Cricket: Silverwood and Tufnell rally to England's cause

First day honours at the Second Test went to South Africa, but only after the visiting attack made early inroads. By Henry Blofeld in Port Elizabeth
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The Independent Online
THIS WAS more like it - until the tea interval at any rate. After nine consecutive losses overseas, winning the toss gave the day an important psychological boost for England at the start. On an overcast morning, with some moisture in the surface, bowling first was the sensible option.

It was, of course, again crucially important that the bowlers should not waste the new ball. And that they should keep making the batsmen play. The first over, from Darren Gough, was hardly auspicious. It contained a wide and three more balls the batsmen were able to leave alone.

In fact, Gough was the one wayward bowler all through the day. I doubt he is as fully fit as he would like to be; he never found his rhythm or his control, which was reflected in his figures of 0 for 72 in 13 overs.

Andy Caddick seemed more focused than he had been in Johannesburg, although one always has the nagging impression that he bowls a yard too short. From time to time he also appears to realise this and is then driven when he over-compensates.

In the last session of play he showed too that he does not like bowling at left-handers. Lance Klusener can always be a handful and Caddick obligingly let his length slip and bowled to him on both sides of the wicket.

Chris Silverwood must have begun to think his second Test cap might never come. After being hauled out of the A tour in New Zealand, his only outing in South Africa has been the 10 overs he was allowed in a one-day game just after the first Test.

He was now the fastest of the lot. An excellent bouncer in his first over hit Jacques Kallis on the helmet. When he changed ends for his second spell Silverwood was not quite so controlled but, considering what little bowling he has had, he cannot be blamed for that. I hope they persevere with him for the rest of the series.

When the England side was announced before the toss, the presence of Phil Tufnell made excellent sense even allowing for the conditions. England had not played a spinner in Johannesburg and, as is almost invariably the case, lived to regret it.

Curiously, in the conditions, Tufnell was England's inspiration here. He bowled beautifully from the start with the confidence he so often lacks, throwing the ball up in the air and causing problems with his flight. No one played him with conviction until Klusener got after him in the evening.

It was an excellent decision of Nasser Hussain's to bring him on 20 minutes before lunch. It was the pressure he at once exerted which caused two wickets to fall immediately after the interval, even though one was from a run out.

At 146 for 5, England had every reason to feel pleased. But now joined Jonty Rhodes and, as both have done so often for South Africa, they relieved the situation in their complementary, contrasting and highly entertaining style. England's bowling fell away badly and these two made sure it was South Africa's day.