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December 27, 2009
England get a review right
Few in the England team are in favour of the review system and their experiences during the first Test at Centurion won't have helped when they had five reviews rejected. On the opening day here the occasion didn't arrive to call for one, but when Graeme Swann was convinced he'd trapped Mark Boucher lbw, Andrew Strauss eventually decided to use one of his options. And it proved exactly the right call as TV evidence showed the ball had straightened from around the wicket and struck Boucher's pad before bat in front of middle. At last, England will have thought.
Moments after Boucher departed England nearly had another important wicket but this would have come through luck not judgement. Morne Morkel worked the ball through the leg side to open his account and AB de Villiers, one of the game's quickest runners, was coming back for a second when he suddenly got into a tangle and dropped his bat. If the throw from the outfield had hit direct de Villiers would have been short, but fortune was favouring him.
A Steyn on Swann's figures
Swann has already proved his huge value to England during this series and was at it again when he removed Boucher, Morkel and Paul Harris. He was desperate for his five-wicket haul and Strauss was happy to entrust his spinner to claim the final wicket, but it didn't go to plan. Dale Steyn took the long-handle approach and launched Swann for three sixes in the long-on area during a valuable last-wicket stand, leaving Swann to settle for a four-for and a slightly higher economy rate.
Batting is proving a real struggle for Alastair Cook at the moment and as Strauss launched England's innings with a flurry of boundaries he battled to survive. Shortly before tea Cook went for a sweep against Harris and the ball was caught a silly point by de Villiers. The South Africans appealed, then reviewed the decision believing Cook had got a glove or edge, but the TV pictures showed it came straight off his elbow. It was such a clear decision that it was a waste for South Africa and one they could come to regret.
One minute Strauss was thankful for the inside edge of his bat and a few moments later he was cursing it. Shortly after tea, when on 50, he was given out lbw to Morkel but Strauss immediately called for a review. There is some suggestion he thought it was high but was eventually saved by a nick after much deliberation from Steve Davis, the third umpire. However, four runs later there was no doubt as Morkel demolished the stumps with a little help from that same inside edge. Strauss wasn't going to review that one.
Check the meter
The Kingsmead authorities could have a hefty electricity bill when this game is done and dusted. The floodlights were on throughout the second day's play and on this occasion probably enabled far more play than would have been likely without them. If the forecast proves right they will be needed some more before this match is over and whoever is in charge of paying the bill will want to make sure they have some cash handy.
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