South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 4th day

South Africa surge ahead as England dawdle

Andrew McGlashan in Cape Town

January 6, 2010

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Alastair Cook top-edged Friedel de Wet off an attempted pull shortly after reaching his half-century, South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town, January 6, 2010
Alastair Cook went on the pull again today, but it proved his undoing © Getty Images
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The most eagerly anticipated part of the day wasn't the start of play, but what South Africa would do having "raised concerns" about the ball on the third evening. They had until play began to make an official complaint, but word came through that they weren't going to take it to the next level and left it in the hands of the match referee. The ICC later confirmed they wouldn't be taking further action and a 16-hour news story was quickly coming to end. The lingering ill-feelings are unlikely to go away as quickly.

Take your time
It was not in England's interests to get too many overs in during the morning session so that South Africa had less opportunity to pile up their lead. After aiming for wickets in the first hour it soon became an exercise in delaying the declaration and England's bowlers certainly did their bit. One Stuart Broad over took six minutes, while James Anderson used up seven for the over that became the final one of the session. In all, the morning included just 24 overs when there are meant to be 30. England clearly had a tactic, but it left the spectators short-changed. And on this occasion the bowlers couldn't blame the heat.

Duminy breaks free
When JP Duminy walked in South Africa's lead was already very comfortable, but the pressure was firmly on the left hander. The last three balls he'd faced in the series had brought his downfall and he was on a king pair. That was survived with a solid forward defence and slowly he began to find his timing. He managed to break free with a six over mid-on off James Anderson, but he still had problems with short balls targeted at the body. Those 36 runs will have made him feel better, but only time will if they save his spot.

Cook stranded
Duminy, though, could have pulled off a key breakthrough for his team when he had the chance to run out Alastair Cook on 45. Andrew Strauss defended towards backward point and for some reason the opening pair decided there was a run available even though the ball was going almost straight to South Africa's best fielder. Cook had no chance of making his ground, but even though Duminy took aim he couldn't hit a single stump from side on...however, in the end it didn't prove too costly.

Pulling up short
As Cook and Strauss completed their first hundred opening stand since the first innings of the Lord's Test against Australia and South Africa were starting to wonder where a wicket was coming from. Cook had been playing the pull with authority during his innings, but then tried to connect with a ball that wasn't quite short enough and got a spiralling top edge that was swallowed by Mark Boucher. Cook didn't give his captain a glance and just turned on his heels.

Daryl's latest shocker
The Umpire Decision Review System has had its critics, but by and large it has been a success in this series. And during this match it has overturned two howling errors, which is just what it was introduced for. The umpiring in the last three Tests has been very impressive, but Daryl Harper has lowered the standards in this game. Yesterday he gave Ashwell Prince out when he missed the ball by a foot and his second shocker was not spotting Kevin Pietersen's inside edge that saved him from an lbw. Pietersen immediately asked for the review which confirmed the large chunk of wood involved, although Pietersen was soon stone-dead to Dale Steyn. At least the system works.

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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