Authoritative maiden Test tons from Sciver and Davidson-Richards put England ahead on Day 2

Nat Sciver (L) and Alice Davidson-Richards (R) © Getty Images

Majestic maiden Test ton from Natalie Sciver and a scintillating century on Test debut from Alice Davidson-Richards put England in a commanding position at the end of day two in the ongoing Taunton Test on Tuesday, June 28. A record 207-run stand for the sixth-wicket between Sciver and Davidson-Richards handed England a 44-run lead as they ended the day’s play with 328 for the loss of six wickets.

Pre-lunch

South Africa’s star of day one, Marizanne Kapp opened the bowling attack to kickstart proceedings on day two for the visitors. She shared the red cherry with Nadine de Klerk as the pair tried to pitch the ball up and induce an outside edge. 

With a gentle breeze blowing across the ground and a thick cloud cover, the conditions were ideal for seamers, and hence the duo of Tammy Beaumont and Emma Lamb were watchful and got England off to a sedate start.

But South African bowlers were unable to make the most of the conditions as they couldn’t crack up the pace needed to beat the outside or inside half of the bat and the duo was able to get behind the deliveries easily. 

Both openers were able to complement each other really well and picked the right deliveries to put away for boundaries. They brought their half-century stand in the 14th over and their partnership gave the impression that it was going to be a long day for the Proteas. 

But Beaumont’s wicket in the 19th over against the run of play changed the entire complexion of the game. Anneke Bosch brought the ball into Beaumont, who played around the swing and was adjudged Leg Before Wicket (LBW).

Bosch triggered the resurgence of South Africa and brought them back in the hunt. She kept her lengths fuller and was rewarded for the same. A fuller-length delivery from her came back in sharply to Lamb and sent her off stump flying back and England lost their second opener in the 23rd over.

South Africa nearly had another reason to rejoice as Kapp successfully induced an outside edge from skipper Heather Knight’s willow on the last delivery of the 28th over but just like England had shelled Luus in the cordon at the stroke of lunch on day 1, South Africa also failed to grab the opportunity and England finished the first session with 86 runs on the board for the loss of two wickets.

ALSO READ: Marizanne Kapp and others

Post lunch

The hosts met with a huge setback as soon as the play began post-lunch. They lost their skipper as she fell inches short of her crease in an attempt to steal a single from square leg. Tumi Sekhukhune was on the watch as she quickly released the ball and Sinalo Jafta whipped the bails off in a flash.

The age-old adage of one wicket brings two came true soon as both Sophia Dunkley and wicket-keeper Amy Jones fell in quick succession immediately afterwards. While Bosch got Dunkley nicked-off at first slip to pick up her third-wicket haul, Jones was undone by left-arm off-spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba, who in the process bagged her maiden Test wicket.

England were reduced to 121/5 and South Africa had them by the scruff of their neck. 

ALSO READ: Marizanne Kapp’s defiant ton helps South Africa drive home advantage on Day 1

The Sciver-Richards show

Nat Sciver, who was able to hold one end together needed someone to provide her the much-needed support and she got that partner in the form of the debutant Alice Davidson-Richards.

Sciver and Davidson-Richards dug in and were happy to see Bosch and company through. The ball was doing enough for the Proteas to keep them interested and they were hence persistent with maintaining good lines to both the batters. 

Sciver was imperious down the ground as she picked the right deliveries to put away. She drove Mlaba, Sekhukhune among others in sublime fashion and swatted balls on the on side whenever they tried digging it short to her. She also rode on her luck as quite a few of her edges went past the slip cordon. 

Sciver brought her half-century (third in Test cricket) in majestic style as she hammered a drive down the ground, past Bosch through mid-off for a boundary.

Meanwhile, Davidson-Richards was not trying to do anything fancy and was just focusing on bolstering Sciver by hanging in there. She finished on 20* at the time of Tea and changed gears astonishingly in the final session of the day’s play. She not only put her foot on the accelerator post-tea but in fact was able to match Sciver stroke by stroke.

The dynamic duo cashed in as soon as the ball got older. Having sensed a decline in the lateral movement, Sciver and Davidson-Richards started clobbering the South African bowlers, who had run out of venom. While Sciver brought her maiden Test ton on the third delivery of the 86th over as she desperately scampered for a single, Davidson-Richards achieved the same feat while caressing a drive through point in the 95th over of the day.

She (Davidson-Richards) became the third English player in history of Test cricket after former England legend Enid Bakewell and Lesley Cooke to score a Test century on debut. A domineering 207-run stand between both players saw them set up the highest sixth-wicket partnership for England in Test history and most importantly put them ahead of the visitors at the end of the day. South Africa on the other hand managed to find a reason to smile at the end of day’s play as Sekhukhune dismissed Davidson-Richards for an individual score of 107.

Brief scores:  England 1st Innings 328/6 in 99.5 overs (Nat Sciver 119*, Alice Davidson-Richards 107; Anneke Bosch 3/59) vs South Africa; England lead by 44 runs