England's attempt to save the second Test began in unconvincing style here yesterday evening when they lost two late wickets against a fired-up South Africa. The tourists' mammoth first innings score of 522, a total dominated by patient and determined hundreds from Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers, placed England in an almost identical situation to their opponents in the first Test.
Graeme Smith's side batted through the final two days at Lord's to earn a respectable and confidence-boosting draw. The early departure of Andrew Strauss and Michael Vaughan makes it highly unlikely that England will replicate the feat and they finished another humbling day on 50 for 2, still 269 runs shy of making South Africa bat again.
England's venture began in dreadful style when Makhaya Ntini dismissed Strauss without scoring in the fourth over of their reply. Vaughan and Alastair Cook survived testing opening bursts from the South African speedsters, but with nine balls remaining and England believing they would reach the close one wicket down Ntini struck again, producing an unplayable delivery to dismiss the home side's captain.
Ntini's unique action allows him to release the ball from an extremely wide position, creating an angle that makes a right- handed batsmen feel he has to play at the majority of his deliveries. The ball that got Vaughan was angled in, but it left him slightly off the pitch. All he could do was offer Mark Boucher, a straightforward catch.
There was little Strauss could do about the lifter that dismissed him too. It rose sharply off a good length flicked the shoulder of his bat and carried through to Boucher. It was the first ball Strauss had faced from South Africa's most experienced bowler and it was delivered from round the wicket, a position Ntini has been reluctant to bowl from throughout his career.
Batting had appeared quite a pleasurable pastime while the tourists ground England's bowlers into the Yorkshire dirt. It is normally Australian batsmen that give England bowlers nightmares, but it would come as no surprise to hear that James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Monty Panesar are currently being woken up by unpleasant visions of men wearing white clothing and a green helmet. With the Ashes now less than a year away it is not a good omen.
It is never a good sign for the fielding side when the giant screen begins to flash up the record-breaking achievements of a team with the bat. But that was just how the third day began for England.
On a rain-curtailed second day South Africa took total control advancing from 101 for 3 to 322 for 4 in 76 overs. The patient and determined batting of Prince and De Villiers highlighted the shortcomings of England's willow wielders.
Prince has blossomed into a fine player and the left-hander thoroughly deserved his second hundred of the series. In the opening hour De Villiers cut a tired Broad for four to break the record fifth wicket partnership for South Africa against England. Then, a couple of minutes later, Prince moved to 140, passing his previous highest Test score, but hismarathon innings ended on 149 when he edged a Darren Pattinson leg-cutter through to the wicket-keeper. By then the partnership had reached 212 and the Proteas were out of sight. De Villiers reached his sixth Test hundred with a single off Flintoff, and he was delighted to reach the landmark. He later revealed that it was not Vaughan's choice words at lunch on the first day that acted as extra motivation; it was the booing from the crowd when he walked out to bat. It was as restrained and determined a batting display as De Villiers can have produced. England's reaction to his hundred suggested the ill-feeling caused by a wrongly claimed slip catch had disappeared. At tea a couple of England players shook his hand. Flintoff's figures were the most frugal, but it was Anderson who deserved more wickets than he claimed. Flintoff failed to make the South African batsmen play as much as he should and there is a direct correlation between the number of wickets a bowler takes and the number of times the ball is aimed at the stumps. Anderson bowls a fuller length, which means he concedes more runs, but he created far more wicket-taking opportunities.
Broad is at the start of what should be an outstanding England career, but he too needs to tighten up his line and length. The summer may be taking its toll on the 22-year-old and the selectors may contemplate resting him for the third Test at Edgbaston. Should England lose here they will need an attack capable of taking 20 South African wickets. It could be time for Stephen Harmison to return; reliable sources say he has been bowling extremely well for Durham.
Anderson claimed England's second wicket of the day when Boucher bottom edged a pull shot on to his stumps and Morne Morkel soon followed him when he missed a drive at Panesar and was bowled. The wicket was Panesar's first in 83 overs.
With a double century seeming inevitable De Villiers edged Broad and Flintoff took a magnificent one-handed catch diving to his left at slip. Two wild slogs gave Panesar the final two wickets; wickets that made his figures appear rather flattering.
