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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 January, 2005, 16:25 GMT
Gibbs dents England expectations
Fourth Test, Johannesburg, day three (stumps):
South Africa 306-6 v England 411-8d

Herschelle Gibbs

Herschelle Gibbs put a run of poor form behind him to hit his 14th Test century as South Africa's batsmen ruled the roost on day three of the fourth Test.

England, who began the day with a statement of intent by declaring on 411-8, bowled poorly throughout.

But Matthew Hoggard took four wickets as the tourists were held to 184-5, only for Gibbs and the recalled Mark Boucher to produce a fine partnership.

They put on 120 for the sixth wicket as South Africa reached 306-6.

Play had been due to begin at 10am local time on Saturday, but conditions were too damp.

When, 20 minutes later, the umpires ruled the wicket was fit for play, England captain Michael Vaughan had an important decision to make.

In the end, he decided to declare England's innings leaving himself unbeaten on 82, no doubt expecting his seam bowlers to perform well under cloud cover.

But two things went wrong.

First, Steve Harmison bowled too short and mainly sprayed deliveries down the leg-side. Then the midsummer sun burnt away the clouds to leave blue skies.

Gibbs, playing some classy drives square of the wicket on the off-side, took the score to 64 with Graeme Smith in unrtroubled fashion.

Matthew Hoggard appeals for, and gets, the wicket of Graeme Smith
Matthew Hoggard appeals for, and gets, the wicket of Graeme Smith

Then Hoggard swung a ball into Smith's pads to dismiss him lbw for the third time in the series.

Hoggard continued to be the pick of England's bowlers on a day when the ball seamed and swung a little bit and Jacques Rudolph lasted less than half an hour before spearing a drive off the Yorkshire bowler to Ashley Giles in the gully.

Giles dislocated his right thumb in taking the catch, but was bowling before the end of the day.

Harmison also spent some of the day receiving treatment after experiencing tightness in his left calf which thankfully did not prove too serious.

With Gibbs and Jacques Kallis batting manfully in partnership, South Africa were making serene progress.

It was a big surprise when, after the pair had added 63, Hoggard persuaded Kallis to chop a forcing shot onto his stumps.

Boeta Dippenaar faced 20 balls without scoring before falling to a low catch by Marcus Trescothick and at tea South Africa were 162-4 and a long way from being in a secure position.

But as Gibbs threw in some unconventional shots over and wide of mid-on, AB de Villiers also batted brightly before hooking Hoggard to fine leg.

The stand that really hurt England, however, was the Gibbs-Boucher liason late in the day.

Even with the second new ball taken, the batsmen were totally unthreatened.

Gibbs went to his century with a sweep off Ashley Giles for four before Boucher played some fine pulls and cuts.

Anderson, who had been unlucky at times earlier in the day, completely lost his line and length and Hoggard went down with cramp.

By the end of proceedings, Gibbs was unbeaten on 136, with Boucher finally spearing a cut shot off Anderson to point to depart for an excellent 64.

England's terrible day had by then got even worse when Geraint Jones damaged a thumb and immediately dropped Gibbs off Flintoff.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (capt), Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Rudolph, Jacques Kallis, Boeta Dippenaar, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher (wkt), Nicky Boje, Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn.

England: Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss, Robert Key, Michael Vaughan (capt), Graham Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones (wkt), Ashley Giles, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, James Anderson.

Umpires: SA Bucknor and Aleem Dar; Match referee: CH Lloyd.

Report: BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew

Interview: South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs

Interview: England bowler Matthew Hoggard

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