Cricket: Cork provides the sparkle

First Test: England gain the upper hand as their returning hero keeps pressure on South African batsmen

THE show pony trotted back into Test cricket yesterday and paraded a talent for drama undiminished by 16 months out of the ring. Last summer, in one of his darker moments, Dominic Cork had to endure the insults of Geoff Boycott. A show pony, Boycott said. The bobs and bows might have gone, but the telling news for England is that the out-swinger is back, along with the enthusiasm and the self-belief. Quite what he might have achieved in harness with Darren Gough yesterday, the England camp can only wonder. In similar conditions 12 months ago, the Yorkshire fast bowler destroyed the Australian batting, which is a grade above that of the South Africans. Gough's arm must have been throbbing as much as his broken trigger finger.

Led by Daryll Cullinan and Jacques Kallis, who put on 81 in 134 minutes, the South Africans fought hard to avert the follow-on on a pitch still giving help to seam, swing and spin. Both profited from their share of luck, just as the England batsmen had on the opening day, and from some lapses in the field, but their policy of counter-attack contrasted with the war of attrition waged by the England middle order on the second day.

Having removed Gerry Liebenberg and the dangerous Gary Kirsten before tea, Cork whipped out Kallis and Hansie Cronje in quick succession afterwards in a spell of 10 overs, 2 for 25. Had Fraser enjoyed a touch more luck, the damage could have been even greater. But Cullinan, badly missed by Alec Stewart off Robert Croft when he was 19, mixed studied aggression with desperate defence before succumbing to the low bounce induced by Angus Fraser minutes before the close, his concentration shattered by a brief stoppage for bad light. That left Jonty Rhodes with the responsibility of guiding South Africa to safety today, on 192 for five and still 71 runs short of the follow- on.

Whichever way this Test goes - and a draw is still favourite - England can take heart from their performance here. Criticism of England's grinding accumulation on the second day, however mild, must have produced a shake of the head in the England dressing-room. Damned if you do; damned if you don't. In retrospect, the saving of Gough's right hand from more punishment by Allan Donald was more significant than adding a few more runs on a gloomy evening; on the spur of the moment, with a set target in the captain's mind, the danger was not so obvious.

Yesterday, after drizzle had delayed the start until 1.20pm, the pitch continued to test technique and temperament; tunnel vision and the patience of Job - distinctly Athertonian qualities - became the prime requisites for survival. The trick is to forget the last ball and concentrate on the next. Experience of English conditions on the county circuit with Middlesex proved invaluable for Kallis, who survived a torrid mid-afternoon spell from Fraser to record a worthy half-century, and Cullinan, once of Derbyshire, also demonstrated that he learned valuable lessons during his employment.

Once Kirsten had followed Liebenberg to the pavilion, smartly caught by Mark Butcher diving high and to his left at third slip, Kallis and Cullinan dug in to repair the damage, though not without alarm. In the space of two overs, Stewart missed a simple stumping chance as Croft lured Cullinan forward and Kallis endured a spiteful over from Fraser, who added an extra 5mph to his usual middle-lane trundle in honour of his Middlesex team-mate.

Finding pronounced bounce and movement, Fraser whipped a leg-cutter past Kallis's forward prod, the "catch" to slip coming off the batsman's hip; had a sharp chance to Ben Spendlove, the substitute fielder standing in for the stricken Gough, at short leg dropped; and produced a beauty, which lifted and seamed. No wonder Kallis headed swiftly for the sanctuary of the tea interval. Fraser began to feel much the same sense of injustice as Shaun Pollock had on the opening day.

Cork announced his return to Test cricket with a bouncer, a typically defiant response to 16 months in the wilderness. That one out of his system, he settled into a good rhythm in his first spell and again when switched to the Pavilion End. Like Ian Botham, the out-swinger is Cork's chief weapon and, in the initial overcast conditions, it began to work as efficiently as he had advertised, but it was the in-swinger which accounted for Liebenberg on his Test debut in England. The South African opener propped a fraction too far forward and an inside edge on to his pad lobbed up invitingly to Spendlove, Cork's young county colleague, at short leg. The Derbyshire celebrations were unconfined, Cork marking the wicket with a Laker-like hitch of the trousers.

The volatility of the cricket contrasted with the timetable of a miserable morning, the situation not helped by the PR department of the England Cricket Board. No announcement until 50 minutes after the due start of play, not a soul on the playing area for much of the time and a desultory inspection of the pitch by the three umpires, hands in pockets, long after the drizzle had stopped. Prison chain gangs have looked more enthusiastic. Live transmission of the rugby from Australia on the video screen, 25 minutes after kick-off, did little to brighten spirits.

The BBC brought news of the early lunch a full five minutes before the punters were told - and they had paid pounds 20 to watch their cricket live. Surely it is not beyond the wit of the ECB or Warwickshire CCC to devise some mild diversion to the time-honoured summer pastime of watching the grass grow.

Scoreboard from Edgbaston

Third day; South Africa won toss

ENGLAND - First Innings

M A Butcher c Kallis b Adams 77

272 min, 214 balls, 7 fours; sweep to backward square leg

M A Atherton c Boucher b Donald 103

366 min, 279 balls, 12 fours; edged wide ball to wicketkeeper

*A J Stewart c Cullinan b Klusener 49

187 min, 128 balls, 5 fours; drove wide ball to only slip

N Hussain lbw b Adams 35

98 min, 82 balls, 5 fours; beaten playing back by low bounce

G P Thorpe b Pollock 10

39 min, 30 balls, 1 four; yorked by late inswing

M R Ramprakash b Donald 49

194 min, 151 balls, 4 fours; new ball cut away off pitch

M A Ealham b Adams 5

56 min, 39 balls; full-length ball drifted in

D G Cork c Pollock b Donald 6

128 min, 109 balls, 5 fours; slice to third man

R D B Croft c Boucher b Donald 19

33 min, 21 balls, 2 fours; driving expansively to wicketkeeper

D Gough not out 16

34 min, 15 balls, 2 fours

A R C Fraser c Cronje b Pollock 9

27 min, 21 balls, 1 four; stepped back and drove to mid-off

Extras (b18 lb26 w8 nb2) 54

Total (722 min, 181 overs) 462

Fall: 1-179 (Butcher) 2-249 (Atherton) 3-309 (Stewart) 4-309 (Hussain) 5-329 (Thorpe) 6-356 (Ealham) 7-411 (Ramprakash) 8-430 (Cork) 9-437 (Croft) 10-462 (Fraser).

Bowling: Donald 35-9-95-4 (w2) (6-2-13-0, 2-0-5-0, 5-0-19-0, 3-1-6-0, 8-5-12-1, 5-1-11-0, 6-0-29-3); Pollock 42-12-92-2 (nb2, w1) (7-4-7-0, 7-1-13-0, 3-0-3-0, 4-3-5-0, 6-1-25-0, 6-2-7-1, 3-0-11-0, 6-1-21-1); Klusener 31-7-74-1 (8-3-26-0, 5-1-9-0, 3-0-10-0, 9-1-18-1, 6-2-1 1-0); Cronje 11- 3-28-0 (w1) (4-2-4-0, 3-1-6-0, 4-0-18-0); Adams 42-10-83-3 (8-0-19-0, 10-2-28-1, 17-6-26-2, 7-2-10-0); Kallis 20-7-46-0 (w1) (7-2-16-0, 5-2- 16-0, 3-1-7-0, 5-2-7-0).

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings

G Kirsten c Butcher b Cork 12

80 min, 55 balls, 1 four; flashed high to third slip

G F J Liebenberg c sub (B L Spendlove) b Cork 3

22 min, 15 balls; inside edge off pad to short leg

J H Kallis c Stewart b Cork 61

192 min, 131 balls, 3 fours; edged away swinger behind

D J Cullinan b Fraser 78

221 min, 193 balls, 8 fours; inside edge played on

*W J Cronje c sub (Spendlove) b Cork 1

8 min, 6 balls; prodded to short leg

J N Rhodes not out 36

82 min, 51 balls, 3 fours, 1 six

S M Pollock not out 0

4 min, 2 balls

Extras (nb1) 1

Total (for 5, 307 min, 75.2 overs) 192

Fall: 1-6 (Liebenberg) 2-38 (Kirsten) 3-119 (Kallis) 4-125 (Cronje) 5- 191 (Cullinan).

To bat: M V Boucher, L Klusener, P R Adams, A A Donald.

Bowling: Fraser 21-4-50-1 (nb1) (9-3-16-0, 5-1-12-0, 7-0-22-1); Cork 23-6-52-4 (6-3-12-1, 7-2-15-1, 10-1-25-2); Ealham 12-2-34-0 (8-1-21-0, 4-1-13-0); Croft 19.2-1-56-0 (18-1-50-0, 1.2-0-6-0).

Progress: Third day: Rain delayed start until 1.20pm. 50: 108 min, 25.2 overs. Tea: 88-2 (Kallis 51, Cullinan 22) 41 overs. 100: 181 min, 44.4 overs. 150: 252 min, 63.3 overs. Bad light stopped play 6.42-6.52pm 191- 4 (Cullinan 78, Rhodes 35) 74. Two overs. Bad light stopped play 6.58pm.

Kallis's 50: 143 min, 88 balls, 3 fours. Cullinan's 50: 159 min, 148 balls, 4 fours.

Umpires: D R Shepherd and R B Tiffin.

TV Replay Umpire: J H Hampshire. Match Referee: Javed Burki.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?