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January 2, 2005
South Africa 247 for 4 (Smith 74, Kallis 81*) v England
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
South Africa failed to make the most of a perfect batting strip at Newlands, grafting to 247 for 4 on the first day of the third Test. Graeme Smith made 74 and, ominously for England, Jacques Kallis was still there at the close with a subdued 81. But with Ashley Giles wheeling down a marathon spell, the South Africans were never allowed to take full control.
It wasn't clear, after the twilight finish at Durban three days previously, quite which side took most out of the draw there. But Smith got in the first psychological blow here by winning the toss and, on a ground where no-one has fielded first in a Test since 1927-28, unsurprisingly choosing to bat. It was the third time in three attempts in this series than Michael Vaughan made the wrong call. In all he has only won it six times in 22 Tests as captain, an even worse ratio than his predecessor Nasser Hussain - a self-confessed "useless tosser" in his early years as skipper, who nonetheless finished with 19 correct calls in 45 Tests.
It was a boiling-hot day, and with the batsmen intent on setting out their stall for a big total, not one of the most exciting. South Africa pottered along at around 2.8 an over, while the bowling rate was fairly modest too. Given that Giles delivered 24 of the 90 overs that England managed to send down in almost half-an-hour more than the allotted time, the match referee might yet be scrutinising the contents of Vaughan's wallet.
Early on Smith took few chances, apart from flashing Matthew Hoggard for successive fours when first he dropped short - and was cut to the point boundary - and then overcompensated and overpitched ... and was driven straight. Later he did the same to Andrew Flintoff - a cut to third man and a peachy cover-drive. Smith's self-denying approach occasionally left him firm-footed, but his only close shave in the morning came when Simon Jones thought he'd had him caught behind. But Steve Bucknor, standing in his 97th Test, decided that the ball had only flicked Smith's pad.
That decision was spot-on, but England were left fuming midway through the afternoon when Smith swept at Giles, and got a healthy bottom-edge that ballooned off his pad to the wicketkeeper, only for Daryl Harper to poop the party by turning down the joyous appeal. Smith had 70 at the time, but only managed four more before, in his next over, the exultant Giles got his man. Smith nicked one that bounced up off Geraint Jones's thigh to be caught by Marcus Trescothick at slip (153 for 3).
That ended a stand of 83 with Kallis, who then put on 68 more with Boeta Dippenaar, who was returning after the knee injury that kept him out of the Durban Test. Kallis played within himself, apart from the occasional eccentric dash across the crease as if he was in the closing stages of a Twenty20 match. But for the most part he knuckled down, collecting only eight fours in his 188-ball innings.
Dippenaar was also restrained, and had inched to 29 from 101 balls when he drove over one from Giles that pitched in the rough and clipped the top of his stumps (213 for 4). The wicket came in the 21st over of a fine spell from Giles that only ended when the new ball was taken near the close, by which time he had 2 for 58 from 24 overs.
South Africa had repaired the early damage of the loss of Herschelle Gibbs, who for the second time in successive Tests let a ball from Hoggard go and was bowled. This one kept its line and flattened the off stump as Gibbs thrust the bat skywards (9 for 1). The only other casualty in the pre-lunch session was Jacques Rudolph, who had generally lived dangerously. He twice inside-edged Simon Jones past his stumps for fours, and often played outside the line - so it was no great surprise when, after he'd scratched to 26 from 63 balls, a faint inside edge from one Jones found the other (70 for 2).
The South Africans made two changes from the side which drew - just - at Durban. Dippenaar replaced Martin van Jaarsveld, while Charl Langeveldt, the Lions fast bowler who took seven wickets when South Africa A upset England earlier in the tour, came in for Dale Steyn, who had a slight shoulder niggle. It was a first Test cap for Langeveldt, 30, who has played in nine ODIs.
And there was a late enforced change for England: Mark Butcher failed a fitness test on a wrist injury that has been bothering him for a while, and Robert Key stepped in. It might not weaken the side very much - when Key replaced Butcher against West Indies last summer he scored 221 at Lord's, and weighed in with 93 not out in his last-but-one Test, to take England to victory at Old Trafford. In his only innings on this tour - nearly four weeks ago against Nicky Oppenheimer's XI - Key scored a brisk 87.
Steven Lynch is the editor of Cricinfo.
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