Power failures, controversial decisions, Yohan Blake and Alice Cooper all made an appearance on day one at Lord’s – an interesting start to what should be an intriguing Test. ANT SIMS reports from Lord’s.
What do Alice Cooper and Yohan Blake have in common? They’re both cricket fans, and they were both at Lord’s for the first day’s play of the third and final Test between England and South Africa. Such is the eventfulness of Test played at the Home of Cricket that you can expect to see two people who would never, under any other circumstances, meet and take a picture together. It had little do with the cricket, of course, but it’s fitting to the nature of the day’s play. Peculiar and slightly off-beat was the theme which resonated on day one at Lord’s.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat under cloudy skies, and while there was little in the pitch for James Anderson and Co, the hosts managed an early breakthrough when Graeme Smith edged through to Matthew Prior. The umpire gave it not out, but England immediately went for the review and the decision was overturned. Smith was on his way and the tone for the rest of the day was set.
Steven Finn, who was kept in the team in place of Tim Bresnan, put the South Africans on the back foot, and a controversial decision to give Jacques Kallis out while he gloved a ball with his hand off the bat sparked loads of debate after yet another England review – the visitors were in a spot of bother on 105-5.
JP Duminy, who top scored for South Africa with 61 before being dismissed, admitted that the visitors didn’t have the best day at the office.
“Session one didn't go our way; session two and three went a bit better. As it stands now, England probably has the better of us, but we were happy with the fighting spirit we showed towards the end,” Duminy said.
While the decision to give Kallis out sparked much debate, Duminy insisted that it was one of those situations in cricket where you simply have to get back to focusing on the game.
“It's one of those things you can't really comment on. We were a little bit disappointed, but you win some, you lose some with those kinds of things – and there's nothing you can do about it,” Duminy said.
While DRS would ordinarily eliminate howlers like the Kallis decision, the error in this case rested with umpire Rod Tucker, the man the decision was referred to. Duminy insists that South Africa’s focus was on getting their game back on track instead of focusing on a controversial decision.
“I guess the DRS is there to help these situations. It's one of those cases where you just have to move on and focus on the next partnership as a team. We were in a spot of bother at the time so we had to focus on rebuilding and not the DRS,” Duminy said.
Duminy combined with Western Province teammate Vernon Philander to put on a solid 72-run partnership. The two know each other well, and have played plenty of cricket together and the two were focused on their role of getting the team back on track after an early innings wobble.
“We consider ourselves as the engine room in the team, so we just focused on building a partnership. We know that if the top order fails, we need to step in and we focused on that,” said Duminy.
“I think Vernon batted exceptionally well; he showed his potential at Derbyshire. I've batted with him for a number of years now, and he definitely showed what he's capable of.”
South Africa will resume day two on 262-7 with Philander and Steyn at the crease, and Duminy says the team is aiming to get around 300 or above before letting their bowlers loose to dig in and pull them back into the game. He also expects the spinners to play a part as the game progresses.
“We would like to get to 300 if we can; anything above that would be a bonus. There is always something in it for the bowlers and if we can make use of that with the attack we have, we'll be in a good position,” said Duminy.
“Steyn was exciting to watch, he has a big heart and he'll get stuck in there and hopefully he'll put up a few more runs for us.
“I think as the Test goes on there will be something in for the spinners. The wider Swann bowled, the more he got out of the wicket. With the straighter lines, he didn't get quite as much out of it. As the pitch continues to wear and tear, I think we'll see them get more out of it.”
The 28-year old played well, up until England took the new ball and he chased after a rank wide delivery off James Anderson, edging through to Prior. The new ball often does more damage for batsmen mentally, but Duminy admitted that he simply played a daft shot.
“I don't think there was mental block with the new ball and the shot I played; I just think it was a poor shot. I was happy with the way things went up until then, but after I got out it was good to see Vernon and Dale battle to make sure we don't lose another wicket. We're in an okay position, but we need somehow get a few more runs on the board tomorrow,” Duminy said.
The day was capped off with a power failure at the ground, which saw half the floodlights go out and the power in the media centre shut down, resulting in the umpires calling an end to play because of bad light with 2.2 overs still remaining in the day while journalists all scrambled to find the nearest café to file their stories.
Day two is looking like an intriguing prospect, with more cloud cover expected early on. There is a chance for South Africa to frustrate England and add as many runs as possible to their total before seeing what their bowlers can do on a pitch that has showed the most life out of all the surfaces on the entire tour. DM
Photo: England's Jonathan Trott watches from the ground as South Africa's Jean-Paul Duminy (R) and Vernon Philander (L) run during the third test cricket match at Lord's Cricket Ground in London August 16, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown