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

Amla remains firm in tight contest

The Report by David Hopps

August 18, 2012

Comments: 105 | Text size: A | A

South Africa 309 and 145 for 3 (Amla 57*, Steyn 0*) lead England 315 (Bairstow 95, Bell 58, Morkel 4-80, Steyn 4-94) by 139 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details


Graeme Swann had a number of appeals turned down, England v South Africa, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 3rd day, August 18, 2012
Graeme Swann had a number of appeals turned down during a tight spell © AFP
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This was an unforgiving day of Test cricket: unforgiving for Jonny Bairstow as he fell five runs short of a deserved maiden Test century, unforgiving for Jacques Kallis as two decisions he will rue for a lifetime continued his poor Lord's record in what could be his last Test on this ground and unforgiving for England's bowlers as the combination of a docile surface and sweltering heat made their task of bowling out South Africa a second time doubly difficult.

In such taxing circumstances, with the title of the world's best Test side at stake, South Africa and England are scrapping to the last. It has been a wonderful Test, slow at times but immensely combative and benefiting from the sense that something important is at stake. At the close of the third day, South Africa held a lead of 139 runs, with seven wickets remaining. They bat long and because of the extra cutting edge of their attack feel a touch ahead of the game, but the job is far from done.

A rag-tag of an English cricketing summer, ruined by poor planning and even poorer weather, is reaching a marvellous climax, played out before expectant, thoroughly contented capacity crowds.

Matt Prior, England's wicketkeeper, will also have cause to reflect on cricket's unforgiving nature. He dropped Hashim Amla when he was 2, a spring down the leg side and a full glove as he glanced Stuart Broad. Amla reached his half-century with a straight drive in the final over of the day and his blissful cover drive against Broad off the penultimate ball of the day reminded England that here was a player who could take the game away from them very quickly.

But England have removed Kallis, lbw to Steve Finn. He was convinced that he got a thin inside edge and referred umpire Simon Taufel's decision immediately, but technology discovered only ricochets against pads and the verdict was upheld. In the first innings he fell victim to what can only be described as a brainstorm by the third umpire, Rod Tucker, so his frustration was understandable. England's delight at his removal knew few bounds.

South Africa have also lost their indomitable captain, Graeme Smith, lbw on the sweep to Graeme Swann. England's plots to dismiss have foundered in this and every previous series and he grimaced and growled and worked the ball through the leg side with the immense determination of a man who sensed that his long-awaited ambition - the rise of South Africa to No 1 in the Test rankings - was nigh. But this time, Swann's strengthening of the leg side and encouragement of the sweep to break the stranglehold - not one of Smith's strengths - worked a treat.

Swann was pitted against South Africa batsmen who by and large have played him with supreme confidence, but three raucous lbw appeals in one over as Kallis and Amla built their stand of 81 showed that he was capable of fighting back.

England were so desperate to remove Smith that earlier they gambled wildly - and lost - on a referral for a catch at the wicket. The ball from Swann turned sharply and with more hot weather forecast spin could come to the fore in the last two days. So could reverse swing - and Broad found a little of it to have Alviro Petersen lbw.

England's tail-enders withstood a barrage of short-pitched bowling from Dale Steyn (also struck painfully on the left-hand himself when acting as a nightwatchman shortly before the close) to steal a lead of six runs on first innings.

England added another 107 after beginning the third day on 208 for 5. The match situation was pressure enough for Bairstow, as was the fact that he owed his place to England's stand-off with Kevin Pietersen, and the relentlessness of South Africa's attack added to it.

South Africa's fast bowlers first squeezed him dry and then silenced him, Morne Morkel striking his middle stump 20 minutes before lunch to leave England looking on in anguish. He made 95 from 196 balls and produced an innings of pluck and craft in the most challenging of circumstances. He has an easy manner, a deft, enterprising approach and in his late father, Bluey, follows one of the most popular Yorkshire cricketers who ever lived.

South Africa had adjusted their thinking against Bairstow overnight. Gone were the short balls with which they had peppered him the previous day in recognition of his troubled introduction to Test cricket against the West Indies quick Kemar Roach. Morkel's final delivery to him was in keeping with their adjusted approach, fast and fullish, and Bairstow, searching for his favourite leg-side, was found wanting.

England lost Prior and Broad to the second new ball and Bairstow, his responsibilities weighing heavily, managed only one run in the last 40 minutes before his middle stump tumbled and his captain, Andrew Strauss, on the Lord's balcony, held his hands to his face in disappointment.

He had reached 90 with a clip through mid wicket off Vernon Philander, his best moment of the morning, but his next boundary was a thick edge wide of the slips and, on 95, two indecisive wafts at short and wide deliveries from Morkel illustrated his tension.

That Prior and Bairstow were still around when the second new ball was taken nine overs into the morning was to England's advantage, but the advantage only lasted one ball. The first ball, from Philander, curled away from Prior and he obligingly chased it, as if transfixed by its newness, and edged to second slip.

Broad bats these days as if he has not been to the crease for years and, trying to shovel Steyn off his body, popped up a catch to Amla at short leg. Swann, on 12, successfully overturned Steyn's lbw decision and, although Steyn returned with fresh fervour after lunch - hitting Anderson on the elbow before bouncing him out and Finn on the helmet - a spirited last-wicket romp of 32 gave England a crowd-cheering first-innings lead.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Hammond on (August 20, 2012, 3:02 GMT)

@HatsforBats- Front_Foot_Lunge isn't a compatriot. I am an Australian. And still have hope that England can pull off a win, even though it doesn't look great from here.

Posted by HatsforBats on (August 19, 2012, 15:57 GMT)

@JG2704; you shouldn't wonder, Bairstow isn't the first batsman Steyn & Co. have surrendered to. Hughes ably demonstrated the virtue of talent over research. Roach is quicker than the SA attack, and Ponting is better than than Bairstow.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 19, 2012, 13:36 GMT)

@ Swingit on (August 19 2012, 00:21 AM GMT) KR bowled from such an angle that it totally cramped JB for room and those deliveries were therefore much more difficult to avoid. I wonder why Steyn and Morlkel and Donald did not pick this up

Posted by Meety on (August 19, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

@clarke501 - oops! Must of read the line above! Good onya!

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 11:42 GMT)

English commentators seems more disgruntled today at the moment at the thought of losing the number 1 spot. Another 100 from Amla on the cards - heeehaaaa

Posted by HatsforBats on (August 19, 2012, 11:42 GMT)

@ Hammond; don't pidgeon-hole us please, some of us have many decades of playing and viewing experience to draw upon. Might I refer to you the comments of some of your compatriots, @Front_Foot_Lunge perhaps?

Posted by arvind.Kejriwal.AAP_A_Better_INDIA_ on (August 19, 2012, 11:33 GMT)

Whoa ! England shall create History by becoming the only team to lose its No. 1 Test status in its own backyard.

Posted by Hammond on (August 19, 2012, 11:25 GMT)

I think Anderson dropped the match and the series. This one will be a draw, and South Africa will win 1-0. All I can say is that the series averages prove without a doubt that England were convincingly outplayed in this series. But anyway, as long as we hold the ashes, I'll keep smiling, England are still a class above the baggy green. Congrats to South Africa, you have a quality cricket team.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 19, 2012, 11:05 GMT)

Another dropped catch there by Anderson of all people... This aint looking good for England. I've seen no yorkers this morning, no set plans implemented against Amla (or even Steyn this morning!), no patience from the bowlers at all. Yes a few beauties went past the edge again, but with the sun shining like this I'd like to see a bit more imagination from the bowlers. England are being far too metronomic, which you can't do against a great side like SA, especially when the sun's out...

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 10:58 GMT)

now england sinking..3-0 whitewash agaist pak,1-1 result against lanka and again southafrica is looking to win dis series...now england is slumping down..

Posted by siri21 on (August 19, 2012, 10:15 GMT)

i guess this match is gonna be anyone's match.. i feel SA have stronger bowling attack then Eng .. so that gives them an advantage.. but the only problem with SA is they choke at crucial stages of the match ... so i hope SA doesnt do that this time and win the series..

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 10:13 GMT)

A magnificent Test, could go either way!! What I'd like to know is why Jimmy Anderson's just gone in the book twice for bowling bouncers when not a word was said to the South Africans yesterday when Finn got more than 2 flying past his ears over after over....????

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (August 19, 2012, 10:07 GMT)

Great_Aussie- Your moniker is interesting as you are patently a fan of the Indian team, odd to say the least. Looking forward to todays play, I think SA will bat long enough to make an England win improbable.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 19, 2012, 9:30 GMT)

South Africa just too good. England's lack of depth has been shown up substationally this series. I doubt they will take 20 wickets (for the 3rd time running).

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

@jmcilhinney, have to agree with you on the Kallis dismissals. Really, you only have to go back to the last English summer and recall Dravid's 'edge' where he hit his shoe lace, heard the sound and walked. Proof if ever needed that the batsman can get a little confounded. I would also say though that fom the front on view there was no daylight between bat and ball and as we know, the finest feather touches don't always show up on hot spot. That being said there was no evidence at all to overturn the on field decision.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 19, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

@Johan Kotze on (August 19 2012, 08:14 AM GMT), um, you what? First of all, only one of those Kallis decisions was lucky for England. That second dismissal was plain out, although the first one was plain not out. As for Pietersen, do you actually mean Alviro Petersen (no 'i') and his dismissal in the first innings, because that was out? If you really do mean Kevin Pietersen then you draw a very long bow to call the whole affair surrounding him lucky for England.

Posted by Hammond on (August 19, 2012, 9:13 GMT)

@Great_Aussie- yet another Australian with very limited cricket knowledge. The shortest number one stay since the ratings was introduced was South Africa with four months at the top in 2009.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 19, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

@Great_Aussie on (August 19 2012, 08:36 AM GMT), haven't England already been at #1 longer than SA were the last they held the ranking, which was only a few months? Anyway, to lose the #1 ranking you have to have held it in the first place, so England fans can be rightly proud of that achievement. Australia obviously were dominant for a long time and that's something that you and other Australians should be proud of, but you're not #1 right now.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

SA gonna win this thrilling contest atleast by ending this match as a draw...

Posted by warneneverchuck on (August 19, 2012, 8:36 GMT)

I think ENG will create another record of staying at top for the shortest period of time. I think Indians remain ther for around 2 years unlike ENG

Posted by JG2704 on (August 19, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

@Sanjiyan on (August 18 2012, 22:35 PM GMT) Either Kallis has changed through the years or that is rubbish. I remember clearly Chris Adams taking a catch close to the ground in the 99/2000 tour and Kallis not walking. Fair enough the umpire could not give it because the camerawork they had was very primitive compared to Sky's but this clearly proves Kallis has not always walked on such occasions. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/78933.html oh and re Aus clearly not being good enough to beat Aus at the moment - what happened on the last tour 9 months ago?

