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England v South Africa, 1st Test, Lord's, 4th day
David Lloyd: Classic rearguard action
July 13, 2008
South Africa showed terrific application, it was classic Test match cricket, but the match is still far from over
 
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David Lloyd: "He [Graeme Smith] has shown what qualities he has got as a leader, as a fighter and as I say as a leader of his country" © Getty Images
 

Andrew Miller: David, South Africa finally came to the party: they batted incredibly diligently all through the day. Two centuries for Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie and they have given themselves a chance of saving the Test.

David Lloyd: Yes, they still have a lot of work to do, but it's been classic rearguard action, backs-to-the-wall Test match cricket. They applied themselves terrifically well, South Africa. Let's go back to what Mickey Arthur, the coach said, 'You haven't seen us play yet.' I suppose he would be delighted with the way they have been very determined on a real placid pitch.

We said all along that Monty Panesar might be the real danger with his four wickets in the first innings, but it spun really slowly today. There had been one or two pieces of action out of the rough, but by and large, I think South Africa have shown great will, great concentration and they deserved their hundreds, the pair of them.

AM: Well, Smith and McKenzie have got quite a reputation together; they recently broke the record for an opening stand, 415. They really love batting together?

DL: Yes, they were very watchful and it wasn't pretty at times. We talk, often, about Twenty20 cricket and what is going to happen to Test match cricket. If you like Test match cricket then this has been pretty good viewing if you like that sort of cricket. It was slow, it was two teams probing away at each other, and England had their moments during the innings and I thought they bowled pretty well. But it's that determination of playing for honour, I think that is something that needs to be said. When you have two countries, you are representing your country, you are playing for honour and you are not playing for dollars. And that's what puts Test match cricket apart from everything else.

AM: Let's talk a little bit more about Smith, because of course he is the man who everyone remember as the double centurion in 2003. It was a very different innings this time around.

DL: Yes, and I suppose he would also be thinking about his decision at the start of the match to invite England to bat first, which turned out to be a wrong decision. You have only two ways, you are either right or wrong, usually you get it right. All that to think about, and also England's 593 for 8 declared to think about, and his own team's batting performance to think about. So, I think, he has shown great character, he is a real fighter and you can tell that. He doesn't give his wicket away, and he is really difficult in that respect. He has shown what qualities he has got as a leader, as a fighter and as I say as a leader of his country.

AM: Let's come to England's bowlers now, because obviously they performed magnificently in the first innings and clearly their skill and that lack of pace in the team did not really matter, but on this occasion maybe they do after all need someone who has got a little bit of extra firepower to break through on a wicket like this.

DL: Well, it gathers momentum doesn't it? [Andrew] Flintoff is ready to come back in, and who will he replace and what does the team need. I think they have been terrific over the last six or seven Test matches and in this one, I think, they have been excellent. But, what do they need, do they need something extra? They tried really hard to get the ball to reverse-swing: Flintoff is a great exponent at that. So that might be the one thing that they need in these conditions; and we are not going to hear the last of that. As to who England is going to select for the second Test match, and Michael Vaughan would be thinking - `if I had a just about him on occasions here then we could have got that breakthrough.'

AM: So prospects for the final day - have they done enough to save it or is it going to be a final twist, you think?

DL: There is always a potential for a twist if you get a new batsmen in. [Hashim] Amla came to the crease and you could tell that England fancied him. A lot of short balls, and I think he survived pretty well, and he showed a fair amount of bravery and technique, he knew what was coming. So, South Africa have had a great day today, that is day four. They still need another great day tomorrow, because they are quite a way behind and if they have a clatter of wickets. If England suddenly go bang, bang, bang then there is a chance of a result going England's way.

AM: Well, it's all set up for an intriguing final day. You've been listening to Cricinfo Talk.

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Posted by fizzylegbreak on (July 14, 2008, 22:16 GMT)

Hmm.. I don't know.

After the 3rd day we had the Sky commentators cock-a-hoop about England's cricket, persistent comments about South Africa's supposedly over-rated bowling, fielding not up to previous years, their intimidated batting, McKenzie's superstitions and all that jazz.

Both and Nassy were gushing, Pietersen grinning ear to ear, Vaughn was striding around like a horny peacock, despite his truly dreadful batting. Again. This time put down to a fluke delivery by Steyn.

And I'm again reminded that England failed in this test, as they do in so many, by over reacting, by thinking the fight is over in the third round and by truly believing that they have mastered their opponents when it is just too soon to do so. Simply put, they thought they had this won when they still had ten wickets to get.

Headingly..I bet England are nervous. The SA batsmen are set andtheir bowlers will really be looking for blood.

Let's hope Freddy brings something special. But I doubt it.

Posted by TheAlpacinoOfSydney on (July 14, 2008, 9:02 GMT)

This test match is a perfect example of how test cricket is the ultimate game, and it will always be so. It test all the aspects of a player- their skill, mental endurence, stamina, athleticism and of course, technique. It also is an indication of a team's will, their desire to win a test, or save it from the ruins, like South Africa are doing against England. This test is McKenzie's coming of age as a test cricketer. He can adapt to different conditions very well, because of his technique and tempermant. Smith has an excellent technique, and plays extremely well in English conditions, but moreover, he has an unpreceedented willpower to win and save test matches, more than any player I have ever seen. Ian Bell has shown in this test that he has the skill to tackle a fast, consistent and accurate pace attack. His 199 was one of the finest innings I have ever seen and it was a sign of pure greatness. Those who have excelled in this test match have technique, skill and determination

Posted by Piet_RSA on (July 14, 2008, 7:02 GMT)

Thumbs up for test cricket. Whatever the hype of the short and extremely short versions of the game, South Africa and England have again demonstrated that test cricket will always retain its status.

Posted by Sudhey on (July 14, 2008, 5:27 GMT)

Though the English team has put up a heartwarming performance in the test, it is still too early to proclaim them the successors of Australia, because their young attack has until now been tested only on home conditions, or places with similar turfs. Their real challenge will come when they tour the likes of India and Sri Lanka, with dead pitches, rampaging batsmen and guileful spinners pitted against them.

Posted by Manoj1234 on (July 14, 2008, 4:05 GMT)

I like both 20-20 and test cricket and I really appreciate test cricket. Imagine the amount of guts it took for SA to get out of the hole. And I'm really looking forward to following the final day tomorrow. But an observation. There is only 1 comment I see thus far for this article. Cricinfo guys can probably tell better considering they know the stats on page hits , comments et al, but seems to me to be very less interest at least if you go by the number of comments on this article.

Posted by guptavipulv on (July 14, 2008, 3:04 GMT)

I know that there would be many who would not agree with me but I feel that England will be the team to dislodge Australia from their no. 1 status in the coming months at least in the Test arena. Consider the facts. A team needs 20 wickets to win a Test match and England have shown that they have enough firepower in their arsenal to do that. And when you think that bowlers of the calibre of a Flintoff, Hoggard, Harmison, Simon Jones are sitting out and banging furiously on the selectors doors than you know that the British bowling is in pretty good shape. And KP has clearly shown that he is a world class performer and if the other batters bat around him than they can pose a serious challenge to any team in the world. Admittedly their fielding looks a bit ragged on occasions but they have shown that they can overcome that particular deficiency. Even yestrerday what was heartening from Englands point of view was that the bowlers stuck to a good line and length on a placid pitch.

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