Wickets galore at Newlands

2010-01-05 00:00

WHAT a day of Test cricket! The morning alone was enough entertainment to see us well into February, and things finally mellowed as England hustled their way to 241 for 7 in pursuit of South Africa’s 291.

But what a first hour at Newlands.

Not even Oliver could have written all these twists. But we are all begging for some more please from an unforgettable Newlands affair.

Seldom has there been so much traffic in the changing rooms as South Africa were blitzed out in all of 23 balls before they bit back with three quick wickets of their own.

These two fine sides are so evenly matched that it is useless trying to predict the outcome.

All we can hope for is that Graeme Smith’s men find it in them to bat well enough to win this game and set up a mouthwatering finale at the Wanderers.

First-day centurion Jacques Kallis lasted one ball, but what an absolute snorter it was. Graham Onions has bowled better than any other bowler in this series, but he has got scant reward for his efforts.

The problem is that his balls have been too good at times, and Kallis’s only fault was that he was good enough to get a touch on Onions’s latest peach early yesterday.

From having designs on 350 and beyond, the Proteas suddenly disappeared in a blaze of fine swing bowling by James Anderson.

The Burnley product claimed an eighth five-wicket haul as he mopped up the South African tail, much to the delight of the Barmy Army.

They were not dancing for long, though, as Smith’s inspired decision to open with Morné Morkel paid off. Morkel has come of age in this series, and he has become increasingly comfortable with the role of the enforcer for the South African pace attack.

He got the England captain to nick off a fine delivery that lifted and veered away, and suddenly the Proteas had hope.

That turned to ecstacy as Dale Steyn, fired up by his relegation to first-change bowler, did for both Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen in the space of three balls.

Trott simply failed to sort out his feet and played on, but the fall of Pietersen was down to a fine return catch by Steyn.

His delirious celebration showed just how much it meant, but England’s Alastair Cook stood firm in the red-hot cauldron.

Morkel’s pace was also too much for Paul Collingwood, and suddenly the Test match was alive with intrigue.

Ian Bell, notorious for scoring runs only when the going is good, strode to the wicket intent on building on last week’s fine century.

He and Cook got through to tea, before the opener limply gave his lot away for 65. He had been brutal against the under-fire Paul Harris, but his mindless chip to sqaure leg straight after tea saw the momentum shift once again.

Bell played a similarly reckless stroke, carving a Kallis long-hop to a grateful JP Duminy at point.

Suddenly the Proteas had a sniff of a big lead in the unlikeliest of circumstances, but they had not reckoned on Matt Prior.

The England gloveman had started his innings with as much elegance as a newborn gazelle, but he soon got into his stride with some fine backfoot play.

His undefeated half-century was priceless for the visitors, and they will be desperate for him to continue with the cavalier Graeme Swann this morning.

The Proteas, meanwhile, will look to do an England job on the Poms and wrap up things in a blaze of pace and swing.

The Newlands Test has hurtled along at a merry old pace, and there seems little chance of either side slowing down just yet.

The Proteas know that defeat is not an option, and their talented middle order is due for an imposing total.

Teams chasing at Newlands have not been too succesful, so Smith and his batters will know that they are one massive innings away from pulling level in the most competitive of series seen on these shores in ages.

SCOREBOARD

South Africa first innings (o/n 279/6)

G Smith c Prior b Anderson30

A Prince c Prior b Anderson0

H Amla lbw Onions14

J Kallis c Prior b Onions108

A de Villiers c Strauss b Swann36

J Duminy c Prior b Swann0

M Boucher lbw Broad51

D Steyn c Trott b Anderson26

M Morkel c Swann b Anderson0

P Harris not out10

F de Wet lbw Anderson0

Extras (1b, 13lb, 1nb, 1w)16

TOTAL (all out)291 - 86,1 overs

Fow: 1-1 , 2-46 , 3-51, 4-127 , 5-127 , 6-216, 7-280, 8-280, 9-281, 10-291

Bowling: Anderson 21.1-1-63-5 (1nb, 1w), Onions 20-4-69-2, Broad 19-6-54-1, Swann 22-1-74-2, Pietersen 4-0-17-0

England first innings

A Strauss c Boucher b Morkel2

A Cook c Prince b Morkel65

J Trott b Steyn20

K Pietersen c and b Steyn0

P Collingwood lbw Morkel19

I Bell c Duminy b Kallis48

M Prior not out52

S Broad b Steyn25

G Swann not out not out5

Extras (2lb,1nb, 2w)5

Total (for 7 wkts) 241 - 82 overs

Fow: 1-2, 2-36, 3-36, 4-73, 5-133, 6-174, 7-227

Bowling: Morkel 19-3-57-3 (1w), De Wet 16-3-36-0 (1nb), Steyn 19-5-64-3, Kallis 14-2-27-1 (1w), Harris 9-0-39-0, Duminy 5-0-16-0.

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