Bell tolls for the sorry Proteas

2009-12-30 00:00

THE English may have invented most puddings, but the Proteas have made a fine crumble out of the Boxing Day Test at Kingsmead.

After a prolonged batting effort, Andrew Strauss declared on a cavernous 575 for nine to give his bowlers an afternoon tilt at a wilting Proteas side yesterday.

And how well they twisted the knife home.

At 76 for six, when the umpires offered them the light, South Africa found themselves up the creek with a deficit of 156 and just four wickets in hand.

It was almost impossible to imagine that these sides are playing on the same featherbed of a strip, as the South African batting spine simply caved in under a siege of accurate bowling by the tourists.

Buoyed by a passionate band of supporters, England seized the moment to push decisively ahead in this enthralling series.

The longer this match has dragged on, the more it has resembled an away match for Graeme Smith’s men.

Their English counterparts have looked infinitely more comfortable when performing both fundamentals of the game, with Ian Bell kicking off the day by chalking up a much-needed century.

He took the words of his critics — which include this correspondent — and rammed them back down our throats with a fluent 141.

The words of Mickey Arthur and Smith ahead of this clash could not have backfired any more spectacularly.

The two “weak links” in the tourists’ line-up have contributed a combined 259 runs, and in the process reduced South Africa’s bowling attack to a very average-looking unit.

Such was the lack of penetration by the home side’s attack that it was JP Duminy who garnered the most success, as England looked to press on after lunch.

Matt Prior went to 50 with a six over square leg, while Bell reached three figures by skipping down the track and lofting the ineffective Paul Harris over long-on.

And when Strauss tired of watching his middle order feasting on a toothless SA attack, he chucked the ball to his own band of leather flingers.

Ashwell Prince was lucky to survive the first ball as he groped unconvincingly at James Anderson’s first offering.

He didn’t last too long, though, as he fell yet again to the tireless Graeme Swann.

The off-spinner, who had insisted on the second day that England could still win this match, lived up to his reputation as a slayer of left-handers. Prince, usually so positive against slow bowling, has looked uncomfortable against Swann all summer.

His inside edge flew to Bell at silly point, via his front pad, and from there the casualties quickly mounted.

Hashim Amla completed a poor match with the bat by being bowled through the gate on the stroke of tea by Swann for six.

The break did little quench to England’s thirst for more local blood, though, and the demise of Jacques Kallis really had the visitors fired up.

Stuart Broad, jagging the ball in at pace, looked on with delight as Kallis simply shouldered arms to a delivery that was arrowed to his off-stump.

As if that was not enough, AB de Villiers committed the same crime and was adjudged lbw as Broad flicked the top of his back pad.

The obligatory referral was not enough to convince the third umpire otherwise, and the Proteas were in all sorts of strife at 44 for 4.

That became 44 for five a ball later, as Duminy’s attempted leave only resulted in a bottom edge on to his stumps.

Smith, watching the capitulation from the other end, joined the mass exodus when he was trapped in front by the irrepressible Swann.

At 50 for six, the Proteas were in danger of being bundled out last night, but Mark Boucher and Morné Morkel postponed the agony of defeat until some time this morning.

Makhaya Ntini may yet be the fall guy, but there are plenty of Proteas who are in blooming bleak form.

SCOREBOARD

South Africa first innings 343 (G. Smith 75, J. Kallis 75)

England first innings (overnight 386/5)

A. Strauss b Morkel54

A. Cook c Kallis b Morkel118

J. Trott c Boucher b Morkel18

K. Pietersen lbw Morkel31

P. Collingwood c Boucher b Duminy91

I. Bell c Boucher b Steyn141

M. Prior b Duminy60

S. Broad c Kallis b Duminy20

G. Swann c Prince b Steyn22

J. Anderson not out1

G. Onions not out2

Extras (10lb, 1nb, 6w)17

TOTAL (for 9 decl, 170 overs)575

Fall of wickets: 1-71 2-103 3-155 4-297 5-365 6-477 7-535 8-565 9-569

Bowling: Steyn 34-6-94-2, Ntini 31-4-115-0, Morkel 31-6-78-3 (3w), Kallis 14-1-43-0 (1nb), Harris 38-4-146-1 (3w), Duminy 24-1-89-3

South Africa second innings

A. Prince c Bell b Swann16

G. Smith lbw b Swann22

H. Amla b Swann6

J. Kallis b Broad3

A. de Villiers lbw b Broad2

J-P. Duminy b Broad0

M. Boucher not out20

M. Morkel not out7

Extras0

TOTAL (for 6; 32 overs) 76

Fall of wickets: 1-27 2-37 3-40 4-44 5-44 6-50

Bowling: Anderson 7-1-24-0, Onions 4-1-12-0, Swann 12-3-22-3, Broad 9-2-18-3

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