England v South Africa, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 2nd day

Bairstow battles to keep England alive

The Report by David Hopps

August 17, 2012

Comments: 135 | Text size: A | A

England 208 for 5 (Bairstow 72*, Prior 22*) trail South Africa 309 (Philander 61, Duminy 61, Finn 4-75) by 101 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Jonny Bairstow pulls during his maiden Test fifty, England v South Africa, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 2nd day, August 17, 2012
Jonny Bairstow was always going to receive plenty of short balls but dealt with them well © Getty Images
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South Africa must have sensed for much of an engrossing day at Lord's that their ambition to displace England as the No 1 Test side in the world was slowly edging closer. Their fast-bowling attack has impressed throughout the series and once again they treated England's batsmen to an unflagging examination.

Jonny Bairstow begged to differ. He was the replacement for Kevin Pietersen, the character in a KP-produced soap opera who would be set up for a fall, and he knew that Pietersen's supporters would regard him as a pale imitation of the real thing. His Test experience was only three matches old and it they had not gone awfully well. But against a formidable South Africa attack with the series in a critical phase he steeled himself to make an unbeaten 72 from 137 balls that kept England in contention.

England's fourth wicket fell at 56, just as South Africa's had on the first day, but two identical scores had a different feel: South Africa had the sense merely of a troubled Test first morning; England's smacked of a side labouring to turn the tide of a series that South Africa have dominated and produce a win in the final Test to claw it back to 1-1.

Bairstow then added 124 in 38 overs with Ian Bell, who pored for 158 balls over 58 before Vernon Philander, whose consistent hammering of a good length has been ill rewarded in this series, finally put together a successful sequence that ended with Bell squirting a low catch to third slip.

Bell was intent upon the long haul; Bairstow was initially more concerned with the next short one after a shaky Test baptism against the West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach. This time he had donned a chest guard and met all thrown at him with reasonable equilibrium. South Africa never quite directed the ball at Bairstow's body with the same intent as Roach, but gone was the jerky, self-preservation that had characterised those anxious early steps in Test cricket.

He played within himself until tea and then from the moment he pulled Morkel to the square leg boundary - a favourite area - he sensibly tried to steal the initiative. It would be quite a heist because South Africa have guarded it throughout. The new ball is nine overs away.

It was a sweltering day, that rarest of things in a crabby summer. The skies turned a supportive shade of blue as England began to bat at Lord's with Andrew Strauss in his 100th Test. More than eight years ago, he made a century on debut on his home ground. With the Test series in the balance, a capacity crowd hummed with respectable debate about whether he could possibly make another one.

But by tea, Strauss' day was also turning blue. South Africa were defending only a moderate first-innings total, but Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Alastair Cook and James Taylor were all dispensed with by the 24th over.

South Africa pair up Dale Steyn against Trott as soon as possible and Steyn straightened one a fraction to have him lbw, an excellent use of DRS by Graeme Smith. Cook's footwork had been stilted and he had only 7 from 40 balls when his disorientation was summed up by his chasing of a wide one from Steyn and a catch for Jacques Kallis at second slip. Taylor, after two boundaries in an over against Steyn, a nervous edge followed by one of his specialities, a back-foot boundary through point, edged Morne Morkel to first slip.

As for Strauss, once again it was his old terroriser, his old adversary, Morkel, who did for him. In the last over before lunch, he brought one back down the slope to demolish Strauss' stumps and, in the process, destroying any assumptions in north London that in the wake of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, history could be so pre-ordained.

In one delivery, Morkel had reminded us that Test cricket was a hard school where statistics had to be earned. Morkel has been Strauss' perpetual nightmare. He began his innings with 112 runs against Morkel at an average of 17. As he walked to the pavilion, he was in no mood to update the statistics; the media will do that for him. Smith allowed himself a stern smile of satisfaction. South Africa's captain had again preferred Morkel for the new ball ahead of Steyn and even though Morkel was initially inconsistent, he tightened up as the short pre-lunch session, 10.4 overs in all, developed. Strauss played and missed and was struck in the ribs, his unease again evident.

South Africa had been dismissed for 309 on the second morning with Philander taking his best Test score to 61 before he was last out, stumped trying to lift England's offspinner Graeme Swann, into Regent's Park.

The total represented a fine recovery after they had lost half their side for 105 on the opening day. At 262 for 7 overnight they added another 47 runs in 13.4 overs. Philander, 46 not out at the end of the first day, reached his half-century by pulling Stuart Broad through square leg. Broad's pace, again noticeably down in his 50th Test, was causing growing conjecture about his state of health only a month before he is due to lead England in World Twenty20.

The first day had concluded with Steyn struck on the body by Steven Finn and successfully protesting that with two Lord's floodlights inoperative it was too murky to continue. The second morning began with Steyn peppered by James Anderson and flinging a glove up to protect his face.

Steyn became the eighth batsman to fall, pouched by Swann at second slip as he edged a drive at Broad and when Morkel also began to provide useful late-order runs, South Africa's resilience was again beginning to put England's four-strong attack under pressure. But Finn, although not at his best, picked up his fourth wicket with a wide ball delivered from around the wicket as Morkel's edge was expertly intercepted in front of first slip by Matt Prior.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by jezzastyles on (August 18, 2012, 15:00 GMT)

A 6-run lead to England & South Africa about to begin their 2nd innings as I write this. A fine knock to Bairstow, it was a shame he didn't register a maide test hundred as he thoroughly deserved it. As for comments regarding his inability to play the short ball, what a load of baloney. Steyn and Morkel peppered him with hostile short balls, and he responded well. Anderson was the pick of the bowlers for England, and he must continue that form and take some early wickets. If (and it is a big "if") England can have SA 5 for 120 or so, then we'll see how the challengers respond to the pressure. Either team can win from here. Which player will take this game by the scruff of the neck and win it for his team. Anderson or Finn are the obvious choices for England, but Swann may also chip in after an excellent display of tail-end batting earlier. As always, may the better side win.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 18, 2012, 11:36 GMT)

@Garp / Snowsnake and a few others: In English conditions, fast (90mph+) bowling is useless, and goes straight to the boundary for 4. Slowing the pace down to ~80mph allows something much more effective than raw speed: swing, drift and seam movement. Great bowlers like Steyn and Morkel know this, and use it. The Aussies did not during the last ODI series, and got whitewashed.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 18, 2012, 11:04 GMT)

@Garp - rubbish. Apart from bowling speeds - which I'm sure you should realise with VP isn't everything - you're saying we should drop Broad,Trott and Cook ? Cook score a 100 in the 1st test , Trott scored 60 odd in that test and also helped see us to safety in the last test and Broad (who was probably most under pressure) took 5 for in the last inns before this test. Also re our bowlers we were unlucky not to bowl you out cheaper , if you look at how often the ball beat the bat in day 1 final session. Jimmy was really unlucky not to get 5 for and bowled better than Finn who took 4. I know SA have had periods of bad luck with the ball too but we'd have bowled you out twice last test had Smith not declared so we can't be all that bad.

Posted by RFC73 on (August 18, 2012, 10:22 GMT)

Kevin who? Seriously this is a very close match which I reckon will go to the side that holds its nerve under presssure. And as SA are one of the teams involved we all know the answer. If Dame Vera lynn was from SA she'd sng ''We'll choke again don't know where don't know when'...