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 8:22 GMT)

This is edge of the seat stuff. England have done really well to stay in the series after the first test. I would say my boys need at least 350 to unseat England from the no.1 spot and the way England are bowling it is not going to be easy. At this stage it is impossible to pick a winner, but I have a horrible feeling in my gut that England are going to take it. Well, it's not boring that's for sure. Last thing - how is it that England often seem to be able to bring in new players at decisive points in a test series who usually perform very well - it's impressive - and very frustrating :)

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 8:14 GMT)

It will all come down to the first session on the fourth day. I feel AB de Villiers holds the key. This is the occasion where he should show what he is made of. Man or mouse ..... Right through this test Eng had the luck going their way re two Kallis decisions and Pietersen, Can anybody tell me why you have the best two teams in the world playing and only one (S. Taufel) of the world's top umpires officiating? Where is Aleem Dar and Bowden? At least the latter knows the rule re the glove off the bat. Really the mind "goggles".

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (August 19, 2012, 8:09 GMT)

@158notout You are right. I dont see bright future for test cricket in India with both dravid and laxman gone . Even If ENG loses this match i wouldn' rate them as bad as some of the fans are suggesting here. If they do win they deserve their num 1 ranking just like india (when we had drawn that series against SA). And for SA why they do this every time? They start brilliantly and give us the impression that the are a perfect team but only to give away at the end. I know this match isn't over but just feel SA might choke in crucial stage

Posted by renegademike on (August 19, 2012, 8:00 GMT)

I think this Test's gonna go down to the wire. But have a sneaky feeling that Eng will prevail. say a 3 wkt victory, second session, day 5

Posted by ian45 on (August 19, 2012, 7:56 GMT)

South Africa will post 350+ England will collapse for less than 170

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 19, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

@SIRSOBERS on (August 19 2012, 05:13 AM GMT), I agree that the first innings decision against Kallis was diabolical but, while maybe I can't say 100% that he didn't get an edge in the second, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that he did. Do you really think that it's more likely that Kallis did edge the ball than mistook his bat hitting his pad for hitting the ball? If the edge was so fine that HotSpot couldn't pick it up then what is the likelihood that Kallis could feel it and distinguish it from his bat hitting his pad? The simple fact is that there's no reason to believe that he did hit it. I can't say with 100% surety that there are no unicorns or dragons either.

Posted by tommytucker on (August 19, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

Oh and i have to say, I think ODIs should be disbanded and we only play test and T20 cricket.

Posted by tommytucker on (August 19, 2012, 7:40 GMT)

Great cricket, absorbing, tense and unpreditable. Beats the living daylights out of this T20 garbage we are constantly fed.

Posted by Snick_To_Backward_Point on (August 19, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

I'm an England fan through and through but there's no getting round the fact the saffers have been by far the superior side so far. Dont think Eng have played to any where near their potential. Still a bright point is Bairstow, Indian and Oz fans can only dream of such talent.

Posted by Hazeyrocks on (August 19, 2012, 7:06 GMT)

For those hoping SA will choke, keep on hoping. This is a test match not a knock out round in the world cup. Steyn to get a 100. And naysayers to suck it. :)

Posted by DeathKnell on (August 19, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

@158notout - ya right...yes Broad's avg is high... because he throws his bat around and on his day, scores heaps of runs..& then count those mad innings to bloat the avg which shows 50 or 60 on par with the best batsmen.......Swann, though his avg is less, has better technique & temperament.....

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

Amla will win the battle

Posted by 158notout on (August 19, 2012, 6:05 GMT)

Those saying finally a decent Test I think Headingley was also a finely balanced Tes, in fact it was only the Oval where England failed to turn up. This series has been the meeting of the top 2 teams in Test cricket, who are head and shoulders over any other team. With Laxman sadly gone India have more problems in their middle order and to be honest Australia really need to sort out their top 3 before they can even hope to compete.

In this Test I think if South Africa get through the first hour tomorrow for the loss of only Steyn then I think they will take it away from England. However if England breakthrough the Amla-ABDV partnership then they will fancy their cahnces. I can't see JP and Vernon repeating their 1st innings heroics.

cricky_lover - Whilst it is true that Broads batting has not been great recently the reason we have high expectations is because he has (had) a decent average and has a well-earned Test century. So I don't know which Broad it is you know?

Posted by phoenixsteve on (August 19, 2012, 5:34 GMT)

@swingit.... Don't be confused, the answer to your question lies in 2 words,,,,,, Graham.... Gooch. It's about technique!..... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

All I can think of at this stage is the word ' choke ' ...as we have seen it at least a hundred times in the last decade. Come on S Afr u can do it. U truly deserve the No 1 tag and undoubtedly u are the best team in the world at the moment. Just hold the nerves and bat positively with a strong intent and u shall conquer the day . I think Day 4 will decide the outome of the game ....I see a new No 1 team arising today ..

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (August 19, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

@jmcilhinney KALLIS was completely robbed from one of the worst decisions in modern times in the first innings it was absolutely appalling and i think the 3rd umpire should be investigated it was so bad ! as for yesterday you cannot say for 100% on your families life he did not get a fine top edge as well as hittin the pad with the lower end, it was a sad way to see him go as he will never be back in England playing test cricket my point was more to do with first innings although yesterday was also not clear cut.

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (August 19, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

@SWINGIT ROACH is quicker than both Steyn and Morkel and his bouncer into the body much more deadly probably due to his shorter height ala Malcom Marshall, also Johnny was wearing a chest guard which obviously gave him a boost (personally i think they and arm guards should be banned) I mean aren't modern helmets and thigh guards enough already ? pathetic really . . . still well played to him he deserved a ton.GAME ON

Posted by chancricfan on (August 19, 2012, 5:02 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy: You can only dream of that fairy tale happening. england will either lose this match or save this with 1 or 2 wickets to spare. Its dooms day to their Number 1 status. Just like us Indians they acheived the Numero uno position by playing most of their games in home soil, come SA and everything will change.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 19, 2012, 4:29 GMT)

@Hira1 on (August 19 2012, 01:49 AM GMT), so a South African batsman who hasn't done well is "due a score" and, by implication, has been unlucky so far while the England batsmen who haven't done well are just bad? Convenient logic. If ABdV is due a score then so are Strauss and Trott at least.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 19, 2012, 4:24 GMT)

@Swingit on (August 19 2012, 00:21 AM GMT), as I've said before, I think that Bairstow's issues with short-pitched bowling were significantly exaggerated. It was really only one innings against WI where he had issues. He didn't make many runs in the series but it wasn't short balls getting him out. I think that he was surprised by Roach's pace and didn't really have a plan how to play the short ball. If that's the case then that's partly Gooch's fault. His natural instinct would be to play aggressively but he would also be telling himself that he had to be more reticent at Test level so he was caught in two minds. Once he made a decision to leave the short balls early in his innings he looked much better, even against WI. Once he had his eye in during this innings and he decided it was time to play his natural game against the short ball he looked very confident, even cracking Morkel to the boundary. I don't think there is an issue against the short ball as long as he's decisive.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 19, 2012, 4:18 GMT)

@Kirsten Van Jaarsveld on (August 19 2012, 01:10 AM GMT), I think you'll find that many of the people who comment on this site are not nearly as expert as they would have you believe. As for the #1 ranking, it's really a psychological thing I think and certainly it brings bragging rights for the fans. Realistically though, there's no dominant team at the moment so, as I said back when England first gained the #1 ranking, it's quite likely to change hands a few times over the next few years, quite possibly for several series in a row. As for SA's ability to hold onto the ranking, it doesn't really matter how many games they play. The rankings are based essentially on the percentage of games played that you win, lose and draw and who those games were played against. A team that plays 5 games and wins 5 will be ranked higher than a team that plays 20 and wins 10.

Posted by SamRoy on (August 19, 2012, 3:38 GMT)

I will agree with Hammond here. In a tight series deciding match I will back SA's opposition to win. They never win close games. Last year against Australia, in 2010 against India in Durban, lost against India Eden Gardens at with 3 overs to make it a draw, couldn't take the last wicket against England in 2 tests in 2009-10. In a tight match they are always at the wrong end of the barrel, so I think England will win (by 2-3 wickets at least). Though I will hope SA can bat out 4th day.

Posted by JustOUT on (August 19, 2012, 3:31 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy - If a mediacore & upcoming bowler like Finn can remove the SA top order, then the world best Steyn & Morkel will destroy England. It is funny to see Struass himself proving he is a bunny of Morkel. It is a very positive batting display from SA and they are here to get the No.1 and the maze. Next is to get back the ODI No.1 from ENG. It looks u belongs to Freddie's category where he predicted 3-0 for England. don't know where he is hiding and eating his pie!!.. haha

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (August 19, 2012, 2:32 GMT)

Finn will remove Steyn straight away, then de villiers after 107 overs of keeping will go in the same over to a lazy shot. Then swann will remove the left handers (Rudolph & Duminy) and then get test out their tiring bowlers bodies with a series of bouncers. Eng can chase anything up to 350 with ease

Posted by Hira1 on (August 19, 2012, 1:49 GMT)

AB is the only one not performed well this series from SA side so a big innings is due from his side when matters the most......SA in all department of the game is better than England in any case and deserves number 1 ranking surely...

Posted by Kays789 on (August 19, 2012, 1:22 GMT)

kallis almost always looks grumpy and a bad-sport when he's given out. so i wouldn't read too much in to his reactions.

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 1:10 GMT)

Wow, lots of plaudits for SA here. Makes me very happy as a Saffa who loves the team. I have been wondering though - I'm not as big an expert on cricket as many of you guys seem to be (my feelings about the sport are fanatical though :) ) but I'm not sure why there's such a fuss about the #1 spot with the rating system as it is? Sure, it would be great to get it, but even if SA do get it, they won't hold onto it for long because they don't play enough tests, right? #1 spot should be up for grabs again soon if we (or England) can't play to defend it, so I don't think the focus should be on #1 spot, it should just be on a great clash. Is there a chance SA can keep the ranking long enough if we do make #1, or did I miss something? Anyway, good luck England, I do like those thar pommers too (just didn't like the hype pre-series!) And massive luck to SA ;P

Posted by   on (August 19, 2012, 0:38 GMT)

Who says Test Cricket is dead ? This test match is worth more than the best 10 ODI's and 50 Twenty Twenty. The beauty of sustained suspense, spread over five days is a joy forever. You are tested in test cricket against your cricketing skills and are not depended on chance sixes of Shewag or Afridi. I may be biased but SA is favourite to win the test, the series and the top spot. Amla,today is EID for muslims and are waiting for our Eidee i the formof an outstanding batting performace fromyou ! Good Luck

Posted by the_blue_android on (August 19, 2012, 0:35 GMT)

@landl47 - 0-4 drubbing better than 0-3 eh?

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 19, 2012, 0:31 GMT)

The fact that there are very few people talking about Kallis' dismissal is a good indication that it was legitimate. Only people like SIRSOBERS and the brothersRandy, who we all know take anti-England bias to new levels, claiming he was hard done by. Of course Snicko showed two noises. In fact, it would have shown three noises but one was probably masked by another. Kallis hit his pad with the bat. That was clear for all to see on HotSpot. That is obviously why he thought he'd hit the ball. He's not the first batsman to make that mistake. The ball hit the front pad at pretty much the same time and then hit the back leg. There was absolutely no indication on HotSpot that Kallis had hit the ball so there was absolutely no reason to overrule the original decision. Not that there was any reason to overrule in the first innings either, so Kallis certianly did get a raw deal there, but he was just plain out in the second innings. That he thought he hit it doesn't mean that he did.

Posted by Swingit on (August 19, 2012, 0:21 GMT)

Don't understand how those lethal bouncers Steyn and Morkel deliver did not total unhinge Bairstow. I mean Kemar Roach made him look like a grade school cricketer trying to deal with test cricket fast bowling. Could he have improved that much from the West Indies series to now? Does Kemar have a deadlier bouncer than the Saffa quicks? Did he just approach Roach with less respect than he does Steyn and Morkel so paid for it back then? Or can a stint with the Lions result in such dramatic improvement where it totally wipes out major flaw a batsman had but months ago?

Posted by Hammond on (August 19, 2012, 0:16 GMT)

South Africa 3/139 and 2 days to play.. South AFrica will be all out for around 320 by tea day four and England will make the runs in reply. Cook and Trott will fire.

Posted by barrick on (August 19, 2012, 0:05 GMT)

Although my preference is for the slow-burn of Test cricket, I do wish that the Pietersen commentary, both for and against, would disappear with the rapidity of a poor T20 innings. This match has long since moved on from the whys and wherefores of Pietersen. However, it cannot, because one of the most pertinent questions raised by this match so far has arisen due to Pietersen, and that relates to the time given to young players in the England side. The selectors can surely take no credit for Bairstow's 95 - had he not scored well in the second innings against Australia A then perhaps it would have been Compton in the side - and so what does that say about the confidence in new talent? Given that Strauss, Bell and Trott are in their 30s, there will be places available for occupation in the next 3 or 4 years. Hopefully Bairstow has proven that ten innings are needed to demonstrate the necessary ability at Test level. Can we now imagine if JB had not been selected for another 5 years?

Posted by landl47 on (August 18, 2012, 23:44 GMT)

Close game, but like most here I put SA slightly ahead. With Amla still there (although not looking anything like the commanding figure he was at the Oval) and ABD, who is due a big score, to come, plus the lower order, they should have at least 300 to work with and that will be hard to get on this pitch. If the pitch dries out further and Swann can get more and quicker turn, England might hold SA to a lower score; and Cook, Trott and Bell have all made big scores in the last year and might again. However, I'd say probably 65-35 in SA's favour. The Kallis decision is a non-issue; Taufel gave him out and there was nothing on the replays or hot spot to suggest Taufel was wrong. Kallis hit his pad (that DID show up clearly on hot spot) and he may have mistaken that for an inside edge. It's been a great game; everything that test cricket represents has been on display. I just wish we had a couple more games left in the series.

Posted by noplay on (August 18, 2012, 23:42 GMT)

If we want to be fair, KP did give England a chance in the second test. Had KP not taken the three wickers I don't see that Broad would have had a five wicket haul. To make comparisons with Bairstow's 95... well. Let's wait and see if it has given England a chance at winning. Let us when we are gloating not forget to at least look at all sides of the issue

Posted by yorkshirematt on (August 18, 2012, 22:37 GMT)

Feel like I'm repeating myself here but England fought very well to stay in touch with the far suprior South Africans but SA are still in front you would say. Surely tomorrow will be the day when they seal this match, the series and their place at no.1. Others may have different interpretations of course but anything over 250 will be too much to chase, and with SA only 105 away from that 250 mark with 7 wickets in hand, they should have the upper hand.

Posted by shillingsworth on (August 18, 2012, 22:36 GMT)

@Meety - I don't disagree with your conclusion but your stats aren't quite right - England scored 282 to win in the 4th innings of the first Lord's test of 2004.

Posted by Sanjiyan on (August 18, 2012, 22:35 GMT)

@jezzastyles Kallis walks more often than any other player. If a fielder takes a catch close to the ground, he asks the fielder. If the fielder says he caught it he walks. @Chris Sun While the aussies arent a bad side they are not good enough to beat SA atm. Theres too much inconsistancy and the drubbing they had in the ODI series against england shows they have a long way to go. I hope there good enough to beat england next year and win the ashes, but thats a different story. as for the match, If SA can get a lead of 300+ they are in for a shout. Personally i hope they get 350 or more then insert england before tea. But that would mean they need to score at a fair clip.

Posted by JustOUT on (August 18, 2012, 21:58 GMT)

Test cricket at its best. Where is KP and other IPL admirers.. I will watch 3 times of this kind of test match than a high scoring T20.. Hope SA score good lead of beyond 418 and ask England to break the world record to prove they are world best

Posted by warnerbasher on (August 18, 2012, 21:52 GMT)

Great stuff to watch. Congratulations to England for showing the heart to go blow to blow with the Saffers after the aberration at the Oval. Runs on the board may be crucial in this one however some of the resolve I saw from most of the Pom lower order in the first innings may decide this test when a result is up for grabs late on the final day. Whatever the outcome a superb game of cricket is being played out between(as much as I hate to say it as an Aussie) the 2 best sides in world cricket.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 21:44 GMT)

Okay, time for the SA vs AUS series downunder, the writing is all on the wall for England losing the no.1 ranking. However the Aussies will steamroll SA 3-0.

Posted by thebrotherswaugh on (August 18, 2012, 21:39 GMT)

As always, another SHOCKER goes against the Saffers, surprise surprise surprise. Funny how England seem to get a 2 wicket advantage courtesy of the officialdom every match they play - imagine how bad they'll be if that trend ever changes (very unlikely). No surprise either that it was Kallis on both occasions.....he just happens to be SA premier batsmen. Even though they are competing against the 13-man ENG squad, SA will still win this match by a comfortable margin, as befits the clearly superior team. They'll set a target of 350 minimum, and bowl ENG out in comprehensive fashion for between 180-220. Steyn will take 6 wickets. Congratulations to SA, the new world champions!!!!

Posted by Meety on (August 18, 2012, 21:33 GMT)

Well the Saffas are in front. Interesting stats; 1. England's highest score batting 4th @ Lord's is 307. 2. England's highest score to WIN a match batting 4th @ Lord's was 3/218 FORTY EIGHT YEARS ago against NZ, 3. More recently England achieved 2/163 against BANGLADESH - 2 yrs ago, & 5/193 v WINDIES this year. == == == So given the above stats, you would say that England must a) bowl very well on Day 4, b) then bat almost to a record level to win this. The Saffas ONLY need 80 more runs to force England to do something they have NEVER done before (get about 220 runs to win a Test batting 4th @ Lords). I would assume that with the depth of the Saffa batting, England will be lucky (in a skilled way), to have the Saffas out by Tea, - which SHOULD translate to a lead of around 300, which would require England to be somewhere near a record England performance batting 4th @ Lords. Cricket's a funny game - I'd have me money on the Saffas, but it WILL NOT be the house being bet!!!!!!

Posted by marlboro19 on (August 18, 2012, 21:27 GMT)

It's an absolutely gripping contest .I would take some solace in the fact that a batsman of Indian origin (H.Amla) is taking the game away from England. Would love to see SA win, but it's cricket and anything can happen, specially when SA is involved ( I won't use the 'C' word though).

Posted by duncanmoo on (August 18, 2012, 21:22 GMT)

Perhaps if Jonny does well in the second innings too we will have seen the last of the KP ego machine? We can only hope!

Posted by Rally_Windies on (August 18, 2012, 21:20 GMT)

finally,,,, a contest between 2 top teams .....

finally something close to the Aus vs SA series that saw the birth of Cummings and Philander ...

now all world cricket needs, is for the WI to get a good coach and some good managers ..... cuz a good WI team is always good for international cricket ......

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 18, 2012, 21:08 GMT)

Too close to call at the moment, SA have their nose slightly in front at the end of day 3, but only just. I can't believe Prior dropped Amla, that could prove very costly in the context of winning this match. I reckon England will be chasing a target of 290-300. It will be an extremely difficult chase. If England somehow get the target, I'm positive that Prior will still be out there when the winning runs are scored - he'll want to make amends for that missed chance. But Steyn and Morkel will be standing in their way, and a score of 250+ on a worn wicket will be a very challenging target. Day 4 should be an absolute belter of a day.

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 18, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

@SIRSOBERS: Kallis certainly is a gentleman, but I don't ever recall him walking. Adam Gilchrist, and to a lesser extent, Brian Lara, are the only two players who have done so in the modern game. Therefore, they are the only batsmen who can legitimately complain when they cop a bad one, because you can bet Kallis has had his share of "feathers" given not out and was happy to stay at the crease. When you look at it in that context, it's hard to feel sorry for batsmen. But if you cop two in the one match, it's understandable that he was upset. I'm still not convinced it was the wrong decision (batsmen don't always know whether or not they've hit the ball - I remember when Gilchrist once walked against England, and subsequent replays showed he missed the ball by a significant margin), if any contact was made it was the slightest feather of a nick, and the umpires original decision was out. @Jonathan_E: that "C" word will certainly continue to haunt SA if they lose this match.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 20:54 GMT)

Fascinating test match. Now this is what cricket is all about. Still very even. I think if SA lose no more than 2 wickets in session 1 and at least bat thru session 2, then they should get the no.1 spot, since by then they shud hav a lead of near 300, and the pressure will ease on the England batting and the SA seamers should rip them apart. SA would probably be looking to bat out most of the day though, build a big lead, and give England less time to chase it. All they want is a draw.

Posted by bobmartin on (August 18, 2012, 20:52 GMT)

@Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 18 2012, 17:43 PM GMT) "There's a lot of talk from some SA fans but mostly from anti-England neutrals" Just a small point.... they can't be neutral if they are anti-English... but I get your point...

Posted by DeathKnell on (August 18, 2012, 20:51 GMT)

"Broad bats these days as if he has not been to the crease for years" -Author, that's the Broad we know..if anything comes from his bat then u are lucky..

Posted by disco_bob on (August 18, 2012, 20:38 GMT)

Either SA will declare 10 overs into the final session and bowl England out cheaply before tea on Monday or this match will go down to the wire. There's no telling which it will be, but as a neutral, (albeit a neutral that would like to see SA win ;¬) it's a fun game to watch.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 18, 2012, 20:37 GMT)

2 other things I have opinions on. 1- I wonder why Finn isn't used ahead of Broad as an opening bowler. Would Finn's pace not be more dangerous at the very start of the inns before the batsmen have got settled? 2- I wonder if Swann should come in above Broad as I think he might be a better batsman than Broad. I know the stats show a different story but Swann often has to bat with the very end of the tail and maybe has to worry too much about who is at the other end etc. To me (and I'm a massive Broad fan even if me wanting him moved down the order as a batsman and be replaced as an opening bowler might look like I'm not) Swann often looks more comfortable at the crease than Broad.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 18, 2012, 20:37 GMT)

Have to say I feel SA are slightly on top even if we dragged it back slightly with the Kallis wicket. I feared the worst when Prior , Broad and Johnny went with England still significantly short but well done to Swann, Jimmy and Finn. In that passage of play I'm surprised Swann wasn't more aggressive but then again Jimmy and Finn weren't so bad. Also I'm surprised Smith didn't bring Morkel back earlier as Finn was having all sorts of trouble with the short ball. Sorry for Jonny but he did look uncomfortable in the 90s. I worry about Amla and AB who has not had a noteworthy score yet. Obviously I hope for an early influx of wkts but I think SA will post a total which is too big for this Eng side and win the series 2-0. Still we weren't thrashed in 3 days so it wasn't as one sided as some predicted

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 18, 2012, 20:37 GMT)

