Close England 129 for 2 (Butcher 33*, Hussain 36*) and 173 trail South Africa 682 for 6 dec. by 380 runs
Graeme Smith took yet more plaudits as he successfully led South Africa's operation domination in the third day of the second npower Test at Lord's. It wasn't quite all down to him this time, but the day again belonged to the South Africans, who cruised to an awesome 682 for 6 declared - their highest-ever total and the second-highest at Lord's. Smith was eventually out for a record-breaking 259 to beat another of Donald Bradman's milestones, but it was also another appalling day from England in the field.
Led by the tireless Andrew Flintoff, England did bowl a touch better and they took all of four wickets during the first two sessions - but their fielding was abysmal. In a shocking and lacklustre display, they dropped two catches, watched one go through the slip cordon and botched a stumping off the prolific Smith - which left Alec Stewart with a bruised eye socket and England temporarily with a novice in Anthony McGrath behind the stumps.
Boeta Dippenaar was dropped twice, by Ashley Giles at first slip and Mark Butcher at second. Giles was only fielding at first slip because both Nasser Hussain (who, in case anyone forgot, dropped Smith back on day one) and Marcus Trescothick both have damaged fingers. Butcher doesn't have any broken digits, but standing at second slip he spilled his second chance of the game. It would have been a much-needed wicket for Darren Gough, but instead he, like England, remained flat and demoralised and waited to be put out of their misery.
Dippenaar scored a stylish - if lucky - 92 before he drove Giles to Butcher at cover shortly before tea (630 for 5). He mixed solid defence with some perfect timing and intelligent feet movement throughout his innings. Mark Boucher then rubbed salt into England's pouring wounds with a rollicking cameo of 68 from 51 balls, including 12 spanking fours and a huge six into the grand stand. In the end he was bowled by James Anderson, trying to launch another ball out of the ground (672 for 6), but by that stage South Africa had grown so so dominant it was turning into an increasingly sick and unfunny joke for Michael Vaughan and England, who had the added embarrassment of conceding over 64 extras - more than ever before in a Test match.
But while Vaughan must want to escape this nightmare as quickly as possible, Smith continued to live in a dream world. His epic innings finally came to an end for 259 ten minutes before lunch when he played on to Anderson, and he walked off to the kind of rapturous applause not seen at Lord's since Graham Gooch's 333 against India in 1990. His mammoth innings passed Bradman's legendary score of 254, as made at Lord's in 1930 - arguably the greatest of his 29 Test centuries. And the ease with which he slayed the England bowling, it was a surprise (and something of a disappointment) that he didn't go on to reach 300. He has now scored 621 runs in series, at an average of 207.
If England are going to save this Test then they are going to have to find a Smith of their own. However, after a bright start from Vaughan and Trescothick in their second-innings, Andrew Hall and Shaun Pollock combined to add to England's woes with the coveted wicket of Vaughan. After Pollock had dropped him at first slip off Hall's second ball of the over, he made no mistake two balls later. Vaughan played an expansive drive at a wide half-volley and this time, Pollock gratefully clasped onto it (52 for 1).
Paul Adams then sank England into further trouble with a stunning catch to rid Trescothick for 23. Makhaya Ntini came round the wicket and hurried Trescothick into an ungainly pull. The ball shot up in the air, but originally looked to be safe from Adams at short square-leg. However, Adams turned and sprinted, and keeping his eye glued to the ball all the way, dived fully infront of him to take a miraculous catch over his shoulder (60 for 2). It was Adams's fourth catch of the match, but he won't have taken many better during his career.
Hall may only be a substitute for Jacques Kallis, but he bowled with a control and swing Kallis himself would be proud of as he gave Hussain a real working over. Swinging the ball away, Hall then nipped the odd ball back in to Hussain, who looked increasingly uncomfortable, no doubt with his first-innings dismissal, among all sorts of other things, at the back of his mind.
Hussain did eventually settle down and smashed Ntini, who was warned by Steve Bucknor, for a brace of fours as he slowly ground himself back to the dogged batsman everyone is used to as the hazy evening wore on. Butcher also started shakily, but then slowly got in the groove to end the day on 33 with six flowing boundaries.
The one positive for England is that Butcher and Hussain made it to the close, but they still trail by 380 runs, and nothing will take away the fact that they suffered another dismal day in this astonishingly one-sided contest.
Click here for today's Wisden Verdict
Click here for yesterday's bulletin