South Africa sweep England aside
South Africa continued on their upward curve by wrapping up a comprehensive victory over England with a day to spare in the second npower Test at Headingley Carnegie.
Thoroughly outplayed for the first half of the opening Test, the tourists responded with a magnificent rearguard effort with the bat to salvage a draw at Lord’s.
And they followed that up with a performance of sustained excellence over four days in Leeds to administer a 10-wicket defeat on England.
A result that looked likely long before South Africa opened up a 319-run first-innings advantage was confirmed just before 6.30pm today when Neil McKenzie stole a single off Darren Pattinson.
England resumed today on 50 for two, charged with batting for the majority of two days to avoid falling 1-0 behind in the four-match series.
Though nightwatchman James Anderson hit a Test-best 34, Alastair Cook converted his overnight 23 into a dogged half-century, Andrew Flintoff and Tim Ambrose batted for more than two hours in making 38 and 36 respectively and Stuart Broad smashed 67 off 60 balls, the marathon innings that England required eluded them as a hugely professional South Africa outfit pressed home their already considerable advantage.
England’s fate was all but sealed when they lost two wickets either side of lunch - including Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Cook - to leave them reeling on 152 for six.
Ambrose and Flintoff carried England towards respectability, but the persevering Steyn broke their doughty stand of 68 - England’s highest of the match - and Broad’s entertaining late flurry did little more than delay South Africa’s moment of triumph.
England’s early-afternoon demise was especially disappointing for the home supporters given that Cook received valuable support from Anderson for almost all the morning session.
Both batsmen were in understandably watchful mood, their priority being to deny South Africa any immediate success with the ball to back up the wicket of Michael Vaughan late yesterday evening.
With the exception of a couple of loose drives at Morne Morkel, Anderson looked reasonably solid, although he was fortunate not to be run out as he went in search of an improbable off-side single, Morkel missing with a shy at the non-striker’s end.
He unfurled two sweetly struck fours in succession off left-arm spinner Paul Harris to end a period of South Africa pressure, a back-foot forcing shot and cover drive worthy of England’s more distinguished batsmen.
An inside edge off the next delivery took him to his highest Test score - surpassing the 28 he made against New Zealand at Trent Bridge earlier this summer - but he required lengthy treatment after being struck on the side of the grille as he ducked into a short ball from Steyn.
Anderson demonstrated considerable bravery in batting on - he and Cook brought up the half-century stand moments later - but a lack of footwork saw him trapped on the crease by the hostile Steyn, operating from around the wicket.
Pietersen struck three of his first four deliveries for four, only to edge Jacques Kallis behind for 13 as he attempted to withdraw the bat to a delivery that left him just enough off the pitch.
Though Bell kept Cook company until lunch, he survived just 20 minutes after the resumption before Morkel struck.
His wide long hop hardly merited a wicket, but AB de Villiers’ catch at gully - diving forward and to his right to cling on one-handed - was as good as anything you are likely to see all summer.
With the weight of responsibility shifting further on to the shoulders of Cook, who had gone to a 148-ball half-century containing four fours, it came as a mortal blow to England’s chances of salvaging a draw when a leading edge off Kallis found Hashim Amla at short cover point.
Ambrose and Flintoff eschewed anything remotely attacking as they focused solely on survival, scoring just nine runs in the first 12 overs of their alliance.
They opened their shoulders a little as tea drew closer, and Flintoff in particular freed his arms to thrilling effect after the interval, driving Makhaya Ntini through mid-off before hitting an increasingly agitated Steyn for two thumping fours in an over that cost 12.
Ambrose had, by then, been prised from the crease, caught behind as he attempted to cut Steyn to give Mark Boucher his ninth catch of the match.
The return of Morkel to the attack did for Flintoff, whose 95-ball innings, which featured five fours, ended courtesy of a firm defensive push, thick outside edge and regulation catch at second slip by Kallis.
Broad played some shots of genuine authority before and after Monty Panesar had his off stump uprooted by a Steyn inswinger, racing to an accomplished 41-ball fifty that deserved to be remembered in more favourable circumstances.
Pattinson may have contributed just five to a half-century stand with Broad, but he swung Harris over midwicket to take England into the lead and draw the biggest cheer of the day from a largely subdued crowd.
He was eventually bowled by Morkel, who finished with 3-61 and match figures of 7-113, and Graeme Smith and McKenzie needed just seven balls to reach a target of nine.