England aim to emulate Proteas
England will have to replicate the defiance shown by South Africa in the opening npower Test of the npower series if they are to save the second at Headingley Carnegie.
Michael Vaughan’s team head into the fourth day 269 runs behind with only eight wickets intact after being forced to toil for two days in the field.
South Africa’s stubborn batting saved the first Test at Lord’s, after they were forced to follow on, but England face an even stiffer task after Makhaya Ntini removed Andrew Strauss and captain Vaughan with cracking deliveries on the third evening.
That left the hosts 50 for two at the close after their marathon effort that tested the bowlers’ resolve for the second time in a week.
James Anderson sent down 44 of the 176.2 overs in South Africa’s innings, having undergone a scan on a sore back between the back-to-back Tests.
“It wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it might be,” said Anderson. “I got through the overs quite well.
“We’ve been doing quite a lot of fitness work, so that’s stood us in good stead for a busy schedule.”
Any lingering weariness from Lord’s was seized upon by AB de Villiers and Ashwell Prince, who both struck hundreds and shared a record South African fifth-wicket stand against England of 212.
It was all the more sweet for De Villiers, who was given a heated welcome by the Leeds crowd upon walking to the crease, having claimed a catch in the slips from Andrew Strauss, which was shown to have bounced.
More verbals followed during a spell of 13 deliveries on 99, some of which flew past the outside edge from Andrew Flintoff.
“Freddie was bowling unbelievably well and I was actually smiling because some of the deliveries made me think ’geez, that’s too good’,” said De Villiers.
“He had a go because he thought I was laughing at him, so that is where that misunderstanding came from.
“I am always expecting words and if anything it motivates me to do better.
“If anything (on-field incidents) make the teams go more at each other and you want to see that, it’s part of the game, and we should see a few good Test matches coming up.”
It was easily the slowest of de Villiers’ six Test match hundreds but it has put them well on course for victory.
“It is going to take a lot of patience and guts on our side,” he said.
“But if we stick to our disciplines there is no reason we can’t win this Test match. “We have one of the best bowling attacks in the world, so I see no reason for us to be standing back to them.”
Left-hander Prince, meanwhile, continued his trend of scoring big runs when the Proteas need them most.
He came to the crease at 76 for three, with England in the ascendancy, on the first evening and followed his Lord’s hundred with a career-best 149.
“You always tend to concentrate more when you know your innings is going to mean more towards the team,” Prince said.
“You are supposed to approach each innings in the same way, and some guys are more mentally tough than others, but when the team is in trouble I like to make a positive contribution.”