England v SA, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 5th day August 6, 2012

Draw ensues after dice with danger


England 425 (Pietersen 149, Prior 68) and 130 for 4 drew with South Africa 419 (Petersen 182, Smith 52) and 258 for 9 dec (Rudolph 69, Smith 52, Broad 5-69)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A Headingley Test that had been marked throughout by cautious, disciplined cricket in morose weather ended with an unexpected and deeply uncomfortable England run chase as South Africa's captain, Graeme Smith, with the happy daring of a man who had recently witnessed the birth of his first child, set them 253 from 39 overs to level the series at 1-1 with one to play.

England's chase, which turned abruptly into a battle for survival at 106 for 4 with 19.2 overs remaining, was cagey but not entirely artificial as they responded in kind. Kevin Pietersen accepted the role of gung-ho opener - the first time he had opened for England in Test cricket - and struck three boundaries off Morne Morkel's first over before he spliced to mid-on. Matt Prior also came in at No. 5 shortly before England reached the final hour with 154 needed off 20. Then Prior was run out by Smith, of all people, from behind square as Jonathan Trott procrastinated over a second run.

The presence of Andrew Strauss and Trott in the top four summed up the double think in England's batting order; both would have been better reserved for calamity. It was a run chase England were obliged to flirt with, having lost the first Test in the series, but knew that the odds were they would end up blocking out.

Smith then, with the game safe, delayed a while before he dared to attack in force and called things off at 130 for 4 with six overs remaining - the equivalent of two sessions lost to rain had had the final say. The pressures of Test captaincy hang heavily. But both sides deserve credit for dicing with danger and both will claim a psychological advantage. What is beyond debate is that we have two sides entering the final Test at Lord's with appetites whetted. Why, oh why, is this a three-Test series?

If Pietersen's exhilarating century on the third day had first brought the Test alive, it was a more improbable achievement - three South Africa wickets on either side of lunch - that enlivened it again. But his biggest impact came after the match as he warned that his stand-off with the ECB was on the verge of bringing his England career to an end.

It certainly revitalised Stuart Broad, who is looking more and more a mood player these days, and who responded to a shift in the game with a five-wicket spell broken by tea, including a rush of four wickets in 20 balls as the sun broke through and an excellent Headingley pitch finally began to show signs of wear.

Broad, bowling full and straight, removed AB de Villiers, who had played regally for 44 from 45 balls, and JP Duminy with successive deliveries. Duminy got his feet in a tangle as he was dismissed first ball; Vernon Philander soon followed.

Then as tea approached, Broad made it four as he banged the ball in short at Jacques Kallis and brushed his glove to claim a wicketkeeper's catch as Kallis limbo danced in self-preservation. Alviro Petersen was also pressed into service despite a damaged hamstring that prevented him running with comfort. His last wicket, a slog by Morkel, was followed by Smith's declaration. And until recently his captaincy was held to be ultra conservative.

South Africa had begun the final day with a lead of 33 and crucially their opening pair survived until the last over before lunch, at which point, frustratingly for Jacques Rudolph, he was again immediately overcome by Pietersen's lightly regarded offspin. Pietersen had Rudolph stumped in his first over on the second day, and this time he had him lbw in his first over on the final day. On both occasions, the ball turned sharply.

Rudolph, the more skittish of the pair, released a few neat off-side drives but never looking content against the short ball. Several deliveries, against Anderson in particular, scudded through the slips, and he also took another blow on the shoulder as a short ball from Anderson forced him into evasive action.

As Pietersen assembled his best Test figures, Graeme Swann, whose offspin was omitted as England opted for an all-pace attack, was preparing to join Nottinghamshire for a Championship match at Taunton. The conclusion that England had erred in selection could not easily be avoided - although Pietersen's final wicket, a loopy full toss which Hashim Amla drilled to short extra, hardly ranked as evidence.

Pietersen also uprooted Smith, whose battling half-century, which was reached from the last ball of a morning session, extended to two-and-a-half hours and was interrupted by two rain stoppages, had made Headingley's first draw in 13 Tests all but inevitable.

Pietersen had thought he had Smith caught at the wicket only to waste a DRS appeal finding out he hadn't. But Smith fell in Pietersen's next over, this time the South Africa captain failing with a review after an ungainly sweep was caught by James Taylor at short leg. Umpire Steve Davis was perhaps fortunate that the TV umpire, Asad Rauf, did not overturn his decision.

Smith looked embattled. The look suited him, as it always does. It was a grouchy morning, with showers scudding across the outfield at regular intervals, his knee was strapped to try to combat a dicey cartilage and he had a Test match to save. As events subsequently suggested, it was not as straightforward as many supposed.

