England v South Africa, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 3rd day August 18, 2012

Another big moment for South Africa

Jacques Kallis missed out on a chance to finally make his mark at Lord's as the tourists' No. 1 challenge reached a critical stage
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When South Africa readied themselves to jostle with England for the No. 1 ranking, they focused some of their time on planning for the big moments. It was the catches that make for the best photographs, the centuries that are scored where a run would fear to tread and the wickets that are taken despite those centuries that would decide the best of the best.

One of their biggest moments has now come. Although the match is not South Africa's to win, enough time remains for it to be theirs to lose and how they go about avoiding that will be one of deciding factors of the series. On the batting front, South Africa will have to do it without the two heaviest of their heavyweight line-up - Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.

Kallis, in particular, is a significant loss in the wider context. His batting has probably been on display at Lord's for the last time and it did not show itself in the way he would have wanted it to. In three matches, Kallis has scored only 54 runs at the ground. Before the second innings he had collected just 23 runs. It's not just that Kallis has not been on the honours board at Lord's, it's that he has not even come close to it.

No matter how many times Kallis repeats that accolades and statistics don't matter to him now, his reaction to his dismissal said something else. He was denied in the first innings, after a bizarre third umpire's call gave him out despite replays that showed his hand was not on the bat when the glove made contact with the ball, and there was mild annoyance as he left the field. Knowing that the second innings would likely be his last batting stint at one of the sport's most hallowed theatres must have been on his mind when he arrived at the crease with South Africa 50 for 2.

So much opportunity presented itself. There was the chance to score a series-defining innings (his century at The Oval was a footnote to Smith's 100th-Test hundred and Amla's record-breaking 331) and rescue South Africa from trouble. There was also the chance to write his name into the only part of cricketing history it has failed to be inscribed on.

On both counts Kallis missed out and, unlike the call on day one, he had nothing to complain about second time around. Despite emphatic gestures to his bat, brandishing of the willow and a wave of words as he walked off, there was little to support that Kallis had been hard done by. His was a dismissal that technology needed to prove was clearly not out after Simon Taufel had raised his finger.

Hot Spot gave no indication that contact had been made and replays showed the ball had passed between bat and pad and Kallis was hit on the back leg. Without any conclusive evidence to overturn the decision, Taufel's call was rightly upheld and Kallis Lord's hoodoo remains. When his career in remembered, this will be brought up as his only blot. Should South Africa go on to be crowned the top-ranked Test team after his match, the dark spot will be a few shades lighter.

But that will depend on factors out of Kallis' control. It will hinge on whether the other batsman can hold their nerve to play the big moments in the same way he so often has and whether the XI as a unit can make something happen, where they have sometimes not been able to.

South Africa do not have a good record of consecutive Test wins. Their solid record comes from not losing. A typical series for them includes one authoritative performance and a few gutsy draws. In this series, the domination has already come. Assistant coach Russell Domingo described the win at The Oval as the "perfect game" and said "to match that would be difficult". The draw came at Headingley, where if weather was not involved the result may have been different.

What next? In South Africa's last three three-Test series, against India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, they have drawn, won and drawn the last Test, after losing the second against both India and Sri Lanka. Had they won the match against India in 2010-11, they would have earned a series win and the No. 1 ranking. But the draw came as a relief after Kallis had to bat with a side strain to save the match. In big moments like those, South Africa had been endured but not prospered.

This series has been different so far. The belief and confidence of the team is stronger than it has ever been in the past and if the big moments are considered in their widest possible form, South Africa have triumphed.

Alastair Cook could have gone on from his 114 after the first day at The Oval but all he was able to do was add one more run before playing on. Alviro Petersen and Jacques Rudolph could have succumbed in the first hour on the second day at Headingley but they battled through, scoring only 36 runs and seeing off six maidens up front. Kevin Pietersen's 149 could have bloated into a double century and more but Morne Morkel culled him in the first over of the fourth day at Headingley.

Another watershed moment like that one awaits. Of the major run-scorers for South Africa so far, only one remains - Hashim Amla. Potential and talent makes up the rest. AB de Villiers, who has made his biggest scores in recent times only when platforms have been laid, is capable and then some. Rudolph, JP Duminy and even Vernon Philander can all bat but what goes on in their minds will end up being more important.

The challenge facing them is not one of technique or skill but one of temperament. For the first time in the series, the middle order will come under real pressure to post a total that South Africa can defend. They have not needed in that capacity yet and when they were, in the first innings it was left to Philander. Leaving it that late again would likely not translate into a victory of the big moment, but more importantly, it could cost South Africa the biggest moment - that of becoming world No.1.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 19, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    The test is now slightly poised in England's favour 273/6 and unless JP, Rudolph and Philander can add and give the Proteas a 370 to 400+ lead, one must now favour the hosts to equalise and maintain the number 1 spot! AB has not really batted well on this tour, could it be the 'distraction' that keeping may bring into the frame?

