Proteas come agonisingly close

2009-12-20 20:30

Centurion - A four-wicket haul by debutant Friedel de Wet brought South Africa agonisingly close to winning the first Castle Lager Test against England at Supersport Park on Sunday, with Graham Onions sticking it out for 19 minutes and facing 12 deliveries to force a tense draw.

When the match ended, England had 228 for nine, 106 short of the total needed for victory.

England, chasing 364 to win, resumed play on 11 for the loss of Andrew Strauss. South Africa claimed two wickets in the first hour of the day, with night watchman James Anderson caught by Mark Boucher off Friedel de Wet for 10, and opener Alastair Cook, who had never looked comfortable, caught at leg slip by Graeme Smith off Paul Harris for 12.

His departure brought Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen together with the score on 27 for three and the two players, who both received their early cricket education in this country, batted for just over three hours - including the whole of the afternoon session - to keep England in with a chance of a draw.

Pietersen was in sublime form, and he took the attack to the South African bowlers, while Trott, playing in just his second Test, was more circumspect.

Pietersen reached his 16th Test half century off 76 balls, including seven boundaries, while Trott needed 135 deliveries to get to the milestone.

Graeme Smith kept changing the bowlers, but to no avail. He even played his trump card, bringing Jacques Kallis into the attack for three overs just before tea. Kallis, who is recovering from a fractured rib, was selected purely as a batsman and had not been expected to bowl.

Pietersen had only himself to blame for his dismissal in the over after tea, when he tapped the ball into the covers, put his head down and ran. Trott, who yelled an agonised "no," stayed put and grounded his bat, while the bowler, Friedel de Wet, calmly removed the bails at the other end.

Pietersen was out for 81 off 143 balls, having hit 11 boundaries. Their fourth wicket partnership was worth 145 runs, and while they were together, England would have felt they had the tiniest sniff of squeezing out victory on a pitch that had flattened out, but once Pietersen went, it seemed a draw was on the cards.

Trott was joined by Paul Collingwood - a man known for his ability to bat for a long time. South Africa, desperate to get more wickets, sent two leg before decisions for review, but in both cases, the original not out decision was upheld.

South Africa took the new ball as soon as it was available, and De Wet made it count in his first over, when AB de Villiers dived to his left to take a brilliant catch to dismiss Trott for 69. Four overs later, De Wet struck again when Boucher took a diving catch to dismiss Ian Bell for two.

Bell's dismissal precipitated a collapse. Matthew Prior was caught by Boucher off De Wet without scoring, Paul Harris had Stuart Broad caught by Boucher, also without scoring, and Morne Morkel had Graeme Swann leg before wicket for two.

Onions, not known for his batting, joined Collingwood in the middle.

Collingwood tried to protect him, but some expert captaincy by Smith meant that Onions had to face a full over from Morkel and then the final over, bowled by Makhaya Ntini, who was playing his 100th Test. Onions saw the over out, and the England fans were jubilant.

The match was one of wildly fluctuating fortunes, with first one side and then the other, getting the upper hand. South Africa had a slight edge at the end of the first day, thanks to a century from Kallis. Honours were more or less even on the second day, but on the third, a partnership of 105 between Graeme Swann and James Anderson, with Swann making 85 off 82 balls, brought England back into the picture.

When South Africa were reduced to 46 for four an hour before lunch on Saturday, England appeared to have their hosts on the ropes. But Hashim Amla and De Villiers turned things South Africa's way again with a partnership of 119. Amla reached his seventh century, and Boucher contributed a cameo 63 not out, allowing Smith to declare on 301 for seven.

Man of the Match: Graeme Swann


  • John A - 2009-12-20 20:20

    Once again SA "Snatching Defeat (Draw) from the jaws of Victory" A draw is a loss simply because we did not win! However England could have made a far better effort at scoring the necessary runs to win properly. Petersen should swap his pads for his bat. At one stage he hit the ball only with his left pad in one over. But Smith did not get his bowler to bowl from left of the wicket to avoid bowling diagonally to the right hander. That batsmen can stand for so long and score so little is almost beyond belief. Where is it written in the rules that tests should not at more than 3 runs an over. At some stages of this test, watching paint dry was more exciting! Small wonder that the crowd numbers were so low.

  • Matt @ Smith - 2009-12-20 20:22

    I think its time you step down as captain. You mentally dont have what it takes to win trophies and make go decisions at the right time for the team - your last over madness sums it up for me!

