England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, The Oval, 2nd day July 20, 2012

South Africa consolidate after bowlers fight back

103

South Africa 86 for 1 (Smith 37*, Amla 47*) trail England 385 (Cook 115, Trott 71, Prior 60, Morkel 4-72) by 299 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

South Africa were a team transformed on the second day at The Oval. The intensity and aggression, lacking for most of Thursday, was back in the bowling as they limited England's ambitions to 385 - not an insignificant total on pitch likely to offer increasing turn, but nowhere near enough to close out the match - then Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla gave an early indication of the sturdiness of South Africa's top order.

Before rain took an hour out of the evening session and zapped a little of the spark from the day this had developed into a contest worthy of a series with the No. 1 spot up for grabs. South Africa surged out of the blocks in a gripping start to the day, led by a revitalised Dale Steyn, to immediately set back England's ambitions by removing Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara in consecutive overs. England's batting was given its toughest examination by pace since the Pakistan series in 2010, but they have not reached No. 1 by shirking a challenge.

Matt Prior, who had again showed why he can lay claim to being the top wicketkeeper-batsman in Tests, found support from Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann - the much-vaunted lower order - to ensure wickets seven to nine added 99 priceless runs. This was the ebb and flow expected between two such evenly-matched teams.

South Africa did not find life easy at the start of their innings. In his second over James Anderson produced a pin-point inswinger to trap Alviro Petersen lbw. But that was the only breakthrough England managed. They targeted Smith's pads, which brought some close shaves but also scoring opportunities through the leg side, while Amla timed the ball beautifully off front and back foot. Amla finds it almost impossible to hit an ugly boundary.

One delivery, though, from Swann will have interested England more than most when it turned sharply to square up Smith on the back foot. There was also an opportunity, shortly before the close, for a vital wicket when the introduction of Bopara nearly paid off. Amla drove off the back foot and the edge flew to Andrew Strauss's left - he was standing wide at first slip - and he could not grab it one-handed. Strauss, as is his style, verged on the defensive with his fields once the partnership was settled.

Whatever had been said by the South Africans overnight made a huge difference. Steyn was curiously subdued on the opening day, sending down 21 wicketless overs and needing treatment off the field on his ankle, but emerged on Friday morning with a performance much more akin to the No. 1 fast bowler in the world. In the third over of the day he removed Cook, England's lynchpin, who added just one to his overnight score when he dragged a drive into his stumps.

That opened the way for his Essex team-mate, Bopara, to resume his Test career at No. 6 but it was not a happy comeback. The ball after a loud shot for lbw from Steyn - the delivery was just clipping leg stump - Bopara was left in two minds how to play a bouncer. He was caught between hooking and leaving, which resulted in him dangling his bat high in the air and feathering an edge to AB de Villiers.

The quality of the bowling - Steyn's pace and Vernon Philander's subtle swing - kept England's batsmen virtually scoreless. The opening eight overs of the day brought six runs for the loss of the two key wickets. Prior picked up the first boundary of the day when offered some rare width by Steyn, but was involved in a horrid mix-up with Ian Bell next ball that could have led to another wicket.

Yet it was only momentary relief for the home side. Jacques Kallis was introduced as first change and produced an opening over of the highest class to dislodge Bell. He started with two outswingers before his fourth ball nipped back, Bell shouldered arms and the ball grazed the off bail. Kallis initially appealed for lbw before realising the job was already done. England had lost 4 for 33 going back to Kevin Pietersen's gloved pull on Thursday evening and the game looked very different.

The four-pronged pace attack offered few poor deliveries, although Morkel was the least consistent and Prior took advantage with a pull, a drive and a cut to relieve a little of the pressure. Prior could have gone on 17, when Jacques Rudolph spilled a low chance at gully, with England on 298 for 6.

Having started to steady the innings it will have been galling for England that a poor delivery from Imran Tahir broke the seventh-wicket stand when Bresnan dragged on a short ball. However, Prior and Broad resumed after lunch with a positive mindset as boundaries started to flow. Prior led the way with a series of wonderful drives, but Broad wasn't lost in comparison as he drove Steyn off the back foot through cover. Philander broke the counterattack when he swung one back into Broad although England did not block their way through the rest of the innings.

Swann was clonked on the helmet second ball by Steyn, but responded by swatting the fast bowler for two boundaries in his next over. Swann is unlikely to miss the opportunity to remind his team-mates that he was the one left stranded at the end after Prior edged Morne Morkel and Anderson gloved down the leg side four balls later. That made it five catches for de Villiers in a very competent display as Mark Boucher's replacement.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on July 22, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    @Greatest_Game - my comment was made at LUNCH - 11 hours prior to your comment. Given England lost 7/100 roughly, & are well considered to have a good attack, there was every chance England could of had a lead. Didn't end up that way. So as at stumps, in my NEW books, the Saffas are leading two sets to one.

  • Greatest_Game on July 21, 2012, 23:11 GMT

    Hmmmm…Meety. Advantage England, huh? I think it may be time to take those books back to the library and get some newer editions.

  • on July 21, 2012, 19:45 GMT

    TO ME , SOUTH AFRICA LOOKS TO BE A MUCH BETTER SIDE THAN ENGLAND & THEIR ATTACK, WHICH HAS DALE STEYN IN IT, LOOKS FAR FAR SUPERIOR THAN ENGLAND'S..... STEYN, SOLITARILY IS COMPETENT ENOUGH TO DECIMATE ANY SIDE, LEAVE ASIDE ENGLAND, ON HIS DAY...... S.A. WILL WIN THIS SERIES OWERWHELMINGLY....... THEIR BATTING IS VV SOLID & ATTACKING & AB DE'VILIERS TAKE THE CAKE......C'MON S.A. PULVERISE ENGLAND & BE No.1 TEST PLAYING NATION.....

  • The_bowlers_Holding on July 21, 2012, 18:10 GMT

    Well 385 don't look so good now! Excellent test batting, pitch is dead but SA faultless with a big lead England might bottle it, although I hope not

  • SuperSharky on July 21, 2012, 17:25 GMT

    To be fair with RandyOZ, he is a cricket fanatic. I've seen him commenting on Netherlands vs Kenya blogs. And Australia still sits firmly in the middle, second, like a referee between two boxers. Australia will definitely take notice of this series because they are also planning to be number one as soon as possible. If the spinners can't bowl out a side, then this Oval Test match is heading for a draw. And this is only a 3 Test match series. If England draw all 3 Test at home, I think they will still be number one. I just hope they wet the next pitch, cause this dry one is dull.

