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The BBC's Jonathan Agnew
The lunchtime report from Durban
 real 28k

Sunday, 26 December, 1999, 11:14 GMT
England survive Atherton loss

Atherton England found their footing despite Atherton's dismissal


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England skipper Nasser Hussain and out-of-form opener Mark Butcher helped the side overcome another poor start in the third Test against South Africa.

By lunch the tourists were 44 for one off 29 overs of a sunny Boxing Day morning in Durban.

Michael Atherton was the sole victim, losing out to the first South African bowling change and Nantie Hayward with the score on seven.

Hussain had won the toss and decided to bat at Kingsmead, as play got under way on time despite recent heavy rain.



We do not want to be defensive and we think this gives us the best chance of going 2-0 up in the series
SA selector Rushdie Magiet
Fears about the pitch proved unfounded, and it offered little movement and virtually no swing through the air.

South Africa had decided to add an extra bowler to their attack at Jonty Rhodes' expense.

But despite using six bowlers before lunch there was no way through the defences of Hussain and Butcher for Hansie Cronje's side.

Once Atherton had gone, the pair concentrated on survival, although there was some counter-attacking.

The skipper was once again prepared to attempt the hook shot as he made 15 before lunch,

Butcher, who went into the match without a half-century in his last 19 innings, enjoyed two reprieves on his way to 24.

Recalled spinner Paul Adams dropped a catch off the second ball of the day from Allan Donald.

Butcher then edged Lance Klusener through the slips after he had progressed to 15.

The sole breakthrough came after Donald was replaced by Hayward, and Atherton perished for just one run.

The former captain received a rising delivery from the young South African paceman, which he chopped down onto his stumps to leave England seven for one.

Rhodes out

Natal batsman Rhodes has played 17 consecutive Tests before being dropped.

With all-rounder Jacques Kallis now cleared to bowl again after a knee injury, the side had five front-line bowlers plus Klusener and skipper Cronje.

"We want to be positive. We do not want to be defensive and we think this gives us the best chance of going 2-0 up in the series," said convenor of selectors Rushdie Magiet.

England made just the one expected change, with Darren Maddy replacing the injured Michael Vaughan.

The tourists need at least a draw to keep their hopes of a series victory alive.

Weather: Sunny

Wicket: Firm

South Africa: G Kirsten, H H Gibbs, J H Kallis, D J Cullinan W J Cronje (Capt), L Klusener, S M Pollock, M V Boucher (Wkt) A A Donald, M Hayward, P R Adams.

England: M A Atherton, M A Butcher, N Hussain (Capt), D L Maddy A J Stewart (Wkt), C J Adams, A Flintoff, A R Caddick, D Gough C E W Silverwood, P C R Tufnell.

England won toss and decided to bat

Umpires: D L Orchard and D B Cowie

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See also:
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26 Dec 99 |  Cricket
Lloyd in need of a rest
24 Dec 99 |  England on Tour
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17 Dec 99 |  England on Tour
Butcher and Maddy slug it out
13 Dec 99 |  England on Tour
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28 Nov 99 |  England on Tour
South Africa ease home
Links to other England on Tour stories are at the foot of the page.