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

@Marcio, Weather conditions will obviously always have an influence over matches played in England, I do think though, that the quality of Steyn and Morkel to pick wickets consistently has overcome that. It looks very much from here as though England will be chasing a pretty decent target batting last now. I think batting last at Lords is no simple place to be in, more likely even trickier than batting on the first day. There's the old saying at the toss... You can think about bowling and that you may just bowl the opposition out cheaply, but you should bat first anyway. Winners bat first, it has always been so, it's a show of confidence and come the 4th innings having runs already on the board is the best of places to be in.

Posted by veerakannadiga on (August 18, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

first time I saw Bairstow play,must admit I liked what I saw.The aggression with which he smashed Tahir for 3 fours in one over was awesome.He has a bright future.BTW, this match is interestingly poised.Looking forward to the 3rd days play.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 9:08 GMT)

@Indianajones99... You take out KP's best 4 innings, out of just 27 and then say he 'only' averages 43?! Really, what kind of statictical interpretation is that? Why don't you take out his worst four instead? How do the other players compare with the same treatment? I'm no great fan of KP, but you just can NOT do that. His big knock in Adelaide was more important than any knock the likes of Bell and Strauss have ever played and yet you throw it out as a statistical anomoly?

Posted by JG2704 on (August 18, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

I see there are several comments saying that England only took wickets in this game because they were bowling in favourable conditions. I was actually lambasted for saying that SA had the better bowling conditions in the 1st test - and that also when I was responding to a commenter who was questioning our bowling attack's quality - and while SA thrashed us fair and square the bowling conditions on day 2 until the rain came down and cleared the mugginess certainly helped change the game. Eng's batsmen did the team no favours either in that test but in the last test when the 2 sides had equal conditions it was a level game. Very one eyed indeed

Posted by JG2704 on (August 18, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

@Meety on (August 17 2012, 23:02 PM GMT) We might have to try and take a leaf from your guys book who proved that an inconsistent batting line up can chase a 300+ total down against this quality SA attack

Posted by JG2704 on (August 18, 2012, 8:54 GMT)

@VillageBlacksmith on (August 18 2012, 00:39 AM GMT) Bad shot by Bell , but come on man it was the men above who failed more than Bell and his SR was improving after he saw through the early onslaught. Surely Bell must get some credit for holding the inns together. If Bell and Jonny went cheaply SA could well have had us following on. SA may still be slightly on top but there certainly isn't much in it

Posted by JG2704 on (August 18, 2012, 8:54 GMT)

@IndnCrktfan on (August 18 2012, 01:32 AM GMT) Mate , I'll be honest , I don't think we will get any substantial lead if we get a lead at all. I can realistically see us being bowled out for less than 50 more but I'd love to be proven wrong. We could have done with the last session going on for another 2 hours because now Matt and Jonny have to start again which is always hard. I think if we can get any sort of lead we stand a fair chance. The one good thing is that the game has moved on. I think I'd rather we lose than SA ending up batting out a draw.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 18, 2012, 8:54 GMT)

@zenboomerang on (August 18 2012, 05:04 AM GMT) Indeed I'd have still gone 5/1/5 and while we'd have missed Jonny's runs , I think we'd have had SA out cheaper with Onions in there. This is the 1st time however in recent times I remember a number 6 coming in and doing something when coming to the crease in a crisis time. Obviously on this showing Jonny gets in before Taylor but we have to go on what we'd seen before the test. If Broad hadn't taken 5 for in the last inns I might have had him out of the side. I think I'd still have had Onions in over Finn. I thought Finn did not deserve a 4 for. Jimmy I thought deserved a 5 for but just took 3 wkts so swings and roundabouts I guess

Posted by tommytucker on (August 18, 2012, 8:52 GMT)

Lets be honest here, do you really see England bowling SA out in their 2nd innings...I dont. 3 seamers, one of which bowls at 80mph - thats 10mph slower than our 4th seamer Kallis and a defensive spinner, baking hot sun. Have a great bat SA boys, grind them into the Lords pitch, then chuck them in on the 3rd session on the 4th day and watch the wobble.

Posted by Hira1 on (August 18, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

Odds are favoring Bairstow to score hundred as whoever replaces KP manages to score very well with like of Bell in one day and Hales in T20.....if England manages some how to pass SA africa they have a good chance but still 3 more days to go and England need to bat last on this wicket.....

Posted by Marcio on (August 18, 2012, 8:24 GMT)

Weather conditions will decide this game, which is pretty much what I've been saying all along. The difference in batting conditions was huge from the beginning of the game to the middle of day 2 - from the ball billowing all over tha place like a balloon in a hurricane, to pretty much dead straight. It seems batting conditions are getting easier, and they will probably stay that way till day 5 or so, unless there is more rain, like day 1. makes one wonder why smith chose to bat on day 1. Maybe he knows something that we don't - played right into England's strength - swing/seam bowling (also SA's strength, which is even more bizzare as to why he didn't bowl). Maybe the Saffas subconsciously don't believe they can win - it's an accusation that has long haunted the team, and perhaps why they keep throwing away games and series they should win.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (August 18, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

The aussys must stay up all night to watch England or record it & go to sleep thinking about England haha mind you, they have been starved of seeing quality cricket for a while now. still weird though..

Posted by SuperSharky on (August 18, 2012, 7:55 GMT)

@Posted by Indiana_jones99 on (August 18 2012, 06:22 AM GMT). Maybe you are not so misleading when you say " So it is misleading when to say that the 22 test wins out of the 43 tests were due to the contribution of KP alone. " Cricket is definitely a team effort and not a solo effort, but one person can change a whole teams view and attitude. The England I knew before KP entered their squad, didn't had the same confidence or positive will like they have now. KP definitely contributed to the new positive England approach. But he has done his bit now and he isn't bigger than the team and no-one will ever be. Just as I prefer Sammy to stay the Windies captain rather than Gayle taking the whole scene, I also prefer Andrew Strauss way of captaincy rather than KP's brilliant talent.

Posted by MartinC on (August 18, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

@RandyOz. Mate, I'd be a lot more worried about the Aussie batting 'depth' than England's if I was you.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

What an intriguing match and far closer to what you'd expect from a battle between 1 and 2 in the world. Very good knock from Bairstow, if he can go and make a century it will indeed be a very meaningful one indeed, on the flip side, it seems like something that Bell just can't quite manage. Right now I think i'd rather be in Smith's shoes than those of Strauss, if only because Steyn and Morkel seem to be an irresistable force right now. Morkel in particular seems to be able to bowl the odd peach that just leaves the batsmen with no say at all in what transpires. Whatever comes next i'm sure we'll see some good cricket played.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

Match is in a very interesting position.Could go either way.I'd say even-stevens at the moment.