  • Mike - 2009-12-20 21:39

    SA lack the killer punch. Bollowing Ntini in the last over shows it.England are the team that will be high on confidence from this result.

  • marco - 2009-12-20 21:55

    I live in hope rather than expectation from here on in whenever the Proteas go out to play based on what I saw in this first test at Centurion this week. It beggars belief why no one was able to get Paul Collingwood out.Instead of aiming at his stumps the Proteas bowlers go for wide of the crease hoping he'll play at that and get caught behind or something.All Paul did since he came to the crease is say thank you very much I'll just leave those ones alone in so doing buying out more time.Surely the Proteas should have realize that only KP was the aggresive player out of the lot driving at anything but that Trott,Collingwood and co afterwards were just playing for time not to win the match which why you had ball accurate and precise at the stumps. No fulltosses its that simple just the right line and lenght aimaing at the stumps but they can't even do that.And that cost the Proteas the match in the end and probably if they keep this up even the series aswell

  • dobbino - 2009-12-20 22:20

    SA's problem - again - has been the inability of the bowlers to get rid of the opposition's tail. And while I do not agree with Matt's comment about GS stepping down, I do agree that the decision to use Makhaya for the last over was madness. I really do enjoy the guy, but it's time for him to move on to other things - like commentating. What we need desperately is bowlers who spend time trying to establish exactly what type of balls need to be bowled to challenge the batsmen.

  • Ronald - 2009-12-20 22:34

    It seems to me that in tight situations Graeme Smith needs to be at his bowlers side telling him exactly what kind of ball he wants delivered. If his bowling attack cannot bowl to order then what use are they to anyone? We could have won this one.

  • @ Matt@Smith - 2009-12-20 23:21

    Yawn, boring, boring, boring

  • vincent - 2009-12-20 23:38

    I agree with Matt@smith, Both Ntini and Morkel should go, we have better bowlers, meskien vir gogga Adams Smith should step down Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XVT8L gatvol lol

  • Hendrik Botha - 2009-12-20 23:53

    The time has come to support the Proteas or shut up, they done very well for the country and even not playing any test Cricket since February shows they still have it. Every one who bagging Boucher get stuffed mate, he has prooved again he can bat and lead as well. Smith made all the right moves double changes with the bowling, gave de wet the oppurtinity to find himself and to show what he was made off, I will hail Graeme and support him, the anti sosial supporters can go and jump in the sea and support the South africa A side HA HA HA. Especially Trott who take guard for a long time and has made sure that game became silly.

  • Gary - 2009-12-21 00:06

    To Matt and John either of you have ANY idea about the nuances and fickelness of Test cricket. Decisions, good or bad are made by captains to change the state of the game - if they come off, SA fans think Graham Smith is the next best thing to sliced bread - if not, plonkers like you call for his head. I love the " if Smith did this, he should have done that" comments that come from "fans"! If you all know so much about captaincy and the game in general, why are you not out there doing the "if's and should haves"...? Oh I know, because you are not good enough to play the game and by comments from a lot of "fans", are not good analysts of the game. Nobody is making you watch the game - if you find it boring, go watch paint dry and leave us genuine supportes to watch and analyse

  • Jurgens - 2009-12-21 05:32

    Smith is doing a great job, we are battling to with out steyn who is a strike bowler, I think its a bit harsh to ask for smith to step down, hell who else can do the job

  • Brucelee - 2009-12-21 05:38

    Can anyone please explain why the *&^% did Makaya bowl the last over? He didnt get a wicket in the 2nd innings...hadn't bowled for a while and De Wet was on fire....makes no sense....I dont care if it was his 100th game....we needed to win......Bloody madness.....

  • Larry - 2009-12-21 05:39

    Time for us to get a skipper that has a few brains and a coach that knows what he is doing. We should have won the match easily. If it rains in Durbs (and it most likely will), then we are in trouble, if we have to put up with this Bull***t.

  • Michael - 2009-12-21 06:25

    Smith has so little faith in his bowlers that he declared with only 8 over left. 360 odd was a bridge to far for England and wicket. A more tempting target would have given England something to go for and more shots would have been played. SA should have declared at around 320 and at that scoring rate would have given SA another 15 to 20 overs to have a full go at England. Why on earth would Ntini bowl such a crucial last over. Ntini never looked like taking a wicket anyway. Now they drop Parnell - why not Ntini. Was Ntini a pity selection, it could not have been based on performance over past games for province. What a mess. Now the commentators say SA can only get stronger with Kallis and Steyn back in full form. Naw, cant see that. Steyn was so out of sorts and Kallis firepower is purley back up bowler at best after long layoff. I think that England with their hard working team will not be a push over in Durbs.

