Moreki strikes for Lions, but Western Province in charge of Wanderers final

Tshepo Moreki celebrates one of his five wickets for the Lions against Western Province at the Wanderers on Thursday. Photo: BackpagePix

Tshepo Moreki celebrates one of his five wickets for the Lions against Western Province at the Wanderers on Thursday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Feb 29, 2024


Under coach Shukri Conrad, there has been a measure of improvement, but the Proteas’ Test batting woes have been a source of major concern for a while now.

On the evidence of the Cricket SA Four-Day Series final currently on the go at the Wanderers – which showcases the cream of the domestic talent – the reasons for the batting collapses that unfold on a regular basis at Test level become abundantly clear.

After the Lions top order that contains three capped Proteas, including skipper Temba Bavuma, were rolled over on the opening day, it was the turn of Western Province to commit the cardinal sins of first-class batting on Thursday.

Province batters Tony de Zorzi (51), Gavin Kaplan (60) and Daniel Smith (60) struck half-centuries, while Eddie Moore (45), Yaseen Vallie (28) and Mihlali Mpongwana (28) all did the hard work up front without converting it into really meaningful contributions.

It is that lack of application that has really hurt the Proteas Test team in the past, with precious few batters being able to change the course of the match in their team’s favour with a three-figure score.

Province, though, somehow worked their way to a total of 312 on Thursday – a first-innings lead of 87.

The visitors would no doubt have hoped for a bigger advantage when they were handily placed at 244-4, but saw the remainder of their first innings fall away as they lost their last six wickets for the addition of just 68 runs.

This was primarily due to the tireless efforts of Province old boy Tshepo Moreki (5-65), who came back to haunt his former team with a maiden five-wicket haul.

Moreki, who had taken a wicket with his first ball in Test cricket just a couple of weeks ago against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui, could not have been more deserving of the ‘Michelle’ (as in Pfeiffer) after WP youngsters Kaplan and Smith put on 87 for the fifth wicket.

Smith should have been back in the dressing room a long time before that, but had Ryan Rickelton to thank for putting down a straightforward chance early on in his innings.

The drop was crucial in the context of the match as the Lions had fought gamely to get back into the contest after WP had resumed on 49-0 at the start of Thursday’s play.

With Province failing to exert their dominance with the bat, the Lions would have taken plenty of confidence into their second innings in the hope of wiping away the deficit with minimal damage.

But unfortunately that was not to be for the hosts, with WP’s first-innings destroyer-in-chief Dane Paterson striking with the new ball yet again.

Paterson picked up Josh Richards for the second time in the match late on Thursday when the young opener edged behind to Kyle Verreynne.

But it was Mthiwekhaya Nabe’s strike on the stroke of stumps that really had Province celebrating.

The visitors could possibly be without stalwart Beuran Hendricks for the second innings with the veteran seamer suffering from an injury.

Hendricks batted and came out to field, but is still waiting for the physiotherapist to confirm whether he is able to bowl a second time around.

Nabe stepped into the breach perfectly, though, when he removed Lions captain Dominic Hendricks to leave the hosts reeling on 10-2, with a deficit of 77 runs still to navigate on Friday.