Rain brings curtain down on series for England

South Africa 211 England 7-2 Match abandoned

England lost the Standard Bank Series last night as a coastal squall swept across the Kingsmead ground. If it was an unsatisfactory way to go, it was not as unfortunate as some of England's team selections in the past fortnight.

England lost the Standard Bank Series last night as a coastal squall swept across the Kingsmead ground. If it was an unsatisfactory way to go, it was not as unfortunate as some of England's team selections in the past fortnight.

With one match still to go - proving that all circuses eventually run out of towns to visit - the tourists are 3-1 down to South Africa. Had the weather been kinder, they might have made it 3-2 but then again, given their recent, disjointed performances, it could have ended prematurely.

South Africa were bowled out for 211 and England were seven for two after three overs in reply when the second heavy downpour came in from the sea. Rain might have saved them, who knows?

England could at least feel uplifted by their bowling performance. After losing a toss deemed unfairly to be crucial, the bowlers responded with their most efficient performance of the series. They were led admirably by the 34-year-old Darren Gough.

His has been a tour de force exhibition of accuracy throughout the series and he has rammed the words of the critics back down their throats. He is doing so now with a tramline haircut, having apparently taken his example from Kevin Pietersen's blond sidewinder stripe.

It could be argued that Gough is not fast enough to pose any threat with the new ball and he again missed out in his opening spell. But he went for only 14 runs in his nine overs and conceded no boundaries. On this form the 2007 World Cup is far from Gough merely talking a good game.

Nor was that all. Kabir Ali has occasionally been flayed to all parts in the past fortnight, but he is confident enough and just nippy enough not to have been unsettled. He has leapt ahead of several more illustrious bowlers.

And then there was one of the tour's forgotten men stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight. It was all probably a bit of fury signifying not much, but that was hardly Alex Wharf's fault.

He was surprisingly summoned - although given the recent random one-day selection policy perhaps it was entirely predictable - to be Gough's third opening partner of the series.

If you count James Anderson in the warm-up game, he was the fourth in seven games in two weeks, which proves either that England have a sensible seam bowling rotation policy or have not got a clue who to pick from one match to the next.

How long this one will last is open to question - though long-termism is not in prospect - but Wharf, at least, made a fist of it. He took three wickets, including two in two crucial ones with the new ball. This saw the removal of both Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.

At one for two, South Africa were not exactly on the ropes, given their batting depth, but they were hardly strutting in the centre of the ring either. Herschelle Gibbs ensured that they took advantage of the middle overs.

He was reluctant to bat at No 4 at the start of this series, and small wonder since he had scored 13 hundreds as an opener. But he has taken to his new role comfortably and scored his second century of the series.

There were some big shots but he restrained himself. At one point South Africa scored 49 consecutive singles, breaking the monotony when Mark Boucher at last swept a boundary. There were half-century partnerships for both the fourth and fifth wickets but England kept chipping away.

The first rains then arrived and reduced the match to 48 overs and England lost two quick wickets. The first was Marcus Trescothick, who is ending the tour as he has ended many before it, on a low note. He has scored 99 runs in six one-day innings and might have been rested.

The second was Geraint Jones (125 in six), and the experiment with him as callow opener rather than dashing number seven may now be brought to an end.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker