England v SA, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 2nd day August 3, 2012

England battle as South Africa retain control


England 48 for 0 (Strauss 19*, Cook 20*) trail South Africa 419 (Petersen 182, Smith 52, Broad 3-96) by 371 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Alviro Petersen had been the batsman in South Africa's top six that England least worried about, the only one to fail during their crushing innings victory at The Oval.

For Petersen to respond with 182, his highest Test score, did not really fit the script, especially as the script also involved England winning the toss in the second Test and putting South Africa in to bat, anticipating that their quartet of fast bowlers would cause mayhem. Instead, the tourists survived until tea on the second day.

Petersen did not just prove less vulnerable than England had anticipated, he produced the Test innings of his life: 182 in 365 balls, a ball for every day of the year, a year which from England's perspective will go down as an annus miserabilis.

It could have been worse for England. As their captain, Andrew Strauss, reflected on a strategy that had failed to bring the desired effect, he could at least take solace from the 17 overs that he survived alongside Alastair Cook before rain forced a premature end.

South Africa's new-ball bowling was awry, with Morne Morkel in particular spraying the ball wide of the left-handers' off stump. Dale Steyn, whose entrance was delayed until the sixth over, was driven down the ground as Strauss passed Len Hutton, on his home ground as well, in the list of England's leading Test runmakers. That is not the sort of statistic they announce on the PA at Headingley; if Strauss gets 200, somebody might deign to mention it.

But Petersen was the opener to celebrate. His innings was the cornerstone of South Africa's austerely compiled 419. Unless the weather forecast proves entirely wrong or Headingley, the great trickster among Test grounds, stages its greatest ruse of all time, it should at the very least protect South Africa's 1-0 lead entering the final Test at Lord's.

He needed treatment shortly before lunch for a hamstring strain, which was serious enough for him not to field during England's innings and go to a Leeds hospital for a precautionary scan. It might put him out of the rest of the match but the same levels of pain were felt by the media, who were unable to talk to him.

He finally succumbed to Stuart Broad in mid-afternoon, edging to the wicketkeeper, Matt Prior. He departed with his reputation enhanced, a fourth Test hundred secured and a Test average now comfortably above 40.

The manner of his dismissal begged the question why England had not countered him with fullish deliveries on or around off stump more often because this was the area where he rode his luck. England's lengths were shorter, their lines straighter, and Petersen flourished throughout with strong leg-side strokeplay, reaching both his fifty and hundred on the first day with confident pulls.

England had to resort to DRS to claim Petersen's wicket. The not-out decision by Rod Tucker was such a howler that Broad grinned at the absurdity of it all, knowing that the TV umpire would routinely overrule it. It was yet another example of how the Decision Review System enhances the game.

Once Petersen departed, at 353 for 7, England began to make progress, Vernon Philander swung Steven Finn to Tim Bresnan at deep square leg, Morne Morkel's attempted lofted drive against Broad fell tamely to Alastair Cook at mid-off and Imran Tahir fell without scoring, steering James Anderson to slip.

England remained committed to their long-held policy under Strauss and Andy Flower, the director of cricket, to play controlled Test cricket and draw their opponents into error. But their opponents were South Africa. They are not easily deflected from their task.

England had to settle for just the wicket of Jacques Rudolph in the first two hours. Even Rudolph's dismissal served to challenge the sense of England's omission of Graeme Swann in favour of an all-pace attack. Kevin Pietersen, whose part-time offspin was introduced in desperation 20 minutes before lunch, puffed out his cheeks and turned his second ball sharply past Rudolph's outside edge for Prior to complete the stumping.

It was referred by the square-leg umpire but Rudolph's foot was on the line, not behind it. It was a narrow call - and will doubtless be too narrow for some partisan observers - but all the evidence was in favour of the third umpire, Asad Rauf. England had taken a wicket that they sorely needed. Back in the dressing room, Swann's testosterone levels probably rose sharply with frustration.

Petersen also resorted to technology with telling effect earlier in the day. He had successfully overturned an lbw decision made by umpire Steve Davis shortly before the close on the first day when he was 119 and he did so again, this time before adding to his overnight 124, when Anderson's delivery was shown to be both high and going down the leg side.

It was a perfect first session for South Africa. The second new ball was less than eight overs old at start of play and there was enough movement to encourage England's bowlers, but Petersen and Rudolph absorbed the pressure, accepted their moments of fortune with composure, and maintained a rigorous approach that has characterised South Africa's cricket through the series.

The day began with six successive maidens but to term it stalemate would be misleading because with every over that passed the ball was ageing and, much to their frustration, England's chances were receding. Both Anderson and Broad were on their mettle, more purposeful than the first day, and nearly half an hour had elapsed when Petersen pushed Anderson into the off side for the first run.

