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December 20, 2009
Graeme Smith has suggested that England over-celebrated their last-gasp draw in the opening Test at Centurion, and also criticised Jonathan Trott, who made a vital 69 from 212 balls, for the amount of time he takes to prepare for each delivery.
Smith's team had England nine wickets down when time ran out, having instigated a dramatic collapse with the second new ball. However, Paul Collingwood made an unbeaten 26 from 99 balls and the No. 11 Graham Onions survived 12 deliveries to leave the series all-square. After Onions defended Makhaya Ntini's final ball, he and Collingwood embraced mid-pitch to celebrate the escape.
"I was a bit surprised with the fist-pumping and stuff like that, maybe it was a bit much," he said, before adding that he didn't think England's survival would have an impact on the next Test in Durban. "To be honest I wouldn't really care who has the balance of power. We've got a lot of confidence and the Boxing Day Test is a fresh start."
However, the main source of frustration for Smith wasn't England's relief at securing a draw but from the mannerisms of Trott at the crease. Trott likes to take his time to prepare for each delivery, which often involves marking his guard and assessing the field, and was given an official warning for time-wasting during the ODI series.
"It's been a constant thing throughout the one-dayers and the Tests," Smith said. "I'm all for a batter taking their time - I'm not the quickest at the crease - but when a bowler has to constantly keep stopping and reassessing throughout the game it gets a bit frustrating.
"It's not something we are going to lose sleep over, but it's a second here and there for him to make a better effort to improve the pace of the game which is what everyone wants."
Smith, though, did concede that Trott and Kevin Pietersen, who shared a stand of 145 in 43 overs, had both played impressive innings to steady England from 27 for 3 in the morning session. "Once the new ball was over this morning we didn't have a lot going for us and we tried a lot of options. Kevin and Jonathan batted well, two very different styles of players and they adapted their games pretty well to the surface."
The partnership was broken when Pietersen tried to run a suicidal single to the bowler, Friedel de Wet, and fell for 81 which gave South Africa an opening they later almost burst through with the second new ball. "I don't think it was a single but I'm glad he took it," Smith said.