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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

In lengthening shadows and nerve jangling tension, England dramatically clung on to the draw by their fingernails after Friedel de Wet, in his first Test for South Africa, brought the game to life with a spell of 3-2 with the second new ball.

Graham Onions
Last man Graham Onions saw out the final over for England

After looking safe as houses, England slumped from 205-4 to 218-9, leaving Paul Collingwood and Graham Onions to see out the last 19 balls.

Onions, the number 11, found himself facing the last over of the match with Collingwood standing helpless at the other end. It all evoked memories of the first Ashes Test at Cardiff and, certainly, England will be equally as relieved with this escape as that one.

Ironically, it was the two batsmen with the strongest South African connections in their ranks - Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen - who did most of the hard work in saving the game; the pair batting together all afternoon until Pietersen ran himself out by the length of the pitch for 81.

Given that it was from the fifth ball of the over, one can't help but feel that KP was guilty of 'ball counting' and wanted to get to the other end to face the start of the following over. In any event, Trott was entirely blameless in standing his ground and simply watching as Pietersen ran straight past him.

Until that point Pietersen had been entirely in control of the situation and very obviously assisted the inexperienced Trott through some early difficulties against Paul Harris, in particular.

Trott's innings was a study in concentration which started in only the third over of the day when nightwatchman James Anderson was caught down the leg side off de Wet.

Alastair Cook looked assured and his footwork was positive, but he had made only 12 when Harris made a delivery spin and bounce and the ball brushed the glove on its way to Graeme Smith at leg-slip.

606: DEBATE
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A pivotal moment came when the day's only straight shooter thumped into Pietersen's pads plumb in front of the middle stump, but the bowler, de Wet, had overstepped.

Pietersen had 39 at the time and the match might have had a very different outcome, but for that no-ball.

However, de Wet was determined to leave his mark on his first Test and, with his first over with the second new ball, had Trott taken by as brilliant a slip catch as you could ever see by AB de Villiers. Ian Bell made only two, and Matt Prior a duck as de Wet wreaked havoc.

The ground was suddenly gripped with tension, and when Stuart Broad was caught behind off Harris, and Swann fell lbw to Morkel, Onions strode out into the late afternoon sunshine. An apparently needless single exposed him to the last over from Ntini which, with everyone around the bat, he managed to survive.



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see also
England scrape draw in first Test
20 Dec 09 |  England
South Africa v England photos
20 Dec 09 |  England
Broad must stop moaning - Vaughan
19 Dec 09 |  England
Harris aiming to put England in a spin
11 Dec 09 |  South Africa
Ntini reaches 100-Test milestone
15 Dec 09 |  South Africa
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England


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