  • SuperSharky on July 21, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    Swann, Swann, Swann, Swann. To be honest right now, I rather take Tahir's figures than Swann's. O.k. this isn't a seaming pitch so Swann just have to do the job. We all expects him to do so. Look at the non-aggressive length and line Tahir bowled. And the variation should be a surprise and a dead-on.

  • ToeCruncher on July 21, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    What a fantastic morning of cricket. Give Smith pressure, and he gobbles it up like Christmas pudding.

    Bar Swann, the English bowlers, like South Africa on day 1, have looked pedestrian. South Africa played the first hour perfectly to their game-plan, and England have failed to come up with any answers. I hope, for the match's sake - albeit not my own desire - that England have a good lunch time talk, and come out stronger.

    Otherwise, SA may well be in the lead by close, and ready to take the game away from England. C'mon England, prove to us Saffers why you deserve the number one spot!

  • Meety on July 21, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    Anyways Lunch Day 3, Smith looks good, the Saffas racked up 100 runs for no loss. At this rate, they'll have parity around stumps (assuming not many wickets fall). Even though the Saffas are going well atm, England were 2/195 after 65 overs. So obviously, a lot can change between now & Stumps, so it's still advantage Eng in my books as they have a 200 run buffer still.

  • Meety on July 21, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    @MattyP1979 - mate fact is your making excuses & the match isn't anywhere near concluded. That's like me saying England shouldn't of won the last Ashes because they had Ponting caught TWICE down the leg side & the worst fielder in the side (Trott) fluked a run out. Does that wash? Nope!

  • jezzastyles on July 21, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    To MattyP1979 on (July 21) Mate, England do have some VERY good players, anybody with 1/2 a cricket-brain won't dispute this, but really....3-0 vs. Pakistan in UAE...selective memory guys...the truly great sides in recent history DO NOT surrender in this fashion...AUS struggled in India when they were dominant, but NOWHERE else, and they never lost a series 3-0 (3 matches) to my memory in this period!!! Pattinson (and Cummins) are high-quality pace bowlers (144+ consistently, Steyn rarely bowls over 144+, but pace isn't everything - get rid of all the protective gear and we might see otherwise - PS - the GREATEST player of pace bowling in the modern era, VIV RICHARDS, would slaughter most of the modern greats, and he never worried about averages {OR helmets} - much like GILCHRIST). Just hope the Aussie batsmen can deliver in the next Ashes series (yes, I realise I may be asking too much), because if all our bowling stocks are available, your batsmen will face some real challenges!

  • Meety on July 22, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    @Greatest_Game - my comment was made at LUNCH - 11 hours prior to your comment. Given England lost 7/100 roughly, & are well considered to have a good attack, there was every chance England could of had a lead. Didn't end up that way. So as at stumps, in my NEW books, the Saffas are leading two sets to one.

  • Greatest_Game on July 21, 2012, 23:11 GMT

    Hmmmm…Meety. Advantage England, huh? I think it may be time to take those books back to the library and get some newer editions.

  • on July 21, 2012, 19:45 GMT

    TO ME , SOUTH AFRICA LOOKS TO BE A MUCH BETTER SIDE THAN ENGLAND & THEIR ATTACK, WHICH HAS DALE STEYN IN IT, LOOKS FAR FAR SUPERIOR THAN ENGLAND'S..... STEYN, SOLITARILY IS COMPETENT ENOUGH TO DECIMATE ANY SIDE, LEAVE ASIDE ENGLAND, ON HIS DAY...... S.A. WILL WIN THIS SERIES OWERWHELMINGLY....... THEIR BATTING IS VV SOLID & ATTACKING & AB DE'VILIERS TAKE THE CAKE......C'MON S.A. PULVERISE ENGLAND & BE No.1 TEST PLAYING NATION.....

  • The_bowlers_Holding on July 21, 2012, 18:10 GMT

    Well 385 don't look so good now! Excellent test batting, pitch is dead but SA faultless with a big lead England might bottle it, although I hope not

  • SuperSharky on July 21, 2012, 17:25 GMT

    To be fair with RandyOZ, he is a cricket fanatic. I've seen him commenting on Netherlands vs Kenya blogs. And Australia still sits firmly in the middle, second, like a referee between two boxers. Australia will definitely take notice of this series because they are also planning to be number one as soon as possible. If the spinners can't bowl out a side, then this Oval Test match is heading for a draw. And this is only a 3 Test match series. If England draw all 3 Test at home, I think they will still be number one. I just hope they wet the next pitch, cause this dry one is dull.

  • SuperSharky on July 21, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    Swann, Swann, Swann, Swann. To be honest right now, I rather take Tahir's figures than Swann's. O.k. this isn't a seaming pitch so Swann just have to do the job. We all expects him to do so. Look at the non-aggressive length and line Tahir bowled. And the variation should be a surprise and a dead-on.

  • ToeCruncher on July 21, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    What a fantastic morning of cricket. Give Smith pressure, and he gobbles it up like Christmas pudding.

    Bar Swann, the English bowlers, like South Africa on day 1, have looked pedestrian. South Africa played the first hour perfectly to their game-plan, and England have failed to come up with any answers. I hope, for the match's sake - albeit not my own desire - that England have a good lunch time talk, and come out stronger.

    Otherwise, SA may well be in the lead by close, and ready to take the game away from England. C'mon England, prove to us Saffers why you deserve the number one spot!

  • Meety on July 21, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    Anyways Lunch Day 3, Smith looks good, the Saffas racked up 100 runs for no loss. At this rate, they'll have parity around stumps (assuming not many wickets fall). Even though the Saffas are going well atm, England were 2/195 after 65 overs. So obviously, a lot can change between now & Stumps, so it's still advantage Eng in my books as they have a 200 run buffer still.

  • Meety on July 21, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    @MattyP1979 - mate fact is your making excuses & the match isn't anywhere near concluded. That's like me saying England shouldn't of won the last Ashes because they had Ponting caught TWICE down the leg side & the worst fielder in the side (Trott) fluked a run out. Does that wash? Nope!

  • jezzastyles on July 21, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    To MattyP1979 on (July 21) Mate, England do have some VERY good players, anybody with 1/2 a cricket-brain won't dispute this, but really....3-0 vs. Pakistan in UAE...selective memory guys...the truly great sides in recent history DO NOT surrender in this fashion...AUS struggled in India when they were dominant, but NOWHERE else, and they never lost a series 3-0 (3 matches) to my memory in this period!!! Pattinson (and Cummins) are high-quality pace bowlers (144+ consistently, Steyn rarely bowls over 144+, but pace isn't everything - get rid of all the protective gear and we might see otherwise - PS - the GREATEST player of pace bowling in the modern era, VIV RICHARDS, would slaughter most of the modern greats, and he never worried about averages {OR helmets} - much like GILCHRIST). Just hope the Aussie batsmen can deliver in the next Ashes series (yes, I realise I may be asking too much), because if all our bowling stocks are available, your batsmen will face some real challenges!

  • Hammond on July 21, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    @5wombats. Have been there. It really is an incredible place. Why all the interest from Aussie cricket fans? A mark of respect for a superior England side maybe?

  • DilbertZA on July 21, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    This is shaping up to be the contest that was predicted. I'm glad SA left the stunt doubles that bowled on day 1 at the hotel and brought the real players - I can't think of any other explanation for bowling so poorly :) The SA atack wil only get better as the series goes along, Steyn bowled several deliveries over 150km/h in the IPL, and Morkel was not far behind. The England attack should be on form, they have had a superb build-up, lets see how the SA batsmen do against them. I hope AB de Villiers can produce more of the brilliance he produced in the IPL, but there he did not have to keep for a day and a half. Re. this test, I think it would not be bad for SA to play for a draw, to occupy the crease, get some time in the middle and avoid batting on day 5. Game on!

  • 5wombats on July 21, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    There's a realy good open- air zoo in Dubbo RandyOZ. They would welcome you with open arms.

  • Stereo11 on July 21, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    Are you Englishmen born with short memories? Cause it seems you all have one.

  • Hammond on July 21, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    Wow I feel privileged Randy bogan, personally mentioned by you. I think you were right about the pitch being too flat. This one will be a draw. Btw wasn't in Dubbo but was in Singleton visiting relatives. Alma looks good I always was worried about him in particular. Lets see how sa go in the second innings v swann.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 21, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    RandyOz: As England are world number 1 and clearly years ahead of Australia having whitewashed them only this month, what exactly's your interest in this series? You must be a true cricket lover interested only in seeing the best two teams in the world in the greatest cricketing contest for a decade...right..?

    :)

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 21, 2012, 9:48 GMT

    Well, so much for a one-sided, boring, tame-pitched draw, predicted on day 1 of this test just because Cook got a ton. Didn't I tell you this game/pitch would change? I'm torn between whether it was better bowling or worse batting on day 2 that saw things change as they did. @RandyOZ: I'm still here mate; just because I don't comment as often as JG, doesn't mean I'm hiding...

  • RednWhiteArmy on July 21, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    Does randyoz stay up all night watching england ey "ausfan"? dont worry i know. what an life you must have, obsessed with us..ooops.:)))

  • RandyOZ on July 21, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    @Hammond - gone fishing mate? Where are you? Gone walkabout? Yep that's right folks, add another fairweather fan to England's long list of them.

  • RandyOZ on July 21, 2012, 8:32 GMT

    I cannot be the only one who notices that Bell can't play an innings under pressure. He only ever scores when Trott/Cook have done all the work. Also @Hammond - where are you mate??? Lost in Dubbo haha??

  • CDUP on July 21, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    @5wombats You are quick to talk of bad bowling on a very tame pitch. The best attribute a bowler can have on a pitch like this is patience. Frustrate the batsmen by keeping scoring to a minimum, while sticking to key lines and lengths. Unlike bowlers, batsmen only need to make one mistake to go, and that is exactly what you aim for on this kind of pitch. As pointed out by McGlashan, the bowling didn't have to change much - the breakthroughs did come for SA though, and will eventually come for England as well if they stick to what they were doing. SA's day 1 bowling did look weaker than England's, but that can be expected from the away team who are still adjusting to conditions. Match 2 and 3 will look very different. The emphasis, on this particular pitch, is on patient batting, which we have seen plenty of from both sides - although pitch conditions could affect that in the days to come.

  • on July 21, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    @Hasheem- Its South Africa NOT Africa. Thank you

  • JG2704 on July 21, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    Don't want to go all kneejerk about this but again our number 6 failed withbat. As everyone knows I have long wanted 5 bowlers and to me it's obvious that Finn/Onions had much more potential to take 3-5 wickets than Ravi or whoever score a load of runs. I just wish someone would ask Flower or whoever "When in recent years has our number 6 done anything of influence to change the game?".Is it because most other sides use the 6/1/4 formation? Bumble said he thought Eng would love to find a way of getting Finn in that side.Well surely it's not that difficult? We've not had a number 6 who has made that position his own for years so does that not say something? It seems they're happy enough to keep plugging away at finding that perfect number 6 while not trying a 5th bowler once. Luckily on this occasion our 2 most dependable batsmen put us in a decent position so we're not in as much trouble as we might have been but that SA batting looks a whole lot deeper with only 4 bowlers out there

  • on July 21, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    Only englishmen need to tame Hashim amla ,and then whole show will be yours , ...

  • on July 21, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    what a great prediction ,by great aussie wckt keeper Rod marsh ,about cook, that he would end up above 50 avg, and above 12000 runs in tests and also will become captain in future , all this he predicted in 2006...?

  • KK_Cricket on July 21, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    SA were too slow yesterday.. Probably 40-50 runs short... SA have to be aggressive and look to get a lead today to entertain any chance of winning this.. And probably end up by taking a lead of 150 or so by lunch tomorrow... then they would need at least 4 sessions to knock England out and probably 1 more to score another 100 -120 or so as target.. of course if England does not pick early wickets today and AB and Duminy need to get going fluently as well...

  • zenboomerang on July 21, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    The slow run rates by both teams may strangle this Test... Eng will have to bowl out SA for under 300 & at around tea on day 3 to take a strong grip on the game... So as others have said, day 3 will probably be decisive... Seeing as SA hasn't played any cricket for 4 mths it may be an indication of their slow start - time will tell...

  • 5wombats on July 21, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    Phew! Recovering this morning after 2 slightly beery days at The Oval... Trouble with rain is it can lead to excesses. Yesterday morning was perfect for excesses on the pitch; rain in the air, bad light, etc. Very disappointing to see England fall apart like that - but the atmospheric conditions were IDEAL for SA bowlers with a ball only 10 overs old. If you can't take wickets in conditions like that then you can't take wickets. Never shy of controvertial - we still wouldn't say that SA bowled that well. There were bad shots (Bopara. Hideous), and uncharacteristic misjudgements (Bell). On Day 1 Trott and Pietersen got bored out. Bresnan will kick himself that he got bowled by a pie-man like Tahir. Basically - England threw it away. When Prior came in he couldn't see the ball - did well to get to 60, then he played a daft shot. England then didn't bowl well -only Bresnan consistently made the batsmen play and conditions were still good for bowling. Not good. Hangover cure required....

