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December 20, 2009
Trott takes his time
Jonathan Trott is going to annoy a few opposition during his international career, because he takes an age to prepare himself to face up for a delivery. After a solitary Test, it is already getting to South Africa. During the one-day series he was given a warning for time-wasting and the umpires had to have another word with him on the final day at Centurion, although he wasn't officially warned. Trott marks his guard regularly with a huge line carved by his boot, and then likes to survey the field before strolling into line before finally taking strike. A couple of times the bowler and Graeme Smith waved their arms in frustration, but Trott trotted on at his own pace.
Kevin Pietersen certainly likes his quick singles - or Red Bull runs as they have become known - but it means a few hairy moments. On 27, Pietersen pushed the ball into the covers and raced off for a single. The ball went straight to JP Duminy, one of South Africa's best fielders, but luckily for Pietersen the fielder couldn't collect. A direct hit at either end would have resulted in a wicket, but the way Duminy was shaping suggested he would have picked Pietersen as the preferred option. Instead, he and Trott punched gloves mid-pitch and breathed a sigh of relief. But wait…
Kevin does a Nasser (or a Thorpe)
Thoughts were just beginning towards a comfortable draw when Pietersen and Trott resumed after tea. Then, out of nowhere, Pietersen pushed the ball into the off side and set off for a single without realising that Friedel de Wet, the bowler, was already closing in on it. De Wet collected and quickly realised he had oodles of time to run up to the stumps. There was no question of Trott, the non-striker, actually attempting the run. His only choice was whether to save or sacrifice himself, and he chose the former. The moment brought back memories of the horror mix-up between Nasser Hussain and Graham Thorpe at Antigua in 1997-98, when Hussain's run-out precipitated a calamitous collapse. But shortly after Pietersen's demise, Nasser was keen to make one point abundantly clear. "It was Thorpe who ran me out, the one time I wasn't guilty."
A thin line
Quick bowlers like to get very close to the front line and eventually they will overstep and lose out on a wicket. And sometimes it will be a vital wicket. That is what happened to de Wet when he trapped Pietersen straight in front of middle with one that skidded through, only to see Steve Davis's arm out-stretched. De Wet went down on his knees, knowing how vital that moment could become, and he won't have felt any better when the big screen showed a replay. Pietersen will think it evened the score after he was bowled off an unnoticed no-ball in the first innings.
When a review isn't a review
South Africa thought they had broken the stand between Pietersen and Trott when the ball flew to Graeme Smith at gully off Paul Harris, but Trott stood his ground and the umpires weren't sure. They went to the TV official, but it wasn't a review under the new system because the on-field umpire had asked for the extra assistance to check whether it was a bump ball. In fact, the replays showed it had missed the bat and hit the boot, so that ruled out the catch, but under the new playing conditions the third umpire was also allowed to check for lbw. As it happens, it was going down leg side, so it was much ado about nothing.
Who was this coming on for a trundle? The man with a bust rib who wouldn't bowl until next week. In the 55th over Smith, in a sign of desperation, threw the ball to Jacques Kallis in his search for a breakthrough. It soon became clear he wouldn't be at full pace, far from it, as he marked out a short run and Mark Boucher came up to the stumps. He operated at something around Paul Collingwood's pace as he tried out a series of cutters, then shortly before tea he tried a bouncer at Pietersen. It wasn't a threat, but South Africa will be delighted he's coming back to action.
England were saving the game with reasonable comfort, but we should all have known better. In the second over with the second new ball - a passage of play that was always likely to be vital - Jonathan Trott got a brute of a ball from de Wet that jumped off a length and took the glove. Still, it needed some catch, and in AB de Villiers it was heading to the right man (his first-innings spill off Alastair Cook was the rarest of aberrations. Sure enough, he flung himself low to his left to pull off a stunning take. It led to a thrilling final hour.
As West Indies play their 500th Test, here's an interactive journey through their Test history