There was one winning Lions team in the sporting world today – and an impressive one too as the England Lions’ cricketers wrapped up a 257-run trouncing of South Africa A at Canterbury.
It took Keaton Jennings’ team 36 overs to complete a victory set up by an explosive spell of 3-22 by Somerset fast bowler Jamie Overton on the third evening, well supported by Essex’s Jamie Porter, which had left the South Africans reeling at 29 for 4 overnight.
Porter took two wickets in an over on the final day, which began soon after rugby’s British and Irish Lions had lost the opening Test against the All Blacks in New Zealand, and finished with 3-47 as South Africa A were bowled out for 154.
The touring side had needed a distant 412 for victory at the start of the fourth day, and initially the fifth wicket pair of Temba Bavuma and Heinrich Klaasen flourished in an attractive 67-run stand in 13 counter-attacking overs.
Once Sam Curran had Bavuma leg-before for 33 with the first ball of his second over, however, after replacing Overton in the attack, it was only a matter of time – despite two rain delays totalling more than 40 minutes – before the Lions clinched a victory that was based on a high-class batting and bowling effort over all four days.
Willem Mulder was bowled for one by a Porter nip-backer in between the first two rain interruptions and Klaasen fell at the end of the same over but more than an hour later, following the second hold-up and then an early lunch, when he moved across his stumps in an attempt to play off his pads and was leg-before for a 49-ball 43.
It was an unwise selection of shot, to the first ball he had faced after the re-start, but 24-year-old Porter was again rewarded for nibbling it around off the seam and keeping a good length and line.
Klaasen had played some fine strokes, notably a couple of magnificent pull-drives wide of mid on that were the pick of his six fours, but his dismissal left the South Africans 100 for seven.
Curran soon had the left-handed Beuran Hendricks well-held for 12 by Porter at long leg when he made good contact with a hook at a skiddy bouncer but saw the fielder back-pedal to within inches of the boundary ropes to take the catch above his head.
Dane Piedt, one of four South Africans with Test caps to his name, batted defiantly for 31 before lofting Jack Leach’s left-arm spin to long off, where Porter was again the catcher.
And the end came at 2.42pm, when Dan Lawrence had Duanne Olivier leg-before for eight with his sixth ball, leaving Junior Dala four not out.
Porter claimed match figures of 6-105 and Overton’s second innings 3-36 gave him five wickets in the match. Surrey’s Curran took 2-21 and 4-85 overall in what was an excellent team performance by England Lions.