I would say SA are ahead slightly. If Amla and the rest of the batsmen could bat well to somehow take a lead of 300 or more, England won't be able to win this test. From there it should be a cake walk for the Proteas. On the other hand, England should get rid of the night watchman first up tomorrow, followed by either Amla or AB De Villiers. If England manage to keep SA to a total of below 300 then England can definitely win it because there is plenty of time left in the game. As a neutral, this is the kind of game I hope to see more in test cricket.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 18, 2012, 20:37 GMT)

@SIRSOBERS - Look on the bright side - it gives you something else to moan about

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 20:17 GMT)

Was it just me or did it seem that the pitch was starting to get a little harder to score on in the last session? Perhaps England just lifted their bowling effort a notch. Certainly they found a solution for Smith. Amla, on the other hand seems a tougher nut to crack, he really can play right around the wicket and is well on the way to playing his second decisive innings of the series . South Africa are slowly but surely getting control of this one from my point of view. I think by the time England get to bat again even 200 might seem like a pretty tough score to chase down. Tahir will come right into the match and with Steyn and Morkel bowling so well I just don't see where the choke is coming from.

Posted by 5string on (August 18, 2012, 20:13 GMT)

Nice to see that England haven't yet been completely condemned (for a change) and maybe, just maybe, have a chance in this fantastic test. Brilliant batting by Bairstow, then fantastic bowling by SA to slow him down and subsequently get him out. Bit of a tail wag by England, some runs and a few nerves by SA top order. This is a proper TEST of cricket, with the advantage changing hands every couple of hours. SA up at the moment, maybe it will change again tomorrow.... more than once or twice? Who knows?! Whoever triumphs in this series can now truly be called the no.1 test team, surely? Bring on the next 2 days.....

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (August 18, 2012, 20:05 GMT)

Kallis did not edge the ball he scuffed his pad and the ball hit both pads it was clear to see, he was however obviously unlucky in the first innings. If Prior had held that aaargh! Swann looks very dangerous and if he can be a match winner, Finn was bowling express pace too, the bowlers have done well (both sides) in generally good batting conditions/pitch. I hope England can pull it off to just to silence the irritating nae sayers that plague every England link, oh and give me enormous pleasure.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (August 18, 2012, 19:57 GMT)

It really is a fascinating test played by the two top test paying countries in World crcket and a great advertisement for tst cricket. I agree that Saare slightly ahed and tomorrow will be key. Can England's bowlers produce one last hurrah and dismiis SA cheaply? Hope so! I culdn't understand why Strauss didn't make the best use of Finn and give him the new ball? His extra height and pace might have seen some extra bounce with a hard new ball and instead think it was wasted by Broad who would have been just as effective with the ball 10 or so overs old? Anything more that 250 will be a tough chase and if SA set England 300+ I fear it will be one way trafiic? English batting is due though so a record chase could be on? Always the optimist me....... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by dontlikecricket on (August 18, 2012, 19:43 GMT)

Interesting game so far. It will be difficult for England to win if SA scores 300 plus runs. They key is to bowl SA out around 250 and then England will have much better chances to win. Not going to be easy to face SA bowlers in the second innings though. If Amla stays there for next two sessions then I dont think England will have much chance to win this game.

Posted by mahjut on (August 18, 2012, 19:35 GMT)

can we really say scrapping to the last? surely, scrapping at last! there have been no signs of a scrap this series so far and if these two (or Amla and AB) are holding fort at lunch tomorrow leading by 220 odd even this will look a lot less like a scrap than it has in fact been. Now that Johnny has probably already done more than KP would have in this test i can return to my desire to SA win/draw this and the first session tomorrow should be very interesting...

Posted by Muhtasim13 on (August 18, 2012, 19:15 GMT)

Finally, this looks like a Test between the top teams

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

SOUTH AFRICA WILL EASILY WIN THIS TEST & B No.1 TEST SIDE..... IT'LL B DIFFICULT FOR THE ENGLISH BATSMAN TO FACE FIERY DALE STEYN ON 4TH/ 5TH DAY WICKET, IF THEY HAVE TO CHASE ANYTHING IN EXCESS OF 230.... BUT, AT THE MOMENT, WITH AMLA FIRMLY ENTRENCHED & AB DE'VILIERS, DUMINY & LOT OF BATTING YET TO COME, IT SEEMS THAT ENGLAND WILL B DOOMED TO CHASE A TARGET IN EXCESS OF 300, IN 4 SESSIONS OR A LITTLE LESS TIME.....

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

SA are surely the favourites but anything can happen, this has been high grade attritional test cricket and why it is only a 3 test series I will never understand. Anything much over 300 will be too much but I think this might go to the wire, may have to be struck down with food poisoning on Monday.

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (August 18, 2012, 18:37 GMT)

Test cricket at its gripping best!

Posted by subbass on (August 18, 2012, 18:25 GMT)

Fascinating Test match and a great advert for the game, packed house, glorious weather, what more do you want ? Well an England win would be nice and imo they have a decent chance, but the 1st hour is the key, get rid of Steyn and Amla in that 1st hour and England will be thinking they can win it !

Alltogether now - C'MON ENGAND !

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

Very difficult to see South Africa losing it from here. After England failed to secure a significant lead they were always firm favourites as long as they didn't bat stupidly and get blown away for less than 150 in the second innings which they have avoided. They'll probably bat for most of tomorrow in ideal conditions and then England will struggle to make it past 200 in the fourth innings in weather conditions more conducive to fast bowling. Congratulations to South Africa on becoming the number one Test team.

Posted by satish619chandar on (August 18, 2012, 18:00 GMT)

Yet another good day of cricket.. Just loving the contest.. Wished Bairstow got the 100 nevertheless, great innings but inexplicable slowing down(though largely due to high class bowling) cost his wicket.. England got yet another slender lead.. The way Amla and Kallis scored at pressure was awesome.. Kallis too went the Bairstow way to get dismissed.. At the end of third day, would be tempted to say Advantage SA with Amla in crease and 3 more specialist batters to come in.. England need their best performance coupled with SA's bad to stay on top.. Enjoying the gripping contest..

Posted by dabhand on (August 18, 2012, 17:55 GMT)

Seems to be an awful shortage of keyboard warriors who were predicting Bairstow couldn't last, England would be out for under 100 etc etc etc, perhaps they've stopped commenting because they've decided they don't actually have anything valid to say.

Time to realise this is test cricket not biff bash boff and that it's a real good test - ebbing and flowing for both sides - whichever comes out on top will deserve to - no doubt there will be more twists and turns before close of play on Monday.

Congrats to both England and SA

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 17:44 GMT)

turning out to be a really good test match, although i think SA have the advantage at this stage. Though Lords is traditionally a flat wicket, Swann was getting the ball to do quite a bit towards the end. i suppose 300 must be a match winning lead here. SA should get there fairly easily given the depth in their batting, though one never knows if a collapse is just round the corner!

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

I'm sure that England would have liked at least one more wicket but they're still well in this game. SA with their noses in front but a couple of early wickets tomorrow could change that pretty quickly. Once again England put a catch down and it costs them. If Amla was back in the shed as well then I'd probably rate the game as even. Kallis obviously thought he was hard done by again but there was no evidence that he hit the ball. Presumably the bat on his pad was the contact he thought was an inside edge. This game really could go right down to the wire. There's a lot of talk from some SA fans but mostly from anti-England neutrals but, after England being totally dominated in the first game, the two teams really have been neck and neck. Almost identical scores in the last two first innings and game 2 could have gone either way with good weather. Another important morning session tomorrow. I love Test cricket!

Posted by deena.leo on (August 18, 2012, 17:39 GMT)

i dono why these gr8 players lara sachin kallis were not able to score runs in lords. maybe the slope of lords wicket or their higher expectation to score huge runs in home of cricket. what might be the reason?

Posted by tanstell87 on (August 18, 2012, 17:36 GMT)

A slow wicket at Lord's.....this test will be a draw or England win...i wish England wins & comes to India as number 1 test team....will love watching them play as number 1 team at Wankhede on 23rd November later this year.

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

Kallis is a gentleman and true sport he knew straight away he had edged it which is why he reviewed it in instantly then went Crazy once he was still given never ever seen him that mad before in all his yrs playing sad times DRS is now going to be focus yet again.

Posted by veeezel on (August 18, 2012, 17:29 GMT)

There is a test series going on in between top two teams there is not even one single day when they finished their overs in their allocated time never mind its only a minor thing then one of top player was given out wrongly feel for him but he clearly showed dissent never mind not a big deal i wonder if one of the subcontinent team (name withheld)is not playing then none of the ICC rules and laws apply.Great work done by ICC.

Posted by binojpeter on (August 18, 2012, 17:27 GMT)

Wow, this test is going all the way down the wire. England's chance will depend on grit of England batsmen in the second innings.

Posted by BRUTALANALYST on (August 18, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

WOW Kallis got done again SNICKO just showed 2 noises gutted for him he will probably never play at Lords again . . .

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 18, 2012, 16:58 GMT)

Need some clouds here quick. If England don't pick up more wickets before close, advantage SA me thinks...

Posted by Greatest_Game on (August 18, 2012, 16:20 GMT)

Bairstow's fine innings keeps Eng in the game & settles some of the KP arguments. Tough for him to lose his wicket only 5 runs short of the honors board, but he clearly answered any short ball questions & made a strong case for a test future. As SA lost both openers to bad stroke play - the fate of too many top & middle order batsmen in this test. Will this match, & series, be decided by poor shot selection? (or poor umpiring?) SA's openers looked to be digging in with a run rate below 2, but Amla & Kallis are playing with intent on a wicket that is looking more & more batting friendly, & if they get well settled Eng could be in for some very tiring fielding sessions with 60 overs left before the new ball. A great match so far: ups and downs, no real domination by bat or ball, no weather interruptions, the sides even at the halfway mark. Shaping up to be the most competitive test in a long while. Gotta love test cricket!

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 18, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

Message to BBC: football sucks, football sucks, football really sucks. Why are TWO channels dedicated to Football Final Score, and nothing for the cricket commentary? And this is England's way of trying to promote cricket is it?

Posted by Jonathan_E on (August 18, 2012, 15:45 GMT)

Suddenly 2 wickets down for 50 (both LBWs but both absolutely plumb)... Okay everybody what does C-H-O-K-E spell?

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 18, 2012, 14:46 GMT)

Really sad to see Johnny Bairstow get out like that. Fine innings by him. If not for that, England would have had big problems. This test match is getting interesting by the minute. Can't wait to catch all the highlights later tonight.

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 18, 2012, 14:08 GMT)

England have done very well to claw their way to a lead. This is anybody's game from here. There's nothing better than watching two genuinely high-class sides go at it in a test match that decides the #1 ranking. I've got no idea whose going to win this one, but it will take a special performance by one individual to turn this match on its head. Anderson or Finn for England; Kallis, Amla, or De Villiers for SA while batting. England need early wickets, if they can somehow have SA 5 for 120 to 150, it will be SA who will have to respond to the pressure. They cannot afford to let SA get away to a good start, because there will be a decision in this match, and I wouldn't want to be chasing 320+ in the last innings to win it. Good luck to both teams.

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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.
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England v South Africa at Birmingham - Sep 12, 2012
England won by 28 runs
England v South Africa at Manchester - Sep 10, 2012
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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
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