Jones swings Test England's way

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The Independent Online

Simon Jones emerged from two years of injury frustration to deliver a match-winning spell and put England firmly on course for an historic victory over South Africa in the opening Test.

Simon Jones emerged from two years of injury frustration to deliver a match-winning spell and put England firmly on course for an historic victory over South Africa in the opening Test.

The Glamorgan seamer, preferred to Lancashire's James Anderson for the start to this five Test series having missed out to his rival for the final three Tests of last summer's home series against West Indies, justified his selection with a match-winning spell at St George's Park.

Jones claimed four for 18 in a 7.1 overs spell after lunch on the fourth day as South Africa lost their last six wickets for 28 runs and slumped to 229 all out, leaving England a relatively comfortable victory target of 142.

By the time bad light stopped play 12 overs prematurely, England were on course to achieve that target on 93 for three having battled through a shaky start when they lost two wickets inside the first four overs of their reply and put them in sight of a record eighth successive Test triumph.

But for all the determination of their battling top order, it was Jones who today grabbed the limelight nearly two years after his career was put in doubt by a sickening cruciate injury to his right knee sustained diving in the field during the opening Test against Australia in Brisbane.

Having battled back from that horrific injury, which sidelined him from Test cricket for 15 months, and played his part in England's magnificent series triumph in West Indies last winter injuries once again interrupted his progress.

He was ruled out for the final two Tests against New Zealand last summer with a potential stress fracture of his right foot.

But England never lost faith in his ability to perform at the highest level.

Today he repaid the loyalty of coach Duncan Fletcher and captain Michael Vaughan with a stunning spell after being introduced into the attack six overs after the lunch interval.

South Africa, who resumed just 11 ahead on 99 for two, had progressed to 152 for three with Jacques Kallis looking ominous at the crease having scored a superb 61 when Jones struck with his second delivery to hit him on his back pad and win the appeal for leg before.

His next wicket was more fortunate with umpire Simon Taufel upholding an appeal for a catch behind when Shaun Pollock missed the ball with his defensive push, but Andrew Hall foiled his bid for a hat-trick.

Jones had to wait another 10 overs for his next breakthrough, but it showed his growing intelligence as a bowler at the highest level when he outwitted young wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile with a slower ball timed at 60mph which clipped his off-stump.

That was followed by a further leg before appeal won against Makhaya Ntini and South Africa's demise was complete two overs later when Hall was run out off a no-ball after taking on Graham Thorpe's throw from the deep.

Even without his superb bowling display, Jones had already played a major part in South Africa's slump by taking a stunning catch which earned the prized scalp of captain Graeme Smith and firmly ended fears of any psychological damage caused by his Brisbane injury.

Smith had progressed to his ninth Test century and forged a dangerous 88-run stand with Kallis which threatened to give England, chasing their 11th victory in the last 12 Tests, a formidable target to chase.

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