Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Luck for England as Gibbs Fires

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Luck for England as Gibbs Fires

Article excerpt


ENGLAND were first out of luck and then fast running out of hope at The Oval today as South Africa took complete command-of the summer's final Test. Michael Vaughan lost an important toss and then saw two of his bowlers lose lbw verdicts which could - and probably should - have gone against opener Herschelle Gibbs.

But, on an admittedly pancake flat pitch, England's attack once again failed to show the necessary discipline, too often feeding Gibbs's strengths as the right-hander raced to a boundaryladen, 167-ball century and the tourists cruised to 230 for one by tea.

Only by winning the Fifth npower Test can Vaughan and Co share a series which they did their best to throw away by losing - from several positions of strength - at Headingley.

Four hours' cricket today, though, suggested England would be hard pushed to given themselves even a sniff of victory in south-east London.

Throw in a couple of half chances that went begging just before tea and the mood in the home camp was darkening by the minute.

Gibbs, who started the series by making 179 at Edgbaston but then failed to reach 50 in six subsequent innings, made the most of some good fortune this morning by driving, clipping and cutting 20 fours, as well as drilling spinner Ashley Giles for a straight six.

It was his 10th century at this level and, apart from being struck on the body by one menacing lifter from Steve Harmison, he never looked ill at ease.

Indeed, the shaven-headed batsman scored all but 16 of his first 110 runs in boundaries and, having reached three figures, he showed even more aggression to reach 135 not out.

Fourteen runs came from a Jimmy Anderson over just before tea, although Martin Bicknell should have done better in pursuit of a skied miscue to midon, while a ferocious cut burst through Mark Butcher's hands at point.

Gary Kirsten, meanwhile, continued in his own inimitable fashion and, almost unnoticed, had contributed 72 to a stand of 181. …

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