Cow Corner

England discover steel in Yorkshire

Cow Corner

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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 bowlers kept the run-rate to below three an over, with James Anderson in particular giving the South Africa batsmen minimal width to play their shots.

They also did not concede a no ball or a wide in the 836 deliveries they bowled over five sessions.

South Africa batted sensibly, and were loath to throw away their wickets even in a search for quick runs when the tail came in.

But that was in part down to the England bowling, as no South African batsman ever looked comfortable enough to impose themselves on Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan or Steven Finn.

England strung together six maidens in the first six overs of the day, and managed to keep taking wickets to keep the score down to a just about manageable 419.

Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss then batted beautifully in the 18 overs before bad light stopped play, putting on an unbeaten 48 for the first wicket. Morkel, Dale Steyn and Philander did bowl some lovely swinging deliveries to the England openers amidst the early no-balls and wides, but Cook and Strauss refused the temptation to go nibbling outside off stump.

It is now set up to be a real old-fashioned Test match. The England batsmen are not going to give up their wickets, but will try to emulate the efforts of Petersen. The South African opener batted for 120 overs, and no-one will pretend that the city centre of Leeds emptied as fans rushed down to the ground to watch it.

But it was effective, and he may well have batted long enough to secure South Africa at least a draw and the series.

However, there seems to be a steel in the England performance that was lacking at the Oval in their innings defeat.

South Africa have been the better side in five of the seven days of the series so far, but England have not yet been vanquished. They may have been inferior to the Proteas, but they have kept their discipline in the last two days.

They need even more in the next day and a half, and then they will hope that the pressure built causes Graeme Smith's side to lose theirs.

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STAT OF THE DAY: England's bowling averages in this series - Pietersen 39, Anderson 59, Finn 59, Broad 71, Bresnan 119...

TWEET OF THE DAY: "The West Stand at Headingley are utterly transfixed by a huge beer snake. And they said Test cricket was dying!" The Daily Mail's Lawrence Booth discovers that Yorkshire folk are easily entertained.

TALKING POINT OF THE DAY: England went into the match without a recognised spinner, believing that the Headingley pitch would not suit Graeme Swann. Kevin Pietersen then comes on for a trundle and turns one square to dismiss Jacques Rudolph with his second ball. Alas, Swann was not at the ground so there are no TV pictures of his reaction.

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