South Africa won the toss
England – First Innings 203
South Africa – First innings
N D McKenzie c Flintoff b Anderson ......... 15
69 min, 43 balls, 3 fours
*G C Smith c Strauss b Flintoff ......... 44
96 min, 67 balls, 8 fours
H M Amla lbw b Pattinson ......... 38
136 min, 79 balls, 5 fours
J H Kallis b Anderson ......... 4
13 min, 14 balls, 1 four
A G Prince c Ambrose b Pattinson ......... 149
401 min, 284 balls, 17 fours, 2 sixes
A B de Villiers c Flintoff b Broad ......... 174
518 min, 381 balls, 19 fours
†M V Boucher b Anderson ......... 34
109 min, 88 balls, 2 fours
M Morkel b Panesar ......... 0
10 min, 6 balls
P L Harris c Anderson b Panesar ......... 24
95 min, 76 balls, 1 four, 1 six
D W Steyn not out ......... 10
18 min, 13 balls, 2 fours
M Ntini c Pietersen b Panesar ......... 1
14 min, 13 balls
Extras (b 2, lb 19, w 1, nb 7, pens 0) ......... 29
Total (744 mins, 176.2 overs) ......... 522
Fall: 1-51 (McKenzie),2-69 (Smith), 3-76 (Kallis),4-143 (Amla),5-355 (Prince),6-422 (Boucher),7-427 (Morkel),8-511 (de Villiers),9-511 (Harris),10-522 (Ntini).
Bowling: Anderson 44-9-136-3 (4-0-11-0 12-4-34-2 5-1-15-0 7-1-23-0 9-3-21-0 4-0-14-1 3-0-18-0), Pattinson 30-2-95-2 (nb1) (3-0-16-0 6-0-17-1 1-0-7-0 3-0-9-0 3-0-13-0 7-2-17-1 4-0-6-0 3-0-10-0), Flintoff 40-12-77-1 (nb4) (3-1-6-0 10-1-20-1 6-3-4-0 4-1-15-0 5-2-12-0 3-1-2-0 5-2-6-0 4-1-12-0), Broad 29-2-114-1 (nb2,w1) (4-1-14-0 4-0-23-0 6-0-20-0 2-0-5-0 2-1-4-0 2-0-9-0 5-0-21-0 4-0-18-1), Panesar 29.2-6-65-3 (12-2-33-0 1-0-3-0 2-1-1-0 11-1-21-1 3.2-2-7-2), Pietersen 4-0-14-0 (2-0-8-0 1-0-1-0 1-0-5-0).
England - Second innings
A J Strauss c Boucher b Ntini ......... 0
15 min, 13 balls
A N Cook not out ......... 23
114 min, 79 balls, 3 fours
*M P Vaughan c Boucher b Ntini ......... 21
90 min, 53 balls, 3 fours
J M Anderson not out ......... 0
7 min, 2 balls
Extras (b 0, lb 2, w 1, nb 3, pens 0) ......... 6
Total (2 wkts, 114 mins, 24 overs) ......... 50
Fall: 1-3 (Strauss), 2-50 (Vaughan).
To bat: K P Pietersen, I R Bell, †T R Ambrose, A Flintoff, S C J Broad, M S Panesar, D J Pattinson.
Bowling: Steyn 8-2-20-0 (one spell), Ntini 9-3-16-2 (nb1,w1) (5-1-13-1 4-2-3-1), Morkel 7-2-12-0 (nb2).
Umpires: B F Bowden and D J Harper
TV replay umpire: R A Kettleborough
Match referee: J J Crowe.
*TODAY: Weather: Cloudy, but with some sunny spells. Max temp: 18C.
Live 10.30-19.00, Sky Sports 1
Highlights 19.15-20.00 Five; 00.30-02.30 Sky Sports 1
*TOMORROW Weather: Cloud and light showers. Max temp: 21C.
Live 10.30-18.00, Sky Sports 1
Highlights 19.15-20.00 Five; 23.00-01.00 Sky Sports 1
Shot of the day
A B de Villiers' judgement of what to play and leave was outstanding until the South African tail began to emerge. Then he started to show how delightful his stroke play is. His cutting was magnificent but he played two sumptuous drives through extra cover off Stuart Broad just before his demise. It was impossible to pick which was best.
Ball of the day
After almost 180 overs in the field the last thing an opening batsman needs at the start of his innings is a snorter that rises sharply off a good length and flies at your arm pit. But that is just the ball Andrew Strauss received from Makhaya Ntini, South Africa's most experienced bowler. As he walked off Strauss would have realised it was not his day.
Moment of the day
Andrew Flintoff failed to take a wicket on the third day but he was involved in its most memorable moment. A B de Villiers looked set for a double hundred when, on 174, he drove at a full ball from Stuart Broad and edged a ball low to first slip. Flintoff, fielding at second slip dived full length and low to his left to take a brilliant one-handed catch.Reuse content