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Plays of the Day from day two of the first Test between England and South Africa
George Dobell and Firdose Moonda at The Oval
July 21, 2012
Stat of the Day
When Graeme Smith became the seventh batsmen to score a hundred in his 100th Test, that was a remarkable statistic on its own - but there was a more unusual one doing the rounds as well. Veteran journalist Qamar Ahmed has been witness to four of those. Ahmed, who has lived and worked in England for much of his writing career, has seen Javed Miandad, Alec Stewart and Inzamam-ul-Haq reaching their landmarks. He was also in England when Cowdrey achieved the feat, at Edgbaston, but did not make it to the ground in time to see it. Asked which one of the hundreds he thought was the best, Ahmed found it tough to decide but said of Smith's: "It wasn't pretty at all, was it?"
Standing ovation of the Day
Five of the seven hundreds Smith has racked up against England have been in front of English crowds. They are used to him muscling his way to a big score and they don't really like it. You can tell by the noise. As Smith ground out his first fifty, at a strike rate that did not even reach 35, they waited for him to make a mistake with an expectant, hushed silence. As he freed his arms during the second, which came up in only 41 balls, they grew quieter still. Then, when he slashed at a full, wide Tim Bresnan delivery to bring up three figures before lunch, they exploded. Smith received applause from all quarters but got an even more thunderous reception when he inside-edged Bresnan on to his stumps 31 runs later. Every member of the full house was on their feet as massive applause ushered Smith back to the changing room. It said, "We may not like it, but we respect it."
Telling moment of the Day
England have utilised the DRS pretty well in recent times. Though Stuart Broad, in particular, can prove excitable, Andrew Strauss' calm manner and the policy of only reviewing if the captain, bowler and wicketkeeper all agree has led to England enjoying a measure of success with their calls. So it was an indication of their desperation that they called for a review with Smith on 108 and South Africa on 213 for 1. Replays showed that, not only did Tim Bresnan's delivery pitch outside the line of leg stump, but Smith also hit it. As leg before appeals go, it really had very little going for it.
Chilling moment of the Day
England's joy at ending Smith's marathon innings was short-lived. While they were naturally delighted at finally ending the stay of a man with 25 Test centuries, the sight of a fellow with 42 Test centuries walking down the pavilion steps to replace him was enough to pour cold water on their excitement. No bowler can relish Jacques Kallis coming to the crease at the best of times, but with the score on 260 for 2, the sight must have been chilling. There may be some doubts about the South Africa tail, but when the head and the body are as strong as this, it is not the most pressing of concerns.
Celeb spot of the Day
Important people like coming to the cricket. Be it movie stars, professionals of other sports and sometimes politicians. The last of those was in attendance on the third day. Labour party leader Ed Miliband was ushered into the press lounge, where he had lunch. He spent a few overs after the break in the media area outside and chatted to journalists, even posing for a photo or two.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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