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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hot English Bats Break Foes

BIRMINGHAM, England -- Phil DeFreitas and Chris Lewis took three wickets apiece and Graeme Hick battered South Africa's bowling attack with ease as a revitalized England won the first one-day international by six wickets.


Hick hit a majestic 81, including five fours and a six, as England reached the target of 216 with six balls to spare Thursday on a slow wicket at Edgbaston.


England, poised to end its erratic summer on a high note, will look for a sweep of the two-match series Saturday at Old Trafford.


England already had the momentum from a Test match victory last weekend that gave them a draw in the three-Test series between the teams. The hosts were also boosted by the news Thursday that captain Michael Atherton had decided not to step down, making his reappointment for the winter tour of Australia a formality.


DeFreitas set the tone for the day by claiming the first two wickets of the South African innings, dismissing opener Kepler Wessels for four and Peter Kirsten for eight. The 28-year-old all-rounder, who took his 100th Test wicket earlier this year, is now one short of the century mark in one-day internationals.


South Africa, despite courageous efforts from Jonty Rhodes and Daryll Cullinan, never recovered from the slow start and showed no signs of putting together a consistent stretch that would tally a formidable total. Seven wickets fell in the 55 overs, with only 215 runs on the board.


By contrast, England appeared untroubled by the South African bowling attack in reply -- two of the four wickets to fall were run outs. Atherton scored 49, Alec Stewart 32 and Graham Thorpe 26.


South African captain Wessels won the toss and elected to bat first, placing himself at the top of the lineup in place of the struggling Peter Kirsten.


Wessels then promptly drove DeFreitas' second ball of the match for four, but two overs later caught the inside edge on a DeFreitas delivery and chopped it onto his stumps. The tourists were five for one.


No. 2 batsman Gary Kirsten quickly hit double figures, but his half-brother Peter once again had problems and departed early when he was caught behind by wicketkeeper Steven Rhodes, who leaped to his right to make the grab with the South African total on 30.


His first bowling spell over, DeFreitas retired to the field where he precariously camped under -- and apparently misjudged -- Gary Kirsten's high drive to long leg before diving forward to make the catch.


Gary Kirsten, the first of Lewis' three victims, was out for 30 and the score was 58 for three.


Jonty Rhodes came on and batted confidently, making 35 from 52 balls, but his innings ended with the score on 103 when he hit a bullet off seamer Dominic Cork straight to Thorpe at short mid-wicket.