Cricket: England's dawn thunder defied by Klusener

SECOND TEST South Africa's middle order regains control after Tufnell and Silverwood make early headway
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The Independent Online
THE WIND was set for swing, the pitch for seam, but it was Philip Tufnell, bowling unfashionable finger spin, who has kept England in this second Test after Nasser Hussain had invited South Africa to bat. By the close the Cat's clawmarks were just visible on the day's proceedings, though they had begun to resemble those found at cliff edges after Lance Klusener's blazing bat had taken a belated but heavy toll on the bowling after tea.

It was in that final session, that Klusener, aided by his KwaZulu-Natal team-mate Jonty Rhodes, shifted the balance of power South Africa's way. When you insert sides in Test matches, you expect to bowl them out for under 250 in under four sessions. At the moment South Africa are 253 for 6, a total indebted to the 106 runs added for the sixth wicket by Klusener and Rhodes.

Afterwards Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, tried to put on a brave face. "It was a score we'd have settled for at the start of the day," he said without looking as if he really believed it. "Considering it didn't swing as expected, we did well until after tea, when we bowled both sides of the wicket to Klusener. He is a dangerous player and you simply can't afford to do that."

In the last 12 months Klusener has become something of a global phenomenon, as famous these days for his telling Test knocks as the spectacular one- day thrashes which made his name. Hailing from the town of Gingindhlovu (known as "double gin" by the locals) north of Durban, the man known as Zulu is fast becoming the most famous sporting face in South Africa.

Coming in at No 7, when the ball is invariably soft, his clean striking can be demoralising and England were mentally traumatised when the teams came off for bad light with 13.5 overs unbowled. So far Klusener's damage has been 61 off 72 balls and England will need to get rid of him quickly this morning if they are to remain in contention.

Following the one-sided Test at The Wanderers, this was, at least for the most part, a better balanced contest on a pitch that has contained a few gremlins but no demons. Indeed, until South Africa's dangerous middle order struck pay-dirt - as is increasingly their wont - England looked on the verge of taking control.

Tufnell's excellence, although a boon for the spinner himself after his tame display in the four-day match in Durban, ultimately meant that England's day, in conditions ideal for pace bowling, was an unsatisfactory one. Darren Gough in particular had a miserable time, though this was tempered by a heartening performance from his Yorkshire team-mate Chris Silverwood, making only his second Test appearance.

With a moist easterly blowing, instead of a dry westerly, more damage should have been inflicted by the new ball pair of Gough and Andy Caddick. In three spells, spread over 13 overs, Gough conceded 72 runs, a total that included 14 of the 27 fours struck at that stage of the innings.

Hussain's most experienced bowler was clearly out of sorts, which must have upset any set plans the England captain had by essentially limiting his attacking options from four bowlers to three.

During the pre-match press conference, Hussain has stressed the need for his side to learn on their feet. By bringing Tufnell on before lunch he clearly practises what he preaches and his faith in the left-arm spinner was not misplaced. By contrast, South Africa opted for the seam of the local tearaway Mornantau Hayward in place of the wrist spinner Paul Adams. If the pitch continues to turn, it could be a double faux pas as Adams is one of two non-whites selected in the squad.

Tufnell extracted occasional turn, using used the cross-breeze to cast his floaters as if he was fishing with a favourite fly in the Dee. Some batsmen appear to enjoy the tease; others, like Hansie Cronje, like to cut straight to the chase. A good hitter, as opposed to player of spin, Cronje tried to dominate Tufnell before playing himself in. Telegraphing his attempt to launch Tufnell over the top, a ploy the spinner countered by pushing the ball wider, Cronje mistimed his shot which ended in the sizeable hands of Andy Flintoff at extra cover.

Just before tea he lured Daryll Cullinan into a similar indiscretion, though this time it was a stumping by Alec Stewart that sealed the deception.

Cullinan, as he had done in Johannesburg, played with great finesse. Apart from running out the opener Herschelle Gibbs for 48, when his cover drive was intercepted by Flintoff, Cullinan's innings was a gem tarnished only by his headlong rush at Tufnell when he was on 58.

The exclusion of Alan Mullally, who spent the morning having a bone scan, allowed Silverwood to add to the one cap he won three winters ago in Zimbabwe. Silverwood does not have the left-armer's tall, rangy frame and bounce but he gave a wholehearted performance which consistently broke the 90mph barrier.

Coming on after Caddick's opening spell had accounted for Gary Kirsten, fending a lifter to gully, Silverwood announced his return to the big time by striking Jacques Kallis on the side of the helmet with his fourth ball.

For a slow pitch it was a quick delivery and it clearly unnerved Kallis, who, sensing a repeat was to follow, tried to hook his way out of trouble. It did not work and a top-edge to midwicket was well caught by Caddick as he ran around from mid-on.

It was Silverwood's first Test wicket since his debut in Bulawayo and his effort and accuracy deserved more. If he gets what he is owed first thing this morning, this match may yet twist and turn, particularly if spin continues to play a part.

Henry Blofeld, page 29

ST GEORGE'S PARK SCOREBOARD

First day; England won toss

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings

G Kirsten c Hussain b Caddick 15

(33 min, 29 balls, 2 fours)

H H Gibbs run out (Flintoff-Stewart) 48

(137 min, 98 balls, 8 fours)

J H Kallis c Caddick b Silverwood 1

(48 min, 30 balls)

D J Cullinan st Stewart b Tufnell 58

(140 min, 99 balls, 8 fours)

*W J Cronje c Flintoff b Tufnell 2

(7 min, 4 balls)

J N Rhodes c Atherton b Flintoff 50

(176 min, 132 balls, 5 fours)

L Klusener not out 63

(102 min, 73 balls, 9 fours, 1 six)

S M Pollock not out 1

(3 min, 1 ball)

Extras (b2, lb3, w1, nb9) 15

Total (for 6, 326 min, 76.1 overs) 253

Fall: 1-28 (Kirsten), 2-57 (Kallis), 3-87 (Gibbs), 4-91 (Cronje), 5-146 (Cullinan), 6-252 (Rhodes).

To bat: M V Boucher, A A Donald, M Hayward.

Bowling: Gough 13-1-72-0 (nb5, w1) (7-1-35-0, 3-0-15-0, 3-0-22-0); Caddick 21-4-66-1 (nb2) (5-0-14-1, 5-3-10-0, 5-1-9-0, 6-0-33-0); Silverwood 13.1- 4-23-1 (nb 2) (5-2-9-1, 2-0-3-0, 5-1-11-0, 1.1-1-0-0); Tufnell 25-5-69- 2 (12-2-29-1, 1-0-1-0, 12-3-39-1); Vaughan 3-0-16-0; Flintoff 1-0-2-1 (1 spell each).

Progress: 50 32 min, 13.3 overs. Lunch: 78-2 (Gibbs 41, Culinan 12, 27 overs). 100 167 min, 39.1 overs. 150 232 min 52.2 overs. Tea: 157-5 (Rhodes 14, Klusener 8, 56 overs. 200 279 min, 65 overs. 250 316 min, 74.2 overs.

Cullinan's 50: 132 min, 93 balls, 7 fours. Rhodes' 50: 166 min, 125 balls, 5 fours. Klusener's 50: 72 min, 54 balls, 8 fours.

ENGLAND: M A Butcher, M A Atherton, *N Hussain, M P Vaughan, A J Stewart, C J Adams, A Flintoff, A R Caddick, D Gough, C E W Silverwood, P C R Tufnell.

Umpires: S Bucknor (WI) and R Koertzen (SA).

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