  • Lange - 2009-12-21 07:00

    Sack Smith, how could he give the last over to Ntini? De Wet was the best bowler by far! Was it to give Ntini the glory? REPLACE SMITH NOW

  • sonnyG - 2009-12-21 07:12

    @ JohnA and Matt, I dont think either of you know much about cricket.

  • Mike JJ - 2009-12-21 07:13

    2nd Test - Steyn in, De Wet in, Morkel - OUT !

  • gert - 2009-12-21 07:19

    WoW. What a match. Matt @ Smith you have no clue or understanding what Smith did in the last over. SA could have won it if he made de Wet bowl the over but winning isn't everything. Let me explain to you what Smith did he tried to rewrite the mistakes of the past. Ntini has had it rough as one of the only few African Players in the Team, he took alot of abuse from team mates, media & supporters. But Ntini gave his all exactly like how Mandela turned a Prison Guard to be one of his best friends so did Ntini turn the SA Cricket Team to respect his talent. And what Smith did yesterday was heroic b'cos he made him bowl that last over to honour the man on his 100th Test Match. Wow not many captains have what Smith has a heart of reconciliation. I am proud of you Smith. You have showed the likes of Malema & Zille what reconciliation is about. VIVA Smith VIVA.

  • Dissippointed - 2009-12-21 07:21

    Ntini should not have played in this match. He simple is not what he used to be. I say drop Ntini for Dale and get Kallis fit for bowling in the second test. I'm don't think Graeme did a bad job as captain. He was better than Strauss. His bowling changes made much more sense, even if the bowling was not as attacking as it should have been, but that is the job of the couch to correct this(if the coach knows how to held a cricket ball). Graeme should work on his batting and along with Prince (who played well for his second time as opener) and we can set a good platform for the rest of our batters. Well done to the centurions, was it not for them we would have certainly lost the test. P.S. Mickey, cricket ball not the same as your nuts.

  • Will B - 2009-12-21 07:26

    @Matt and John A - Actually I think you 2 are a bunch of losers. I can tell you are both professional cricket players by your comments. You 2 should obviously be playing for the Proteas. Why don't you go and cry somewhere else, I heard that baby city also has a forum. Who needs d1ckhe@d supporters like you around.

  • stan - 2009-12-21 07:34

    Why, Why, Why are we so scared - Smith allowed SA to bat tooooo long and had to declare when Amla got out - that would have left a bit more than twelve overs or so to bowl at England, knowing that their bowling attack is not so sharp...given the time of day, he had to allow more time to bowl at them and maybe take two to three wickets - Have to agree with John A- they threw it away and someone has to pay for that...remember how we struggled against Arjuna Ranatunga and a tailender a few seasons back, when the Sri Lanka captain single handedly defended his partner and scored more than 50 runs, we dont have the killer instinct and are tooo scared - What would Hansie have done???

  • Benny - 2009-12-21 07:44

    Mr Smith your decision to bowl Ntini, who for the entire match was the least effective of all your bowlers, borders on insanity! Oh how relieved the Brits must have been when the saw Ntini lining up to bowl. On the day either Morkel or deWet would have been a better option - my choice would have been the in-form deWet who, although the least experienced, was getting the job done.

  • Fred - 2009-12-21 07:48

    Why, oh why, did Smith not declare as soon as Amla had scored his ton? South Africa were 300 ahead at that stage, and this would have given us at least 10 more overs to bowl at a very tired England team in the late afternoon, making a chance of victory much better. Isn't it time Smith went to "Captains School" to learn these things? We could have started this seried 1-up, just for a change !!!!!

  • Dave - 2009-12-21 07:52

    No such thing as nearly, close or could have. To draw on your backyard is a lose. Congrats Smith, how long are you still gonna make excuses.

  • PHILIP - 2009-12-21 07:57

    John A. A left arm bowler bowling from "left of the wicket" is actually called bowling around the wicket! This was a wonderfull test match played by 2 evenly matched teams and a draw in the end was a fair result. Pity you dont seem to have a clue what test cricket is all about.

  • J - 2009-12-21 07:58

    I have this terrible feeling that politics and pre-start of play arrangements that certain individuals must bowl key overs, i.e the final over was made. Why not give the ball to a guy on the verge of a five wicket haul or even a spinner who troubled the batsmen a go at Onions. Face it Ntini was good but we must be honest in saying it is time to go. I thought Smith had the caracter to acknowledge this with his choice of who would bowl the last over!!!

