Alviro Petersen was the standout performer of South Africa’s innings, hushing his critics with a mammoth 182. Odds are even at the end of day two, and all the teams will be hoping for now is for the weather to play along. By ANT SIMS.
Alviro Petersen has had an interesting career. Having made 100 on his debut in India back in 2010, he was, for some reason, always under scrutiny. Perhaps because he has the tendency to be somewhat inconsistent, despite a reasonably good domestic record; maybe it’s because some think he simply shouldn’t be in the side because his average in Tests is well below par for an opener. Or maybe it’s simply because in a team packed full of aggressive players, he comes across rather meek. Despite hitting 156 against New Zealand earlier in the year, his place was under question at the start of the tour yet again, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that he failed to capitalise on the road of a pitch at The Oval in the first Test.
He needed to make a statement at Headingley, and he did, hitting 182 – the highest score of his career and of the entire SA batting lineup. There is no better way to send a middle finger salute to critics than scoring runs when you are under pressure. Not that Petersen would ever raise his middle finger to anyone – he’s quite possibly one of the nicest guys in the team. At press conferences he’s even a little beige. Petersen knew what he needed, and while it wasn’t a pretty innings, it was very effective.
"Alviro knows his game really well. He probably hits as many balls as any of the other players. He has an astute understanding of his game and what's good for him,” said South Africa’s assistant coach, Russell Domingo.
"He has been working on some technical aspects, but Gary's (Kirsten’s) way of coaching is very much to allow players to make decisions for themselves.”
Petersen’s knock helped to put South Africa in control of the second Test at Headingley and after having been put in to bat under cloudy skies, the visitors find themselves in a good position.
"If somebody told us yesterday this is where we'll be after being put in to bat on that wicket and in those conditions on day one, we'd have taken it. We'd have liked to get a couple of wickets today, but we also know there's plenty of hard work ahead,” Domingo said.
Much like day one at The Oval, South Africa disappointed a bit with the new ball, bowling far too wide outside the off stump and not forcing any shots to create chances. If their comeback on day two in the first Test is anything to go by, though, day three could be a disaster for England.
"We didn't do too well with the new ball; we didn't make guys play enough, but we know that's something we need to improve on tomorrow,” Domingo admitted.
The trend of forecasted rain continued and the outlook for Leeds doesn’t look good for Saturday, or the remainder of the Test for that matter. But Headingley is a result ground, and with the last draw here having been in the 80s, the South Africans will be eyeing some English scalps when the weather permits.
With three days left of the Test, England will fancy their chances too. They’ll resume day three on 48-0, 371 runs behind South Africa’s total. DM
Photo: South Africa's JP Duminy hits out during the second cricket test match against England at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds August 3, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown