Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Marcus Leads Us to Safety

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Marcus Leads Us to Safety

Article excerpt


MARCUS TRESCOTHICK launched a stirring counterattack at Edgbaston this afternoon as England were again challenged to save the first npower Test.

Four hours after Ashley Giles had eased the tension by single-handedly taking England past the follow-on figure with a flurry of boundaries, South Africa declared their second innings on 134 for four to allow themselves 65 overs at Nasser Hussain's side.

Rain threatened to have the final word on the last day of a match already severely hit by bad weather. But Trescothick, refusing to be forced on to the defensive, treated spectators to some rich entertainment by hitting five consecutive deliveries from fast bowler Makhaya Ntini to the boundary.

Not bad for a batsman with a broken right index finger who isn't certain to play in Thursday's Second Test at Lord's. Trescothick produced two rapier-like cuts, a meaty pull and two rasping off drives to leave Ntini looking thoroughlyperplexed and home fans wondering whether an assault on a victory target of 321 might not be completely out of the question.

Michael Vaughan, England's first innings century-maker, had been left in the blocks. But he responded with a pulled six off Ntini and then unfurled his favourite cover drive and before long the total was 67 for nought from 20 overs.

Much earlier, Giles had taken less than 10 minutes to thump the 21 runs Hussain's men needed to avoid the follow-on and force South Africa to start batting again on the final morning.

But despite the No8's heroics - five fours and a single in the space of 10 deliveries - England were still dismissed for 408 to concede a first innings lead of 186.

Then, out came South Africa captain Graeme Smith to produce another masterpiece. Having got his eye in by making the small matter of 277 in the first innings, Smith again feasted on bowling that once more presented too many opportunities to play to leg. With Darren Gough strangely kept out of the attack, Smith roared to 85 from 70 balls before he missed an attempted pull against Giles's spin.

Jimmy Anderson, Steve Harmison and Giles again had successes but South Africa required only 26 overs to collect their 134 runs on a pitch offering less than trustworthy bounce. …

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