Posted by Indiana_jones99 on (August 18, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

someone claimed Kevin Pietersen averaging 66.5 in the 22 test wins out of 43 he played leading to England getting the No. 1 status. (1729 runs in 26 innings) was the most important player during this period. However analysis indicates otherwisae : Out of this only 6 match wins could be attributed to KP (1) 115 vs NZ (2) 100 & 13 vs SA - Oval (3) 80 vs Pak - Birming (4) 227 vs Aus - Adelaide (5) 202* vs India - Lords (6) 175 vs India - Oval. If you take away the top 4 scores 227, 202*, 175, 115 he averages 43.9 (1010 runs in 23 Innings) which is less than his career average. The rest of the 16 wins were due to the batting effort of : Cook (7), Bell (7), Trott(4), Morgan (2), Bopara (2), Strauss (1), Prior(1). Out of these centuries 11 innings 150+ with 4 double centuries. Some of these matches were won by an Innings so the effort of the bowlers are also significant. So it is misleading when to say that the 22 test wins out of the 43 tests were due to the contribution of KP alone.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 18, 2012, 6:54 GMT)

@RandyOZ on (August 18 2012, 02:45 AM GMT), I'm interested to know how much of Bairstow's innings you saw. I'm an England fan so I stayed up until 4.00 AM to see the game to stumps. As much as you love commenting on stories about England, I'm not convinced that you be so keen as to stay up to the wee hours watching. Bairstow looked a little fidgety early on but then who doesn't? Did you happen to see Kallis get worked over by Broad in game 2? I'm guessing not. Once he was set, Bairstow looked pretty good pulling Morkel to the midwicket fence. I guess being able to feast on the fodder dished up by Aus A got him in the right frame of mind.

Posted by Hammond on (August 18, 2012, 6:29 GMT)

@RandyOz- I'd be more worried about Australia if I were you. Next years ashes will be very uneven as far as the batting goes. Hussey can't keep playing forever. Did you actually see any of this test? I just caught Bairstow's innings again on the Fox replay and it truly was a great knock against a very good bowling attack. I didn't think he looked in trouble at all against the short ball. If anything after a few flat bat pull shots against Morkel they seemed reluctant to bowl the short stuff at him. English cricket talent looks about as thin as Bollingers toupe..

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 6:29 GMT)

I think England's batting has been the problem for a while. Bairstow making a score will be a significant milestone. Fortunately there are a couple of series' coming up with he opportunity to further build confidence Playing h likes of Lyon, pattinson and cummins.

Posted by Snick_To_Backward_Point on (August 18, 2012, 6:14 GMT)

Congrats to Bairstow. Cool, calm under the most intense scrutiny. India and Oz can only dream of such talent.

Posted by zenboomerang on (August 18, 2012, 6:12 GMT)

@SnowSnake... I think many fans exaggerate their own bowlers speeds by 10-15kph... A bit like fishermen :P (& I'm one - lol)... It interesting to note that today bowlers are speed checked by the 'out of the hand' speed while in previous decades it was the length of the crease - makes the old speedsters even faster than todays pacemen...

Posted by jagatr on (August 18, 2012, 6:06 GMT)

England have nosed ahead in this test - and all credit to Jimmy's plucky batting. A few decent knocks from Prior, Broad and Swann and SA will find the'choker' tag staring them in the face again.

Posted by zenboomerang on (August 18, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

@JG2704 :- "well played Jonny for putting across the argument for 6/1/4"... Maybe :)... I thought before the game that Bairstow should have batted at no.4, Bell then Taylor - still do after watching this innings performance... So Taylor would have been my dropped player for a Woakes or Onion... 5-1-5 is alive & well :)... lol... Looks like a good day 3 coming up & haven't given up on a positive result...

Posted by Meety on (August 18, 2012, 5:53 GMT)

@ Garp ".. not going t0o bother the top 5-6 South African batsmen.." - well I think they did on Day 1, there was no unpredictableness about the pitch, it was some reasonnable bowling, a touch of luck & poor batting by the Saffas, but they WERE bothered!

Posted by kaidranzer on (August 18, 2012, 5:16 GMT)

Well played Bairstow. While watching, I was hoping Bairstow would play a good knock but England being skittled for a low score. Now I hope England wins the Test. It would be a pretty enjoyable tit for tat if they lose the No.1 ranking in India. Although I think both are very improbable.

Posted by Bilal94 on (August 18, 2012, 4:28 GMT)

What is it with these Pietersen replacements.First Bell in ODIs then Hales in T20s and now Bairstow in tests.It seems whoeverreplaces him performs.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 18, 2012, 3:45 GMT)

Bairstow again looked very shaky against the short ball. Strauss once again proved he is at grade cricket standard at best. Taylor also showing how thin the talent is. Worrying signs ahead for England.

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 18, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

This series has really livened up, both teams are competitive, such a pity we aren't going to see a 4th test and 5th test.

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 18, 2012, 3:13 GMT)

@Garp: Steyn and Morkel bowl at a consistent 90+ mph (144 kph)? Here are the facts (per the Cricinfo innings summary, and there was the odd ball where no speed was recorded). Steyn bowled 100 balls (16-overs with 4 no balls), his fastest ball was 144.4 kph, and he only went 140.0 kph or above on 31 occassions (meaning he was at 87.5 mph on around 69 occassions). At best, his average speed would have been around the 87 mph mark. He simply does not bowl consistently at 90+ mph (but pure pace isn't everything, and he is the best bowler in the world today, no doubt about it). Morkel is quicker than Steyn. He bowled 115 balls (19-overs with 1 wide), his fastest ball was 146.2 kph, but he had a few overs where every ball was 140.0 kph or above (Steyn didn't). He went at 140.0 kph or above on 46 occassions. That still means the bulk of his balls were at 87.5 mph or slower. Kallis' fastest was 135.4 kph (nothing to write home about), and Philander 135.7 kph. Pace isn't everything.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 18, 2012, 3:07 GMT)

@Chris_P & Kays789: Save your sermons friends. You can't change some people. Besides, it's not like English or 'non-Indian' fans don't post nonsense/negativity on Team India when it absolutely doesn't concern them. We all have our share of flaws. Just chill folks. :D

Posted by Buckers410 on (August 18, 2012, 2:56 GMT)

England should have been: 1.Strauss (c) 2.Cook 3.Trott 4.Bell 5.Bairstow 6.Prior 7.Broad 8.Bresnan 9.Swann (I would have preffered Tredwell) 10.Anderson 11.Finn

Posted by StatisticsRocks on (August 18, 2012, 2:32 GMT)

@JG: I wouldn't rule out an ENG win especially if ENG manage to take a lead of 100 - 150 given that Prior is still batting and we all know how briskly he can score. If these two can negotiate the new ball ENG will put up a substantial lead and SA will be in trouble especially if they lose 4 or 5 wickets before surpassing ENG's lead.

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 18, 2012, 2:23 GMT)

Alas, Bell did not go on and make a hundred, but it looks like the 22-year old Bairstow can. An innings of great maturity in a pressurecooker situation against the best attack in the world, and Steyn and Morkel were in top gear in friendly conditions. Bloody marvellous knock by the young man. @Fury: I agree, Broad needs to deliver with the bat in this innings. A 40+ score would be invaluable. When he first emerged onto the test match scene, he contributed with the bat on a consistent basis. I'd love to see Prior kick on and score a ton as well - he has been England's most consistent player this series - hugely under rated player. Prior is the best specialist WK in world cricket at the moment (sorry, Sangakarra and De Villiers are not in the same league as glovemen). Hard to pick a winner in this one, my crystal ball just shattered. This match is evenly poised, England need to score at least 350, then it's back to their bowlers to do something special. Perhaps Swann will deliver.

