Angus Fraser in Durban
Worcestershire’s Charlie Morris held his nerve in the final over of a thrilling match to take MCC to their first win of its tour of South Africa on Thursday 31 December 2015.
With Kwazulu Natal requiring just five runs off the final three balls of the game Morris bowled three dot balls to earn MCC a remarkable 4 run victory.
The win, completed under a hot sun and on the same pitch that England yesterday defeated South Africa, ensured that the mood of the tour party was high as it entered New Years Eve.
For most of the Kwazulu Natal innings it appeared that MCC’s first innings total of 228/8 in 45 overs would not be enough.
But two pieces of inspiration, prior to Morris’ outstanding last over work, turned the game on its head.
The first, surprisingly, came from Chris Peploe who produced a brilliantly athletic piece of fielding off his own bowling to run out the extremely dangerous Muthusamy, the Crusaders batsman whose undefeated 77 helped defeat the MCC in their opening match of the tour.
With only one stump to hit Peploe swooped to pick the ball up at short mid-wicket and threw the stumps down at the bowlers end.
The next moments were produced by Kent’s Matthew Hunn, who took wickets with consecutive balls in the 39th over.
Again the instants knocked energy out of the home side’s response.
Hunn could have had a hat-trick with the first ball of his next over had Owais Shah been a bit livelier at long-on.
Those mentioned above were not the only heroes for MCC.
Indeed it was three other bowlers – Johny Marsden, Tom Rash and Wes Durston (pictured left) – that placed the Kwazulu Natal batsmen under pressure, pressure they ultimately failed to cope with.
The trio were MCC’s most economic bowlers, conceding just 96 runs in in their 26 overs.
MCC’s total of 228 was based around an excellent fourth wicket partnership between Neil Dexter and John Simpson. The pair batted with power and dexterity to add 136 in 22 overs.
The early finish to the 1st Test meant the Kingsmead groundsman was able to lightly water the pitch but it did not prevent the surface from offering the spinners plenty of assistance.
Dexter was the more aggressive of the two, hitting seven boundaries and three sixes in his 72 ball innings of 80. Simpson was more watchful, taking 61 balls to bring up his half century.
But having watched Dexter perish Simpson rather foolishly chipped a simple catch to long on in the next over.
The wickets instigated a collapse that saw MCC lose five wickets for seven runs in four overs.
At this stage it looked as though MCC would fall someway short of a competitive score. But then Peploe, the wily old Ealing CC fox, showed his experience by adding 37 crucial runs with Morris in the final eight overs of their innings.
MCC will now travel to Cape Town on New Years Day and will begin a two day game against Western Province on 3 January.
Angus Fraser is the Middlesex Managing Director of Cricket and MCC tour manager for the 2015/16 tour to South Africa.