|Ground:||Lord's Cricket Ground, St John's Wood|
|Scorecard:||England v South Africa|
|Event:||South Africa in England 2012|
DateLine: 17th August 2012
England v South Africa, 3rd Test, 2nd day
In association with Investec
With Kevin Pietersen having been omitted amid his controversial remarks and text messages of the previous week, Jonny Bairstow, brought in as replacement, made full use of the opportunity with an innings that could well cement his place in the England middle order. With a brilliant unbeaten innings of 72 from 137 balls, he guided England from a precarious 54 for four when he came to the crease, taking control and leading a fightback for three and a half hours. In partnership with Ian Bell who hit his 34th Test half century, Bairstow put on 124 for the fifth wicket. At stumps on the second day of the third Investec Test England were 208 for five and trailing by 101 runs.
Englandís fall of wickets began on the stroke of lunch when an excellent angled ball from Morne Morkel came sharply into Andrew Strauss to clip the top of middle stump as he played inside the line. That was lunch on 29 for one in 10.4 overs with Strauss having scored 20. Within three overs after the break the tourists struck again. Jonathan Trott was trapped lbw by Dale Steyn for 8. The umpire had turned down the appeal at first but South Africa had it reviewed successfully and England were 38 for two. A run later, Steyn, bowling with fine control and pace had Alastair Cook edge to second slip for 7.
Steyn had the two wickets for one in a space of four balls. Cook had struggled for runs against all three pace bowlers at that stage and had scored just one run from the last 31 balls that he had faced. Having made a satisfactory debut in the last Test with 34 runs but more importantly partnering Pietersen in a 147-run stand during the latterís memorable innings, Taylor didnít last long this time. He failed to get behind the line of a ball from Morkel and edged to first slip to reduce England to 54 for four which coincidently was also South Africaís score shortly before lunch on the previous day.
But as with the oppositionís innings, the fifth wicket stand revived the innings with Bell and Bairstow taking control. It was a good combination between the experienced Bell and Bairstow in only his fourth Test match and the first in this series. His debut against West Indies earlier in the summer wasnít impressive and the opposition had exposed his weakness in facing the short ball. This time he handled the short stuff better from more fiery pace bowlers than the West Indies had.
Bell was steadier in picking up the runs while his junior partner scored more freely. He handled the spinner Imran Tahir with confidence too taking three boundaries in one over, going down the wicket to drive as well as flicking twice to square leg and mid- wicket. It took him to 43 from 79 balls while Bell at that stage was on 42 from 119. Bairstow reached his maiden Test fifty steering Morkel for his eighth four past gully having faced 86 balls and in the same over they brought up the hundred of the partnership.
Bell took his score to 47 with a perfectly timed square drive for four off Jacques Kallis and then his half century came, off 133 balls, as he square drove the same bowler for his sixth boundary. But the stand soon came to an end when Bell, on a patient 58, compiled in three and a half hours, edged his drive to third slip off Vernon Philander.
Earlier, it took England an hour to claim the remaining three wickets to mop up the innings. Steyn was the first to go becoming Stuart Broadís only victim of the innings. On 25, he edged his drive to second slip after a useful 35-run stand for the eighth wicket. Morne Morkel too gave good support to Philander who was 46 overnight. Morkel had 25 in their 37-run partnership before he chased a ball wide outside off stump from Steve Finn and was held superbly by a diving Matt Prior behind the stumps. Meanwhile Philander reached his maiden Test half century from 75 balls, coming at a time when his side certainly needed runs.
With the last man in Philander decided to hit out and on the total of 309 he stepped out to Graeme Swann only to be stumped for an excellent 61 from 93 balls. It had be an innings of application spanning a little over three hours for his valuable runs. He was the joint top scorer in the innings with JP Duminy both of whom would be credited for their side in reaching a decent total which had seemed unlikely after the earlier collapse. Finn finished with 4 for 75 and Anderson had three for 76.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)