    The lower Protea batting order now needs to do the rescue job which Amla started !

  • pie314 on August 19, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    @Hammond - "the most unworthy test and one day number one I've seen" I suppose you need to get your eyes checked then.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 19, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    Kallis should just keep playing then, and come back to Lords. There's no age limit for playing cricket is there? If his back gets sore, he can cut back on the bowling and concentrate on batting/fielding only. Even when he's over 40, he could still be the greatest all-rounder.

  • Shafaet_001 on August 19, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Some people can relate any article with "sachin is the greatest batsman ever!". Hencharts comment is the perfect example of that.

  • Ozzy505 on August 19, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    SA has got the upper hand, but i've watched this Protea team throw away many opportunities to become no.1. If they can bat to tea & beyond, then surely they can't lose. However if they set England +/- 350 in 3 & a half sessions, it wouldn't be impossible for England to win it. Finally to those who feel SA is a GREAT team, i beg to differ... they would rather 'NOT LOSE' than win & is therefore only a good team, but a damn good one...

  • RandyOZ on August 19, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Kallis was robbed once again. I don't see Amla getting out anytime soon though.

  • andrew-schulz on August 19, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    Hammond, your response to thebrotherswaugh merits analysis. The first time you could even hint at questioning austs number one status was January 2009, after they had lost in quick succession to India and SA, after winning nine series in a row. They lost the top ranking eight months later. That is not 'running on the fumes of previous performances for years. And yet even during those eight months, you would have to be joking if you think they were a les worthy number one thaneither India or England since. At any point of their false reign. You have a very loose grip on reality, my friend.

  • NXT_Gen on August 19, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    In the top 5 centurions of the Game.. had only managed to score 1 century between them in Lords.. SACHIN, KALLIS, PONTING, LARA all failed to score there..

  • henchart on August 19, 2012, 7:34 GMT

    Barring a batting collapse of SA in the morning session I wonder how Poms can win this match ,square the series and retain the mace.Amla has the penchant to play a long innings and with Ab,Rudolph ,Philader and Duminy to follow the target could exceed 300 .As far as scoring a ton at Lord's is concerned -came to know that Ajit Agarkar has one there but Sachin tendulkar none ! It is not a test of skill or talent of Batsman playing there to get a century but a hallowed tradition of reaching three figures at Mecca of cricket.Dare anyone claim Dravid or Ganguly was better than Sachin ? In fact , no batsman in modern era was or is better than Sachin .

  • SeanoN on August 19, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    Firdose needs to take a few writing lessons from her English counterparts.. Go sing the praises of Amla or Morkel and wait for the match to finish before attempting to seem like a prophet of doom.

    Go check the English focus... It's not on the fact that they might lose the match and number 1... Rather they focus on a new Jonny on the block.. If I had not known better I would have though that the article was written by an Englishman... What a tit... Bet the tea and scones have gone to your head! SA FTW!!

  • on August 19, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    The test is now slightly poised in England's favour 273/6 and unless JP, Rudolph and Philander can add and give the Proteas a 370 to 400+ lead, one must now favour the hosts to equalise and maintain the number 1 spot! AB has not really batted well on this tour, could it be the 'distraction' that keeping may bring into the frame?

    The lower Protea batting order now needs to do the rescue job which Amla started !

  • pie314 on August 19, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    @Hammond - "the most unworthy test and one day number one I've seen" I suppose you need to get your eyes checked then.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 19, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    Kallis should just keep playing then, and come back to Lords. There's no age limit for playing cricket is there? If his back gets sore, he can cut back on the bowling and concentrate on batting/fielding only. Even when he's over 40, he could still be the greatest all-rounder.

  • Shafaet_001 on August 19, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Some people can relate any article with "sachin is the greatest batsman ever!". Hencharts comment is the perfect example of that.

  • Ozzy505 on August 19, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    SA has got the upper hand, but i've watched this Protea team throw away many opportunities to become no.1. If they can bat to tea & beyond, then surely they can't lose. However if they set England +/- 350 in 3 & a half sessions, it wouldn't be impossible for England to win it. Finally to those who feel SA is a GREAT team, i beg to differ... they would rather 'NOT LOSE' than win & is therefore only a good team, but a damn good one...

  • RandyOZ on August 19, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Kallis was robbed once again. I don't see Amla getting out anytime soon though.