  • maddy20 on July 21, 2012, 6:18 GMT

    @MattyP1979 While you may be right it is unlikely that they are gonna bat the same way on day 3. It was clear that SA was cautious to guage the conditions. Once Smith settles, he will unleash his wide array of strokes as we have seen in the past. If Eng don't get him before 50, they're in big trouble. Besides you cannot subdue the likes of Kallis and AB. Hopefully they will give SA the momentum they need to take charge of this game.

  • on July 21, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    Just looking at the records of Smith, Amla, Kallis and AB last night, 93 test centuries between them. Duminy comes in at 7 with an FC average of fifty and then Big Vern with an FC average of 25 and a couple of centuries. There's some runs in them. Just ask the Aussie fans what JP can do.

  • on July 21, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    @Mattyp1979 6 of the wickets were not on purpose? I can just imagine big ole Jackie Kallis walking up to Ian Bell and saying "sorry about that Belly, I really was hoping that would go over the top, wicket must be staying a bit low, i'll bend my back a bit harder next time and give you a nice juicy long hop instead".

  • cric_fan_ on July 21, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    if anything the first two days show why none of these two teams would be considered great despite having some great players, they are too defensive. The scoring rates are too slow even after considering that both the teams want to have a huge first innings lead and want to avoid playing last on the fifth day pitch. But still there is plenty of time left in this test and any result is possible.

  • randypom on July 21, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    The fact of the matter is that glen mcgrath played in the nineties - so did warne, gilchrist and the list goes on - Rod Marsh said himself when england regained the ashes in 05 - that australia have no one !! - steve smith is the world's most unnatractive batsman to watch (his awful technique i mean) , katich was the same. Why do aus selectors insist on playing these types of players instead of the finches, etc.

  • jezzastyles on July 21, 2012, 5:56 GMT

    Randy Oz - pull your head in, son. The Poms belted us last time in Australia, and Swann bowled well (not great, but he out-bowled our lucklustre spinners at that time). No way is Swann over-rated. Glad to see you acknowledged Anderson, but can't agree with your assessment of Broad - he's a matchwinner on his day (much like MJ), even though he's not in the same class as Anderson & Swann. Cook is the best opener in the world at present - he'd be one of the first picked in a current World XI. Had to laugh at anyone writing off SA after the first day, especially those heaping criticism on Steyn. Here's hoping SA continue their fightback on day 3 and make a big score - hopefully the rain stays away and there's a result in this game.

  • superstar100 on July 21, 2012, 5:40 GMT

    today you will se amla scoring 200 best of luk team SA... please god stop rain for 3 days !!!!

  • thruthecovers on July 21, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    ENG would have settled for 385 at the start of play? Yeah right!!! That is true if you totally ignore the fact that they were 267/3 at stumps. Pommie fans got carried away, predicting 500+ scores on the back of a lacklustre SA bowling performance on the 1st Day lapping up all sorts of drivel in their media of the class of bowling attack they were dealing with. I imagine our bowling attack now saying to the whole of ENG... HI there, ENG. We are the SA bowling attack. Nice to meet you. And they haven't even been real nasty yet, bowling shortball after shortball. Game on fellas!!! Our bowling has pitched...

  • veerakannadiga on July 21, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    ha..ha..ha.. people were saying England would score in excess of 450.One small aspect was forgotten...the opponents were SA & not Ind/Aus/WI... way to go SA..ABD rockzzzzz.Great wicket keeping and a much better batsman than Prior and some say Prior is world's best test keeper.LOL

  • RednWhiteArmy on July 21, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    How come nobody is complaining about smith & amla batting too slowly? Day 1 everyone was crucifying cook & trott...What happened to the aussies whinging about doctoring the pitch, they seem to have quietened down regarding that now.

  • RednWhiteArmy on July 21, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    England will rip through the batting today, no doubt about it...randyoz...keep looking up cobber!

  • jmcilhinney on July 21, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    A lot of people were quick to be critical of England for preparing a flat pitch after day 1. Apart from the fact that that's ridiculous because the ECB have no input on pitch preparation, day 2 has shown that it wasn't the pitch that was responsible for SA not taking wickets on day 1, but rather their own wayward bowling and England's solid batting. On day 2 SA bowled much tighter lines and England played some loose shots and we can all see the results. There appeared to be adequate movement for the bowlers today, with the ball's that dismissed Cook and Bell being perfect examples. If this pitch is indeed flat and it has been the overhead conditions helping the bowlers then it could work against England, with SA likely batting in sunshine tomorrow. Maybe some people ought to think a bit before they try to accuse England of a fix because they're scared of the opposition.

  • MattyP1979 on July 21, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    RandyOZ. How is our boy Pattenson getting on, he and Nannes should be a good bowling unit, Kawajjjaajaj batting form has been pretty good get him in and I think you might have a half decent team. Symonds has been playing well in his late 30's too. Wait a minute.............

    @Badgerof doom, sorry mate mixed up a little, but either way Prior is top of the tree right now. I know its hard for people to accept but Eng do have a few good players.

  • Marcio on July 21, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    I'd agree that most teams would take 385 for a first innings total. To win the game SA basically have to score 450+, as far as I can see. It will be interesting to see how Anderson, Broad and co bowl in the predicted sunny conditions on day 3. The most obvious weakness of this England team is that its pace bowlers lack the edge in pace (Finn excepted, but he's not playing), and in good batting conditions lack penetration. Looks like a good game here though. Never count your chickens before they are hatched!

  • MattyP1979 on July 21, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    RandyOZ. I have read your comments on these boards for a while now and they always make me chuckle. Every now and then you are right, but Swann is not over-rated, and Broad is actually better not worse than his stats suggest. I see you are at least giving Anderson some credit.

  • Hasheem on July 21, 2012, 3:11 GMT

    Pl read my Blog after the first days play,I had made out that Africa must bowl out England for a score <350 and they very nearly did.had Prior been held at 17.Anyway Africa needs to make atleast 300 plus today to get at Englands top order. Mind you England at home hasnt had it this good for this long,last time the Top Order collapsed was against Pakistan in the spot fixing tainted Lords Test an thats ages ago. Time has come for History to repeat again. My take is that today its gonna be a battle of who has it to get there noses in front. Odds to me are 80/100 draw,3.5/1 Both.Keep following me for some accurate predictions. This game will go to the last day before you have a result.Draw will go out at long odds,the way it happened in Mumbai Test Ind vs Indies

  • landl47 on July 21, 2012, 3:01 GMT

    A good day's cricket- what we had expected from these two teams. SA came back strongly with 3 wickets before England's last 4 wickets put on 100. The total isn't overwhelming, but I think England would gladly have settled for 385 before the innings started. Anderson got an early wicket, then Amla and Smith batted well. Too bad Strauss couldn't cling on to that tough chance from Amla at the end of the day, but even so it's fairly even. If England can get a couple of wickets early they'll be on top; if SA keep wickets in hand they'll want to establish a decent first-innings lead, in case the pitch breaks up a bit on the 4th/5th day. All in all, it's been absorbing test cricket and the weather hasn't been too much of a factor. Looking forward to three more excellent days.

