England v South Africa, 2nd npower Test, Headingley, 4th day

Ballsy batting, and a different sort of rearguard

Andrew McGlashan presents the plays of the fourth day at Headingley

Andrew McGlashan at Headingley

July 21, 2008

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Career-best of the day


A breakneck innings comes to an end, as Kevin Pietersen is caught behind for 13 from five balls© Getty Images
 

Although James Anderson's promotion to No. 4 won't last, he was also lifted to No. 9 in this Test because of Darren Pattinson's debut and has provided enough evidence to suggest that it isn't a premature rise. He has yet to be dismissed for a duck in his Test career, a run that now extends to 38 innings, however this season the runs have also started to flow. Against New Zealand, at Trent Bridge, he set a new career-best of 28 and today raised the bar even higher. He batted for almost two hours, facing 80 balls, as he reached 34, just three short of his first-class best. There were even a few shots of note, particularly a brace of drives through the covers off Paul Harris.

Blow of the day

Anderson stood up to the pace of Dale Steyn and Co., yet at one point he probably wished he hadn't. The ball after a nasty strike on the wrist from Steyn, a rapid bouncer homed in on Anderson's right cheek. It was a crunching blow, forcing the grille into his lower jaw and leaving Anderson on the ground in visible pain. The physios sprinted out and spent more than five minutes checking him over. Slowly Anderson got up and a replacement helmet was set for. To loud applause he then took his place back at the crease and was solidly behind the next delivery.

Cameo of the day

There are different ways of trying to save a Test. There is the Neil McKenzie style of blocking the way to safety and then there's Kevin Pietersen's method. Pietersen came out with just over 10 minutes to go before lunch, and promptly sent three of his first four balls to the boundary. There was a leg glance, a stand-and-deliver drive through mid-off and a rasping cover drive. But it didn't last. The next ball from Jacques Kallis was on a good length, drawing Pietersen into a half-hearted push. He was in such an aggressive frame of mind that he couldn't stop himself and Boucher gleefully claimed a wafer-thin nick. He should have followed Anderson's lead.

Catch of the day

Not everything has gone straight into AB de Villiers' hands this Test, but there is no doubting that he held onto a blinder to remove Ian Bell. Stationed at gully he flung himself almost horizontally to intercept Bell's cut, managing to hold on as he hit the ground. de Villiers knew it was a special catch and didn't hold back in his celebrations. There were also a few gestures towards the Western Terrace, who'd given him a fair bit of flak in recent days. de Villiers had clearly made his point, but the only issue is that most of the people who booed him on the previous two days were no longer at the ground. Instead they are probably nursing their hangovers.

Stonewaller of the day

Five years ago when Andrew Flintoff came to the crease with England in a similar predicament at Lord's, he proceeded to launch the South Africa attack all around the ground in a thrilling, if futile, 142. This time he took a much more sedate route as he reined in his natural game. In 53 balls before tea he didn't find the boundary, before finally coming out of his shell after the break. Although his innings ended for a 95-ball 38 it was valuable time in the middle ahead of the remaining two Tests.

Distraction of the day

The Western Terrace was much quieter today, but there was still one moment when they managed to become the centre of attention. Graeme Smith turned from slip and pointed at something in the stands. At first it looked as though the sun was reflecting off a small mirror. Daryl Harper walked over and had an earnest discussion with one of (many) bright-green security guards. After much gesticulating, a plethora of high-visibility jackets made their way towards the offending section, which appeared to sort out the issue. Then, a few overs later, the problem occurred in a different section of the ground. Finally, the issue came to light; the sun was reflecting off one of the security guards' passes.

Belated resistance of the day

It came too late to save the match, but Stuart Broad's second half-century of the series at least made South Africa bat again. It was studded with some of the most elegant shots of the day and, even if the pressure was off, he once again oozed quality. However, a problem remains. He just isn't taking enough wickets and looks tired. There is a chance he may be dropped (rested) for Edgbaston and in the long run that might still be the best thing for him.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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