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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Marizanne Kapp's epic 150 keeps South Africa afloat on return to Test cricket

Marizanne Kapp celebrates her maiden Test hundred Getty Images

South Africa 284 (Kapp 150, Cross 4-63) vs England

England leaned on youth, South Africa on experience - of sorts - as Marizanne Kapp's brilliant century rescued her side from near oblivion on an enthralling first day of their Test in Taunton.

Kapp, who with Lizelle Lee represents the sum total of their team's Test experience having both played in South Africa's last one which ended in an innings defeat to India in 2014, played the flawless innings the tourists desperately needed to reach 284 by the time they were bowled out, ending the day's play.

Kapp came in with her side 45 for 4 after England's two international debutants, Issy Wong and Lauren Bell, combined with the new, old hands of the side, Kate Cross and Nat Sciver, to reduce them to rubble in England's first Test in 11 since 2008 without either of their retired seamers Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole.

Kapp shared a 72-run stand with Anneke Bosch before Bosch gifted her wicket to left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclesteone, a veteran at just 23 years of age, cutting straight to backward point for 30. But it was a resolute stand with Sinalo Jafta, only worth 25 but during which Jafta faced 39 deliveries for her 4 runs which saw Kapp to her ton. Another stand worth 49 for the ninth wicket with Tumi Sekhukhune took Kapp to 150, making her the first woman since Mithali Raj in 2002 to reach the milestone.

In the meantime, England took the second new ball as soon as it became available after 80 overs and Wong drew the first false shot of Kapp's innings when she was beaten attempting to defend one on a length that jagged away from her.

It's facetious to suggest Kapp's experience amounts to one previous Test. She has also played 210 white-ball games for her country and she exuded calm and authority to manoeuvre her side to a first-innings total that seemed incredibly unlikely earlier.

She cruised to her fifty from 80 balls, including eight fours, and raised her century with the first of three fours in one Cross over, slashed over the slips cordon before carving the next through backward point and then edging over keeper Amy Jones to take her past the previous highest Test score for a South African woman.

Kapp was prolific on the off side, scoring 100 of her first 135 runs in that area, though by the time she reached 150 she had scored 45 runs on the leg side as she continued to manipulate the field. It took a spectacular catch from Tammy Beaumont, launching herself to her right at mid-off to pull the ball down after Kapp had tried to flay Bell over the infield, to end her stay.

"It looked like she's been playing Test cricket for years," Cross said of Kapp after she had bowled Nonkululeko Mlaba to claim her fourth wicket of the innings.

Cross had made the initial breakthrough for England in the fifth over when she dismissed Andrie Steyn, who shouldered arms and left her off stump exposed to a line Cross had been probing throughout her opening spell.

Wong, the 20-year-old quick promoted from her position as travelling reserve on Saturday to replace Emily Arlott, who is still recovering from the after-effects of Covid, was selected ahead of Freya Davies, who has played 24 limited-overs internationals but is yet to play a Test.

Having been presented with her cap by Brunt, who travelled with the squad to continue her preparation for the white-ball portion of this multi-format series, Wong, struck with just her 12th delivery in international cricket. She lured the dangerous opener Laura Wolvaardt into an attempted cover drive with one that nipped back off the seam and shot through the gate to clatter into middle and off.

Lara Goodall fell lbw to Sciver after England reviewed umpire Sue Redfern's original not-out decision, with the DRS showing the ball right on target to hit middle stump.

Bell returned after a solid four-over opening spell and secured her maiden wicket with her fourth ball back, rapping Lee on the pad with a fuller ball which struck seemingly just in line with off stump. Lee reviewed but her dismissal was upheld on umpire's call on impact, meaning she departed for an eight-ball duck.

Wong could have had a second in the final over before lunch when Sune Luus, the South Africa captain, split Sophie Ecclestone and Cross at second and third slip, the latter appearing to get a finger to the ball before it raced away for four. But when Cross removed Luus in the second over after lunch, with Sciver taking a sharp catch at third slip, South Africa were still struggling at 89 for 5.

From there, Kapp set about her wonderful rebuilding effort with Bosch, then Nadine de Klerk, who was caught behind of another England Test debutant, Alice Davidson-Richards, a 28-year-old batting allrounder who provides another seam bowling option but who hasn't played for her country since six white-ball games in 2018.

It took a catch rivaling Beaumont's effort which ended Kapp's knock to remove Jafta and it was Wong who provided it, back-pedalling in the covers and flinging her right hand high and almost behind her to pluck a leading edge off Cross from thin air, holding on tightly as she tumbled to the ground.

Cross ended with 4 for 63 from 17.4 overs to be the pick of the England bowlers who all ended the day satisfied with what they had achieved and having set up an intriguing second day's play.

SA Women 3rd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st9A SteynL Wolvaardt
2nd35L GoodallL Wolvaardt
3rd1S LuusL Wolvaardt
4th19S LuusTS Sekhukhune
5th54L LeeTS Sekhukhune
6th63M KappTS Sekhukhune