  • Robz - 2009-12-21 08:03

    I wish England tried to win. It is easier to bowl out an attacking batsman than to get out a batsman that's just defending. He can stand there for hours, just blocking and kicking the ball away. I feel that we should have gone for body shots to Trott when he was wasting time. Wake him up a bit. He should have been in position when the bowlers were turning. As the bowler walks back he is building up to a peak which should continue in his run-up but everytime he had to stop and wait for Trott to take his position.

  • Richard Tarr - 2009-12-21 08:13

    I really don't understand the "fair weather friend" supporters of South Africa. This was a quality old fashioned dog fight test that went all the way through to the last over of the final day. That is what test cricket is all about. And to all the anti-Smith supporters, get over yourselves. He's a quality player and an exceptional leader. GO PROTEAS!

  • smithmustgo - 2009-12-21 08:13

    Double the takings at the gate and from TV-advertising, double the runs and double the sucess - Smith must go!

  • Soon2bexsupporter - 2009-12-21 08:16

    Another typical woosy performance of lost opportunities. The decision making is suspect and there does not appear to be FIRM direction. We are too negative and consider a draw an achievement. Besides the frustrating same old same old negative approach, why can they not get the no ball issue corrected. Smacks of lack of hands on management. This lost opportunity is going to come back and bite SA. Time for a change and bring back Ray Jennings

  • Raj - 2009-12-21 08:42

    Hindsight...what a wonderful thing... england take confidence- are you all crazy - the bloody english were saved by the bell.....SA played brilliantly and showed the character that we last saw when they toured Aus.....Friedel wonderful...Morkel if you bowl like you did yersterday afternoon you will be the best...Harry - awesome....Ntini thanks you for you contribution - now take a bow.....Smith you have rallied your troops and done us proud...don't are comfortably ahead despite the score....oh and for that fool who wanted to know what Hansie would have done- he would have taken a bribe to loose the game. The teams are bnot evenly matched- the English would think they've done well to draw - and after all the pundits saying they would win the first test - up yours ( so lovely to say it)......

  • Cricket fan - 2009-12-21 08:43

    @ Richard Tarr. Yes Smithy is a great player BUT I am not sure about his leadership skills....The guy was playing it safe on Saturday instead of going for the win....he declared to late. If say is to regain the No. 1 rankings, they need to play more BRAVE cricket, exactly what India does ....But with Smith as capt, they may not happen soon

  • GeePMB - 2009-12-21 08:44

    BORING - The media spin-doctors must also stop "talking up" the game. Sure, the last hour was "exciting" but frankly, we don't have a bowling attack cabable of taking 20 wickets. That's what wins games

  • Alwyn - 2009-12-21 09:02

    I agree 100% with you @Gert. Smith is a captain amongst Captains. Its sad to read on this forum comments of political influence determining the bowling strategy of the SA Team. Its sad to think that in SA Sport every decision made is perceived to have political influence. Yesterday I had tears in my eyes as I saw a man out perform his peers & Gert you speak of Ntini emulating Tata Nelson Mandela, in my eyes I saw Smith emulating F W De Klerk and that gave me hope in this country & its sportsman. Well done Smith. You deserve a peace prize.To the rest of you idiots get a life or join England they will be happy to have you.

  • Twisted - 2009-12-21 09:07

    Imagine if the people commenting here had to select the sides and make the on-field decisions democratically. What a cock-up that would be. Captaining is not an exact science. You make the decisions and it's up to individuals to deliver. For people who enjoy cricket - test cricket - this was a great game.

  • bigred - 2009-12-21 09:11

    Ntini to bowl the last over...what a joke!!! The whole thing smacks of politics. Ntini is so far over the hill, it's not even funny. To say he's "military medium" would be an insult to medium-pace bowlers. Once again political AA-influenced decisions have cost us a sporting result

  • SA Supporter - 2009-12-21 09:27

    Once again we have a test match that delivers great play by both teams. Could Smith have declared earlier? Probably could have, but then he runs the risk of losing the test. What would your comments have been if he declared 30 runs sooner and then lost the test? Sure we did not win the test, but we gave the English alot to think about. Our bowling line-up will only strengthen with the return of Steyn and Kallis being fit to bowl, while the English will have to drop a batsman for another bowler. Tough choice on a "green" Kingsmead pitch. The bigger concern I have is the SA's inability to get the tail out. Not in the second innings, but rather the first. We bowled a predictable line and lenght and Swann just stood and delivered. Where were the yorkers, slower balls, bouncers? Surely this is something we should work at, rather than the timing of the declaration.