Smith had a let-off in the penultimate over before lunch when he edged Tim Bresnan, but was dropped one-handed by Anderson, diving to his right at second slip. Anderson later waved past de Villers' edge against Pietersen. He is England's best slip fielder, but there is a malaise at present in their close catching.

That escape apart, Smith was in his element. He has built a formidable Test record - more than 8,000 runs at an average over 50 - by grimacing and deflecting, working the leg side with an angled blade and putting his considerable bulk on the line to great effect. His record against England is a special one.

For all his inelegance, he is a special breed of cricketer. He defended his wicket with the resolve and physical presence of a Greco-Roman wrestler imagining he was fighting himself.

England attacked him predictably, with their routine two-slips-and-a-gully and run savers on the leg side. With quick wickets imperative, on this occasion at least, the lack of a leg-side catcher verged on the negligent. But England are committed to their disciplines and by the time they played fast and loose with Pietersen and Broad it was too late.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anupam on August 9, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    from the hundreds of matches some fans are stick up with one series defeat in UAE. again they make exception as an example.

  • Soso on August 9, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Had it not been for KP's 149, we would be world no.1 by now. I dnt knw y a position of domince scares south africa. Hope we win at lords.

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    over to lords now. its really pathetic too see that we have played only 21 test matches which is equal to the number of matches new zealand have played in the latest icc rankings table. australia has played 34 and england 32 even pakistan and india have played 29 each, windies have played 28 , even sri lanka has played more matches than us. so according to icc we are as good as new zealand and below the other countries in test cricket. its time to thrash icc's so called no 1 out at lords and take the crown even by playing the least no of matches. thats styraight on your face icc

  • John on August 8, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    @Gerard Pereira on (August 08 2012, 10:47 AM GMT) Monty did indeed take the most wkts in the UAE but was unsuccessful in his 1 test in SL but let's not let a little lack of knowledge get in the way here eh? Jimmy took 9 wkts in UAE at 27.66 and 9 in SL at 21.77 which is maybe not elite but still pretty decent for a pacer in SC conditions. Broad took 13 wickets in UAE AT 20.46 which is surely impressive enough (his average was the best of all Eng bowlers inc Monty in UAE) He struggled in his one test in UAE but he was hampered with an injury which we gambled on going into the one test he played and has probably struggled since. So while the bowlers and batsman come as a package it was the batsmen who badly let us down on these tours.

  • Sharky on August 8, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    The RandyOZ comments vs RednWhiteArmy comments and The RandyOZ comments vs Hammond comments are priceless and just as entertaining as following the cricket series. That's why sledging should never be taken out of the game. It spice up the story !

  • Dummy4 on August 8, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    JG2704 Results in the UAE show a 3-0 thrashing, SL 1-1. I think it was Panaser who caused the Pakistanis and the Sri Lankans the most problems not Messrs Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and one other.

  • Geoffrey on August 7, 2012, 21:18 GMT

    @RandyOz- compared to what mate? The footy fans getting blind on Carlton mid-strength in the uncovered seats of the Victor Trumper stand? The Barmy Army actually follow their team around the world, not just cheer on the bog average Aussies because there is no League/AFL on the TV in the summer. Australians are some of the least cricket informed people in the cricketing world.

  • Anupam on August 7, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    haha about rank 1. every team has its day, no team can maintain no 1 spot but the only thing is that how long you maintain your position and is no1 team is playing like no1 team. before Eng Oz team is the no1 team. whats new on this.

  • dave on August 7, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    Do all you people who are so anti-england have some sort of huge chip on your shoulders?? Rankings are all relative to the current form of test playing nations. So what if South Africa are better or worse or the same as England. Are you guys still hurting from thumping defeats in Australia (fair enough-a great ashes victory) or losing 4-0 and No.1 ranking(India last summer). Why can't you just be gracious in defeat? Do some of you even understand the subtleties and nuances of test cricket or do you just enjoy bashing England??

  • Dru on August 7, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    Tough test contest that game but the most surprising thing for me was neither star studded bowling line up's could get wickets with the new ball. I was half expecting the series to be won on how well the middle order batted, after the new ball had accounted for the top order. Just goes to show the quality of both top orders I guess. Jimmy hasnt had much of an impact which has been a major surprise as has Philander. I really thought these two guys would be a major problem with the new ball. Steyn hs done his bit but only just. All set for Lords and Eng need to take some chances - your not going to beat this SA side in a boxing type bout - Eng need some magic.

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