  • Badgerofdoom on July 21, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    @MattyP1979 P Jayawardanas batting average when keeping is 31 not 40 meaning that prior is miles ahead of him as hes at least as good a keeper as well. @Adhil HafizAdhil- the very fact that you would pick AB, someone who has played as a specialist batsman in around 90% of the games he's played as the "best batsman/keeper in the world" is just a real insult to wicketkeepers everywhere. The only people to average more as keeper than prior in the last 50 years are Flower and Gilchrist . Sangakkara averaged 40 when keeping before anyone asks, because they always do despite him not actually keeping anymore!

  • on July 21, 2012, 2:55 GMT

    Full marks to the Saffers for fighting back so convincingly. Ravi fulfilled all our worst fears about his susceptibility against high-quality pace & de Villiers hinted that he may yet become a bona fide Test keeper, but I think most Englishmen would've taken 385 after Morkel's first over of the opening day. Both Rudolph & Duminy have a lot to prove re *their* ability against top-notch pace, too, but I reckon the the two deciding factors will be spin & lower-order runs, both areas in which England hold a marked advantage. Good to see KP looking so relaxed on the English balcony, btw: my guess is that he was probably told when he 'retired' that even if he changed his mind there'd be no immediate way back into the ODI & T20 squads.

  • Harry_Kool on July 21, 2012, 2:30 GMT

    Well said jackthelad. The same people who also judge test teams by ODI & T20 results.

  • on July 21, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    Looks like Philander needs swing conditions to be great. The way Prior bats, England really should consider Finn for Bopara or Broad because even with Finn for Bopara, then Swann at 9 is a great no 9. Bopara was unlucky to run into a Steyn on fire. The only reason Prior is not the best batsmen among wickies is now AB has taken the gloves and the way he kept, he is set to become the best wk/batsman in the world, batting at 5. Perhaps Sangakarra and McCullum should return to behind the stumps and bat at 5 or 6. That allows 5 bowlers and allrounders come back into the side. SA can take Albie Morkel for either Rudolph or Duminy and get a 5th bowler although with Kallis, it is really a 6th bowler. You can see the trend now, the best two sides have wikkies batting in the top 6 and an extra allrounder unless you already have one like Watson who can really bowl well.

  • jmcilhinney on July 21, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    Some of the England batsmen did contribute to their own downfall but that's not to take away from the bowling, which was far better than day 1. The SA bowlers were all bowling too far from the stumps originally so the chances of the batsman making a mistake was minimised. Their lines were much better on day 2 and they reaped the rewards. Cook played away from his body with a crooked bat, but it was an excellent ball that came back into him in the air and off the seam. Bell misjudged the line and/or length but if the ball hadn't been at the stumps then it wouldn't have mattered, plus it was the pressure of good bowling and wickets falling that pushed him into such a defensive mode in the first place. Excellent rearguard action from Prior to leave England in a competitive position but certainly one that leaves all three results possible. SA will now be looking for a decent lead, knowing that they have to bat last on a surface that may well aid Swann on the last couple of days.

  • jezzastyles on July 21, 2012, 2:04 GMT

    100% agree with Tim O'Connor - this series deserved to be a 5-match series. Best of 3 vs. Best of 5 debate - the longer the series, the more likely that the better, more consistent side will come out on top, smoothing out any variables such as favourable tosses, green pitch on day 1 but good wicket by day 2, etc. It's been an enthralling 2-days judging by the Cricinfo commentary, and I expect more of the same on days 3-5. As an Australian fan, I reckon a #3 ranking would be a more accurate reflection of where we are - and this ranking has been achieved on the back of our bowlers. Undoubtedly, England & SA are the two best test sides at present. However, things can change quickly, just ask India.

  • therealutopianindigent on July 21, 2012, 2:04 GMT

    Cricket of the highest quality at the top of the log! Cook for me is the new cricket superhero but Steyn and Kallis (who bowled today like someone who will reach 300 test wicket and shatter the record books again) have shown that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Will Smith only be lauded after retirement? The man is made of steel, stainless steel, as is Prior.

  • StatisticsRocks on July 21, 2012, 1:55 GMT

    What I am hearing from fans here is that day 4 and 5 will provide more action with ball turning and a haven for spinners. Wait a minute.....but we are critisized for preparing such pitches in India calling it a dust bowl and what not. Hmmmm

  • RandyOZ on July 21, 2012, 1:31 GMT

    @JG2704 - you never cease to amaze with your well balanced and honest remarks, no matter what England's situation. Some of your fellow commentors could learn from you. Well played.

  • RandyOZ on July 21, 2012, 1:30 GMT

    @Meety, @MattyP1979 is full of excuses, but give him credit, at least he is here to make them. Where are half of the other poms? Gone missing. MIA. Fairweather or what?

  • on July 21, 2012, 1:29 GMT

    @phoenixsteve: Smith has got his runs in all conditions against good attacks. There are pro golfers who have had success with strange swings and terrible grips so why not a top order batsman? What he lacks in textbook technique and "aesthetics" (I think seeing Smith smashing an opposition bowler for four is as lovely as seeing Kallis do it) he makes up for in sheer bloody-mindedness and attitude. To put it in perspective: If Smith were the English captain he would be the English all-time record holder for most Test hundreds.

  • RandyOZ on July 21, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    This England attack is being showed up for what it truly is, and apart from Anderson, that is very average. Hissy fit Broad and the highly overrated Graeme Swann will not win you matches against the quality of a batting line-up like the one SA boasts. I would much have prefered Finn in there if I was English.

