South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 5th day January 6, 2005

South Africa wrap up a convincing victory

South Africa 441 (Smith 74, Kallis 149, Boje 76, Flintoff 4-79) and 222 for 8 dec (Kallis 66) beat England 163 (Ntini 4-50, Langeveldt 5-46) and 304 (Pollock 4-65, Boje 4-71) by 196 runs, to level series at 1-1
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details



A jubilant Nicky Boje celebrates his spinning success © Getty Images

If 2004 was England's annus mirabilis, they have come down to earth with a bump in '05, losing that unbeaten record at the earliest possible opportunity. South Africa wrapped up a convincing series-levelling victory halfway between lunch and tea on the final day at Newlands, bowling England out for 304 to win by 196 runs. Nicky Boje and Shaun Pollock finished up with four wickets apiece.

Considering England were only a fingertip away from going 2-0 up at Durban, this will be a shattering psychological blow, and they will need every minute of the six precious days coming up before the fourth Test starts at Johannesburg next Thursday. They will be fervently hoping that it isn't a case of 1998 in reverse - seven years ago South Africa were inches away from going two up, but England somehow scraped a draw at Old Trafford and ended up winning that series 2-1.

South Africa, though, will rightly be cock-a-hoop after a thoroughly deserved triumph. Apart from a couple of spells of turgid batting, which might have caused problems if the Cape Town weather had not been so relentlessly bright and sunny, they dominated this match almost from the start. Apart from the batting stumbling-block that is Jacques Kallis (who picked up his second Man of the Match award in a row), the bowlers were the main difference. Pollock was menacing throughout, Charl Langeveldt swung his way through England's first innings despite a broken left hand, while Boje - who was treated with disdain at Durban - bounced back here with some testing flight and spin.

There will be much soul-searching in the England dressing-room, where a supposedly strong batting sides has been bundled out for successive feeble first-innings totals of 139 and 163. And the fact that their No. 11 Steve Harmison top-scored in the second innings here will embarrass the early order even more. There were some signs of a last-ditch fight today, but the departure of Graham Thorpe early on, and the dismissals of Ashley Giles and Geraint Jones late in the morning session, meant that South Africa went in to lunch just two wickets short.

England's slim hopes of a draw had been firmly based on Thorpe surviving the day. But he perished for a two-hour 26 in Pollock's second over with the new ball, nibbling a pinpoint awayswinger through to AB de Villiers (158 for 6).

Jones dropped anchor, and was almost strokeless in the first hour, during which he collected only three runs. But the drinks interval perked him up - some of the beer from the nearby brewery, perhaps - and he twice clobbered Kallis for successive boundaries, two of them superb cover-drives. Jones and Giles settled in for a sensible stand of 62, and idle thoughts were just starting to turn to the Test century which Duncan Fletcher feels is within Giles's grasp when he edged Boje to slip, where Kallis took a good low catch (220 for 7). Giles's 25 had occupied 83 minutes and 65 balls.



Graham Thorpe trudges off, as England stare down the barrel of defeat at Cape Town © Getty Images

The killer blow came just before lunch. Jones advanced down the pitch and spanked Boje back over his head for four, but next ball attempted something similar and edged it low to the right of Kallis, who took an even better catch in his outstretched right hand as he dived (225 for 8).

The fast bowlers delayed the inevitable with some airy swishes. While Matthew Hoggard concentrated on defence - he dead-batted to 7 from 64 balls in the end - Simon Jones chanced his arm, belting Boje for two fours on his way to 19 before the return of Pollock set up another slip catch for Kallis (253 for 9). And then Harmison, not as his best with the ball so far in this series, threw the bat cheerfully, clubbing 18 off one over from the unamused Pollock, and also mowing a six off Boje on the way to his highest Test score.

The last pair slapped on 51. But it couldn't last, and eventually Harmison poked one out low to the gully, where Boeta Dippenaar clutched the catch that wrapped up the match.

About the only good news for England on a dispiriting day was the injuries to Hoggard's heel and Andrew Flintoff's side are not serious and should not affect their chances of playing in the rest of the series. Fears that Flintoff had twanged an intercostal muscle were allayed by a scan that showed only a slight tear in an abdominal muscle on his left side.

Steven Lynch is the editor of Cricinfo.