Posted by viswanav on (August 18, 2012, 1:48 GMT)

There's a typo in the article. England's fourth wicket fell when they had 54 runs on the board (and not 56).

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (August 18, 2012, 1:39 GMT)

bell just never learns... out again to a terrible shot, he had tried to get out to the previous 4 deliveries and finally made contact with the 5th... chasing yet another wide one with a shot he did not have to play.. his strike rate is again very low but at least it's up from the 8% from the last innings... Yes, SR does matter, to get quickly past the deficit, into credit and give the Eng bowlers time to bowl the opposition out.. This is a match Eng have to win, so SR is important, and so is not getting out to the same stupid shot (yet again) when well set... Give me JB over IB anytime.

Posted by SnowSnake on (August 18, 2012, 1:07 GMT)

@Garp and Sicko. Click on Commentry tab and see the speeds for yourself. In first 3 overs, Morkel did not bowl a single ball over 90 mph. The average was 85-86 mph. These are the facts.

Posted by SnowSnake on (August 18, 2012, 1:01 GMT)

@Garp: 90 mph is over 145 kmph. This is baloney I have been hearing for a long time. Steyn and Morkel DO NOT bowl consistently over 90 mph. If you don't believe me do the math tomorrow. Their average speed is around 85 mph. I have done this math several times and that is why I don't understand why Cricinfo classifies these two bowlers as fast and then several other bowlers (including some Aussies) as fast medium.

Posted by barrick on (August 18, 2012, 0:56 GMT)

Re: dontlikecricket "... England who for some reasons are unable to opertae unless they have bowlers friendly conditions". It's more subtle than that. It is certainly true that, unless there are helpful conditions, no single one of the bowlers appears capable of returning 8/50 or similar under their own steam, and so we need all four to bowl as a unit.

It is this that is not happening, and, to my mind, the culprits are Broad and Finn. Pressure and control gained by Anderson is released by their less consistent (not inconsistent) bowling - length in particular. Broad is capable of better, and perhaps England are hoping that Finn will become that strike bowler capable of regular profitable spells, but they seem to be bowling individually, or at least, not together, at the moment.

Bresnan has better Test batting and bowling averages than Broad, and is much more economical than Finn, and would seem to be, with Onions, better bets than the two incumbents at the moment.

Posted by Chris_P on (August 18, 2012, 0:51 GMT)

@Kays789. Spot on! As a neutral I sit back & enjoy cricket for what it is & appreciate the efforts. The posts of some of these guys defies logic. Here's a challenge. For all those non English & South African followers, why not just post positives & only give derogatory comments when your own team plays? I would think your own teams have plenty of challenges to overcome.

Posted by dontlikecricket on (August 18, 2012, 0:28 GMT)

Interesting first 2 days so far. 208 for 5 in excellent batting conditions on day 2 is not a great score, however England is still in the game. The team making least mistakes over next 3 days has a chance of winning. Weather conditions suppose to be good for batting so it will be difficult few days for the bowlers. I agree with @Walter Aussems comments, SA made life difficult for batsmen in very helpful conditions. Their bowlers are better then England who for some reasons are unable to opertae unless they have bowlers friendly conditions.

Posted by Meety on (August 18, 2012, 0:02 GMT)

Match even. That said one or tail wags from England & a lead of over 50 could be crucial. Pity this wasn't the 1st test, or more appropriately not the LAST test of the series!!!!!!!!

Posted by Kays789 on (August 17, 2012, 23:56 GMT)

don't you just hate it when the indians come here and make this about india even when they aren't playing? having said that, if SA don't let england get too far ahead in the first innings, it's hard to see how england could come back to win this.

Posted by Garp on (August 17, 2012, 23:54 GMT)

@Snowflake - Steyn and Morkel bowl at a consistent 90mph or better, Englands bowlers are lucky to hit 85 on any type of consistent basis. I said this from the start, we (England) are not going t0o bother the top 5-6 South African batsmen with 78-85 mph bowling unless there is unpredictable swing and bounce. Broad and Anderson didn't bother them the last time SA came to England, they hardly bothered them in SA, and they weren't going to bother them now. I just can not believe there isn't a true quality fast bowler in all of England? There were 2 bowlers who caused trouble for SA's batsmen in 2008 I believe it was and they are both retired now but both hit 90 regularly. Based on form Strauss, Cook, Trott, and Broad should of never been selected for this test, but there in lies our biggest problem, the ECB has and plays favorites and those favorites have the Golden Ticket as far as selection goes. But they'll drop the only batsmen with consistency and the talent to handle SA's attack, KP.

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (August 17, 2012, 23:48 GMT)

WalterAussems-SA won the toss so had the choice of bowling first, maybe they should have bowled first with the benefit of being able to see what the conditions were. Just a thought, seems England have all the luck every time they play against anyone.

Posted by warnerbasher on (August 17, 2012, 23:40 GMT)

A change for England to have a batsman batting at 4 scoring tough runs with England in trouble rather than flashy runs at 2 for 200. SA just in front but with Prior still batting then that could change quickly. Good hard test cricket and we (Australia) will have to step up a notch or 2 to compete with either side in upcoming series. Looking forward to tonight watching these 2 very good teams resume battle.

Posted by cornishcol on (August 17, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

anyone else notice Ian Bell take a single whilst South Africa team chased a pigeon? He shrugged his shoulders as if to say tough! Yet when he was run out (quite rightly) he was recalled to the crease.Terrible double standards by a poor sport!

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 17, 2012, 23:27 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge: hahahahahaha !! Your comments are so hilarious that I just rolled on the floor laughing my tummy out. I hope you can save some of your funnier comments when England do manage to get embarrassed overseas in coming tours. I am not saying they will though *wink wink* hahaha.

Posted by SICHO on (August 17, 2012, 23:27 GMT)

@SnowSnake. You are so wrong. Were you watching the game? I doubt that, England were bowling on favourible conditions while SA bowled on clear daylight. You're wrong again about the pace of the bowlers, Steyn was going around 86-89mph while Morkel cranked it at the 90mph mark. The only England bowler close to that was Finn, Broad was going at 79mph while Anderson's fastest was Steyn's slowest. For christ sake even the ageing Kallis has more pace than the two.

Posted by barrick on (August 17, 2012, 23:27 GMT)

Whilst, as a fellow Yorkshireman and Old Peterite, I am absolutely delighted to see Jonny perform so well, a lot of commentary about his form today, both in this comments section here and in the professional media, is full of the benighted short-termism of the modern game.

Pietersen goes and England (and the ECB) are suddenly useless, a couple of troubled innings and Bairstow cannot play short-pitch bowling, a fantastic innings today and both Pietersen and the short ball are completely forgotten. All of this is based on meagre evidence and none of those statements can be believed as truth.

