England deny hosts in thrilling final act

South Africa 418 & 301-7 England 356 & 228-9

Amid heart-stopping drama which only one form of cricket and perhaps only one sport can produce, England escaped with a draw in the First Test yesterday. For the second time in six months they had only one paltry wicket remaining when the end finally came after a compelling climax.

Throughout most of the final day it seemed as if they would rely on two South Africans, Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, to repel the Proteas. But at the last it was two yeomen from Durham who ensured that the series stayed level at 0-0 with three matches to play.

Paul Collingwood faced 99 balls for his unbeaten 26 as South Africa tore through England with the second new ball, but it was Graham Onions who faced the six, nerve-shredding balls of the final over. So accomplished was he in fending off Makhaya Ntini, in his 100th Test match, that it seemed almost routine.

For a few overs, South Africa looked irresistible. Friedel de Wet, in his first Test match, was fast, accurate and achieved pace and movement while Morne Morkel at the other end was scarcely less potent. England, 201 for four when South Africa threw the dice one last time by taking the new ball, swiftly slipped to 218 for nine. The kitchen sink accompanied every delivery and presiding over it all was South Africa's captain, Graeme Smith, who sported a huge pair of sunglasses with green lenses. For all the world, he resembled an anti-superhero from the pages of a Marvel comic.

The day was split into three distinct parts. England were in profound peril at the start of it after losing two early wickets, the nightwatchman Jimmy Anderson and their other opener, Alastair Cook, to the first ball he received from Paul Harris.

When Pietersen joined Trott, the tourists were 27 for three. Remedial work was needed and it could not be done quickly. Pietersen did not play his normal game but he would not be subjugated either. If the ball was there to hit, he hit it. Trott was different altogether, willing himself to stay in, rarely playing an attacking stroke.

As was the case throughout the match, when the hardness went out of the ball the pitch seemed a wholly different proposition. Neither Pietersen nor Trott could have more thoroughly displayed their credentials to play for their adopted country against the country in which they were born and raised. Perhaps it helped them to know what to expect from their erstwhile compatriots.

When their stand reached 145 – Pietersen was 19 runs short of a hundred and the pair were steering England expertly towards safety – there occurred a spectacularly crazy moment which will keep television blooper programmes in business for decades. Early in the final session, which was promising to bring a shake of hands on the draw sooner rather than later, Pietersen gently pushed a ball from De Wet into the covers. For reasons that might have defied logic in the World Twenty20 final with one run needed to win off the final ball he set off for a single.

Trott did not respond, Pietersen kept going and De Wet, in his follow-through, had the simple job of removing the bails at the striker's end with nary a batsman in sight. But that was not the moment on which the Test match hinged, for it merely brought in Collingwood, one of the heroes of the Cardiff Test last July when England drew with nine wickets down.

Collingwood set out his stall as he did that day. He might as well have pulled up a drawbridge and nailed some armour plating across it for all the chances he gave South Africa to pass. Trott was of similar disposition.

But suddenly, it changed. In the second over with the new ball, De Wet unleashed a ferocious delivery at Trott which lifted and took the shoulder of the bat. AB de Villiers, at third slip, held a wonderful one-handed catch, diving low to his left.

This was the signal for the match to shift on its axis. Ian Bell also received a ball that bounced higher than he might have liked and moved a fraction, but unfortunately he was a willing accomplice in dabbing at it. Mark Boucher took the resultant edge which was hardly in a lesser category than its immediate predecessor.

Matt Prior also received a snorter and the unsung De Wet had three wickets in 19 balls. He could have had more. Smith shrewdly brought on Harris to bowl at the left-handed Stuart Broad, sensing the change of pace might do the trick. Broad duly edged to give Boucher his fifth catch.

England, more in hope than expectation, asked for the decision to be reviewed but the verdict was a foregone conclusion. So it was when Graeme Swann, man of the match for heroics much earlier in the piece, was pinned leg-before with one from Morkel that scuttled.

In came Onions. He looked calm, he played calmly. But when the batsmen took a single off the fourth ball of the penultimate over it left Onions at the danger end for the last six balls. He negotiated them with aplomb and England, as they did in Cardiff, lived to fight another day.

Centurion Park: Scoreboard

Match drawn

England won toss

SOUTH AFRICA First Innings 418 (Kallis 120, Duminy 56; Swann 5-110).

ENGLAND First Innings 356 (Collingwood 50, Swann 85; Harris 5-123).

SOUTH AFRICA Second Innings

Friday Overnight: 9-1

*G C Smith b Onions......... 12

36 balls 1 four

P L Harris b Anderson......... 11

17 balls 2 four

H M Amla b Anderson......... 100

213 balls 10 fours

J H Kallis c Cook b Broad......... 4

32 balls

A B de Villiers c Bell b Broad......... 64

101 balls 6 fours 1 sixes

J P Duminy c Collingwood b Swann......... 11

27 balls 2 fours

†M V Boucher not out......... 63

72 balls 9 fours 1 sixes

M Morkel not out......... 22

13 balls 4 fours

Extras (lb 10, w 4)......... 14

Total (7 wkts dec, 85.5 overs)......... 301

Fall: 1-2 (Prince), 2-20 (Harris), 3-34 (Smith), 4-46 (Kallis), 5-165 (de Villiers), 6-191 (Duminy), 7-266 (Amla).

Did not bat: M Ntini, F de Wet.

Bowling: J Anderson 20.5-1-73-4, G Onions 16-3-50-1, S Broad 16-5-58-2, G Swann 27-3-91-0, P Collingwood 6-1-19-0.

ENGLAND Second Innings

*A Strauss c Boucher b Ntini......... 1

3 balls

A Cook c Smith b Harris......... 12

56 balls 1 four

J Anderson c Boucher b de Wet......... 10

23 balls 2 fours

J Trott c de Villiers b de Wet......... 69

212 balls 7 fours

K Pietersen run out (de Wet)......... 81

143 balls 10 fours

P Collingwood not out......... 26

99 balls 6 fours

I Bell c Boucher b de Wet......... 2

10 balls

†M Prior c Boucher b de Wet......... 0

9 balls

S Broad c Boucher b Harris......... 0

5 balls

G Swann lbw b Morkel......... 2

15 balls

G Onions not out......... 1

12 balls

Extras (b 10, lb 3, nb 11)......... 24

Total (9 wkts, 96 overs)......... 228

Fall: 1-5 (Strauss), 2-16 (Anderson), 3-27 (Cook), 4-172 (Pietersen), 5-205 (Trott), 6-207 (Bell), 7-208 (Prior), 8-209 (Broad), 9-218 (Swann).

Bowling: M Ntini 18-7-41-0, M Morkel 18-3-46-2, P Harris 26-11-51-2, F de Wet 23-8-55-4, J Duminy 8-2-17-0, J Kallis 3-1-5-0.

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) & S J Davis (Aus).

TV replay umpire : A M Saheba (India).

Player of the match: Swann.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?