South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 1st day

Swann drops the momentum

Andrew McGlashan in Cape Town

January 3, 2010

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Graeme Smith edged his first delivery behind to Graeme Swann, who put the chance down, South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town, January 3, 2010
Paul Collingwood would have fancied his chances of snaffling the edge offered by Graeme Smith © Getty Images

Opening woes
England have never had to wait long in this series to get into South Africa's middle order. The opening partnership between Graeme Smith and Ashwell Prince has failed to prosper at any stage. Four of the opening stands have yielded 1, 2, 3 and today's effort of 1 when Prince edged a terrific delivery from Jimmy Anderson to the keeper. Their best effort together was 27 and that came when South Africa were skittled out for 133. Unless Prince can muster a decent score in the second innings the calls for change will grow louder.

Missing Colly
With Prince already gone in the first over, England's morning could have become even better with Graham Onions' first delivery of the match. Smith couldn't resist driving at a very wide ball and edged it straight towards Graeme Swann's midriff at second slip. However, all Swann could do was palm it to the ground and the reaction of the fielder at fine leg summed it up. Paul Collingwood was down on the boundary protecting his recently dislocated finger and would normally have been station at second slip. Odds are he would have swallowed the chance and South Africa would have been 1 for 2.

Action replay
After the spurned opportunity, England had to wait a while for their second breakthrough but when it came they could have been back in Durban. In an almost identical dismissal to the first innings last week, Hashim Amla was trapped straight in front by a full delivery from Onions just as Stuart Broad managed at Kingsmead. For a second Amla considered a review, but quickly realised there was no way back.

New Year, same Swann
The year hadn't started too well for Swann with the dropped catch to reprieve Smith, but he was soon back doing what had made 2009 so impressive. With Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers settling after lunch and comfortably milking the spin England were in need of a breakthrough. It was handed to them on a plate when de Villiers chipped a limp shot to midwicket and next ball the innings had been turned on its head when the struggling JP Duminy was caught behind first ball.

Boucher hits back
South Africa were threatening to get themselves tied in knots again against Swann and had to find some way to break his stranglehold. Mark Boucher has been one of their form players during the series and is always likes to play his shots. With close fielders swarming around, Boucher stepped back to cut Swann and then followed that by driving a full toss through the off side before making it three in row with another punchy drive past mid-off. Suddenly, Swann had something to think about.

Test match wedding
Newlands is a wonderful location for cricket, and apparently it's quite a good one for weddings as well. About an hour before play there was a ceremony on the boundary edge below the media centre. Vows and rings were exchanged and they received warm applause from the crowd that was steadily building up. Fortunately for the people in all their wedding attire the ceremony had just been completed when rain arrived to delay the start of play by half an hour.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of 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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