There's more than enough proof in his First Class career to date that he's a fabulous batsman, more attacking naturally than we saw today, excellent in the outfield, very good and improving as a wicketkeeper. As a Test player, he will be Prior's successor, and should be judged as such, rather than as a true front-line batsman - i.e. aiming for an average of 35-40 rather than 50-55.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 17, 2012, 23:24 GMT)

@rajiv_cruise: WELL SAID friend !! Some of these people who blame the IPL are mindless muppets. Every team is bound to become 'weak' when its great players leave the team. India only have Tendulkar left because VVS Laxman is going to retire shortly following the NZ series. So the team is in transition and so are Australia. It will be at least 2 years before India can win anything major outside the subcontinent. Coming back to the point here, SA players also play in the IPL. I don't think they have gotten soft by any means. If anything, it has made them value playing for SA a lot more and they look like the next best test team IMO. Still England could make a real fight out of this game. A lead of 100 could prove vital to England's chances of a win. Interesting day ahead.

Posted by landl47 on (August 17, 2012, 23:19 GMT)

Although he doesn't make a song and dance about it, Matt Prior is having a very good series. He's England's leading scorer, has only failed once (and that was run out in the attempt to chase a steep target in the second test) and in the SA innings here took five catches and a stumping. He's a very professional performer and a big part of the England team. Hopefully, Jonny Bairstow will pick up some of his good habits.

Posted by landl47 on (August 17, 2012, 23:05 GMT)

A good fight-back by Bell and Bairstow after some not very inspired batting by the top order. Cook will have nightmares about that shot, I'm sure, and Strauss and Trott basically just missed straight ones. All credit to Bairstow, who knew he would be subjected to a barrage of short stuff and met it resolutely. With England still 100 behind it's hard to imogine them getting a big enough first-innings lead to put SA under pressure, but I hope they'll keep battling away. With three days left, there's lots of time for a result. It's been a fascinating game so far.

Posted by ashes61 on (August 17, 2012, 23:05 GMT)

Cricketolympian: I agree with your posts. Test cricket is in very good health in this country, as is the future of ENG test cricket, it would seem. There is some mouth-watering ENG talent soon ready to step up. JB only one of several. So good to see nearly 30,000 packed into the Home of Cricket and absorbed by every minute. Sometimes deathly silent in moments of tension, often just the expectant buzz, applause for boundaries of both teams and the odd roar when a wicket falls. No peurile screaming at cameras two feet away which have been egging on spectators in an effort to hype things up unnecessarily. No contrived "excitement." Just genuine cricket lovers who know their onions & love the game, watching a fascinating tussle, especially the attritional stages. Very high tkt prices, sold out 6 months ago, every ground bursting at the seams for the best version of the game, multi-dimensional cricket. Never mind about No 1 rankings - who cares?Just a great scrap for the d'Oliveria trophy

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 22:55 GMT)

@snowsnake, The reason why SAs bowling is called better than englands is that while the english have made inroads into the SA batting, they did it with very helpful overhead conditions. The saffers are doing the same with normal overhead conditions(i might even say the better batting conditions). Broad should be dropped imo. The guy bowls at a pedestrian pace and his batting isnt really something to boast about. England would be much better off with Anderson,Finn and Onions(heck even bresnan looks more threatening). Nice to see Johnny stepping up to the plate, tho he looked pretty uncomfortable at times, seems hes got some guts and grit. Reminds me of collingwood.

Posted by rajiv_cruise on (August 17, 2012, 22:49 GMT)

@Cricketolympian: Are you watching cricket in the 1st place. KP plays in IPL. Did he lose his talent. Most SA players play in IPL and they are all doing good. Well Eng. players are not playing IPL are they playing any great in Tests. I understand Test is epitome of cricket no second thoughts about it. But to say Ind and Aussies are soft because of IPL and BBL is incorrect. It's a cycle great players won't last for ever. So Ind will struggle next 2 years outside home but will be back. Ind team or states have many test potentials with very good technique with lack of exposure. Sure with the announcement of VVS retirement we are moving towards a new look. Give them 2 years of consistent playtime we will see the result.

Posted by Hammond on (August 17, 2012, 22:48 GMT)

Bairstow batted better than KP would have in the same circumstances. C'MON ENGLAND! A South African batting collapse is just around the corner.

Posted by barrick on (August 17, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

@Si Baker - In a way, Strauss was unfortunate to be the first long-term captain after Vaughan, as his tactical nous is not comparable, and he often appears reactionary rather than anticipatory. Where his runs may have previously made up for this, as they decrease, his value to the side must be in question. I do think that they are waiting for Root to develop into a Test batsman, and it his not his time quite yet.

Posted by subbass on (August 17, 2012, 22:32 GMT)

I'll laugh my head off if England win this Test !

C'mon boys !

Posted by JG2704 on (August 17, 2012, 22:18 GMT)

@Si Baker on (August 17 2012, 18:20 PM GMT) Re Strauss - I actually think this could be the last test for him. If Eng lose/draw then I think it would be a great challenge for Cook to get them back to number 1 and if England somehow defy the hugely superior SA side who obviously would have won this test in under 3 days had it not been for the Kallis dismissal and DRS always favouring us and win this test it would be a magnigicent way to go out

Posted by JG2704 on (August 17, 2012, 22:17 GMT)

@Nadeem1976 on (August 17 2012, 18:43 PM GMT) Charming comments there. Don't forget respect works both ways and maybe if KP had shown some of our players respect he'd be playing today

Posted by JG2704 on (August 17, 2012, 22:17 GMT)

@IndnCrktfan on (August 17 2012, 18:53 PM GMT) It's a huge IF but yes they would remain 1

Posted by JG2704 on (August 17, 2012, 22:17 GMT)

@The_bowlers_Holding on (August 17 2012, 19:37 PM GMT) Thought the last test could have gone either way. Keep up your posting , there are few decent commentors these days.

Posted by SnowSnake on (August 17, 2012, 22:17 GMT)

I could never understand how people interpret things at Cricinfo. Steyn and Morkel are labeled as fast bowlers when they bowl at the same speed as English Fast medium bowlers. Then 5/205 is hardly anything to brag about when SA scored 309. In all likelihood England will match or pass that score, but there is so much praise for SA. England is playing without Pietersen with brand new talent and still doing good. SA after 1st test have rarely shown a clear advantage in last 3 innings (including the current ongoing innings). This test currently remains open for a win by either teams. No one team has a clear advantage as of now. I don't see SA bowling has anything special to cheer about. It is not like England got all out for 150 because that would be special. Anything over 275 all out is pretty average bowling.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 17, 2012, 22:14 GMT)

@The_bowlers_Holding on (August 17 2012, 19:37 PM GMT) Thought the last test could have gone either way. Keep up your posting , there are few decent commentors these days.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 17, 2012, 22:14 GMT)

Well , was this basically a mirror of the 1st day when Eng thought they'd ripped through all the SA main batsmen , only for the lower order and tail to wag. At 31-3 and 54-4 and with both our more dependable batsmen back in the hutch I feared we could even be following on. Both Bell and Jonny rode their luck a little to begin with esp against Morkel who looked very threatening. Much depends on the 1st hour tomorrow. If Jonny and Matt can stay then could put us in a decent position as both like to bat aggressively. If they go early then we could face a big deficit. I'd still have gone 5/1/5(esp in a game we need to win) and I still wonder if having an extra bowler might have restricted SA but well played Jonny for putting across the argument for 6/1/4.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 17, 2012, 21:58 GMT)

Even honours after day 2 IMO. This guy Johnny Bairstow can play. He's young and looks composed which is what is needed at the international level. Good luck to him tomorrow. SA bowlers prove once again they are the BEST bowling attack on the planet. There is no let down from them. I guess Ian Bell thought there's a 100 for the taking. Feel bad for him though. If SA can dislodge either Prior or Bairstow tomorrow first up, then they should run through the lower order and tail easily. Another interesting day in prospect tomorrow.

