England toil as Strauss's gambles fail to pay out

Captain's decision to make South Africa bat backfires while tourists waste both of their referrals
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The Independent Online

England's cricketers were left to rue several decisions of their own making yesterday following a difficult first day of the first Test against South Africa at Centurion Park.

Andrew Strauss chose to send the South Africans into bat on a greenish wicket that looked like it would assist the bowlers, only for the home side to finish the day on 262 for 4 with Jacques Kallis undefeated on 112.

Before play the tourists had also opted to select just the four front-line bowlers and bring batsman Ian Bell in at No 6, a choice that was looking regrettable as the final, wicketless, session played out. Their cause was not helped by seamer Graham Onions missing the middle of the day due to a calf strain.

The early part of the action was dominated by the controversial new television referral system, which also prompted England into some poor decision-making as they wasted their two chances to have appeals overturned.

It started so well for England when they had the South African captain, Graeme Smith, dismissed for a duck but there were only three further dismissals in more than six hours. Kallis survived an lbw appeal review on 35 when James Anderson thought he had hit him in front – except his bat made clear contact with the ball.

Ashwell Prince had earlier benefited from a successful first recourse in this series to the new system when on his way to a typically stoic 45, Steve Davis overturned his own lbw verdict. England then wasted an appeal going for a caught behind off Swann's bowling.

England need early wickets this morning or a long day in the field beckons and they will be playing catch up so soon in the series.