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Dickens meets England expectations

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James Dickens

James Dickens was England's star performer as they eased to victory over South Africa in the first match of the Learning Disabilities Tri-Nations

James Dickens led the way with figures of 4-23 as England’s Learning Disabilities team recorded a comfortable eight-wicket victory over South Africa in their opening Inas Tri-Nations fixture in Kimberley.

After England captain Gavin Randall had opted to field first under clear blue skies, Dickens was chiefly responsible for restricting South Africa to a paltry 125 all out with more than 13 of 40 overs unused.

Openers Mark O’Brian and Christopher Edwards then contributed 41 not out and 35 respectively to help England reach their target with nearly 10 overs to spare.

Dickens, who bowled his eight overs unchanged, struck twice in as many balls to reduce the hosts to 15 for two and then picked up a further two scalps as South Africa slumped to 41 for five.

A restorative sixth-wicket stand between Winston Johnson and Mzwandile Mhlongo doubled the score, but England were soon among the wickets again. Callum Rigby made two breakthroughs, and Jonathan Gale claimed a wicket in his first over, just as Taylor Young had done earlier in the innings.

A fine throw to wicketkeeper Randall from Ainsley Harriott-Gayle ran out South Africa's last man and ended their innings in the 27th over.

England were required to bat for 21 minutes before the interval and negotiated the five overs safely, reaching 24 without loss.

O’Brian and Edwards continued to accumulate sensibly afterwards and had taken the score on to 77 by the time the latter fell lbw.

Lee Stenning was also trapped in front for 17 by one that kept low, but O’Brian calmly guided England home in the company of Dickens, who added a solitary run to his four-wicket haul and was subsequently named man of the match.

England take on defending champions Australia tomorrow in their second fixture of four round-robin games.