him to 1986 Since becoming the first England woman to record a Test century on debut.

Davidson-Richards was dismissed on the final ball of the day, ending a partnership of 207, the second-highest for any England wicket in a Women’s Test. This put England in a strong 328-6 position, giving South Africa a 44-run lead.

Representing a turnaround after the hosts reached 121-5 for three for 35, the mini-fall included the wicket of captain Heather Knight, being dismissed for eight off the first ball after lunch. South African seamer Anneke Bosch took advantage of the situation and took three wickets.

The Proteas had a chance to lead, but instead faced the prospect of starting their second innings with a big shortfall. While South Africa’s 284 felt competitive, doubts were that England might be able to take advantage of an inexperienced attack.

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It looked like England struggled only after the lights were on when Emma Lamb and Tammy Beaumont had added 65 runs for the first wicket. Bosch swung the ball away from the right hand, lbw Beaumont for 28 and then bowled Lamb for 38 with an off cutter.

The hosts also created problems for themselves. Sciver called for a non-existent single for Knight, while Sophia Dunkley played a loose drive to edge Bosch. England were in trouble when Amy Jones was bowled by a left-arm spinner, Noncululeko Mlaba.

But just as Marijne Kapp saved South Africa with her scintillating 150 on day one, Nat Sciver played an equally impressive innings for England. Davidson-Richards supported him a lot. The two were schoolmates at Epsom College, where, along with cricket, they played netball and hockey together.

They put together a highest-class partnership, first taking England out of danger, then a thumping attack and taking advantage of South Africa’s weak bowling strategy to score quickly after tea. The last time Sciver batted in an England shirt, he scored a Wonder Woman century in the World Cup final against Australia but England lost that match.

Nat Sciver delivered two very difficult chances, a possible leg-side stumping when she was on 15, and Nadine de Klerk’s seam on 18 to flash street fielder Lizelle Lee. As his confidence grew, he displayed his back-foot prowess to the fast bowlers and played straight to the spinners.

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