Rain offers England some respite

The Wisden Bulletin by Martin Williamson

July 25, 2003

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Close South Africa 398 for 1 (Gibbs 179, Smith 178*) v England
Scorecard



A fed-up Graeme Smith at a soggy Edgbaston

Heavy rain, which started in the early hours, gave England some respite from the mauling they received on the opening day of the first npower Test against South Africa at Edgbaston. The covers remained in place throughout the day, festooned with puddles, until play was officially abandoned for the day at 3.15pm. A few hardy spectators had sat huddled under umbrellas - most had heard the forecast and stayed at home.

Umpire Venkataraghavan explained that, although the rain had at last stopped, the lack of breeze in Birmingham was hampering the mopping-up operation. It would have taken at least three hours to get the outfield fit for a resumption. The time lost today, however, will be recouped over the coming days, so England need not get too excited by their change of fortune just yet.

South Africa's captain, Graeme Smith, who will eventually resume on 178, told reporters that comments by Nasser Hussain that all was not well within the South African camp had galvanised his team. "It definitely does play a role in motivating you," Smith said. "We thought those comments were a lot of rubbish. We took those to heart."

Duncan Fletcher, England's coach, admitted that Thursday hadn't been a good day. "It was one of those wickets where the bowlers had to keep their lines and lengths and had to be precise," he explained. "They were probably a bit positive, coming in and thinking, 'let's bowl the batters' out'. In one-day cricket the batter comes at you and in Test cricket it's not quite the same. Our bowlers didn't realise how important it was to keep those tight lines and lengths and from now we will have to try and contain them for periods of time and create pressure that way. They're all pretty attacking bowlers and on that wicket they should probably have gone a little bit more into defensive mode."

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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England v South Africa at The Oval - Sep 4-8, 2003
England won by 9 wickets
Derbyshire v Sth Africans at Derby - Aug 28-30, 2003
Match drawn
England v South Africa at Leeds - Aug 21-25, 2003
South Africa won by 191 runs
England v South Africa at Nottingham - Aug 14-18, 2003
England won by 70 runs
Kent v Sth Africans at Canterbury - Aug 7-9, 2003
Sth Africans won by 101 runs
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