  • andrew-schulz on August 19, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    Hammond, your response to thebrotherswaugh merits analysis. The first time you could even hint at questioning austs number one status was January 2009, after they had lost in quick succession to India and SA, after winning nine series in a row. They lost the top ranking eight months later. That is not 'running on the fumes of previous performances for years. And yet even during those eight months, you would have to be joking if you think they were a les worthy number one thaneither India or England since. At any point of their false reign. You have a very loose grip on reality, my friend.

  • NXT_Gen on August 19, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    In the top 5 centurions of the Game.. had only managed to score 1 century between them in Lords.. SACHIN, KALLIS, PONTING, LARA all failed to score there..

  • henchart on August 19, 2012, 7:34 GMT

    Barring a batting collapse of SA in the morning session I wonder how Poms can win this match ,square the series and retain the mace.Amla has the penchant to play a long innings and with Ab,Rudolph ,Philader and Duminy to follow the target could exceed 300 .As far as scoring a ton at Lord's is concerned -came to know that Ajit Agarkar has one there but Sachin tendulkar none ! It is not a test of skill or talent of Batsman playing there to get a century but a hallowed tradition of reaching three figures at Mecca of cricket.Dare anyone claim Dravid or Ganguly was better than Sachin ? In fact , no batsman in modern era was or is better than Sachin .

  • SeanoN on August 19, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    Firdose needs to take a few writing lessons from her English counterparts.. Go sing the praises of Amla or Morkel and wait for the match to finish before attempting to seem like a prophet of doom.

    Go check the English focus... It's not on the fact that they might lose the match and number 1... Rather they focus on a new Jonny on the block.. If I had not known better I would have though that the article was written by an Englishman... What a tit... Bet the tea and scones have gone to your head! SA FTW!!

  • Caje77 on August 19, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    Gotta give credit to the bowlers in this test especially Steyn.he ran in the full dayand even at end of day 2 whe nthe ball was 73 overs old he was getting it to swing.Plus he came in as a nightwatchman and was pepered with short stuff.Same can be said of Steven Finn he batted with Swann and the pull shot of Steyn and wicket of Kallis bought the test match in evenn position

  • on August 19, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    this match clearly shows us that what we r losing by not giving enough importance to test cricket...what a competition!and i dont agree with the statement that "the match is not South Africa's to win, '' coz they have some quality batsmen coming up with the magical amla upfront....this is a team that deserves the no.1 spot for a long tym which has constantly eluded them....so they should play attacking cricket and go grab the prize that is rightfully theirs!go SAFFA!!!!

  • cheguramana on August 19, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    Kallis is a true legend of the game. I dont agree with you Firdose, that its a blot on his career if his name is not on the Lords board. Thats belittling his achievements. Lords is just another cricket ground. Its the Poms who try build a lot of romance and history into that ground, because its theirs !! theres no need for the rest of the world to swallow that particular brand of Kool Aid. Coming to the match situation itself, SA has a lot of hard work to do; but I get the feeling this time they have more self-belief, i wud put my money on them. As for Kallis, being the greatest all rounder in Test history, he will get a chance in the Eng 2nd innings to vent his frustrations !!! Go SA !

  • on August 19, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    It's interestingly poised this one.A lot will definitely depend on how amla and the rest of the middle order absorb the pressure and heat the English bowlers will try to cook 'em up with.the tension and pitch seems to be mounting.......the proteas can sight that the peak is getting closer,can hear the drumbeats of victory in the distance,but for the time being they will have to relegate those visions and sounds to the back of their minds and concentrate on some good resolute batting.the English bowlers will need to work like machines,untiring and repetitive with the correct channels and no dropped chances.if they could maintain the intensity that was evident during the last hour of play y'day,they wouldn't be letting themselves down.it's the contest for the top spot,hopefully top cricket is what we get to see.

  • RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on August 19, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    not scoring a century at lords is equivalent to losing 1 mark in an exam of 200 marks

  • rahulcricket007 on August 19, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    @INDRA . ALSO ADD LARA , PONTING , MIANDAD , ZAHEER ABBASS INTO THAT LIST .

  • on August 19, 2012, 1:34 GMT

    Scoring a ton at Lords is overrated!With a lead of 139 and 7 wickets remaining,all SA need to shut out the game is to bat through on Day 4 and end up with a lead of 400.Then,give England a 100 overs to score 400! That would be a thrilling contest :)

  • on August 19, 2012, 0:45 GMT

    About scoring at Lords-yes it is great to get the name on the board - but there are other great batsmen if I recall who have not got hundreds here, Tendulkar, Gavaskar & Sangakkara. Amla was dropped early in the Oval test & England payed for it , South Africa's chances depend a lot on him now, even to save the game.

