Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
T20: Boje does a 'Jonty'
Cape Town – A batting miracle from veteran former Proteas all-rounder Nicky Boje has been among the high points recently by South Africans representing counties in the Friends Provident T20 competition.
The English domestic T20 is in full swing and Boje’s tie-earning feat for home side Northamptonshire against Yorkshire a few days ago earned some rightful headlines.
The visitors had amassed a formidable 180 for three at precisely nine runs to the over, with another South African, Herschelle Gibbs, lashing his maiden century in this brand of the game.
Gibbs required only 53 balls for his unbeaten 101, which very much looked like powering Yorkshire to victory.
That was especially so when Boje faced the scheduled last ball of the reply innings, with 13 to win and some spectators presumably beating a retreat for the exits, assuming the outcome was done and dusted.
But Rich Pyrah inexplicably sent down a no-ball – at a cost of two runs under the T20 rules – and Boje smacked it for six.
Suddenly only five runs were required for victory with an extra delivery available: the Warriors player could not manage another “maximum” but he did thrash a four, meaning the match was tied.
The incident would have reminded many South Africans of the famous Benson & Hedges domestic night series incident in the 1990s, when down-and-out Natal required seven runs to beat Transvaal at Kingsmead but Richard Snell no-balled the supposed final delivery and Jonty Rhodes then cracked a six for a fairytale win.
Martin van Jaarsveld, who has been a trusty stalwart in all competitions for Kent in the past few years, leads the South Africans in pure run-scoring terms in the Friends Provident T20 at present: he has scored 372 at 33.81.
But Gibbs, helped by the recent ton against Northants, is not far behind with 358 at a better average of 44.75.
Loots Bosman is the other South African to have exceeded the 300 mark; his 324 runs for Derbyshire have come at an average of 27.
There have been some good sting-in-the-tail efforts from Andrew Hall, a team-mate of Boje’s at Northants, as he has compiled 185 runs at a glowing average of 46.25.
Meanwhile on the bowling front, Alfonso Thomas has been starring for Somerset: he is joint-top wicket-taker in the competition with 23 scalps at a remarkable 11.60 and economy rate of 6.35.
He is in a race with Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid to finish as top wicket-taker – he also has 23, but at a slightly inferior average of 14.52 and economy of 7.10.
The event has a few rounds to go and the final is earmarked for the Rose Bowl on August 14.