  • on July 21, 2012, 1:08 GMT

    England team is to be tested this time as they are likely to fall short on fielders, unlike PAK series where they had, all the time, an additional support of 10 PAK fielders. Good luck Eng ;)

  • bullpit1 on July 21, 2012, 0:50 GMT

    Not surprising the way his game is going-given you have two extremely defensive captains. Make you wonder how you are going to get a result when there are very few fieldsman in catching postions. As soon as a few boundaries are hit out go the slips and men on the boundary are in to stop the obvious. Must be great to be a batsman to think that if you get a thick edge it like to be a four and not dismissal. They should show the modern day cricketers footage of Lillee & Thomson under Ian Chappell - fields were mostly umbrella and most bats were caught in the slips/gully region

  • MattyP1979 on July 21, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    @maddy. Like your prediction. All SA have to do is bat till luch on day 4. Well at their current run rate that would give them a lead of around 40. Could happen. So Eng are 'blown' away yet more strangles down leg side, choppin on's etc and their side get half their avg's at the same 1st inings run rate. Means SA have to get around 160 into day 5 at an increased run rate. This could happen. Or.....Eng get some luck (evens itself) in day 3 bowl SA out for 300, dont get a huge amount of unfortunate dismissals, declare and have Swann on a turning paradise on day 5. Cmon place your bets....

  • on July 21, 2012, 0:35 GMT

    The first hour tomorrow will determine the outcome of this match. If England take 2-3 early wickets, South Africa will do well to battle for a draw. If Smith and Amla stay together but crawl along at less than 2.5 runs per over, it's likely they'll bat out the session but send the match towards a draw anyway. If, however, they manage to crank out 60-70 runs in the first hour, it's likely they'll bat out the session and put South Africa on the road to potentially even winning the match (long odds right now - this pitch is toss-based result type of pitch). Regardless, it's set up well. I'll be getting up early again here in Vancouver, that's for sure.

  • MattyP1979 on July 21, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    @Meety. Nop excuses, but we had 2 chop on's, 2 bail brushers and 2 strangles down leg. Any of these are at least unfortunate ways to get out. 6 out of 10 wickets were not planned by SA and are unlikely to be repeated come second innings. If they remove a layer of varnish off bails and add it to their gloves they might not of got a wicket today. That being said if you bowl well you deserve the luck. You are right though SA will have to bat once to have a chance......that isn't much of a chance, good toss to win....gooooo ENGLAND.

  • SaracensBob on July 21, 2012, 0:05 GMT

    Two points - i) seems SA are here to play even if they have turned up a day late. This really is going to be the belter of a series that we've all been looking forward to - hurrah! ii) sorry to keep banging on about this but the Eng number 6 spot - how long's it going to take for the penny to drop? Steve Finn could quite easily have made a duck today but he can also take ten wickets in a match. Sure Strauss would love to have Finn bowling alongside Jimmy, Stuart and Bres tomorrow rather than the feeble back-up of 'bits 'n' pieces' Bopara. And, sorry Ravi but what a hospital shot! Second ball up you get a bouncer - don't shape to hook or pull for crying out loud, just get out of the b...... way! Nuff said.

  • on July 21, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    Prior may be a good wicket keeper batsman, but the best in business as of now is Kumar Sangakara. Let me add that I am not a SriLankan.

  • thruthecovers on July 21, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    I fail to see the reason why general view around here about ENG's 'strong' lower order batting. Matt Prior is the only reason why they got to 385 in the end. Bresnan 8, Broad 16, Swann 15 and Anderson 2. And they all looked suspect with the short-ball. For mine, this looked like a South African attack still getting to grips with conditions and the tactics needed for each batsmen, but there are signs that they are catching up real quick. One of them might come-off on the day ( probably Bresnan or Broad) but from here on end, they will struggle to make any notable scores. Especially if the weather is improving and we get pitches with more pace and bounce. The more I think about it, the more it looks like ENG's batting rests with Cook, Trott and Pietersen. Get them cheap and early and the rest crumbles, like a 115/7. Same thing can be said of SA of course but it would be ENG's lucky day to get SA's top 6 to collapse twice in the same Test. Cook and Trott holds the key.

  • LebaneseLion on July 20, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    As some here have commented, the 3rd day is going to be crucial, NO DOUBT! Apparently the weather is going to be fine. We've all heard that before in the UK.... My Loyalties remain with SA, I know it will be an uphill battle... but when we have the likes of AB, Kallis (legandary!!) rudolph, duminy.... England has a major fight on her hands! WOW! Test cricket has never been this exciting!

  • MattyP1979 on July 20, 2012, 23:53 GMT

    "AB de Villiers and even prasnna jayawardana is much better than prior.... "

    AB avg's 22 when with gloves and Prior is by FAR a better keeper. PJ avg's 40 with the gloves and about the same as Prior's keeping abilty. Well this would be true if he kept wicket anymore, why not just have SRT behind the stumps. Prior avg 44, and is right up there with the best 'keepers'. Apart from this you are spot on. Furthermore Cook is Jamican and cannot bat, Swann doesn't actually spin the ball, the batsman rotates the earth to HIS will and Anderson the Chinese lad couldn't swing a tea bag.

  • Pratchett on July 20, 2012, 23:38 GMT

    We should stop writing teams off after one or two sessions. Momentum in this series is bound to fluctuate. On Saturday England could easily run through the SA line-up - will we then say it's England's match? All we can do is sit back and enjoy the quality. This is what it's all about! Marvel at the intricacies of the greatest game in the world! Long live test cricket

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    Saffa batsmen have cemented the bowlers come back. That all being said, I still think that it is advantage England - as they have the runs on the board. @MattyP1979 - careful "...This is a pitch where you need a little luck to get wickets..." & later "...unlucky dismissals..." sounds like your almost lining up your excuses already after just one testing day - bear in mind quite a few edges didn't carry either. The Saffas bowled very well. @ashes61 - I couldn't drink warm beer even if I was in Antarctica! @ ToeCruncher - 1st session is going to be fascinating. I suspect that IF the Saffas bat well & the pitch is deteriorating, they won't want to bat a 2nd time against Swann. Therefor they'll want to bat well into Day 4, & give Tahir last use of the pitch. After 2 days - this about where I was hoping the match would be!

  • maddy20 on July 20, 2012, 22:40 GMT

    Only onething left to do with Saffas now. Smith needs to bat like he did in the previous England tours and Amla to drop anchor and support him at the other end. If they can bat till lunch on day 4, they can have English batsmen for lunch and the game in their pocket! Go Saffas!

  • Bodders70 on July 20, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    England have been doing this all summer so far, they had several opportunities to bat the West Indies out of games and didn't do it either. The top order has been doing its job but the middle order hasn't been able to put the opposition away as it did in Australia and India last year. The question is with South Africa a better batting side if England can afford this error. I tend to agree with MattyP that it's going to take so long for South Africa to reach parity let alone a decent lead that if they do bat well a draw is more likely.

