August 1, 2003

Another record for Smith as South Africa press on ... and on

Close South Africa 412 for 2 (Smith 214*, Dippenaar 11*) lead England 173 by 239 runs

Victor and vanquished: Graeme Smith celebrates another hundred as Anderson looks on

On a day of South African domination and English depression, Graeme Smith added yet more records to his already bulging scrap book on day two of the second npower Test match at Lord's. Smith ended the day on a commanding 214 not out and shared a record second-wicket partnership of 257 with Gary Kirsten as they piled on the runs - and misery - against a totally demoralised and lifeless England, who performed so poorly they were embarrassingly out of their depth.

Where do you start with Smith? He followed his 277 and 85 in the first Test with the highest score for his country at Lord's. He has become the second South African to score two double hundreds against England. And he has equalled none other than Donald Bradman's record of a double century in consecutive Tests against them. Oh, and he joined Bradman, Wally Hammond and Vinod Kambli as the only players to hit doubles in successive matches. Not bad for a 22-year-old.

His double century was a memorable moment. After he pushed Anthony McGrath through the on side, he roared with delight and punched his fists in the air as the whole of Lord's saluted a remarkable achievement from a player who knows no boundaries and shows no mercy. Add to that a 17th Test hundred from Gary Kirsten - his first at Lord's - and it tells its own story.

Smith raised his bat for an astonishing eighth time in the series as he strolled past 200, including a rollicking 29 fours, as he toyed with the one-dimensional bowling attack. England obviously still haven't worked out how to bowl to him and it all looked so easy as he and Kirsten ground down Michael Vaughan and his not-so-merry men. England were lacking any buzz or sparkle whatsoever in the field as their impending doom thickened around a murky Lord's. Their nightmare day dragged on and on and in the end, they were grateful to Smith for accepting the offer of bad light with 18 overs remaining.

While Smith carried on smashing anything short (of which there was a lot) through midwicket and smearing any rare full balls through cover, Kirsten stood up to join in the fun with his captain. He cashed in on anything wide on the off-side, which he cut and drove with precision, and he saved the best of them all to bring up the 200 partnership with a ripping hook off Steve Harmison.

Dropped on 54 by Mark Butcher at second slip, Kirsten went to 99 with a caressing leg glance and then matched that with a classy cover-drive off Darren Gough to reach his century of 229 balls, including 14 fours. It was some surprise then, when it was McGrath, who had yet to bowl in this series, who was relieved England of some of their depression when he bowled Kirsten through the gate (390 for 2). It ended a 257-run partnership between Kirsten and Smith, which has put South Africa well on the way to an unbeatable position.

It just wasn't England's day. Rain delayed the start by an hour and fifteen minutes, and while South Africa clicked straight back into gear, the bowlers continued to stall. The out-of-sorts James Anderson needed to startle Smith and Kirsten with some of his wicket-taking beauties, but he scattered it around like a can of (red) hair spray.

Gough toiled with no luck, and Harmison again bowled too short. Andrew Flintoff and Ashley Giles plugged away, and managed some control over the batsmen, but none of them bowled well enough to get England back in to the game.

On a harrowing day for Vaughan, Anderson's dip in form is a big worry. His second ball set the tone of the day - dragged down the leg-side and easily clipped for four by Smith. Whether he has a problem bowling to left-handers or whether he is thinking about his run-up, he has lost his line - and potency. Everything was chucked down the leg-side, and the sight of the smiling boy wonder rattling batsmen's stumps felt a long time ago when, after hurling the ball back at Kirsten in a token attempt to hit the stumps, he exchanged snarling sneers with Smith.

Harmison got an early chance to shine, but his first ball was short and wide, and cut for a boundary by guess who? Vaughan may feel like he's in a no-win situation, and judging by the way Smith is dominating the game and the series at the moment, you can't blame him.

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