Day three of four: South Africa 232 & 161, England 305 & 89-1
Jack Plom and Luke Hollman shared the bowling honours as England Under-19s claimed their first red-ball win in 12 “Tests” stretching back more than five years in Scarborough today.
Plom, the Essex seamer who had taken three for 45 in South Africa’s first innings on Sunday, added four for 56 in the second as the tourists were all out for 161 – leaving England needing only 89 for victory.
They knocked off those runs inside 14 overs with Kent’s Ollie Robinson promoted to open in place of Warwickshire’s Liam Banks, who had gone for x-rays after suffering a finger injury in the field, and making 34 from 27 balls in a stand of 69 with Gloucestershire’s Ben Charlesworth – who ended unbeaten on 41 from 37.
But head coach Jon Lewis reserved his highest praise for Hollman and captain Tom Banton, whose 137 in the first innings proved the difference between the teams.
“The result looks convincing, but there were moments in the game where it was much closer than that,” said Lewis. “We won critical moments in the game – for instance our partnerships late in our first innings, with Jack Davies supporting Banton, and Hollman with the tail-enders.”
Hollman made 45, then the tall Middlesex leg-spinner added two for 30 to his four first-innings wickets. “He’s one of five lads who are 17 or under in this side, which is exciting,” added Lewis. “He’s stood out in this game in terms of delivering his skill as a leg-spinner, and he’s dominated with the ball. He’s been outstanding.
“Banton’s innings was head and shoulders above the rest of the game – although the South Africa coach has just reminded me he got dropped early on, which is one of those moments that could have made a big difference.
“But he played a fantastic innings. He looks a really good young player, and his game has really developed over the last couple of years since I first saw him.
“That is credit to Somerset, and himself, and also the opportunities he’s been afforded by the Under-19s programme has helped him grow as a player and as a person – his decision-making is much better than it has been in the past, and he clearly now understands the art of batsmanship.
“His innings was really the difference between the teams.
“If you’d asked me even before we met up last week if I saw him as a captain, I would have said 100% no. However having experienced him last week at Loughborough, and seeing the changes he’s made this season – and that would be a lot to do with being around a professional squad for the first time at Somerset – he’s changed.
“And there’s a guy there who’s able to lead this group, which he’s done very well over the course of this game.”
England had lost four and drawn seven of their Under-19s Tests since a team including Ben Duckett, Ed Barnard and led by Oli Stone beat South Africa in Cape Town in January 2013.
And this win was all the more impressive as it was achieved without several eligible players who were omitted to allow them to continue playing for their counties in the Vitality Blast.
“The other lads are kicking on, which is what we want as a programme,” Lewis reflected. “I said to Will Jacks, Dillon Pennington, Harry Brook, Henry Brookes, I don’t want to see you, I want you to be playing first-team cricket – and Henry’s already been picked in the Lions squad, which means this programme is working.
“We’re adding value to the counties, and we’re helping push on young players, by giving them broader and different experiences.
“It’s very different putting on an England jersey, different pressures playing for your country. As a result of the injuries to Tom Lammonby and Greg Willows, we’ve brought in two 17-year-old lads, and Ben Charlesworth and Jack Haynes, both of whom will be available for the next Under-19s World Cup, are now having experiences of playing international cricket.
They’re lapping it up. They’ve had a winning experience, and now they get another training period, and can they repeat?”
The teams meet again in a second four-day match at Durham’s Emirates Riverside starting next Monday, before a three-match Royal London One-Day Series the following week.