South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 3rd day January 4, 2005

'I'd like to think there's a Test century in me'



Giles: valiant 31 not out © Getty Images
It was not an auspicious day for England's batsmen, but there was one notable exception. In the course of his valiant 31 not out, Ashley Giles emulated the likes of Ian Botham, Tony Greig and Trevor Bailey by becoming only the ninth England cricketer to reach the double of 1000 Test runs and 100 wickets.

And he even beat Andrew Flintoff to the mark as well, for Freddie brought up his own double with the wicket of Herschelle Gibbs in the afternoon session. "It's good company to keep," said Giles. "He's an exceptional cricketer, and he's got about twice the runs that I have, while I see myself as a hard-working sort of cricketer. But it was nice to remind him that he's No. 10!"

"I've been looking at it for the last six months," added Giles, "but I didn't realise I was close until it was brought up in the press. I've certainly batted better of late, because I've gone from averaging 12 to 20 in 18 months, but there's scope for more. I'd like to think there's a Test century in me but, seeing as my top score is only 52, there's a long way to go."

England certainly needed every one of his runs, as they crashed to 163 all out, a first-innings deficit of 278, and Giles admitted that their situation was worse than it had been at Durban last week. "We showed there that we can turn situations around," he admitted, "but it's not going to be easy. As a team we believe we can do something special, whether it's winning the match or batting for a day and three-quarters to save the game.

"We're disappointed. We toiled hard in the field and let ourselves down, and it's draining to be back out there again. But that our jobs, we have to make the best of a bad situation." But, Giles added, the fact that South Africa declined to enforce the follow-on was a sign of their respect. "I know there's two days left and they want to bowl in last innings, but they're aware of what we did in Durban, and they think we can do it again."

The pitch didn't look too tricky while Jacques Kallis and Boeta Dippenaar were grinding out a huge advantage but, as Giles admitted, the pressure will be on when England are chasing 500. Besides, with Kallis in residence, the game always looks rather easy.

"He's not a bad player, is he?!" said Giles. "You get a bit of a chance with the likes of Lara, Hayden, Ponting, even Tendulkar. They'll always play a shot to keep you interested. But Jacques can grind you down, and technically he has to be the best player in the world. Unfortunately that's what we come up against in our jobs.

"But he's a great player, and it's difficult to think that anyone else in the world is better. I'm not sure how much his girlfriend sees of him, though."

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo. He will be following England on their tour of South Africa