Proteas pip brave Boks
The "Boks" (Gallo Images)
Newlands - The result may have gone according to expectations as the Proteas recorded a 14-run win, but the exploits of some of the Springboks will live long in the memory of the 15 000 fans who enjoyed the first day of the Festival of Cricket at Newlands on Friday.
Faf du Plessis’ unbeaten 77 off 42 balls led the Proteas to victory amidst a truly festive atmosphere, yet few will forget the sight of Springbok lock Franco van der Merwe hitting three booming sixes or the surprisingly nimble boundary fielding of front row forward Tiaan Liebenberg.
Former Bok loose forward Bob Skinstad also showed athleticism beyond his years in the field and top-scored for his side with 34 from 23 balls, while current Bok loosie Willem Alberts found himself on an unfamiliar type of hat-trick after dismissing Quinton de Kock and Henry Davids with consecutive deliveries.
After the crowd had been entertained by Prime Circle and seen Allan Donald bowl an over to Skinstad, the Springboks won the toss and elected to field first.
Jacques Kallis opened the innings in his first match on his home ground since the announcement that he would retire from Test cricket, and received a rousing ovation from both the Newlands crowd and the Boks after scoring a breezy 39.
While Du Plessis’ knock was at the heart of the Proteas’ score of 188 for four, he was helped along by David Miller, who struck 40 from just 22 deliveries at the end of the innings.
Alberts returned the best figures for the Boks, taking 2 for 14 from two overs, while Francois Steyn and Duane Vermeulen also picked up wickets.
The Bok innings saw the Proteas employ four slips, a gully and a leg slip as Liebenberg opened alongside captain Victor Matfield, who hit three fours in his 23.
Van der Merwe brought the chase to life when he hit Ryan McLaren back over his head for a maximum and then hit back-to-back sixes off Aaron Phangiso, but he eventually fell for 28 from 14 balls.
Skinstad kept things ticking along and hit two sixes of his own, but wickets continued to fall at the other end.
Vermeulen kept the Bok hopes alive along with ringer Rory Kleinveldt as they hit a flurry of boundaries, but when the former sliced to short third man the curtain came down on an entertaining evening as the Boks were bowled out for 174.