Posted by Garp on (August 17, 2012, 21:44 GMT)

What a complete joke! The bowlers finally show up and put their backs into an innings for the so-called batsmen to come out and choke yet again. Ever stop to think ECB this may be why KP gets an attitude? the same players put in the same sub standard effort and since there the ECB's chosen ones (Strauss and Cook) nothing is ever said or done about it. Just pitiful that the England management is more concerned about some text's KP made over continuos substandard performances by certain batsmen and bowlers. I can think of 4 batsmen who should be buying Bell and Bairstow dinner tonight because if it wasn't for there efforts we'd been turned over for a 100 again.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (August 17, 2012, 21:37 GMT)

This match is still wide open, and either team could take it. Both teams had the other by the throat, and both have clawed their way back into contention. I don't see Eng collapsing in the morning, but facing a rested SA attack & a new ball, I don't think that they will post any big lead. The second innings is where I think it will all happen, for both teams. Will SA play for a draw or go for the kill? Eng have their backs to the wall, and their attack will have to really have to be on fire to take the game from the Saffers. If the weather stays clear this could go down to the wire, and give us three more days of a really engrossing test, with both teams putting their heads down and slugging away, not giving an inch. What an absolute crying shame that this was not a five match series. No T20 or ODI series could ever hope to be as engrossing as the last 2 days, and see me happy to be up at 4am, waiting for play to start. Long live test cricket!

Posted by tommytucker on (August 17, 2012, 21:22 GMT)

Kevin who.....??? Good bye KP, no one is bigger than the game!

Posted by tommytucker on (August 17, 2012, 21:12 GMT)

England might get to SA total or even it pass it marginally. But after that its going to be one way traffic, SAs vastly stronger batting lineup will bat for a day half and either force the game into a draw or put england into bat last and bowl them out. Love the way people still think the teams are equally matched considering the free wickets england got from horrific umpiring decisions and better overhead bowling conditions. SA has had the upper hand in most sessions this series so far and will continue to pile pressure on.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 21:12 GMT)

Good fast bowling can get any player out ,and we only seem to not do well against mystery (bent armed spinners ) ,let us face it icc changed the rules to stop them having to do much work ,and stop the accusations against Murali who is a honorary Lancastrian

Posted by Rahulbose on (August 17, 2012, 21:10 GMT)

Bairstow innings is a great sign, maybe now people in Eng will stop looking for poaching foreign players and trust local talent.

Posted by Long-Leg on (August 17, 2012, 21:07 GMT)

@Nadeem1976: I don't know what you mean. Of course we give respect to our legend players. We have nothing but respect for Andrew Strauss in this his 100th test. We drop those players who fail to show respect to their captain and to their team. Come on England!

Posted by Cricketolympian on (August 17, 2012, 20:51 GMT)

Are you watching India, are you watching Australia! This is REAL CRICKET. Test cricket is the biggest winner here. IPL which is your top priority only breeds soft money grabbing technically inefficient cricketers. Sunil Gavasker, Kapil Dev,Allan Border, Steve Waugh etc must be in complete despair at how soft you have become!

Posted by premclement on (August 17, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

I thought England team can not play spin. Now I realise they can not even play quality fast bolwers!!!!

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (August 17, 2012, 20:37 GMT)

Did SA play so much better in the last test than England? I am English but I did not see it like that it was pretty even, dare I say if it hadn't been for rain England may well have nicked it.

Posted by maddy20 on (August 17, 2012, 20:29 GMT)

Well this was a bit unexpected but well played Jonny Bairstow. SA are one wicket away from almost certainly wrapping this up. Even though there are two set batsmen at the crease the prospect of new ball in 8 overs and the seam moment in the first hour or so should offer SA a lot of hope. On the other hand, if Eng do manage to see off the new ball without any further damage, then SA will be in the soup, as the pitch seems to ease out as the day progresses, apparently due the sunshine. Here's hoping the umpires' performance in the first innings of SA will not be repeated. @Front-Foot-Lunge I hope you are not talking about the series vs Pak in UAE and SL in SL or the countless humiliations in India in the past 27 years (especially in limited overs cricket!)

Posted by Cricketolympian on (August 17, 2012, 20:16 GMT)

As an England follower i am so so so excited about the next 10 years for English cricket, some of the younger talent show an amazing maturity for their age, Bairstow,Taylor, Finn etc.Win,lose or draw this test England are already way ahead of many teams in developing and nurturing future talent which is so exciting. Money is not the most important thing for the England players who are playing in this particular test match, representing England is the most important number1 priority, which is a great thing to see in this day and age. I must also say that these two teams have provided the best competitive Test cricket since the Ashes of 2005. It does not matter to me if England are number1 or9, i just love Test cricket that is enthralling, competitive and entertaining its just a shame its not 5 Tests,maybe next time i hope. There will be one winner from all this,Test Cricket!

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 17, 2012, 20:10 GMT)

Shame that Bell got out just before close; I'd have loved to see him go on and get a ton. Glad one of the rookies delivered, but there's still much work to be done tomorrow. Jonny needs to hang in there and get to 3 figures; Prior needs to stay patient and at least get a 50; Broad and Swann just need to do SOMETHING reasonable with the bat for a change to justify their classifications as 'bowlers who can bat'. Great days play and I really pray the rain stays away and we get the full five days, regardless of end result.

Posted by bumsonseats on (August 17, 2012, 20:03 GMT)

its funny a premier league footballer was just fined £45,000 for a comment on twitter. seems like other sporting bodies dont like their players doing tittle tat on social networking sites. maybe will find other sportsmen getting their hands smacked now that england have shown the way. sports people way better if they do their talking on the playfield. nice to see a young cricketer play a good knock against the saffas well played JB, hope for more Saturday.

Posted by jackthelad on (August 17, 2012, 20:02 GMT)

Excuse me? SA 105 -5; England 208 - 5* ... but SA looked fluent and England labouring? To be honest, there's not a lot to pick between these two sides, and England have tried their hardest to make the SA bowling look indomitable, but it isn't. England have played a good Test game, which in fact SA didn't - their main batsmen went cheaply, and it was whirlwind tonks from a few rabbits who nudged their score up to respectability. This is shaping to be an interesting match, mainly because the two sides are so evenly matched; I may be defective in some cricketing vitamin, but I can't see that SA are much (or, indeed, any) better.

Posted by dhchdh on (August 17, 2012, 20:00 GMT)

Oh Johhny...tiger @ home; pup elsewhere...well its true for the entire english team or matter of fact any team. Each team is unbeatable at home......PAPER TIGERS

Posted by StatisticsRocks on (August 17, 2012, 19:53 GMT)

When I saw thet ENG score at 54/4 I was thinking 'Boy are they going to miss KP or what' but then stood up Bairstow..great knock under the circumstances. This one is going to be a cracker of a test match going all the way into the 5th day.Just wondering if ENG win, will they still be #1?

