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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 16:46 GMT
Element of luck not with England
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Michael Vaughan leads England off the field
We will never know if England would have completed their victory

To win nine Tests on the trot you do need an element of luck - and also luck with the elements.

In Port Elizabeth last week, a violent electrical storm hit the ground shortly after England had sealed their victory.

Here in Durban they were not so fortunate, and the heavy cloud that we had watched roll in from the Indian Ocean during the afternoon finally blotted out the sun.

Despite the floodlights, the umpires had no option but to offer the batsmen the light.

We will never know if England would have completed their victory.

They certainly had enough time - 15 overs remained to be bowled with a ball that was still hard and new.

Steve Harmison, though weary, was fired up and venomous, while the manner in which Makhaya Ntini - South Africa's number 10 - attacked the fast bowler made one wonder if an unlikely home victory was still on his mind.

England were in control at lunch, largely because Harmison had taken the key wicket of Jacques Kallis just before the interval.

Earlier, Michael Vaughan had made a bold decision in removing Harmison from the attack after just three overs, replacing him with Andrew Flintoff.

Steve Harmison
Harmison might have prospered with the second new ball

With his fifth ball, Freddie took the first wicket of the day when Nicky Boje gloved a throat ball to short leg where Graham Thorpe took his 100th Test catch.

Ashley Giles caught Herschelle Gibbs in the gully for 36, but the South Africans dug in with Jacques Rudolph and Martin van Jaarsveld adding 69.

Giles - who bowled very poorly - had Rudolph given out to a bat-pad catch, though the batsman was unlucky and South Africa lost three for 11 to leave them reeling on 183-7.

But AB de Villiers, who opened the innings in Port Elizabeth, was joined by Shaun Pollock, and they frustrated England for 27 overs.

The new ball was taken and did the trick, although not directly.

Harmison struck Pollock two fierce blows on the hands with successive deliveries and, attempting to get his partner away from that end, De Villiers called Pollock for an unlikely single to mid-on.

As he tried to scramble back, Pollock could only watch as Simon Jones coolly took aim and hit the only stump he could see to run him out for 35.

This was England's chance, but the weather had the final say to rob them of the opportunity to extend their record sequence.




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