South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 2nd day January 3, 2005

South Africa seize the advantage

England 95 for 4 (Strauss 45) trail South Africa 441 (Kallis 149, Boje 76, Smith 74, Flintoff 4-79) by 346 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Jacques Kallis reaches his 19th Test hundred - he went on to score 149 © Getty Images
After five sessions of fairly uneventful fare, the Cape Town Test exploded into life in the late-afternoon sunshine as South Africa struck back to leave England tottering on 95 for 4 in reply to their 441. In 14 overs England lost four wickets for 43 runs in an hour as Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock and Charl Langeveldt took full advantage of the foundations laid by Jacques Kallis's 149 earlier in the day.

Almost all the the first two sessions had belonged to Kallis, who lowered his anchor yesterday morning and never looked likely to leave harbour until he finally nibbled at one of countless balls he faced which were speared wide of his off stump. And then, just as England seemed to be on cruise control, Ntini removed Marcus Trescothick, and the three more wickets that fell in the final hour turned the match on its head.

All four dismissals had the faint odour of sloppiness. Trescothick (28) started the slide, playing an uncharacteristically loose stroke, looking to work Ntini over gully, but instead diverting the ball straight to Herschelle Gibbs (52 for 1).

Enter Robert Key, in good batting form according to statisticians - he has two hundreds in his last three first-class innings. However, the most recent of those was more than three and a half months ago, and like a boxer with hours in the gym but no fights, Key looked ring-rusty. He edged his first ball short of the slips and gloved his fifth, attempting to hook Shaun Pollock, to AB de Villiers for 0 (55 for 2).

Michael Vaughan, who started the day in the local hospital after being struck in the nets by James Anderson, looked equally out of sorts. Twice he edged through the slips, before on 11 he nibbled and edged to give Langeveldt his first Test wicket (70 for 3). Vaughan's footwork was uncertain, and with 64 runs in five innings so far in this series his one-day form in Zimbabwe seems a distant memory.

Shaun Pollock celebrates dismissing Robert Key for a duck © Getty Images
While Andrew Strauss, England's answer to Kallis, stood firm at the other end there was a feeling of well-being. But in the penultimate over, he dragged Ntini into his stumps and the celebrations on the field and the silence of the large English contingent spoke volumes. He had made 45 - a virtual failure by his own remarkable form in 2004 - and in his innings he had reached 1000 Test runs (only three Englishmen - Herbert Sutcliffe, Len Hutton and Wally Hammond - have reached that milestone quicker) but that counted for nothing as he traipsed off (95 for 4).

On a pitch which most pundits expected to be good and remain that way, South Africa started the day looking for a minimum of 400. That they got there, and more, was down to Kallis's obduracy and some spirited late-order biffing from Nicky Boje (76). England's over-rate was poor, their line was defensive, and it was hardly thrilling fare for the capacity crowd.

At times in this series it has seemed that Kallis has been all that has kept South Africa's batting from falling apart completely. After his epic innings at Durban, and gritty resistance yesterday, he was even more subdued today aside from a mid-morning flurry of strokes. He was a victim of his own success. Vaughan recognised that cramping Kallis would stem runs and add pressure on the other batsmen, and so his bowlers tried to do just that. An unappetising number of balls passed harmlessly wide of the bat, and for his part Kallis seemed content to carry on rather than to counterattack.

England were just about on top until Kallis and Boje combined in an eighth-wicket stand of 104 in which, somewhat surprisingly, Boje took the lead. Much of the afternoon was what pundits described as "good old-fashioned Test cricket". Those who had paid to watch it might have been less charitable. The sizable English contingent blamed the batsmen, the locals blamed the bowlers. At least the bars did a healthy trade.

Nicky Boje hits over the top on his way to 76 © Getty Images
Boje might be No. 9 but he has pretensions to be a middle-order batsman, with some justification as he has two one-day international hundreds to his name. He grew in confidence, and just as England's policy of containment began to wobble, Kallis fenced at one wide of the off stump - similar to countless he had left during his innings - and was caught by Geraint Jones.

But he had a tough start as Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard opened up with blistering spells. From the first ball of the day, when Harmison rapped Kallis on the gloves, the batsmen looked far less at ease than they had done. The second ball dumped Kallis on his backside, and before the half-hour was out he had been given a thorough working over.

Hoggard made the breakthrough when Hashim Amla was undone by a combination of suspect footwork - once again he was stuck back in his crease - and another poor decision from Daryl Harper, who gave him leg-before when, even before the endless replays started, the ball looked to have struck the batsman far too high (261 for 5). But Kallis weathered the storm, and with an assured AB de Villiers saw off the opening salvo and gradually began to reassert some kind of order to proceedings.

Kallis reached his 19th Test hundred, and his seventh in nine outings at home, and carried on remorselessly. While his concentration never wavered, his middle-order colleagues proved less adhesive. de Villiers was bowled by Ashley Giles, using his feet to convert a half-volley into a full toss which he played all round. He made 18 and until that rush of blood looked a good candidate to keep Kallis company for some time (308 for 6). Giles bowled well, extracting considerable turn.

Pollock, clearly ill-at-ease with his battered and bruised hands, came and went for a brief 4, Geraint Jones catching a thin but audible edge off Andrew Flintoff (313 for 7).

After Kallis departed, Ntini's innings lasted two balls, but he would have noticed with interest the working over Langeveldt received from Flintoff and Harmison. Langeveldt was struck on the left hand trying to avoid a bouncer, a blow which left him in considerable discomfort.

But Vaughan's wicket was the ideal pain-killer for Langeveldt, and by the end of the day it was England who were in need of something to dull the senses.

Martin Williamson is the managing editor of Cricinfo.