Wed, Jul 30, 2003 - Page 20 News List

England, South Africa end in draw

REUTERS , BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND

South Africa's hopes of squeezing victory from the rain-blighted first test were foiled by England and the weather on Monday as a tense encounter finally petered out into a grey draw.

Graeme Smith, who scored 277 in the first innings and 85 at faster than a run a ball in the second as he set the agenda throughout, asked his bowlers to exploit a deteriorating pitch after setting an improbable target of 321 from 65 overs.

But England, defending against Shaun Pollock slide-rule seam from the Pavilion End while treating the other bowlers with less respect, held out as dark rain clouds gathered over Edgbaston.

They reached 110 for one, with Marcus Trescothick on 52 not out, before being forced from the field early after an previoius interruption for bad light in the final session.

Trescothick, batting with a fractured finger, provided one of the few moments of defiance in the gathering gloom by equalling the test record of five consecutive boundaries.

Two cuts, a pull and two straight drives were followed by a dot ball before Makhaya Ntini was taken off after conceding 31 in two overs.

Trescothick's feat had only been achieved three times before, the last by David Hookes of Australia against Tony Greig and England in Melbourne 27 years ago.

The left handed opener seemed set to miss the second test starting tomorrow at Lord's after damaging his finger while fielding but that one over suggested he may yet be selected, splint and all.

Michael Vaugan, who kept England in the game with 156 in the first innings, missed out with 22 in the second.

England's delight in saving the first match of the five-test series will have been matched by South African frustration.

Their best chance of winning had slipped away in just 10 deliveries right at the start of the day.

The home team resumed their first innings on 374 for seven in reply to the touring side's 594 for five declared, still needing 21 crucial runs to avoid following on.

Ashley Giles, no mean bat, took matters in his own hands as he saw Darren Gough join him at the other end, with only Steve Harmison and James Anderson to come.

Giles duly cracked Ntini's second and fourth balls through the covers off the back foot, then guided the fifth along the floor to the third man boundary.

Stealing a single, the left-arm spinner retained the strike then drove Dewald Pretorius through mid-off first ball and scythed the third past point to save the follow-on.

Smith, however, did not give up, as he hit 85 off 70 balls to give South Africa a second chance of victory.

He pulled Steve Harmison for three consecutive fours, escaped a stumping but fell as he pressed the pace, bowled by Giles's left arm spin as he aimed for the top row of the mid-wicket stands.

His dismissal left the 22-year-old left hander with 999 runs in test cricket from 15 completed innings at an average of 66.6.

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