Rudolph in tense cup hunt
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Several South African cricketers are involved in a thrilling, three-way tussle for England’s County Championship title.
It was day three of the final round of four-day fixtures in the competition on Wednesday, with the elements also playing a strong part in the drama which involves Nottinghamshire (205 points entering the last game), Somerset (203) and Yorkshire (198).
The big losers thus far have been leaders Notts – at the time of writing, midway through the third day, there had been desperately little play in their key clash with Lancashire at notoriously damp Old Trafford, with the visitors still stuck on 89 for two in their first knock and a draw (featuring minimal bonus points) seemingly inevitable.
To the benefit of their prolific batsman Jacques Rudolph, however, Yorkshire have seen rather more action against Kent at Leeds – although another South African and former Proteas batsman, Martin van Jaarsveld, has done his best to thwart his compatriot’s silverware wish.
Visitors Kent were on 228 for six in their first knock when rain forced a delay, in reply to Yorkshire’s 261 (Rudolph out for 25), with veteran Van Jaarsveld having notched up 89.
Rudolph returns to South Africa shortly to lead the Titans in the 2010/11 domestic season and possibly also challenge anew for the Test side.
Meanwhile Somerset, the other factor in the triangular scrap for honours, were possibly having the best fortune from a weather point of view at Durham, where they had amassed 426 for nine as this was penned, in reply to Durham’s 286 (Dale Benkenstein 72 for the out-of-contention defending champions).
That meant a meaningful lead of 140, and still the possibility of striking for a precious win if Thursday proves dry enough in the north-east of England.
Somerset’s ranks include three South African-born customers in Charl Willoughby, Alfonso Thomas and Craig Kieswetter, although the last-named player has qualified for and already represented England at limited-overs level.