  • @gert - 2009-12-21 09:28

    Take your political posturing and find a political site to spout you rubbish then crawl back under the rock you came from you moron. This is professional sport and the players (especially captains) earn huge money' Of course winning is everything!!! There is no time for misguided sentiment in the professional era.

  • Houston - 2009-12-21 09:39

    @gert, are you kidding, you think smit gave the ball to nitini to demonstrate his visions of transformations - if he did, then sack him on the spot, but I think he gave it to ntini as his most experienced bowler. Either way, I think it was the wrong decision, I was screaming for him to take the wicket obviously, but I would not have given the ball to nitini

  • bat n BALLS - 2009-12-21 09:51

    @ Gert. what you smoking mate? De Wett should have bowld it. Not over the hill Ntini.and save us you political BS, no body cares.this is cricket. we play to win.Not to honour mediocricy.

  • Cricket fan - 2009-12-21 09:58

    @ Gert & Alwyn....Guys , what are you smoking??? Ntini was selected to bowl the last over because of his experience... sadly it didn't work out. De wet would of choked had he been selected ....the guy wouldn't of been able to handle that kind of pressure. By the way...who is this Dewet anyway? he doesnt appear in the top 5 bowlers in the local 4 day series.

  • gert - 2009-12-21 10:00

    @gert 09:28. Firstly any idiot with a brain can see you failed to make it in cricket & know nothing about representing your country in any sport. Secondly I wasn't being political i was highlighting a characteristic of Smith that you would never have & its called reconciliation you should try that sometime. Winning at all cost is for idiotic, ungrateful supporters like yourself. The rest of us appreciate great sportsmans like Smith. Thank God you are not the SA captain.

  • Sean - 2009-12-21 10:25

    I told you so. A real bad performance from England, even giving early Christmas presents (their wickets) and yet once again the brainless trust Smith / Arthur / Proctor combination snatched defeat from jaws of victory. Yep, spineless or brainless chickens gave the last over to Ntini LOL coved all his basses. Yes, and our other boys saved England KP and JT well done. I hope that mickey fat mug bigot arthur gets the the boot and he takes boucher with him.

  • Dgs - 2009-12-21 11:25

    @gert. Before you start making assuptions about your critics, you should look at yourself first. Neither of your posts reflect much knowledge of the sport and I wonder whether you represented this, or any other, country in sport yourself. Just because people don't necessarily have the talent to play sport at the highest level doesn't mean they are totally cluless about the game

  • zolani - 2009-12-21 13:20

    A true TEST, what great cricket, every tactic used, the hot sun, the mental factor keeping the poms in the field, great My Captain Smith great playing, Cant weight for the next one

  • cammie - 2009-12-21 13:25

    The 20/20 vision armchair critics are at it again. Wonder what your comments would have been had Ntini taken that last wicket in the last over on the last day; guaranteed Smith would not have been given the credit. All the glory and credit would have gone to Ntini, and little, if any, thought given to Smith. Smith may not have scored runs in this Test, but his captaincy was brilliant. The bottom line is that the Smith detractors will never, regardless of what the man does, give him his due. To Friedel de Wet accolades all round for an outstanding debutant performance - your last spell was awesome!! Here's to the Durban Test and my very best wishes to the Proteas!

  • Anti protea - 2009-12-21 13:55

    Proteas are as bunch of models trying to look good and try to impress the girls of FHM and get a date.Shame.They suck.How they could have been no.1 in the world, only goodness knows.

  • Anti protea - 2009-12-21 14:03

    If you can support Greame smilf and his team,you may as well be a convict.

  • Kolkas - 2009-12-22 12:30

    I don't care who the next "black Pearl" is, as long as it is someone who deserves to be there. How far are Lopsy and Parnell from being test ready? They are the closest at the moment, also, Mondi Zondeki is there and there abouts. PS, Lopsy had a way better debut in ODI than Mkaya, so hopefully that is a good Omen. Please please please can we get someone who can understand the importance of not bowliing No Balls, and is willing to sacrifice just 3 to 6 inches from where the rest of the SA Bowlers plant the foot when they deliver a ball. Come on guys, this is basic stuff. Watch Englands bowlers. They can do it. So do the Aussies etc

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