August 16, 2003

Trescothick wicket puts icing on South Africa's day

Close England 445 and 0 for 1 (Vaughan 0*) lead South Africa 362 (McKenzie 90, Anderson 5-102) by 83 runs

Worth a shout: Andrew Flintoff roars with delight after trapping Mark Boucher lbw

Marcus Trescothick's wicket to the final ball of the evening rounded off a fruitful day of fight, with a touch of finesse, for South Africa in the third npower Test at Trent Bridge. After a dramatic start by James Kirtley, who took two wickets in as many balls, South Africa were hauled right back in to the contest by some determined and, at times, dazzling batting from Neil McKenzie, Mark Boucher and Shaun Pollock.

McKenzie and Boucher led the fightback for South Africa with an 129-run partnership, as England lost their way after a good morning in which they took three quick wickets. McKenzie was solid in defence and looked to get forward at every opportunity, stroking a host of superb cover-drives in his 11 boundaries. He and Boucher batted throughout the afternoon session and they passed the follow-on target with ease as the England bowlers couldn't match their good early work. McKenzie played a cracking square cut off Steve Harmison and brought up his 11th Test fifty with a classical cover-drive two balls later.

The new ball didn't faze him either. He drove Harmison for another four to signal the hundred partnership. Boucher, meanwhile, was happy to play second fiddle to McKenzie as he quietly went about his business. It was the highest sixth-wicket stand for South Africa against England and it squashed England's early spark and zest in the field as they, like the pitch, went strangely flat.

Harmison missed the evening session with a thigh strain, but James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff did temporarily lift England's spirits again after their wicketless afternoon. Anderson struck to give England, and himself, a boost when he ended McKenzie's eye-catching innings. Anderson bowled a good length ball outside off which McKenzie drove at loosely and edged to Trescothick at first slip (261 for 6). It was uncharacteristic lapse of concentration from McKenzie who fell 10 runs short of what would have been a well-deserved hundred.

Boucher continued to play cautiously until he was adjudged lbw by Daryl Harper. Flintoff nipped one back off the seam and hit Boucher on the back pad for a dogged and effective 48 (284 for 7).

Cue Pollock. He strode out with a purpose and batted with one. He played his shots from the off, carting Anderson through the covers and spanking Flintoff past midwicket among his nine boundaries. He's in good form and he played a crucial cameo for South Africa, guiding them under the 100-deficit mark and frustrating England's progress.

Pollock received handy support from the tail as well. Andrew Hall was beginning to fire until Anderson squeezed one through his defence for 15 (309 for 8). Paul Adams then hung around for a niggly 13 and put on 28 with Pollock before his stumps were shattered by an Anderson offcutter (337 for 9). Pollock was eventually out for 62 when he lofted Anderson (5 for 102) to Kirtley at mid-on, but those 62 runs could be vital come the end of the match.

But don't forget McKenzie. He may have a bad back, but he was the backbone of the innings and was their one shining light in their bleak morning, in which England made an explosive start. Kirtley took his first Test wicket, and his second the very next ball, as South Africa struggled to come to terms on a pitch of increasingly uneven bounce. Jacques Rudolph thick-edged an off-stump delivery to Alec Stewart for 15 (88 for 3). Boeta Dippenaar then fell to a big inducker that rapped him on the pads plumb in front of middle (88 for 4). Jacques Kallis was never comfortable and he played a miscalculated leave to Anderson as the ball crashed in to his off stump.

South Africa were reeling at 132 for 5 at that stage, but McKenzie and Pollock battled hard to leave the match finely balanced. And this evening, South Africa will feel things have swung right back their way after Harper incorrectly adjudged that Trescothick gloved Pollock to Adams at short leg. It was the first ball of England's second innings, and the last of an intriguing day's play.

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