England v South Africa, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 5th day January 7, 2010

England make yet another great escape

Pain in the buttock
There was talk throughout the day that Friedel de Wet wasn't fully fit and it was believed to be a back issue. It was later confirmed that he had received an injection into his buttock on the fourth day to ease an intramuscular problem. He certainly wasn't at full tilt during his brief spells, clocking around 78mph on the speed gun, and sending down only eight overs during the day. Graeme Smith was left virtually a man short when he desperately needed a five-man attack.

Princely field setting
It's great when a plan comes off and Mark Boucher was made to look a strategic genius today. James Anderson had been playing Paul Harris regularly into the leg side and Boucher suggested that a leg slip should come into position. Graeme Smith agreed and Ashwell Prince was put in place. Next ball Anderson managed to sweep a low full toss onto his boot which bounced out towards Prince, who pulled off a blinding catch as he dived full length to his right. Harris can't say he bowled for it, but Boucher will probably be offering more advice on fielding placings in the future.

Jagging back
It looked as though Jonathan Trott had done another good job in stonewalling the South Africans but there was little he could do about the delivery that finally nailed him. Dale Steyn found the spot on a good length that had troubled batsmen throughout the game and the ball jagged back between Trott's bat and pad. It could be said that Trott didn't play the shot with much conviction, but sometimes the bowler deserves the credit.

Too good
But if you thought that was good from Steyn, what came after lunch was breathtaking. In a six-over spell he bombarded Paul Collingwood with one of the most hostile and sustained bursts of pace bowling that has been seen in a long time. Time and again he beat the outside edge with what were basically 90mph leg-breaks and when he targeted the stumps Collingwood was somehow able to keep him out. It made for utterly compelling viewing and Steyn's final figures for the spell - 6-3-13-0 - don't even begin to explain the drama it involved.

Not finished yet
With a neat flick through midwicket Ian Bell brought up what is arguably his most important Test fifty to date. But he knew his job wasn't done and barely offered a wave of the bat to the crowd and the dressing room. He had to settle in again. And he did, until he'd nearly completed the job and then, having left so brilliantly, he fended at Morne Morkel's comeback delivery. Graeme Smith pouched the catch and Bell walked slowly off and had to endure the nerve-jangling end in the dressing room.

Late twist
However, England's late wobble was actually instigated by South Africa's sixth bowler. JP Duminy looked more of a threat than Paul Harris today and that will give the home side food for thought. After going wicketless during the afternoon session, the game had entered the final hour when Duminy found Paul Collingwood's edge. It was the sniff South Africa needed and memories of Centurion came flooding back.

Captive audience
There have been concerns about crowd numbers in South Africa cricket, but Newlands has always done better than the other centres. However, even Western Province officials will be delighted with the final number from these five days after 79, 375 came through the turnstiles. They were provided with an absolute thriller.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo