South Africa v England, 2nd Test, Durban, 1st day

Cutting it fine

Andrew McGlashan in Durban

December 26, 2009

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Graeme Smith had batted superbly until a horrible mix-up saw him run out by Alastair Cook, South Africa v England, 2nd Test, Durban, December 26, 2009
Graeme Smith defied everything but his own partner as he was run out by Alastair Cook © PA Photos
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Boundary drought
It was tough going against the new ball as England bowled impressively. South Africa scored at barely a run-an-over during the first hour and couldn't find the boundary. A slow outfield didn't help and it wasn't until the 15th over that the ball crossed the rope but even that was off Graeme Smith's pad. The first authentic boundary came the following over when Jacques Kallis chopped Graham Onions through the slips and then, like the proverbial London bus, another followed next ball when Kallis pulled a short ball through square leg.

Another blow for Graeme
Smith has painful memories of batting at Kingsmead. Against Australia in February he was struck by Mitchell Johnson and broke the little finger on his right hand, less than two months after Johnson had broken the same digit on his other hand. So when Jimmy Anderson, during a hostile opening spell, got one to bounce and strike Smith on his left hand he could have been forgiven for thinking the worst. But the physio was quickly out with the magic spray and Smith was soon fit to resume his defiance of the England attack.

Mixed reception
Castle Corner was packed from early in the day and the fans were soon enjoying plenty of the sponsor's product. They really came to life when home-town boy Kevin Pietersen was dispatched down to the fine leg boundary during the morning session, with cheers from the England supporters and something a little less polite from the home contingent. Pietersen, though, just smiled and waved, even finding time between deliveries to sign a few autographs and when he came onto bowl it was a 50-50 split between boos and cheers.

Wrong slip
England have again gambled with a four-man attack and when they failed to build on two early wickets Andrew Strauss was left searching for options. His fifth choice was Jonathan Trott and he almost managed to extract Kallis from the crease when he found the outside edge with a ball that straightened. However, Strauss was stood very wide at a lone slip and the nick flew between him and the wicketkeeper to bring up Kallis's fifty. Strauss could only look and scratch his head.

Cook's perfect judgement
It doesn't really matter how much a batsman is run out by, so long as he is run out, but Alastair Cook cut it fine against Smith. The South Africa captain dropped the ball into the off side and before he knew it AB de Villiers was almost at his end. Smith started and stopped, de Villiers tried to turn around, but it was a shambles. Cook, meanwhile, hurtled in from cover and had to decide in a split second whether to throw at the stumps or run at them with ball in hand. He chose the latter option and it was nip and tuck whether he would beat Smith back. Replays proved he had, by a couple of inches, and that's all that mattered.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashanClose
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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