  • Hammond on August 19, 2012, 0:19 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh- I know what you mean about an unworthy number one. Australia was running on the fumes of previous performances for years, the most unworthy test and one day number one I've seen.

  • indianpunter on August 19, 2012, 0:07 GMT

    SA is the superior team, but with due respect, they have been found wanting under times of mental duress and if they can come thru this, they would have turned the corner in a big way and it could be the start of a reign.I hope having the unflappable Kirsten in their corner helps. Carpe Diem, Smith and Co.

  • RajIndian on August 18, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    what is the big deal about runs at Lord's? It is not as if it is a very difficult venue to score, but no just because of history and it has been suggested that it would be a dark spot on a glittering career. Fail to understand!

  • rayfanatics on August 18, 2012, 21:53 GMT

    This lords hoodoo is certainly overrated. Give any player worth his salt, enough number of matches and he will eventually score a ton. Playing at say MCG or Eden Gardens is a much more daunting prospect. Kallis is a legend, and I disagree that low scores at Lords should be called a blot.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 18, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    Don't worry Firdose, SA only need a lead of 250, and they'll easily get that. They'll run through the hapless Pommy batting lineup, and win in emphatic fashion. Wouldn't it be great if the Poms had a couple of absolute shockers go against them in the 2nd dig, then listen to all the whining. It'll be good to have a worthy #1 team at the top of the rankings at long last. Congratulations to the far superior SA team.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 18, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    I guess at this point, SA have nothing to worry about. They are well ahead BUT it all depends on Amla and AB Devilliers. Kallis was a big fish for England to catch late today. If SA can somehow go past a lead of 300, England will have big problems. A victory should then be out of their reach and SA have the bowling to even go for a win. But it all depends on the first session tomorrow for SA. If they lose Amla quickly, then SA could have some serious trouble.

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  • Cpt.Meanster on August 18, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    I guess at this point, SA have nothing to worry about. They are well ahead BUT it all depends on Amla and AB Devilliers. Kallis was a big fish for England to catch late today. If SA can somehow go past a lead of 300, England will have big problems. A victory should then be out of their reach and SA have the bowling to even go for a win. But it all depends on the first session tomorrow for SA. If they lose Amla quickly, then SA could have some serious trouble.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 18, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    Don't worry Firdose, SA only need a lead of 250, and they'll easily get that. They'll run through the hapless Pommy batting lineup, and win in emphatic fashion. Wouldn't it be great if the Poms had a couple of absolute shockers go against them in the 2nd dig, then listen to all the whining. It'll be good to have a worthy #1 team at the top of the rankings at long last. Congratulations to the far superior SA team.

  • rayfanatics on August 18, 2012, 21:53 GMT

    This lords hoodoo is certainly overrated. Give any player worth his salt, enough number of matches and he will eventually score a ton. Playing at say MCG or Eden Gardens is a much more daunting prospect. Kallis is a legend, and I disagree that low scores at Lords should be called a blot.

  • RajIndian on August 18, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    what is the big deal about runs at Lord's? It is not as if it is a very difficult venue to score, but no just because of history and it has been suggested that it would be a dark spot on a glittering career. Fail to understand!

  • indianpunter on August 19, 2012, 0:07 GMT

    SA is the superior team, but with due respect, they have been found wanting under times of mental duress and if they can come thru this, they would have turned the corner in a big way and it could be the start of a reign.I hope having the unflappable Kirsten in their corner helps. Carpe Diem, Smith and Co.

  • Hammond on August 19, 2012, 0:19 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh- I know what you mean about an unworthy number one. Australia was running on the fumes of previous performances for years, the most unworthy test and one day number one I've seen.

  • on August 19, 2012, 0:45 GMT

    About scoring at Lords-yes it is great to get the name on the board - but there are other great batsmen if I recall who have not got hundreds here, Tendulkar, Gavaskar & Sangakkara. Amla was dropped early in the Oval test & England payed for it , South Africa's chances depend a lot on him now, even to save the game.

  • on August 19, 2012, 1:34 GMT

    Scoring a ton at Lords is overrated!With a lead of 139 and 7 wickets remaining,all SA need to shut out the game is to bat through on Day 4 and end up with a lead of 400.Then,give England a 100 overs to score 400! That would be a thrilling contest :)

  • rahulcricket007 on August 19, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    @INDRA . ALSO ADD LARA , PONTING , MIANDAD , ZAHEER ABBASS INTO THAT LIST .

  • RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on August 19, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    not scoring a century at lords is equivalent to losing 1 mark in an exam of 200 marks