Anderson basks in the upswing of fickle form

South Africa 119 England 121-3

With the England one-day team it is impossible to be sure: millionaires one match, paupers the next. It makes for an eccentric concoction. In the fourth one-day international against South Africa yesterday they were once more living in the lap of luxury having been scrabbling round dustbins for scraps two days earlier.

It was an extreme that might even have surprised the tourists who are accustomed to extremes. England won by seven wickets after bowling out South Africa for their lowest ODI total at home. Jimmy Anderson, making light of concerns about the state of his right knee and the discomforture of a bruised toe, took 5 for 23 with an exhibition of fast bowling which grew in authority with each wicket.

The defence of 119 was implausible and although England's stroll to an unassailable 2-1 series lead in the afternoon sunshine was not as jaunty as it might have been, the formality of victory was barely in danger. It was accompanied throughout by the St George's Park brass band whose happy melodies always multiply the faults of the Barmy Army.

Jonathan Trott, rapidly becoming England's most dependable batsmen, made his fifth half century of the tour and second of the series. Kevin Pietersen, rapidly becoming the least reliable, was out limply, chipping to mid-wicket having already been dropped. He was given a hostile reception by the crowd, who seem oblivious to Trott's South African origins but appear unable to forgive or forget Pietersen's. Maybe he is not as resilient to the jibes as once he was, or maybe he is keeping his powder dry for the Test series.

England captain Andrew Strauss said: "The important thing is that you assess the conditions and exploit them. Our bowlers did that. They were very accurate, bowled in partnerships and bowled wicket-taking deliveries which is invaluable. In every game in this series one side or other seems to grab hold of the momentum and not give it back."

South Africa, who should have been inspired by their victory in Cape Town on Friday night, played with the wisdom of men jet-lagged after the 70-minute flight. Their innings lasted only 36.5 overs. This re-fashioned team, like England's, is taking time to bed in and a day-night match in Durban to draw the series on Friday is hardly ideal. England, if they can hang around in Millionaire's Row a while longer, have an opportunity of securing their first one-day series win in South Africa.

On another day, South Africa might have bowled on winning the toss with the sun still hiding behind light cloud, but there was nothing untoward about the conditions. On another day, too, Graeme Smith, their captain, might not have been given out leg-before to the ball from Stuart Broad in the second over of the match which he played around after it pitched on leg. It was a solid appeal but not irresistible.

Early wickets were essential for England and this was the acme of early wickets. If Smith gets 50, as he has done 49 times in one-day matches, South Africa usually win, as they have done on 40 of those occasions. Anderson, operating from the Duckpond End – though there is now no evidence of either ducks or ponds – then removed Hashim Amla with a smart piece of cricket which may have replenished his confidence. He took out his second slip, Graeme Swann, and moved him to short mid-wicket, specifically to ensnare Amla.

The batsman obliged swiftly by flicking a full length ball in Swann's direction. Anderson had JP Duminy gloving a slow bouncer shortly after and when Tim Bresnan, rigorously accurate, was granted another lbw verdict of the might be or might not be variety against AB De Villiers it was merely a case of retrenchment for South Africa thereafter.

Only Alviro Petersen, batting with sense and control, offered what amounted to resistance. He is a Port Elizabeth lad whose father is still a taxi driver in the town and this was his first international on his home ground. His third successive fifty of the series was as efficiently constructed as the first two but it was of limited consequence in terms of affecting the outcome.

Anderson became the 17th English bowler to take five wickets in a one-day innings, four men having done so twice. He bowled Mark Boucher with a beauty which held its own past the outside of the bat, persuaded Ryan McLaren to carve a wider one to point and gave Johan Botha little chance in avoiding one which lifted one from a length.

The quality of South Africa's batting was vapid to put it politely, thought Geoff Boycott, summarising for Test Match Special put it somewhat more impolitely when his off-air comment as McLaren was dismissed – to wit that he was "a fucking tosser" – had the BBC apologising within minutes, to listeners if not automatically to the batsman.