  • hyrclov on July 20, 2012, 22:14 GMT

    wonderful stuff to watch , England look at sea right now , though it's early to predict , great comeback from SA , good stuff

  • on July 20, 2012, 22:07 GMT

    Smith has been "riding his luck" for the past 10 years, and he's done it at an average of 50. I think it's time to acknowledge that it isn't luck anymore. I hear endless plaudits for someone like Trott, but when Smith does the same thing back to this "vastly superior" English team, it's just luck.

    By the way, Trott also rode his luck after being given not out incorrectly by Steve Davis while he was on around 14

  • EnglishCricket on July 20, 2012, 21:49 GMT

    I really hope England win because South Africa today have come into rhythm and the weather for tomorrow looks good for batting. This should be one cracker of a Test match....

  • ToeCruncher on July 20, 2012, 21:37 GMT

    Tomorrow is a delightful prospect! I expect even totals, 30 or so runs in it, unless SA middle order really performs. With the variable bounce, and the dry track, tomorrow should be the best day for batting, and day 4 and 5 are going to provide an excellent contest. The spinners will determine this match.

    At this point, I would say the game is 40-30-30 (ENG-D-SA). Overall, for the series, a draw or win are in SA's favour. I don't expect the remaining 2 pitches to be as batsman friendly, which will suit South Africa. Given that England's bowlers bowled quite well today, SA have done well to only lose 1 wicket for +-90 runs.

    This is why I love test cricket.

  • MattyP1979 on July 20, 2012, 20:57 GMT

    SA can only bat once at their tempo (Kallis in next) to force a victory, something I doubt very much. Important day tommorrow. Far too many soft and unlucky dismissals though as an Eng fan. Agree with some comments here though Swann is the key. He will give very little away on this surface and will always be a threat.

  • 5wombats on July 20, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    Now watch 4 or 500 vultures swoop down...It's inevitable.

  • Supa_SAFFA on July 20, 2012, 20:26 GMT

    Every dog has his day. England had day 1. They should cling to that.

  • on July 20, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    This article talks about Matt Prior being the number one test wicket keeper batsmen !! if the world only had england play tests then this is true... this is an insult to AB de Villiers and even prasnna jayawardana is much better than prior....

  • phoenixsteve on July 20, 2012, 20:15 GMT

    Finally England get some opposition! South Africa didn't turn up yesterday but today they virtually made up for it! More attritional cricket ensued but it was fascinating stuff. South Africa's day today - they played really well and deserve it. Tomorrow is going to be the crunch day for this test and the TV commentators say that the weather forecast is good for the rest of the game? Hooray! Shame to see Strauss drop a catchable slip catch & it would have made it England's day had he taken it? Amla looks to be a fine player but it beats me how Smith has got all those runs! He's so leg side biased & I imagine will really struggle if the ball ever moves around! Kallis is really dangerous with the ball and England must not underestimate him... he'll probably be a bit useful with the bat too! It's brewing up to be a classic test match and the winner is likely to secure the series which is ridiculously set for just 3 matches! Bresnan looked very ordinary today batting, fielding and bowling?

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 20:02 GMT

    Have to say well played to SA bowlers. While the conditions were helpful this morning , SA still bowled a whole lot better than yesterday. Disappointing that Cook got out so early and Bell and Bopara followed. Well played Prior but while I think most Eng fans would have taken the 385 from the start of play , from the overnight score we lost our last 7 wickets for around 115 which is not good. Smith rode his luck a bit at the beginning but now looks very settled. It's worrying for Eng that we have to get rid of Smith,Amla,Kallis,AB before we get to Rudolf,Duminy and then the bowlers. Bad day for England

  • StatisticsRocks on July 20, 2012, 19:43 GMT

    @Tim: 100% agree with you. 2 or3-match series is a joke no matter which two teams are playing.What a match this is turning out to be and I pray that rain stays away as we are going to witness a great test match after a long long time. ENG were brutal against IND and turned an overhyped series into a complete embarassment for us. Still a lot of batting to come for SA and ENG over the last two three years are un-beatable at home. Can't wait for the start of the 3rd day.

  • on July 20, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    If rain goes away..this series will be a cracker unlike India touring the England....SA is only team in test cricket right now who can compete with English fast bowlers...good luck SA and goodluck to Smith on his 100 test match

  • Stark62 on July 20, 2012, 19:35 GMT

    @ Tim The forecast for the next few days is positive with temp's potentially soaring to 27C!!

  • on July 20, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    It is the best of three, what difference does it make having five tests?

  • MOHDsarfaraz on July 20, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    M MORKEL HE IS AWESOME MANNNNN.from now i m loving COOKis,the two best test team in the world NOW i feel it,it will be a great series,i m looking forword it, i think result will be in the favor of south africa,jai hind

  • ashes61 on July 20, 2012, 19:19 GMT

    Tim: The series is not to see who the best team in the world is, it just happens to be the series arranged for this summer in England as part of the ATP by the ICC. As you probably know, English summers are usually absolutely glorious - try one! Tremendous for cricket & our delicious warm beer is the icing on the cake, as it were. It just happens that we are experiencing our wettest summer since the 17th cent, when our rainfall records began. No time whatsoever has been lost to rain in this Test so far, the public being cheated only by the slow over rate, which failed to fit in the regulation 90 minimum today. The rainbreak was entirely made up this evening in lovely sunshine. Covered wickets & floodlights did the rest. Forecast for 3rd, 4th & 5th days? Dry & sunny! What is it we keep hearing? To be considered NO 1 we must be able to play in ALL conditions. When our climate provides exactly that, it's still not right ...

  • i_witnessed_2011 on July 20, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    Well done SA. After yesterday's play I was thinking its all England again. I was expecting England to bat through out the day. SA bowled really well. Philander bowled well but could not get wickets. Todays bowling partnership was good for SA. little bit more runs expected from Engalnd tail enders but cant blame them because SA produced high quality bowling. At the end of two days, It seems series will live up to the hype. I hope SA can produce similar performance through out series. Ofcourse Engalnd will definitely compete well. :)

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 20, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    A fairly ordinary day from engalnd and a good one for SA means that this game is even. I hope that the balance shifts back tomorrow and England take this game by the scruff of the neck which they should have done today. Only Prior really showed up for batting.

  • on July 20, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    Proteas roar back into contention. If the rain stays away, the pitch should crumble by the 5th day. Question is, who will be batting on Day 5?

  • on July 20, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    Excellent riposte from the South Africans, while I feel England are still ahead in the match, RSA clawed back a lot of ground today and with Smith and Amla looking comfortable and a much better weather forecast for the weekend, they'll know they are right into this match. The English bowlers are going to have to roll their sleeves up here, while there was seemingly a little more life in the pitch today, you'd think it would be tough going under blue skies and with Duminy down at seven there's plenty of run scoring potential. This is more like it!

