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England escape in thrilling draw in Cape Town Test

Third Test, Cape Town:
South Africa 291 & 447-7d drew with England 273 & 296-9
Match scorecard

By Oliver Brett

Graeme Swann and Graham Onions celebrate as England grab their draw
Graeme Swann and Graham Onions celebrate as England grab the draw

England's last-wicket pair dramatically saved the third Test against South Africa by surviving the last 17 balls.

The tourists appeared to be coasting to a draw through Ian Bell (78) and Paul Collingwood (40), until four wickets tumbled in 64 balls of high tension.

But after Graeme Swann had seen off six balls of Dale Steyn, number 11 Graham Onions heroically did the same with the final over, bowled by Morne Morkel.

England ended on 296-9 to keep their 1-0 series lead with one game left.

But the draw tasted just as good as a win for the large contingent of England supporters who had escaped freezing Britain for some South African sunshine - and got considerably more than they had bargained for.

For much of the day it appeared that the four-hour partnership between Bell and Collingwood would take the sting out of the final exchanges of the Test.

But the unexpected serenity which England's sixth-wicket pair had brought to proceedings quickly evaporated when Collingwood edged JP Duminy to slip.

Amazingly, Collingwood had been given out first ball by Tony Hill - but thanks to the referral system won a crucial reprieve. He and England capitalised to deny South Africa a victory they sweated blood for, but just could not achieve.

Collingwood's fans had twice seen him help save Tests in recent times. In the Ashes Test in Cardiff he had batted for 344 minutes on the final day, and he also stood firm at Centurion in the first match of this series while wickets tumbled at the other end. Both those matches had required England's number 11 to withstand the final few deliveries - and it was no different here.

606: DEBATE
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Bell's contribution was every bit as impressive as Collingwood's, even if he was not quite able to see England across the finishing line. Arriving at the crease 40 minutes after his partner, he batted impeccably in a 213-ball innings that will surely silence many of those critics who feel he can only play well in pressure-free situations.

Collingwood finally fell to the 188th ball of an innings of admirable self-denial that is all too rarely seen in the modern international game. Duminy, outbowling the main spinner Paul Harris, had him caught at slip by Kallis with little more than 13 overs remaining.

A brilliant catch from AB de Villiers at forward short-leg gave South Africa another breakthrough in Duminy's next over, as Matt Prior fell cheaply, and there was a huge scare in the one after that when South Africa claimed another catch close in that would have seen Stuart Broad make a sharp exit.

But there was enough evidence to suggest Broad had hit the ball into the ground and he was allowed to stay. Amid the same unbearable scenes that England fans are now used to, he eked out more overs but eventually gloved one off Harris that really bounced and turned.

All the same, safety was surely in sight for England with Bell still there... until he edged an effort ball from Morkel that gave Graeme Smith an easy slip catch.

Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell
It was a heroic effort from Collingwood and Bell at Newlands

However Swann and Onions showed terrific reserves of courage to ensure the hard work by Bell and Collingwood would not go to waste. There was even late drama when the penultimate ball flicked Onions' shirt en route to Boucher - and South Africa used up their final referral as they desperately sought evidence that the ball might have touched his bat.

The last ball was safely left alone by the Durham bowler, and that, finally, was that - England finishing 170 runs short of a victory target that was never in their sights.

Another perfect morning on the Western Cape dawned with England 132-3, Jonathan Trott on 24 and James Anderson yet to score. Neither lasted until lunch, which was taken at 179-5, with 62 overs remaining in the day.

But Trott and Anderson did at least take time out of the game, and South Africa were denied even the wicket of the nightwatchman until 11 overs had been eaten up.

Anderson was unlucky to be dismissed on several counts. Sweeping a full-toss from Harris, he conspired to hit the ball onto his boot and towards Ashwell Prince at backward short-leg, the fielder taking a terrific diving catch. Prince had only been waved into place from a deeper position by Boucher for that very delivery.

In Harris's subsequent over Collingwood was given out for a golden duck. But Collingwood calmly called for the review, in the safe knowledge that the ball had glanced his hip rather than bat and glove before plopping into Kallis's hands at slip.

There were no doubts at all when Trott, leaving a slight gap between bat and pad as he tried to play Steyn through the on-side, had his off-stump flattened by a wonderful delivery that nipped back.

It now fell to Collingwood and Bell to take England a long way into the day - not just lunch, which was safely negotiated at 179-5 - but through the second new ball which was taken as soon as it became available, an over into the afternoon session.

Dale Steyn
Steyn's brilliant spell with the new ball unluckily went unrewarded

That the two right-handers were able to last all the way to tea and beyond was due in some part to Collingwood's fortunate survival against Steyn, when one delivery after another swung past his outside edge.

Steyn did everything right, making the batsman commit to playing at the ball, and extracting late movement at a lively pace - even getting one or two to go the other way, back into Collingwood.

But using every ounce of his experience and sheer bloody-mindedness, the Durham pro blocked defiantly, unconcerned that he was frequently unable to make contact. It helped matters that at the other end Morkel was sending down a poor spell.

Collingwood and Bell knew that Steyn would eventually tire and be replaced - and sure enough when that happened, the back-up bowling from Friedel de Wet, Kallis, Harris and Duminy was not nearly so taxing.

Soon after tea, Bell, always more positive than Collingwood, reached his half-century with a pushed drive to the midwicket fence for his sixth boundary.

Knowing his job was only half done, he resisted celebrations and, with Collingwood's backlift becoming so insignificant it was barely there at all, the duo just kept on grafting.

With De Wet nursing a back injury, and consequently unable to bowl more than a few overs, Smith's bowling options were somewhat limited - although Duminy's contribution late in the day almost got him out of jail.

The hosts were also hampered by a wicket that played far better than a final-day Test track should, and a bowling attack which, with the honourable exception of Steyn, was simply not firing as well as it should have been until it was all too late.



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see also
Ball row overshadows England draw
08 Jan 10 |  England
Smith rues lack of 'final punch'
07 Jan 10 |  England
South Africa v England photos
07 Jan 10 |  England
England face Test survival battle
06 Jan 10 |  England
Inspired Smith makes England toil
05 Jan 10 |  England
South Africa make England fight
04 Jan 10 |  England
Kallis century holds up England
03 Jan 10 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England


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