Cricket / Second Test: England self-destruct in bowling department: Chances of squaring the series seem to disappear as South Africans disdainfully dish out the punishment

Click to follow
The Independent Online
England. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .477-9 dec and 144-2

South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .447

IF Michael Atherton took to his bed last night pondering when he might safely declare today and then went through a mental re-run of England's weekend bowling, it would be reasonable to speculate he spent most of the night wringing cold sweat out of his duvet.

This Headingley pitch has not deteriorated as much as expected, and not half as much as England's bowlers. Between lunch on Saturday, and shortly after lunch yesterday, they made the startling transition from sniper's rifle to a blunderbuss not entirely certain of hitting a sightscreen from 10 paces.

Not since the 1989 Ashes Test on this ground, when every Australian who liked to cut was fed with long hops and even Merv Hughes was playing the bowling with the end of his moustache, has England's attack looked so short of nous. From 105 for 5, South Africa eventually ended up only 30 runs short of England's first innings 477 and it will be a surprise if Atherton considers the safety net in place until this morning's lead of 174 has been converted into something above 270.

South Africa's fightback, led by Peter Kirsten's maiden Test century, was neither unexpected nor out of character, but it is no less an England trademark that just when they are apparently about to conclude an important piece of business, they hang a 'gone to lunch' notice on the office door.

Yesterday morning, South Africa were still 159 adrift with only three wickets in hand and a swift coup de grace might even have seen England bowling again by last night. As it was, they were still bowling - if that is the right word - until 10 minutes after lunch, having been hit around with disdain.

Darren Gough and Phillip DeFreitas were the major offenders, although Angus Fraser still looks short of snap, and, exciting prospect though he is, Gough's Test education is still some way short of realising that it is occasionally a good idea to explore the half of the pitch closer to the batsman.

Philip Tufnell was also disappointing, too willing to adopt a negative over-the-wicket line into the bowlers' rough even though it brought him the wicket of Brian McMillan, the first from an England spinner in a Headingley Test since Phil Edmonds in 1987. The safest method of combating this type of bowling is to stick the pads in the way, but McMillan unwisely left his legs open and was bowled by a ball that scuttled between them.

Tufnell's reluctance to bowl a more attacking line probably had something to do with twice being launched into the pavilion by Fanie de Villiers and Craig Matthews. De Villiers was then stumped attempting something similar, although Matthews, whose half-century arrived off only 46 balls, was unbeaten on 62 when Allan Donald was last out. Even Donald, handicapped by a cyst on his toe and batting with a runner, made his highest Test score.

Donald was declared unfit to bowl in England's second innings and, depending on the result of a specialist's examination in Leeds today, may miss the final Test at The Oval. It certainly made life easier for England's batsmen yesterday, although they, too, played with little conviction until Graham Thorpe's second half-century of the match kick-started an innings beginning to stagnate. Atherton was caught low down at cover driving unconvincingly at De Villiers and Graham Gooch, batting with a runner after tweaking a hamstring, maintained his run of poor scores when he was caught behind feeling for a widish ball from Matthews.

Gooch has now made only 111 runs in his last seven Test innings and the vast disparity between his Test average as a captain and a private may not be co-incidental. However, on the assumption the selectors have already pencilled him in for Australia, dropping him for the next Test would serve no great purpose. In fact, the best way of confusing the selection issue this winter would be for someone to come in for one Test and make a century.

However, no one confuses the issue quite like Graeme Hick, whose unbeaten 48 was the usual mixture of Rolls Royce and Reliant Robin, flowing drive one minute, rustic heave the next. He was also dropped by De Villiers, off his own bowling, when 31.

By contrast, Thorpe, without anything like the same amount of selectorial confidence, has already made the decision to leave him out for most of the summer look even more daft than it did at the time. In fact, Thorpe, the one real success of England's fresh blood infusion last winter, is playing so well he must be starting to get a bit twitchy about being dropped.

HEADINGLEY SCOREBOARD

(Third and fourth days; England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings 477 for 9 dec (M A Atherton 99, A J Stewart 89, G P Thorpe 72, S J Rhodes 65no).

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings

(Friday: 31 for 1)

G Kirsten c Rhodes b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

(38 min, 21 balls)

D J Richardson b Fraser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48

(100 min, 73 balls, 7 fours)

W J Cronje b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(1 min, 1 ball)

* K C Wessels c Crawley b Fraser. . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

(102 min, 66 balls, 3 fours)

P N Kirsten c Stewart b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . . . .104

(294 min, 226 balls, 13 fours)

J N Rhodes c Rhodes b Gough. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

(130 min, 97 balls, 3 fours, 1 six)

B M McMillan b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78

(205 min, 140 balls, 8 fours, 2 sixes)

C R Matthews not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62

(137 min, 100 balls, 10 fours, 1 six)

P S de Villiers st Rhodes b Tufnell. . . . . . . . . . .13

(22 min, 23 balls, 1 four, 1 six)

A A Donald c Crawley b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

(51 min, 47 balls, 3 fours)

Extras (b8 lb7 nb13). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

Total (553 mins, 133.1 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .447

Fall (cont): 2-31 (G Kirsten), 3-31 (Cronje), 4-91 (Richardson), 5-105 (Wessels), 6-199 (Rhodes), 7- 314 (P N Kirsten) 8-391 (McMillan) 9-410 (De Villiers).

Bowling: Gough 37-3-153-2 (nb8) (9-0-43-1, 7-1- 22-0, 6-1-22-1, 5-1-13-0, 10-0-53-0); DeFreitas 29.1- 6-89-4 (nb3) (12-3-18-2, 7-1-28-0, 2-1-3-0, 2-0-10-0, 3-1-14-1, 2-0-15-0, 1.1-0-1-1); Fraser 31-5-92-2 (nb3) (2-0-13-0, 6-1-17-2, 6-0-10-0, 4-1-11-0, 4-1-14-0, 2-1- 4-0, 3-0-16-0, 4-1-7-0); Tufnell 32-13-81-2 (6-4-8-0, 8-2-23-0, 2-0-5-0, 2-1-5-0, 2-0-11-0, 12-6-29-2); Gooch 3-0-9-0 (2-0-3-0, 1-0-6-0); Hick 1-0-8-0 (one spell).

Progress: Third day: 50: 73 min, 16.5 overs. 100: 140 min, 32.5 overs. Lunch: 122-5 (P N Kirsten 9, Rhodes 9) 37 overs. 150: 191 min, 45 overs. 200: 276 min, 65.2 overs. Tea: 205-6 (P N Kirsten 50, McMillan 1) 67 overs. 250: 342 min, 81.1 overs. New ball: 85 overs, 265-6. 300: 406 min, 96.1 overs. Close: 318-7 (McMillan 57, Matthews 0) 99 overs. Fourth day: 350: 447 min, 105 overs. 400: 489 min, 115.2 overs. Lunch: 442-9 (Matthews 62, Donald 22) 130 overs. Innings closed: 1.48pm.

P Kirsten's 50: 161 min, 133 balls, 4 fours. 100: 291 min, 223 balls, 13 fours.

McMillan's 50: 133 min, 92 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes.

Matthews' 50: 62 min, 46 balls, 8 fours, 1 six.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

G A Gooch c Richardson b Matthews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

(101 min, 77 balls, 4 fours)

* M A Atherton c sub (D J Cullinan) b de Villiers . .17

(65 min, 42 balls, 2 fours)

G A Hick not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48

(157 min, 128 balls, 4 fours, 1 six)

G P Thorpe not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51

(122 min, 84 balls, 7 fours)

Extras (nb1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Total (for 2, 223 min, 55 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .144

Fall: 1-39 (Atherton), 2-57 (Gooch).

Bowling: De Villiers 15-2-37-1 (nb1) (3-0-10-0, 7-2-10-1, 5-0-17-0); McMillan 11-0-47-0 (3-0-15- 0, 5-0-22-0, 3-0-10-0); Matthews 17-7-27-1 (10- 6-12-1, 7-1-15-0); G Kirsten 2-1-10-0 (one spell); Cronje 10-3-23-0 (7-2-17-0 3-1-6-0).

Progress: 50: 98 min, 23.4 overs. Tea: 57-2 (Hick 12) 24.3 overs. 100: 149 min, 37.3 overs.

Thorpe 50: 115 min, 81 balls, 7 fours.

Umpires: S R Dunne and D R Shepherd.

TV Replay Umpire: J C Balderstone

Match referee: P J P Burge.

(Photograph omitted)

Glenn Moore, page 31

County scoreboard, page 30

Comments