England Fight But Petersen Hits Ton
South Africa 262-5 (Petersen 124no) v
Second Test, Headingley, Day One
It was a much-improved, but still far from perfect, performance from England with the ball on day one of the second Test at Headingley. Alviro Petersen blunted England’s attack throughout the day and ended on 124 not out, his fourth Test century, to guide his side to stumps on 262 for five.
England had surprised many at the start of the day by dropping Graeme Swann, ending his run of 43 successive Test matches, and recalling Steven Finn to add a bit of pace to their bowling attack. They sprung another surprise when they won the toss and invited South Africa to bat in what were not particularly bowler-friendly conditions – a fact which was underlined by Graeme Smith’s insistence that he would have batted anyway.
Indeed, his reading of the pitch proved to be better as South Africa batted throughout the first session without losing a wicket; although there were one or two alarms along the way. Steven Finn thought he had Graeme Smith caught at slip for six only for umpire Steve Davis to call dead ball due to Finn’s repeated dismantling of the stumps at the bowler’s end during his delivery stride. This particular decision had the punters scrambling for the rule books, but Davis was proved correct as Law 23.4 (vi) states that either umpire can call dead ball if “the striker is distracted by any noise or movement or in any other way while he is preparing to receive of receiving a delivery.”
The other moment of good fortune for the tourists belonged to Alviro Petersen, who edged a regulation catch into the slip cordon only for Alastair Cook to shell the chance when on 29. His mistake was to prove very costly as the day wore on.
All of which meant that South Africa reached lunch on 84 without loss and the words Hussain and Brisbane were being muttered around the ground. However, the fact was that Andrew Strauss had been let down by his bowlers, not to mention one particular slip fielder, with Stuart Broad again looking well short of his best, and James Anderson and Tim Bresnan still lacking that elusive ‘nip’.
After lunch, things looked to be heading in a similar direction as Smith and Petersen brought up the century opening stand and England marked 10 hours since the last time they had taken a South African wicket. Fortunately for them, Smith fell shortly afterwards when he flicked an inswinger from Tim Bresnan straight into the lap of Ian Bell at square-leg, who, Strauss will argue, had been positioned there precisely for that stroke.
Tormentor-in-chief from The Oval Hashim Amla then entered the fray and played erratically before being dismissed for nine. He inside-edged a ball down to fine-leg, before driving a ball sweetly on the up through the covers, as well as playing and missing at a couple. He was to fall, though, to a calamitous misunderstanding as he and Petersen attempted a third run, only for Amla to be left a yard short at the striker’s end.
So England had two wickets, neither of which were really earnt by their bowlers, but at this stage the cloud began to role in and the ball began to swing and seam around. The home side’s all seam attack, perhaps encouraged by the better conditions on offer, started to bowl much better and look a little more like the attack they have over the past three years.
James Anderson accounted for Jacques Kallis, caught at slip by none other than Alastair Cook, for 19. The rain then arrived and halted their momentum, but England would have been pleased with the mini-session – they had taken three South African wickets at a cost of 37 runs.
After the resumption, AB de Villiers and Petersen played extremely cautiously and negated England’s threat. They survived through to the second new ball, Petersen bringing up three figures in the process, before de Villiers played slightly late to a delivery from Stuart Broad and was bowled. Broad’s spell with the new ball was at least three times better than his earlier ones and he appeared to, at last, be rediscovering some of his rhythm.
Finn was the next to strike, castling night-watchman Dale Steyn with a beauty which just seamed away enough to beat his outside edge. This brought Jacques Rudolph to the wicket for the final 11 balls, but he survived without too much alarm to partner Petersen through to the close on 262 for five.
The first hour tomorrow, as is so often the case on the second morning of a Test match, will be vital. England still have a relatively new ball at their disposal and will want rid of at least one of the two set batsmen. One factor in their favour is that Rudolph and JP Duminy have struggled for time in the middle so far on this tour, mainly thanks to Amla and co’s excellence, but they must remember that before today the same could have been said of Petersen, and he scored 124.
© Cricket World 2012
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