Updated: 05/08/2012 20:35 | By pa.press.net

Rain hits England victory hopes



Matt Prior's impressive half-century came before rain frustrated England at Headingley

Matt Prior's impressive half-century came before rain frustrated England at Headingley

Hopes of an improbable series-levelling England victory were ever more remote after South African resistance and bad weather halted home progress at Headingley.

England could turn their 351 for five into only 425 all out - despite the best efforts of Matt Prior (68) - and then there was time between the storms for only 17 fruitless overs against openers Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph on day four of the second Investec Test.

Twice in less than five hours, downpours deposited lakes on the outfield, and South Africa closed on the safety of 39 for none, with a lead of 33. Even the most optimistic of England supporters must know something extraordinary will be required on Monday for their team to have any chance of series victory when they head to Lord's next week for the final Test.

The window of opportunity was already narrow at the start of play for England to properly consolidate Saturday's Kevin Pietersen-inspired fightback, with bat and then ball. Those chances receded almost immediately when they lost their centurion to just the second ball of the day, without addition to his overnight 149.

Pietersen pushed forward in defence but missed and was lbw to Morne Morkel - revenge for the fast bowler after the mauling he took from England's number four the previous evening

Prior continued the counter-attack nonetheless with a Pietersen-style rush of boundaries, four among 23 runs off 13 deliveries. But Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad could add only 10 between them, respectively caught at slip off a good ball that held its line from Vernon Philander and mispulling Imran Tahir to be well held by substitute fielder Faf du Plessis.

Prior was still able to pass an important 66-ball half-century, which ensured Pietersen's very good work was not entirely squandered. James Anderson helped the wicketkeeper poke England's noses in front, before Prior holed out sweeping at Tahir (three for 92). Then Anderson missed an attempted slog-sweep in the same over from the leg-spinner.

England's prospects of putting South Africa's second innings under pressure were enhanced by injury niggles for key batsmen. They meant opener Alviro Petersen (hamstring strain) and all-rounder Jacques Kallis (back spasm) could not bat in their preferred positions, having not taken the field in the morning.

Smith, who hurt himself retrieving a three last night, was fit to bat - but with strapping on his sore left knee. Rudolph was the captain's makeshift opening partner, and the left-handed pair were largely untroubled if subdued to withstand all that England's four-man pace attack could muster against them.

A surface which began to offer variable bounce on Saturday did no such thing for Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Steven Finn. They passed the bat regularly, but when the edge was found - most often Rudolph's - the ball invariably went to ground long before it reached the slip cordon.

0Comments
Get the Bing Sports App for Windows 8 (© Microsoft)

latest cricket news

  • Mark Stoneman has backed Ben Stokes, pictured, to be the difference in Saturday's final

    Durham captain Mark Stoneman is backing all-rounder Ben Stokes to make the difference in the Royal London Cup final against Warwickshire at Lord's on Saturday.

  • Jonathan Trott is back in the runs

    Jonathan Trott appears to have put his problems behind him and is finally enjoying his cricket again, according to Warwickshire head coach Dougie Brown.

  • Ashwell Prince, pictured, has revealed he did not consider there to be a racist element to the verbal abuse delivered to him by Andrew Gale

    Lancashire batsman Ashwell Prince has revealed he did not consider there to be a racist element to the verbal abuse delivered to him by Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale.

  • Derbyshire have been given permission to improve facilities at their 3aaa County Ground

    Derbyshire have received planning permission from Derby city council for the first stage of development at The 3aaa County Ground.

  • England all-rounder Moeen Ali has been nominated for Professional Player of the Year at the inaugural Asian Cricket Awards.

    England all-rounder Moeen Ali has been nominated for Professional Player of the Year at the inaugural Asian Cricket Awards.

  • James Sutherland has agreed a new deal with Cricket Australia

    Cricket Australia has secured the future of chief executive James Sutherland by handing him an open-ended deal to replace his fixed-term contract.

  • Captain Chris Rogers' unbeaten double-century saved Middlesex at Taunton

    Chris Rogers' rearguard double-century rescued a precious stalemate for Middlesex against Somerset in their battle to avoid relegation from LV= County Championship Division One.

  • Josh Cobb is on the move to Northamptonshire

    Josh Cobb has continued the Leicestershire exodus by signing a two-year contract with neighbours Northamptonshire.

  • Martin Crowe took to Twitter to reveal his cancer has returned

    Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe has revealed his cancer has returned.

  • Shivnarine Chanderpaul hit a century on Tuesday morning before the West Indies bowled Bangladesh out in the afternoon to win the second Test

    The West Indies wrapped up a 296-run victory against Bangladesh inside four days to win the second Test in St Lucia and secure their first Test series victory in 18 months.

  • Paul Collingwood has been in fine form for Durham this season

    Durham coach Jon Lewis will head into the Royal London One-Day Cup final confident he has the most influential player in the country at his disposal.

  • Jonathan Trott has been in fine form since his return from a stress-related condition

    Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott has revealed he is ready for an England recall.

  • Michael Clarke has been ruled out of Australia's three ODIs against Pakistan in the UAE

    Australia captain Michael Clarke will miss next month's one-day international series against Pakistan because of the hamstring injury which ruled him out of much of the recent tour to Zimbabwe.

  • Andrew Gale is reportedly set to face an ECB disciplinary hearing next week

    Yorkshire have made it clear they will present a staunch defence of their captain Andrew Gale against a reported charge of a racist offence.

  • Varun Chopra is Warwickshire's new club captain

    Varun Chopra is to become Jim Troughton's official successor as Warwickshire captain.