  • Htc-Baseball on July 20, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Rain took life out of the game today, i pretty much sure that england with just 4 bowlers and swan who ll be effective oly dring last 2 days are gonna toil,unless broad does it again.

  • jackthelad on July 20, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Did anyone seriously think that one day, on an atypical pitch, would decide this series? There are some people who really need to grow up a bit ...

  • Duty281 on July 20, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Day 2 was South Africa's day.

    Under cloudy skies, they managed to limit England to below 400. Steyn and Morkel looked very dangerous when bowling today. England's lower-order fired; they added 101 for the final 4 wickets and Matt Prior proved why he's the best wicket keeper batsman in the game today with a very useful knock of 60 which could prove very useful and make all the difference.

    And then onto the South African innings. It was pretty much a parallel of England's innings. Opener gets out cheaply and then the other opener and the No.3 dig in. Smith and Amla look like they could both post big scores but England might be eyeing that longish tail with relish. The pitch is starting to turn and that will delight Swann who's looking threatening while there was some swing for Anderson.

    As for the overall match situation, it's honours even in my book. It should be a cracking final 3 days and the weather forecast is good. Day 3 will be pivotal.

  • SurlyCynic on July 20, 2012, 18:53 GMT

    After all the talk on here about Kallis being a 'batting allrounder' who occasionally bowls, he once again took some key wickets and produced some great deliveries. Not bad for someone in his mid 30s.

  • MattyP1979 on July 20, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    For all the probable incoming anglo bashing to follow remember this is a 5 day test and we still have runs on the board. Like SA we are probably finding the groove. I still give the advantage to Eng right now but we need a better day in the field day 3. This is a pitch where you need a little luck to get wickets, 2 chop ons and 2 bail shavers went against Eng. On the bad, Eng really need to get a decent 6 or Ravi to come good at some stage.

  • MattyP1979 on July 20, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    Well SA would be happy with day 2. Still level pegging at this point. Still feel the way things are going Eng wont lose from here with the rr and SA having to bat last. Bring on day 3. Cmon Eng.

  • The_bowlers_Holding on July 20, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    Excellent comeback by SA as a test should be advantage one way then another, evens at the moment with a draw most likely, Swann might be pivotal in the 4th innings. I have been following the score on this site but will be spending the weekend watching. Not as good as T20 obviously too many variables and not enough dancing girls and fireworks.

  • Carpathian on July 20, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    Tim, so are you England shouldn't host SA in a Test series? Or only if it's 3+ Tests?

  • Supa_SAFFA on July 20, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    It almost wouldn't be test cricket if rain didn't come into play. And it hasn't ruined the contest so far.

  • Marcio on July 20, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    @Tim O'Connor, you mean # 1 and # 3, don't you? Australia is ranked #2, simply because they have won so many tests of late. It amazes me how many people forget that SA could not beat AUS in ANY of the T20, ODI or test series played in SA just a few months ago. So AUS's ranking is with merit. But we are supposed to believe (according to ENG fans with a very short memory of their own recent humiliations away from home) that a meaningless recent ENG/AUS ODI series is somehow the true measure of things. But good luck to Eng and SA. May the best team win.

  • pawaramol22 on July 20, 2012, 18:05 GMT

    People said SA bowling was dull yesterday and no one complained about flat track, lack of swing and bounce?

  • on July 20, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    If you want to see who the best team in the world is, why in the world would you have a 3 test series in England? It's going to rain, fact. It's a complete waste of the 2 best teams in the world competing.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on July 20, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    If you want to see who the best team in the world is, why in the world would you have a 3 test series in England? It's going to rain, fact. It's a complete waste of the 2 best teams in the world competing.

  • pawaramol22 on July 20, 2012, 18:05 GMT

    People said SA bowling was dull yesterday and no one complained about flat track, lack of swing and bounce?

  • Marcio on July 20, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    @Tim O'Connor, you mean # 1 and # 3, don't you? Australia is ranked #2, simply because they have won so many tests of late. It amazes me how many people forget that SA could not beat AUS in ANY of the T20, ODI or test series played in SA just a few months ago. So AUS's ranking is with merit. But we are supposed to believe (according to ENG fans with a very short memory of their own recent humiliations away from home) that a meaningless recent ENG/AUS ODI series is somehow the true measure of things. But good luck to Eng and SA. May the best team win.

  • Supa_SAFFA on July 20, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    It almost wouldn't be test cricket if rain didn't come into play. And it hasn't ruined the contest so far.

  • Carpathian on July 20, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    Tim, so are you England shouldn't host SA in a Test series? Or only if it's 3+ Tests?

  • The_bowlers_Holding on July 20, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    Excellent comeback by SA as a test should be advantage one way then another, evens at the moment with a draw most likely, Swann might be pivotal in the 4th innings. I have been following the score on this site but will be spending the weekend watching. Not as good as T20 obviously too many variables and not enough dancing girls and fireworks.

  • MattyP1979 on July 20, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    Well SA would be happy with day 2. Still level pegging at this point. Still feel the way things are going Eng wont lose from here with the rr and SA having to bat last. Bring on day 3. Cmon Eng.

  • MattyP1979 on July 20, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    For all the probable incoming anglo bashing to follow remember this is a 5 day test and we still have runs on the board. Like SA we are probably finding the groove. I still give the advantage to Eng right now but we need a better day in the field day 3. This is a pitch where you need a little luck to get wickets, 2 chop ons and 2 bail shavers went against Eng. On the bad, Eng really need to get a decent 6 or Ravi to come good at some stage.

  • SurlyCynic on July 20, 2012, 18:53 GMT

    After all the talk on here about Kallis being a 'batting allrounder' who occasionally bowls, he once again took some key wickets and produced some great deliveries. Not bad for someone in his mid 30s.

  • Duty281 on July 20, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Day 2 was South Africa's day.

    Under cloudy skies, they managed to limit England to below 400. Steyn and Morkel looked very dangerous when bowling today. England's lower-order fired; they added 101 for the final 4 wickets and Matt Prior proved why he's the best wicket keeper batsman in the game today with a very useful knock of 60 which could prove very useful and make all the difference.

    And then onto the South African innings. It was pretty much a parallel of England's innings. Opener gets out cheaply and then the other opener and the No.3 dig in. Smith and Amla look like they could both post big scores but England might be eyeing that longish tail with relish. The pitch is starting to turn and that will delight Swann who's looking threatening while there was some swing for Anderson.

    As for the overall match situation, it's honours even in my book. It should be a cracking final 3 days and the weather forecast is good. Day 3 will be pivotal.