England bowled shorter at Rudolph than Petersen, recognising his unwillingness to hook or pull, but he was in no rush and a series of conscientious leave-alones were combined with an occasional flirt to third man.

Rudolph had managed 19 from 73 balls on the ground where he played with distinction for Yorkshire for several seasons, imagining that his South Africa career was over, before Pietersen struck.

But the other Petersen ground forward, surviving an occasional flash at a wide one, willing himself to remain true to the stern disciplines that South Africa believe will bring them the series.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Eliot on August 4, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    Peterson was dropped on 29? The plan worked. But for Cook's mistake SA would be 250 all out.

  • Blaen on August 4, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    Yesterday's Saffa bowling session was a little bit disappointing seeing that we didn't take a wicket. This is one of the areas that Biff can take a lesson from Ian Chappell and Steve Waugh. Biff needed to be more attacking in that session. He should have put Tahir on after 10 overs new ball or not. I can guarantee you that the English media and Tahir have definitely taken up residence in Strauss' head with regard to quality spin and rash sweep shots. And that's why its so frustrating with Biff. He has this conservative and classical approach to his captaincy that irritates! Change your thinking Biff! Tahir is a weapon... an attacking wicket taking one at that! Stop thinking of him as your last ditch option when all other seam options have been exhausted!

  • Sharky on August 4, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    I think Rudolph was really unlucky getting stumped against Kevin Pietersen although Pietersen has beaten him fair and square with the turn. Rudolph just had a lack of concentration on where his back-foot was as he reached way too forward. Of all the Proteas, Rudolph has scored the most runs at Headingley while playing for Yorkshire. England looks way better than they did at the Oval and this will be a hard fight for the Saffers for they are still the underdogs. After of what I have seen at the Test at the Oval, I'm not that sure anymore that Graeme Swann is miles better than Imran Tahir. Although Imran Tahir had better figures at the Oval than Swann, I still rate them both equally dangerous.

  • Rakesh on August 4, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    England can still win this match but for that plenty needs to happen.

    Remember England really do not need to get past SA total or get a big lead.

    Bat sensibly and even if gets bowled out but try to get the deficit within say 40 odd runs. Next SA can crack in their batting , so many Tests with big 1st inn. scores by both teams are decided by 3rd inn of the match , where the team batting makes big mistakes. But this is a lot to happen.

    England needs to bat sensibly , pitch looks good for batting and so far neither team bowlers have actually bowled the correct length .

    So there is some hope for England

  • Dummy4 on August 4, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    even though the Alviro Petersen innings came with a huge dose of luck and was slowish its a good thing cause he has at least secured a draw for the proteas. Today however the bowlers have to hit the right areas around the wicket and start making early inroads in the first session. the extra bounce should in Morkel's favour

  • kumar on August 4, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    The onus of winning this match lies with England and loosing lies with SA

  • Anupam on August 4, 2012, 7:42 GMT

    no tsosilikile sorry for wrong spelling not in the team AB is handling behind the stumps. AB must play as a specialist batsman and keeper should replace rudolph.

  • Harmon on August 4, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Eng have a chance of winning this test match but for that to happen (paradoxically) Cook and Trott have to fail. The best way Eng can win this match is if KP and Bell score big (~150s) and then Prior and Broad score some quick runs in the end. I fear if Cook and Trot play a big knock they would only be writing their team's chances off in this test match. Eng need to have a lead of at least 100 runs to put SA in pressure on Day 4 and then hope to get them for 200-225 to have a target of 130s to chase. Eng chances are somewhat fat here but by no means null. If KP or Bell produce one of their mater works then Eng would score massive runs on Day 3 and that would turn the match around. However as things stand on Day 2, Eng have to play near flawless cricket to win this test. And SA need to choke to lose this one. But what does history tell us here haan? Eng might miss Swann though here.

  • Anupam on August 4, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    really missing swann, if he is injured then tredwell must be in the team or samit patel fills the 6th spot. test match without a spinner is a big joke. ECB really ruin the talent of bresnan, bresnan must be considered as an all rounder not as a third seamer. bresnan should bat on no 6 spot. finn is a good prospect for future but in his early career he is in pressure because he knows if swann in me out. 5 batsmen, 1 allrounder, 1 keeper batsman, 3 pacers, 1 spinner. i'm excited to watch 3rd day when AFRICAN DEADLY BARRAGE takes on BEST test team.

  • Andrew on August 4, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    @JG2704 - that's the thing, his injury has been a known factor for a while, & you'd imagine that IF they were at least slightly concerned about Swann, they'd of had Panesar or that brilliant spinner Blackwell!

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