England could not lose. Trott and Strauss flourished immediately and had put on 74 by the 16th over when Strauss was deceived by Botha. That was the first of three wickets to fall for nine runs with Paul Collingwood following Pietersen.

But Trott never looked anything less than assured – as he never has done since resuming his England career last August. There were seven fours in his 52, and five for Eoin Morgan, two of them sublime, as England got home with 112 balls remaining. The pity was that it prevented the band playing on.

Wins and roundabouts: *England's fluctuating recent limited-overs record v South Africa

2008
20 Aug T20 (Riverside) Abandoned
22 Aug ODI (H'gley) Won by 20 runs
26 Aug ODI (T Bridge) Won by 10 wkts
29 Aug ODI (Oval) Won by 126 runs
31 Aug ODI (Lord's) Won by 7 wkts
3 Sep ODI (S Gdns) No result

2009
11 June T20 (T Bridge) Lost by 7 wkts
27 Sep ODI (Centurion) Won by 22 runs
13 Nov T20 (Jo'burg) Won by 1 run
15 Nov T20 (Centurion) Lost by 84 runs
20 Nov ODI (Jo'burg) Abandoned
22 Nov ODI (Centurion) Won by 7 wkts
27 Nov ODI (Cape Town) Lost by 112 runs
29 Nov ODI (Port Eliz) Won by 7 wkts

Port Elizabeth: Scoreboard

South Africa won toss

England beat South Africa by seven wickets

SOUTH AFRICA

......... Runs......... 6s......... 4s......... Bls

H Amla c Swann b Anderson......... 11......... 0......... 2......... 22

*G Smith lbw b Broad......... 2......... 0......... 0......... 4

A de Villiers lbw b Bresnan......... 22......... 0......... 4......... 36

J Duminy c Prior b Anderson......... 6......... 0......... 1......... 10

A Petersen c Wright b Broad......... 51......... 0......... 5......... 79

†M Boucher b Anderson......... 13......... 0......... 2......... 23

R McLaren c Collingwood b Anderson......... 0......... 0......... 0......... 5

J Botha c Prior b Anderson......... 1......... 0......... 0......... 8

W Parnell c Strauss b Collingwood......... 1......... 0......... 0......... 14

M Morkel lbw b Collingwood......... 7......... 0......... 1......... 15

C Langeveldt not out......... 0......... 0......... 0......... 5

Extras (w 5)......... 5

Total (36.5 overs)......... 119

Fall: 1-6, 2-24, 3-35, 4-55, 5-78, 6-78, 7-83, 8-92, 9-113, 10-119.

Bowling: J Anderson 10-3-23-5, P Collingwood 4-0-20-2, T Bresnan 8-3-15-1, S Broad 9.5-0-30-2, L Wright 5-0-31-0.

ENGLAND

......... Runs......... 6s......... 4s......... Bls

J Trott not out......... 52......... 0......... 7......... 77

*A Strauss lbw b Botha......... 32......... 0......... 7......... 59

K Pietersen c de Villiers b Botha......... 3......... 0......... 0......... 6

P Collingwood c Boucher b McLaren......... 2......... 0......... 0......... 6

E Morgan not out......... 28......... 0......... 5......... 40

Extras (lb 1, w 3)......... 4

Total (3 wkts, 31.2 overs)......... 121

Fall: 1-74, 2-80, 3-83.

Did not bat: †M J Prior, L J Wright, S C J Broad, G P Swann, T T Bresnan, J M Anderson.

Bowling: J Botha 8-0-22-2, R McLaren 6-1-25-1, M Morkel 6.2-1-19-0, C Langeveldt 5-1-24-0, W Parnell 6-0-30-0.

Umpires: B G Jerling (Aus) & R J Tucker (Aus).

TV replay umpire : J D Cloete.

Match referee: M Erasmus.

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