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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another traditional day's cricket

A good day for playing and, provided you were in the shade, watching cricket: perhaps a tad hot but then 32 degree days are not unknown here even at this time of the year.

England moved from 1/24 overnight, losing nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard at 29 and Alistair Cook at 34, before Ian Bell (132) and Paul Collingwood (80) steadied the ship with a strong fourth wicket partnership of 178. Kevin Pietersen played a cameo of 32: not reckless (though he was dropped once) but he hit the ball hard and not too much in the air. Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones were watchful, and with several overs to go clearly decided to drop anchor for tomorrow. Stumps were drawn after the required 90 overs had been bowled (why not 96 as in domestic games ?) with England 6/303. The scorecard is here.

The best SA bowlers were clearly Tait and Gillespie. Neither of the spinners Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey the spinners often troubled the batters, and each had occasional lapses of length . Daniel Harris , listed at number 9 on the scoreboard (ie unlikely to bowl) bowled several short tidy spells at medium pace, and completed Tait's unfinished over when he went off injured towards the end of the day . Mark Cosgrove, who in most people's minds would have been the third seam bowler only had one over and that just before stumps.

Undoubtedly England have had the better of the game so far, but it's unlikely that there's enough time left for them to force a win. To do so they'll need to add some rapid runs tomorrow and then bowl SA out in, say, two and a bit sessions. Even with the home team's brittle batting this is unlikely.

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