Injured Kallis, Petersen will bat 'if needed'
An afternoon of heavy rain on the fourth day of the second test between England and South Africa at Headingley on Sunday appears to have condemned the contest to a draw but neither side, it appears, has entirely given up on the possibility of a shock victory with good weather forecast for the fifth and final day.
South Africa enjoyed a stunning start to the day when Morne Morkel trapped Kevin Pietersen lbw with just the second ball for his overnight 149 and the formidable lead which England had hoped to build was restricted to a mere six runs -- 425 all out in reply to SA’s 419. The tourists finished on 39-0 with Jacques Rudolph on 21 and Graeme Smith on 17.
“It was very frustrating not to be able to build a lead and then apply some pressure by bowling at them on the last day,” admitted wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who was the last man dismissed for a typically aggressive 68 from 89 balls.
“But, in funny way, things might work out for us because there are only really two results possible -- a draw or an England win. They know they have to bat through a day and that can be tough from a mental point of view. We’ll need some luck but the ball is still swinging. Hopefully we’ll get a lovely, overcast day, pick up ten wickets quickly and whoop and holler and party the night away,” said Prior to much amusement.
Morkel’s game plan for a possible South African victory was a little less clear-cut: “The key is the first session -- we need to bat really well and then take it from there. Hopefully the sun is out and we can get some runs on the board and that will be fantastic,” said Morkel, apparently unwilling to admit that almost nobody can imagine a South African victory.
He did, however, admit that it was a great relief to dismiss Pietersen so early: “Matt and KP can take the game away from you very quickly -- the way KP was batting yesterday afternoon, well, it was very important to get him early today! When he’s in that sort of mood he is very, very difficult to bowl to,” Morkel said.
The most important news of the day came from team manager and doctor, Mohammed Moosajee, who confirmed that the injured Alviro Petersen and Jacques Kallis would both bat -- if they had to.
“Alviro is still seven days away from full fitness with his hamstring strain but he will bat if it comes to that. Graeme is managing with a heavily strapped left knee – there is some damage but we’ll have a proper look after the test match,” Moosajee said.
“Our biggest concern is Jacques is suffering lower back spasms. He’s had the problem before and it’s simply a case of 17 years of international cricket and carrying a heavy load as allrounder! We’ll monitor him overnight but if he has to bat then we’ll just make sure we get him through that, somehow,” Moosajee said.