Butcher and Trescothick give England the edge
Close England 197 for 3 (Hussain 14*, Smith 0*) trail South Africa 342 (Kirsten 130, Zondeki 59) by 145 runs.
Mark Butcher hits one of his 11 fours in his 77
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A sparkling 142-run stand between Mark Butcher and Marcus Trescothick gave England the honours of the second day of the fourth npower Test at Headingley. After South Africa had kept England waiting in the field for the majority of the morning session to reach 342, Butcher and Trescothick made up for lost time as England closed on 197 for 3, 145 runs behind.
They initially had to ride some tight and effective seam bowling after Michael Vaughan was unluckily dismissed shortly after lunch. But as the ball, and the bowlers, lost their zip, they picked up the pace in style. Butcher emphatically cover-drove Andrew Hall to get going, and Trescothick followed that with a cracking straight-drive off Monde Zondeki. Perhaps Zondeki was feeling the effects of his unexpected batting heroics, as he had to leave the field in the afternoon session with a side-strain.
The bowlers charged in and swung the ball, but England's two left-handers became more assured and latched on to anything loose. Butcher was in sparkling form. After he had Hall for two boundaries in three balls, he brought up his fifty with a sumptuous square-cut in Hall's next over. It took Butcher 74 balls to score his half-century, and Trescothick struggled to keep up. He brought his fifty up in 116 balls, with another punishing square-cut, this time off Makhaya Ntini.
The pair continued to smash the ball to all parts, and England were rampant. But just as Graeme Smith was scratching his head, the umpires brought out the light-meters and, surprisingly, the batsmen accepted their offer, much to the crowd's disgust. They re-emerged 20 minutes later and in a late twist to the day, Jacques Kallis struck back with the wickets of Trescothick and then Butcher to give South Africa a much-needed boost.
He first took a wonder catch off his own bowling. Attempting to whip a fullish ball through the leg side, Trescothick (59) clipped a leading edge which Kallis athletically clung onto diving to his right (169 for 2). He then conjured a beauty of an awayswinger which Butcher nibbled to Mark Boucher for a dazzling 77 (193 for 3).
Nasser Hussain was again in good touch, stroking three fours in his 14 not out, while Ed Smith had to face only three balls before the players again went off for bad light, this time for good, with 16 overs unbowled in the day.
Kallis's two late wickets may have taken sojme of the shine off England's day, but their solid performance will help Vaughan to forget not only another unlucky dismissal - the ball rolled off his bat and clipped his leg stump, just dislodging a bail - but also a frustrating morning in which it took England an hour and 45 minutes to wrap up the South African first innings.
James Anderson finally ended the 150-run eighth-wicket partnership when Zondeki edged him to Butcher for a gutsy 59. Gary Kirsten continued in his determined manner until he lofted Kabir Ali straight to Martin Bicknell at mid-on for a magnificent 130. It was a tame ending to one of the finest of his 18 Test hundreds, which was the cornerstone of South Africa's fighting innings.
Ntini further irritated England by clubbing 32 not out, including four boundaries. He added 26 with Dewald Pretorius, who hung around until he nicked James Kirtley to Alec Stewart, leaving England to face one over before lunch. This time Trescothick survived, and went on to help set up another intriguing day's play tomorrow.