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (August 17, 2012, 19:43 GMT)

Good job England you are again trying to save the series at home. I hope you lose this match and lose number 1 ranking because you guys are home grown bullies. Don't forget Pakistanies just beat the hell out of you in UAE and you guys just escaped in Sri Lanka because of KP. I hope you lose because you don't give respect to your legend player. Keep it up SA beat this team.

Posted by glance_to_leg on (August 17, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

Thoroughly impressed by Bairstow. I had not considered him up to test cricket, and am delighted to see what an appalling judge of cricketing ability I am. A splendid innings, on which I hope he will be able to build tomorrow morning. I hope 'Bluey' is smiling down on him, and proud of his lad.

Posted by binojpeter on (August 17, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

That was a wonderful innings by Bairstow under pressure when the seniors failed to perform. Since this come against a good bowling attack, it will do him a world of good to his career. If he can bring up a century, England can hope to extract a reasonable lead in Day 3.

Posted by allblue on (August 17, 2012, 19:41 GMT)

It's a good idea leaving the comments open while the match is playing - if Cricinfo was to open up a humble pie shop they'd do brisk business reading through some of the earlier comments. I'd also reflect how quick people, including the press, are to pass judgement on a player these days. It was deemed that Bairstow, after a couple of brief innings against a fired up Roach "couldn't handle the short ball". Morkel bought the hype and kept pinging it in short, JB either got out of the way or hit it for four. As a result Morkel lost the excellent consistent lengths he was hitting earlier and Jonny showed why so many in England are excited about his potential. I'd still put SA as favourites here, not least because they have played better cricket throughout the series so far and will still fancy a first innings lead, particularly with the new ball imminent. Still, England are hanging in there, it was an epic struggle today, and another reminder why Test cricket is the best form of the game.

Posted by Sinhaya on (August 17, 2012, 19:36 GMT)

Superb batting temperament by Bairstow and his first task must be to survive the new ball tomorrow morning and then target a century. Broad can score well but lately his batting form has slumped in spite of having the world record 8th wicket partnership. If England can amass 400, then they are the clear winners.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 19:33 GMT)

Nice performance from Jonny didn't really expected that from his but disappointed on the likes of Stauss, Cook and Trott for not taking much responsibility. If England can get at least a 50 run lead if not more then they may have a decent chance but its by no means easy good luck!

Posted by applethief on (August 17, 2012, 19:28 GMT)

Unequivocal proof that England are incapable of taking 20 wickets in this series. Failed to do so in the first 2 matches, even when SA threw their bat at it, and this time they needed the umpires to help them along.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 19:26 GMT)

I always knew Young/Yorkshire (depending on whether you're actually from Yorkshire or not) Jonny Bairstow would prove the doubters wrong. Honestly, he had 1 poor game and everyone's saying he's finished. He's a young lad with a tonne of promise and he's got good character. I think he showed that today. Hopefully now that he's shown grit and character today, England will get a bit of a chance (if they survive the first session) to show some aggression. If Prior and Bairstow make it to lunch, you can be sure of some pyrotechnics afterwards.

Really good test match. Again, I lament the fact this is not a 5-match series. South Africa have outplayed England, but England have had some good sessions. Even with South Africa dominating, I think you'd have to be hugely biased against England to count them out at this stage.

Posted by yorkshirematt on (August 17, 2012, 19:21 GMT)

Still very very even. Ian Botham said on the telly that someone will be ahead at the end of tomorrow, and, unfortunately, I see that side being SA. If England don't win, it certainly won't be down to our very own JB who showed true Yorkshire grit to silence his critics (not that I think he bothers reading this site or the comments section) and pull England out of a very sticky situation. He WILL have a fine Test match future.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 19:20 GMT)

Wonderful knock from young Jonnny - proving all his doubters wrong (as I expected him to) - but I still feel we may pay a heavy price for allowing the Saffers to wriggle free on the first evening. Of far more concern long-term, though, is Strauss. Not for the first time over the last two years or so, he missed a straight one, a sure sign that his reactions are slowing & his eyesight is on the wane as he hits his mid-30s. Given his befuddled performances against the Pakistani spinners in the UAE, I can't help feeling he'll be a liability in India, but, worryingly, his place in the side appears to be sealed for the foreseeable future. Should he fail in India, we have two relatively easy series against the Kiwis during which to blood a new opener, but as that Ashes marathon of 2013-14 draws ever closer, I fear he may be persisted with far beyond his sell-by date. Joe Root wins it for me by a short head over Nick Compton & Joe Denly as his eventual successor. Any other thoughts?

Posted by Fury on (August 17, 2012, 19:17 GMT)

Could someone remind Broad that, since he's forgotten how to bowl with any venom, he needs to make a well overdue contribution with the bat in this innings by batting long and adding at least 50 runs to the bottom line here? Then we might forgive him a spot of adolescent twittering.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 19:14 GMT)

England are scoring more quickly than SA, and losing wickets at a slower rate...got to be ahead on points. sadly had KP been playing SA would be losing badly by now

Posted by Bramblefly on (August 17, 2012, 19:13 GMT)

What a fantastic day of test cricket. Initiative swinging from one to the other and Bairstow staring to deliver on his promise. I can't wait for tomorrow. These two sides are ther best in the world, head and shoulders above the rest right now.

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (August 17, 2012, 19:07 GMT)

Did you know that of the modern highest run scorers Tedulkar, Lara, Ponting, Dravid and Kallis only one of them has scored a test century at Lords, I thought that was an intersting fact not sure if it is really.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 17, 2012, 19:07 GMT)

Game still very much in the balance but SA in front thanks to runs on the board. England are actually in a better position than SA were but will they get the same contributions from the lower order that SA did? Disappointing shot from Cook and that's not his first uncharacteristic shot to get out this series. The others were mostly due to good bowling. It would have been nice to see Bell go on but he made a very valuable contribution under the circumstances. Probably should have keft that ball but Philander has that knack of drawing the batsman into a shot like that. Excellent innings from Bairstow under all sorts of pressure. For a naturally attacking batsman he showed great maturity and temperament. Go on RandyOZ... say "chin music" again why don't you? Regardless of the state of the game, it would be great to see him carry on to a hundred tomorrow. If he and Prior can hang around then there's still a chance of an England lead, but they also might all fold up in the first half hour.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 19:03 GMT)

One innings from Bairstow does not make him a better player KP and therefore does not justify dropping someone who is proven and had just crucified this attack. Funny how quickly all the England "fans" and dressing turn on KP who has given us so many special moments.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (August 17, 2012, 18:51 GMT)

A classy knock from Jonny B. The amount of envy England stir up from those they have beaten and vanquished has famously always been a good barometer as to their success or an individual's achievement. Judging by how much jealousy Bairstow and England creates in fans of teams whitewashed and humiliated by England, he's doing exceptionally well.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (August 17, 2012, 18:43 GMT)

Very good responce to the doubters of both England & Bairstow. Still work to be done, but a united team is a potent force.

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (August 17, 2012, 18:40 GMT)

Good knocks by Bell and Bairstow under immense pressure, the new ball will be crucial as England could be rolled over or Jonny could do something special. A proper test match cricket I will be watching every ball Saturday and Sunday (so much for JB being a bunny)

Posted by satish619chandar on (August 17, 2012, 18:32 GMT)

SO, great day for little Johnny.. Felt very happy for him to stand up against this attack.. Finally we get to see his natural game.. BTW, this will put Taylor again in backseat when(if) KP comes back..

