By Simon Sinclair
Two fine performances from Jonathan Bird and Louis van Schalkwyk guided South Africa to a comfortable six-wicket win over England at Gosforth, securing the Royal London one-day series for the visitors.
Van Schalkwyk claimed figures of 5-32 with the ball to limit England to 251 from their 50 overs, halting a late charge after Jack Haynes impressed for the home side with an innings of 74.
Bird took over with the bat as he was dominant from the off, displaying a vast array of strokeplay to make his way to three figures. His unbeaten effort of 142 allowed the Proteas to canter to the victory to notch their second win on the bounce.
England won the toss and Ben Charlesworth and Haynes found their form at the crease and were able to build a solid partnership, reaching their fifty partnership off 53 deliveries. They were able to maintain their standards as Haynes upped the ante to guide his side past the 100-run mark before notching his fifty off 82 balls, including three fours and two sixes.
Haynes received a life on 56, but Thando Ntini responded to his disappointment by breaking the opening partnership at 124 when he yorked Charlesworth on 47. One wicket became two when Jade de Klerk turned a delivery past Tom Banton, who was stumped for by Sinethemba Qeshile.
England maintained their scoring rate as Haynes continued his fine innings. The Worcestershire man found the boundary of Curtis Campher, but would fall in the same over tamely driving to Wandile Makwetu at cover. Jack Davies added impetus on his arrival at the crease, hitting three early boundaries. His aggressive approach would cost him his wicket, missing out on a maximum as Jean du Plessis took the catch off Campher for 13.
Ollie Robinson made a half-century in the opener and looked on course for another with a well-crafted innings. As England aimed to kick on in the latter overs the introduction of Van Schalkwyk proved to be their downfall. He first removed Robinson for 43 before striking twice in the space of three balls to send Harrison Ward and Jordan Cook on their way. Luke Hollman was next to follow, while the off-spinner wrapped up the innings with the wicket of Jack Plom, claiming a five-wicket haul.
The Proteas got off to a lightning start in response as Van Schalkwyk and Jonathan Bird took the attack to the England seamers. Middlesex’s Ethan Bamber stymied South Africa’s movement by dismissing Van Schalkwyk for 18. Bird continued his assault and reached his second fifty in a row off 38 deliveries, hitting back-to-back boundaries.
Thamsanqa Khumalo and Bird edged the total down by building a stand worth fifty before the former played a loose drive off Cook. A disastrous run out between Bird and Qeshile almost allowed the home side back into the game. After a brief dispute, the umpires sent Qeshile back to the pavilion, allowing Bird to continue his onslaught.
Bird found his rhythm against the spinners and was able to reach his century off 98 deliveries by crushing a boundary to the fence. A century partnership between the opener and Makwetu put the Proteas over the line, with the skipper making a fifty before his late dismissal, although it was more than enough to wrap up the series.
Tagged Jonathan Bird