Anderson leads rout of South Africa
England 121 for 3 (Trott 52*) beat South Africa 119 (Petersen 51, Anderson 5-23) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
South Africa's batsmen veered from the sublime to the ridiculous in the space of three days, as England demonstrated the staggering extent of their inconsistency in one-day cricket by following one of their heaviest thumpings with arguably their most dominant display of the year.
Led by James Anderson, who overcame a knee complaint to produce the first five-wicket haul of his one-day career, England routed South Africa for 119, their lowest-ever total in a home ODI, before knocking off the required runs in 31.2 overs and for the loss of three wickets. In so doing, they claimed a 2-1 lead in the five-match series, and ensured at least a share of the spoils with the final match coming up in Durban next Friday.
Even by England's recent rollercoaster standards, this was quite a turnaround in fortunes. At Newlands on Friday, they had lost a vital toss in perfect batting conditions at Newlands, and looked on helplessly as South Africa rampaged to 354 for 6, the highest total in 43 matches between the countries.
At St George's Park this morning, however, their lack of balance in the absence of Jacques Kallis was ruthlessly exposed. Graeme Smith was very content to bat first after winning the toss once again, but Andrew Strauss admitted he had been tempted to bowl anyway, on a grassy pitch and under some appreciable cloud-cover. Sure enough, his seam bowlers, led by Anderson, made full use of the conditions.
As is so often the case, the early scalp of Smith was to prove critical to the momentum of both sides. After serving up a first-ball wide, Stuart Broad found a fuller length with his second legitimate delivery, and trapped Smith lbw for 2 as he fell across his stumps. Though Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers were subsequently served up a range of short balls to get their respective innings up and running, the need to pitch the ball up was soon drummed into the bowlers, with devastating effect.
Amla came into this game with a brace of half-centuries to his name, but he couldn't build on that record, as Anderson kept the ball right up to the bat, and Graeme Swann was perfectly positioned to intercept a wristy flick to short midwicket. Four overs later, JP Duminy gifted Anderson his second scalp, as he misjudged the pace of a slower-ball bouncer, and looped a gloved pull into the grateful hands of Matt Prior behind the stumps.
De Villiers, South Africa's form batsman following his scintillating 121 at Newlands, betrayed his team's uncertainty with a sketchy innings that might have ended on 9 from 19 balls when he drove loosely at Broad but bisected the two men lurking in the covers. Instead, he was nailed lbw in Tim Bresnan's first over of the match, a full-length delivery that Hawkeye suggested would have taken out leg stump.
Luke Wright, one of England's best bowlers of the series to date, loosened the shackles a fraction as Alviro Petersen and Mark Boucher clubbed him for two fours each in consecutive overs, en route to a 23-run stand for the fifth wicket that seemed to have steadied South Africa's jitters. But then, back came Anderson for another spell, and after a run of 15 consecutive dot-balls had been broken by a single to fine-leg, he struck with the fifth ball of his new spell, a beautiful full-length outswinger that took the edge of Boucher's off stump.
Ryan McLaren, struggling for form and smarting after a first-ball duck in the run-glut at Newlands, then deepened South Africa's gloom by taking on a hint of width from Anderson, and smearing a sharp chance straight to Paul Collingwood at backward point. Strauss, in the mood for wickets, sensibly allowed Anderson to complete his quota of overs, and he was rewarded with the scalp of Johan Botha, who flinched at a beautiful lifter outside off, and grazed an edge through to Prior.
Anderson's spell duly came to an end after 27 overs - 10-2-23-5 - and with South Africa reeling at 85 for 7, all that remained was the mopping-up of the tail. Petersen, who has cemented his place in South Africa's middle-order with scores of 64 and 51 not out in his previous two innings, demonstrated a cool head for a crisis with his third half-century in a row. But he couldn't bat at both ends at once, and Collingwood, whose bowling has been a revelation on this tour so far, duly claimed the 100th wicket of his career as Strauss pulled off a blinder at backward-point, before nailing Morne Morkel lbw from round the wicket four overs later - a marginal decision that Hawkeye nevertheless suggested was correct.
A mowed four through cow corner carried Petersen past fifty, but with just the dubious talents of Charl Langeveldt alongside him, he was obliged to chance his arm, and with one ball remaining of the 37th over, he advanced down the pitch to Broad and took on the long-on boundary. But Wright at mid-on timed his leap to perfection and plucked a stunning full-stretch chance with the fingertips of his right hand. It was an effort that summed up England's day.
The only way South Africa were going to get back into the contest was by claiming quick wickets, but Strauss and Jonathan Trott repelled them with a 74-run stand for the first wicket, with Trott in particular displaying some excellent timing as he anchored the chase with an unhurried half-century. England's response wasn't entirely plain-sailing, however, and in an interesting precursor to the Test series, Morkel troubled Strauss with some kicking bounce outside off from round the wicket. He could even have got his man for 12, but a huge appeal for caught-behind was turned down by umpire Jerling.
It was eventually left to the spinner Botha to make the breakthrough, as he cramped Strauss for room on the cut and pinned him lbw for 32, and Botha made it two in two overs when Kevin Pietersen ended a frantic mini-innings with a clip to midwicket, only moments after being badly dropped by Morkel at fine leg. Collingwood, for once, failed to make an impression as McLaren had him caught behind for 2, but Eoin Morgan joined Trott to guide England to the finish in an unbroken 38-run stand.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo