South Africa: 419 & 258-9 dec.

England: 425 & 130-4

Match drawn

The second Test of England’s crucial series against the South Africans ended in a draw, after a wonderful first innings from Kevin Pietersen salvaged the hosts from the prospect of another heavy defeat,  before a rain-interrupted fourth-day ensured that the series would remain at 1-0 to the visitors going into the final Test at Lords.

Following the First Test humiliation at the Oval, England came into the match at Headingley on the back of their first home defeat in two years. The comprehensive nature of that loss, in which England only managed to pick up 2 wickets in an innings defeat, seemed to have a palpable effect upon the England camp, with the decision to drop world’s best spinner Graeme Swann from the side causing many surprised raised eyebrows. James Taylor also came in to the side to make his Test  debut at number-6 following the withdrawal of Ravi Bopara due to personal reasons.

The opening day began in a similar fashion to the first Test with frustration day in the field after England elected to put the visitors in from the toss. The England bowling attack once agained seemed to lack the potency and aggression, for which it has become renowned for over the past few years during England’s ascent to the top of the rankings.

A wicketless first session saw the South African openers gain a foothold, with an added element of frustration for the hosts when Steven Finn appeared to have took the wicket of Proteas captain Grame Smith when he was caught by Andrew Strauss, only for Finn to have knocked the bails of the non-striking end off durinh his delivery, which umpire Steve Davis deemed as a dead ball due to causing a distraction to the batsmen. Finn had already broken the non-striker wicket several times before, with no action taken on the three times it occurred in Finn’s first over before Smith and fellow opener Alvaro Peterson claimed it had been a distraction, leading to the umpires to agree to call dead ball each time it happened which eventually led to the controversial incident.

Smith went on to make a solid half-century for his side, before eventually being caught by Ian Bell from a Tim Bresnan delivery in the second session. First Test triple-centurion Hashim Amla was run out from the throw of Bresnan and Jacques Kallis, also posted a massive centurye at the Oval also fell cheaply when he was caught by Alistair Cook. AB de Villiers edged the ball on to his stumps in the evening session before night watchman Dale Steyn was bowled by Finn to end the day on 262-5. However, the day belonged to  Peterson, as the opening batsman, who survived two wicket claims only by DRS, after the umpires gave him out twice, was still in on 124 not out.

The second day saw a similar frustration with just the one wicket of Jacques Rudolph falling. After lunch the big breakthrough finally came as Stuart Broad calimed the wicket of Peterson on 182 as he edged it to Matt Prior behind the stumps to put South Africa on 353-7. Ironically the edge was missed and England only got their man via the DRS system which had been Peterson’s saviour in the first day. The visitors were eventually bowled out for 419 to provide a challenging total that England had to match for any hopes of tying the series in this Test to remain alive. 

Pietersen’s wonderful century helped salvage a much-needed draw for the Three Lions

Closing Day two on 48 without loss, England continued on the road to recovery on Day three. The highlight contribution was undoubtedly Kevin Pietersen’s majestic century, in which the enigmatic batsmen, who always relishes playing against the nation of his birth, demonstrated some exhibition-style shots in an innings. His contribution of 149, in an in innings littered with boundaries as he attacked the South African bowlers with some majestic shots, passing the 7,000-run milestone in his Test career along the way was supported by an efficient 68 from Matt Prior whilst James Taylor made a steady 35 on debut, whilst spending much of his time watching Pietersen cutting loose at the other end. Closing Day 3 on 351-5, England were eventually bowled out for 425, six runs ahead of the visitors in an innings which would have come as a slight relief to the England camp and their supporters.

South Africa survived a tricky little spell without loss at 5-0 before the rain stopped play with no more cricket to be played that day, with a draw now looking the most likely result.

Rudolph and Smith made half-centuries, as the visitors made it to 258-9 declared, with Stuart Broad picking up five wickets as England needed 253 runs to win in 39 overs of play. Pietersen was put out first to bat at number one to attemot a quickfire blitz to fulfil faint hopes of England picking up an unlikely win. However, despite picking up 12 runs in the opening over, Pietersen then miscued a hit to the boundary on the onside, as it went straight to the hands of Imran Tahir and the match inevitably fizzled out to a draw with England on 133-4 at the close of play, with Cook high scoring with 46.

The draw means England still have a chance of defending their world number one ranking but now must win the Third Test at Lords to tie the series. Another draw or defeat would see the South Africans leapfrog England into top spot meaning that it is all to play for in the final Test which begins on August 16th at the home of cricket.

Simon Mulligan