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Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Graeme Smith ton puts England on rack in third Test

Third Test, Cape Town:
South Africa 291 & 312-2 v England 273 (day three, stumps)
Play resumes Wednesday: 0830 GMT

Coverage: Test Match Special on BBC Radio Four Longwave, Radio 5 live sports extra, Red Button and BBC Sport website; text commentary online and on mobiles. Also live on Sky Sports
Match scorecard

By Jamie Lillywhite

Graeme Smith
It was captain Smith's third Test century at Newlands

Graeme Smith struck his 19th Test century to give South Africa a lead of 330 at 312-2 after three days of the third Test with England at Cape Town.

England resumed on 241-7 but lost two wickets in two balls in the first over, and though Matt Prior made a valiant 75 they were 273 all out, a deficit of 18.

Smith was reprieved after a referral when 51 and went on to share a dominant 230 with Hashim Amla, who made 95.

The skipper was 162 not out at stumps, with the hosts in total control.

It was a superbly pugnacious century from the 28-year-old South African captain, reminiscent of his dominance in 2003 when he struck two mammoth double centuries in three innings on his first tour of England.

Flower stamps out cheating claim

He accelerated superbly to score 97 after tea in his fifth ton against England and end a run of 12 innings without a hundred that stretched back to December 2008.

With the temperature reaching close to 40C, England's decision to play only four bowlers now looks regrettable, and it is to be hoped the extra batsman can prove his worth in what is certain to be merely a fight for survival.

However, Smith's innings looks likely to give the South Africans their fifth successive Test victory at Newlands and the chance to level the series at 1-1 with one match remaining.

On a perfect day with pure cobalt blue skies affording magnificent views of the stunning Table Mountain, England were soon feeling the heat.

Morne Morkel used the new ball with the same devastating effect as in the first innings when he dismissed England captain Andrew Strauss in the first over.

The fourth ball of the day rose up alarmingly at Graeme Swann, who could only fend it to Smith at first slip.

Graeme Smith survives
Smith edged just short of Paul Collingwood early in his innings

Smith was immediately back in business when James Anderson succumbed to his first golden duck, forced into a speculative prod to one that moved away outside off-stump and the South Africa captain again made no mistake with the catch.

It left Prior, who resumed on 52, in an invidious position with last man Graham Onions and their team 50 runs in arrears.

But the wicketkeeper/batsman struck four more boundaries and reduced the deficit to 18 before he dragged a pull shot on to his stumps.

England knew that early wickets with the new ball were imperative, given the speed at which it has lost its potency during this Test, but they failed to materialise.

When Ashwell Prince was on five a curious incident occurred when the ball brushed his pad as it passed down the legside to Prior.

Morkel enjoys 'special day'

Perhaps because he thought the batsman was walking, umpire Daryl Harper raised the finger, a horrified Prince called for a review which duly cleared him, but it did little for Harper's rather fragile position on the elite panel.

Fortunately for the tourists the out-of-form Prince fell to Swann for the third time in five balls, the Notts spinner collecting his 17th wicket thus far in this series.

He prodded forward and was hit low on the pad, and umpire Tony Hill had no hesitation giving him out, but the left-hander insisted on a referral, which did nothing but confirm his dismissal.

Swann was introduced after the drinks break to bowl the ninth over of the innings, and immediately asked questions of Amla and Smith.

Smith sought to sweep at every opportunity and top-edged one delivery just out of the reach of Paul Collingwood running back and across from slip.


Smith dispatched a full toss from an anguished Swann to the mid-wicket boundary to record the fifty partnership from 100 balls, which also brought up the 100 lead.

With the score on Nelson - 111-1 - and Smith on 51, the skipper missed a sweep against Swann, was struck on the pad in front of middle stump and sent on his way by umpire Hill.

The decision was referred and height was the decisive factor in it being overturned, Hill making his first error, even though it looked a sound verdict with the naked eye.

Anderson found some reverse swing but the ball often just seemed to be drawn to the middle of Amla's bat, as the 26-year-old posted his 15th Test fifty with an imperious clip to the mid-wicket boundary, which signalled the 100 partnership, the latter half of which took just 52 deliveries.

The pair added 109 in a difficult 29-over afternoon session for England, who grew increasingly frustrated by their loss of control in the hot sun, the pitch flattening out and giving little assistance to the bowlers.

Stuart Broad, who often seems capable of starting an argument with himself, was particularly irascible, and unnecessarily trapped the ball with his spikes, which may be scrutinised by the match referee.

Smith, who was eight runs behind his partner at tea, began to drive down the ground with great authority, and even skewed a near wide to the point boundary when England experimented with an offside theory featuring only one fielder on the leg.

The ball after reaching his century with a boundary, Smith edged to Prior and headed for the pavilion, but to sum up England's day the ball did not carry.

The runs just continued to flow, the 200 stand record in 296 balls, and Smith disdainfully carved Jonathan Trott's occasional slow-medium pace for four fours in an over.

Finally Amla was caught at short-leg as Swann got some turn from around the wicket but Smith defied cramp and continued in imperious fashion, the match now totally at his command with two full days ahead.

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