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Page last updated at 18:23 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 19:23 UK

Super Collingwood revives England

THIRD TEST, Edgbaston (day three, close):
England 231 & 297-6 v South Africa 314

By Oliver Brett

Paul Collingwood
Collingwood knew his international career was on the line

Paul Collingwood rescued England and resurrected his international career with the most courageous, determined century imaginable at Edgbaston.

Coming to the crease with England 104-4, leading by just 21, he put on 115 in a thrilling 23-over stand with Kevin Pietersen, who struck 94.

And he added an unbroken 76 with Tim Ambrose, ending unbeaten on 101.

At stumps on day three, England were 297-6, leading South Africa by 214, with the match suddenly transformed.

England will, however, need further runs on day four with the wicket appearing to have flattened out and batting a much easier prospect than it had been under the cloud cover of day two.

But from a hopeless position just before tea, with four of England's top six failing yet again with the bat, the hosts finally have a chance to put real pressure on South Africa - for whom a win would give them their first series win in England since 1965.

The day began with England knowing they had to take the last four South African wickets without too much fuss to get back into the contest.

They struck for the first time with the 12th ball of the morning, bowled by Ryan Sidebottom.

The left-handed Ashwell Prince, normally a patient batsman, chased a wide ball that was swinging wider and could only edge to Ambrose after adding just two runs to his overnight 47.

A chance to get stuck into two tail-enders followed almost immediately when Andrew Flintoff tempted Mark Boucher with a similar ball which the batsman edged to the right of Collingwood at second slip.

Collingwood got his dive in, but the ball thudded in and out of his hand.

Dropped on 12, Boucher added an important 29 runs with Morne Morkel, who himself hit some bold off-side shots to contribute 18.

Andre Nel
Only one stump is left standing as Nel is bowled by Sidebottom
But James Anderson trapped Morkel lbw and Sidebottom left just one of Andre Nel's stumps standing with a vicious inswinger that removed the number 10 for a duck.

Boucher now took the attack to England, however, and had moved to 37 when Monty Panesar spilt the most straightforward of catches at fine leg.

Fortunately the miss was not important, as Boucher had only added three more when he drove Anderson high into the covers where Michael Vaughan completed a diving catch. South Africa had added 58 runs in all from their overnight 256-6.

A shower delayed England's reply and forced an early lunch, whereupon Alastair Cook immediately received some very generous treatment from umpire Aleem Dar, denying an excellent lbw appeal from Nel.

Cook could not make good his escape, however. Trying to paddle Makhaya Ntini to one of two men in the deep on the leg-side for a single to take him to 10, he top-edged the shot and Mark Boucher ran about 30 yards to take a tumbling catch.

606: DEBATE
DynamoJames

Vaughan's innings featured four quick boundaries, including a back-foot force through the covers off Ntini that was one of the shots of the day.

But he had only got to 17 when he failed to get over a cover-drive off Nel and picked out Hashim Amla at short extra cover.

It was another depressing failure for the England captain who will once again face a barrage of negative press about his long-term future.

Partnerships were sorely needed but were not forthcoming. Andrew Strauss played some nice shots, including a glorious cover-drive for four off Ntini.

But the extra pace of Morkel accounted for him as he fenced a catch into the slips and England were 70-3, still 13 runs behind.

Pietersen was beginning to warm up, having taken three boundaries off Nel, but he needed support from Bell.

The Warwickshire man, batting on his home turf and with a half-century to his name from the first innings, looked in good order.

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen thrilled the crowd with some stunning shots
But he replicated Cook's mistake when facing Ntini for the first time, top-edging the bowler lamely to Boucher.

England limped to tea on 126-4, for an overall lead of 43. Vaughan's side, it seemed, were spiralling to their third series defeat in their last five rubbers.

But after tea it all changed. Pietersen scratchily reached his half-century with a couple of streaky edges off Kallis but then hit two gorgeous on-drives for four.

Collingwood cut Nel for one four, and lofted Paul Harris over mid-on for four more before cutting and pulling Morkel for more boundaries.

Pietersen hit two two terrific "switch-hit" fours off Harris, using the stance he had pioneered in the one-dayers against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street.

It seemed too good to last, and it was. Looking to reach his century in the grand manner, Pietersen went for a booming drive off Harris but rifled the ball straight to AB de Villiers at long-on.

Flintoff, a notoriously cagey starter against spin, lasted just four balls before squeezing a bat-pad catch to short-leg and suddenly South Africa were firmly on top again.

But Ambrose provided an unruffled, gritty foil for Collingwood, who was happy to throttle back for a while before reaching his century with the same shot Pietersen had attempted against Harris.

This time the ball sailed sweetly over the rope for six. Collingwood celebrated in muted fashion, knowing his job was not yet complete.


see also
South Africa in England in 2008
28 Jul 08 |  Cricket
Day three photos
01 Aug 08 |  England


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