Cow Corner

  • KP shouldn’t only be bowling us over with his batting

    Kevin Pietersen celebrates a wicket at HeadingleyWhen Kevin Pietersen was a young cricketer, his abilities as a spinner were prized as much as his batting prowess.

    It seems bizarre, now. Pietersen is rightly lauded as one of the greatest, most innovative batsmen in world cricket, but Pietersen the bowler is only ever handed the ball when the match is meandering to a draw, or as a last throw of the dice when all the others have failed to prise out a wicket.

    However, he spins the ball far more than most part-timers, and his 3/52 in the South Africa second innings threatened to bring England an unlikely victory.

    South Africa captain Graeme

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  • Is the focus on Lord’s finale already?

    England captain Andrew Strauss and team director Andy Flower are true professionals, and they will insist publicly that a result is still possible in the second Test at Headingley.

    But they would be forgiven for starting to turn their focus to the final game of the series at Lord's, which starts on 16 August.

    South Africa closed the day on 39 without loss, a lead of 33 after England were dismissed for 425. Captain Graeme Smith is on 17 not out, with his opening partner Jacques Rudolph unbeaten on 21.

    The rain cloud that belched its contents over Headingley midway through the afternoon has

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  • KP defies expectations in thrilling knock

    Cricket captains have long memories, and in the 80th over of the third day of the second Test at Headingley South Africa skipper Graeme Smith cast his mind back to Edgbaston 2008.

    Kevin Pietersen was 94 not out that day in Birmingham, and spinner Paul Harris was bowling. The match was in the balance, but The Ego could not resist it. He tried for a six and was caught on the boundary. South Africa won the match and then the series, results that brought about the end of Michael Vaughan's captaincy.

    KP was 91 not out in that 80th over in Headingley, two shots away from a ton. Smith brought on the

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  • England discover steel in Yorkshire

    Discipline is one of those underrated and understated qualities.

    When South Africa's fast bowlers Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel conceded either a no ball or a wide in each of the first five overs of the England reply, it was only then that one looked back at the England bowling figures and started re-evaluating the previous five sessions.

    You only notice discipline when it is lacking.

    South Africa were eventually dismissed for 419 in the 140th over of the second Test at Headingley, with Alviro Petersen adding 58 to his overnight 124 to reach his highest Test score of 182. But England's

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  • Problems brewing after Cook’s move

    When England decided to select four seamers and drop spinner Graeme Swann for the second Test against South Africa at Headingley, one of the more astute contributors to Eurosport's over-by-over coverage realised the implications almost immediately.

    He was not worried about whether England could bowl out South Africa with such a one-dimensional attack, or whether England's seam quartet would struggle without the respite of a spinner taking over an end.

    He was worried about the loss of Swann the specialist slip fielder, and whether Alastair Cook would take his place in the cordon. With an

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  • Game over - the long trudge back for Anderson and Bresnan

    A year ago England were eviscerating India on home soil to become the world's number one Test side.

    The 4-0 series win meant that they themselves were handed the Test mace (that's not figurative, of course — that's literally what was at stake), and it confirmed the remarkable progress the side had made from a willing side into a functional one, into a rather good one.

    They were the Ashes holders, home and away. They were the side who had whitewashed the men ranked as their worthiest rivals. This was unprecedented territory.

    Taking on — and beating — South Africa, the last remaining side with

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  • It's all too easy, isn't it? Blaming the pitch for the bowlers' inability to run through a side at home leads to any number of excuses and curt responses.

    The simple fact of the matter is this: South Africa boast a collection of masterful batsmen, with none more indomitable than Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis.

    It is very hard to overstate how well Amla and Kallis - and captain Graeme Smith earlier in the match - played, and the records broken by the pair are testament to that.

    Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat, however: the pitch at The Oval is a shocker; not in the sense

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  • Graeme Smith: Captain Colossus

    There are times when one wonders if there is any way of stopping Graeme Smith, and England must have contemplated their fate amid the toil with borderline despair.

    Smith battled out a typically gutsy, robust innings to grind England into The Oval dust alongside fellow centurion Hashim Amla to stamp his side's authority on the match in emphatic fashion.

    Captain Colossus scored 131 runs off 273 balls in 367 minutes with 20 fours, fulfilling his intention to redress the balance of the match in the tourists' favour, all while leaving the opposition despondent and dispirited.

    His six-hour innings

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  • Is Bopara the right man to bat at six?

    Ravi Bopara returned to the fold for the first Test at The Oval with another opportunity to make the England number six spot his own, but the latest phase of his career did not start at all well.

    A cursory glance over the newspapers before the series started would have convinced many doubting the selection that Bopara was a changed man, a batsman who had matured at last and who deserved this latest opportunity.

    Bopara, it seemed, was due a renaissance: a comeback to show his doubters that he had blossomed as an international cricketer and had refined a previously unconvincing technique,

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  • Another landmark for England’s run machine

    There were many 'head-to-heads' that dominated the build up to the eagerly-anticipated series between England and South Africa, but most centred around Kevin Pietersen and Dale Steyn.

    South Africa's much vaunted bowling attack flagged at The Oval as England's run machine Alastair Cook plundered another chanceless Test century - his 20th, to be exact.

    In an unerring innings in which he never really looked like getting out, Cook ended an 11-month gap between Test centuries, with his previous three-figure score coming against India at Edgbaston last summer.

    This was far from a drought, however,

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