Posted by Rally_Windies on (August 17, 2012, 18:30 GMT)

wow really poor umpiring in favor of England in this Test ..

England should be way ahead ...

England really are being kept in this by the umps .....

if 100% of the decisions in this match were correct, England would be in a mess

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 18:28 GMT)

Good to see Johnny Bairstow doing well at the highest level of the game.. .but that is no excuse for dropping Kevin P.... Selectors should keep the public interest in mind before flouting their egos in this manner; Kevin P's absence is a loss to the cricket loving crowd around the world

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 17:36 GMT)

Good man Jonny, that's the way to answer the keyboard warriors.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 17:23 GMT)

Solid knock from Jonny. He did make a fool of me.

Posted by kumarcoolbuddy on (August 17, 2012, 17:06 GMT)

Good luck to ENG. ENG fans who are frustrated actually need to be happy because your team is going to realize about their original talent. It's not about WIN or LOSS but about the way ENG is performing on their own den. Now need Strauss need to play with India to get back to form. Because our(Indian) team is very good in bringing the players back to the form.

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (August 17, 2012, 16:56 GMT)

I really think Tsotsobe should have at least played one test the spinner Tahir is not great and English wickets offer little, here going with Jp chipping in with his off spin and 4 seemers with the left arm of Tsotsobe would have been a much better approach (England also have history struggling v left arm pace bowlers and at lords with the slope) This and the mistake of batting first in this test match may allow England the draw or even win.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 16:36 GMT)

Strauss must surely be a concern past the tour of India? They wont call time on him until after that tour, give the KP controversy at the moment, otherwise this would be a real big blow for England cricket. KP will be turning out for Surrey in their next 40 overs game, and if he eats enough humble pie- he will probably be discarded for the ODI vs RSA and the T/20 world cup- he will go on the tour to India and be back in all formats. If saffa's route England in this Lords test, memories of his 'wrongdoings' will be short indeed . It will be good to see him back in cricket, keeping a low profile, AND LEAVING TWITTER ALONE!!!!!

Posted by JG2704 on (August 17, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

@SIRSOBERS on (August 17 2012, 13:49 PM GMT) Full of cheer as always I see.

Posted by NkosiEcosse on (August 17, 2012, 15:52 GMT)

I think the media commentators who had England on top yesterday before they batted are quickly reassessing their copy. I fancy SA might be batting again today.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 15:37 GMT)

Don't expect too much from poor Jonny. Couldn't cope with Roach & Best(WI), can't see anything different this time around. Wish him all the best, he is a fine little player until the 'short one' comes along.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 17, 2012, 15:33 GMT)

Steyn's out there singing: anything you can do, I can do better! I can do anything better than you...

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 17, 2012, 15:33 GMT)

4/79 as I wite this, and England are in trouble. Bell must shoulder all of the responsibility for taming the fearsome South African attack. Put simply, he must take the bulk of the pressure off Bairstow, and go on and score a big hundred. England need to somehow claw their way to at least 350 minimum. Their England bowling attack performed admirably, laid the foundation for the team to go on and win, but with early wickets it is now up to the middle-order to salvage the situation. Prior, the hard-nosed fighter that he is, will chip in with at least 50. What happens for the remainder of today will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this match. As an AUS supporter, the thought of Steyn & Morkel unleashed on a lively Gabba pitch is slightly terrifying - I hope our batsmen are in peak form come November, because they'll need to be.

Posted by ChennaiCricket on (August 17, 2012, 15:09 GMT)

England can only win against the team from sub-continent or lower-ranked team @ their home.

Posted by London_Meistry on (August 17, 2012, 15:00 GMT)

Well, no one must comment about a particular team's batting performance until both teams have batted on the same surface. SA have batted well on the latter parts of their innings and now they are attacking back. I would personally love to see the Proteas remove the remaining 6 batsmen for less than 200, i know that they can do that, go Proteas!

Posted by sonicattack on (August 17, 2012, 14:55 GMT)

Great bowling from SA, riveting stuff! Applying stranglehold in the way that England couldn't.

Posted by hersheybar on (August 17, 2012, 14:50 GMT)

I think I hate cricket! It messes with my emotions so much, but I still keep on coming back for more... Am I an addict?

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (August 17, 2012, 14:49 GMT)

Alan Madonals sorry bro there is a HUGE difference between these teams especially with KP out and lil Johnny Taylor and Bairstow in HAHA South Africa first innings were sloppy but they gave their wickets away and had a dodgy decision or 2 England is completely different they are being totally blown away by top class pace bowling .

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 14:48 GMT)

Strauss' form must be some concern to ENG selectors. Did avg 65+ agst WI, but nothing much before nor after.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 14:45 GMT)

england also 54/4. Lets see who is going to do what philander,duminy, rudolph, de villiers, steyn, morkel did. Role them out for 180.

Posted by disco_bob on (August 17, 2012, 14:44 GMT)

They threw out KP because they couldn't stand the thought of him saving their number one ranking just when everyone was forgetting how he won them the Ashes. Did KP get too big, or was it the Team that got small.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 14:40 GMT)

This is a gripping test. It's clear that there are only very slight differences between these two teams. I think our (SA) batting lineup has an edge - top to bottom and our bowling is definitely more potent. It's a great challenge.

Posted by Enigma734 on (August 17, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

As I type, England are 50 for 3, Strauss, Cook and Trott out.Comment on Taylor and Bairstow is reserved, cos they may be new to internationals, but they could surprise,i would like to see if the English Tail can survive the South African Bowlers. somehow, i dont think this match is going to last 5 days.....

Posted by spot_on on (August 17, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

lol.. look at the way they fumble.. I want some english fans out heeanh... Steyn says "Respect my authoritah!!!!!" steamed up steyn..

Posted by Crick.lover on (August 17, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

Before this series started, the majority of people felt the difference between Eng and SA was Swann and the length of SA's tail. Any reassessments?

Posted by Unomaas on (August 17, 2012, 13:04 GMT)

Well done Big Vern! Now Poms....what was that about the England tail being better than the Saffa's ... mmmm....I seem to remember alot of debate on that point :P

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 17, 2012, 12:58 GMT)

SA last 4 men added 114 runs... ~37% of their eventual total. What has happened to England's bowlers polishing off tails more cheaply? I just hope England's 'tail' can wag even better...

Posted by JG2704 on (August 17, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

309 is probably about par where I expected SA to be from their overnight score. As I type Eng are 21-0 but have played a few streaky shots. Right now I feel SA will be the happier side esp from where they were yesterday early afternoon

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David HoppsClose
David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
Tour Results
England v South Africa at Birmingham - Sep 12, 2012
England won by 28 runs
England v South Africa at Manchester - Sep 10, 2012
No result
England v South Africa at Chester-le-Street - Sep 8, 2012
South Africa won by 7 wickets (with 6 balls remaining)
England v South Africa at Nottingham - Sep 5, 2012
South Africa won by 7 wickets (with 93 balls remaining)
England v South Africa at Lord's - Sep 2, 2012
England won by 6 wickets (with 20 balls remaining)
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