Cow Corner

England go rope-a-dope

Cow Corner

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It is very surprising that seven of the last eight Tests in Durban have ended in a positive result.

Kingsmead's easterly location means it is prone to bad light and the fact that less than 90 overs were played on the first day of the second Test was about as predictable as the queue of losers outside Marks & Spencer at half six this morning.

The fact that only 61 overs were possible, that it has rained every day in the city for about a week and that the floodlights only prolong the day for an extra 20 minutes, mean when the majority of the Barmy Army arrive in Cape Town for the third Test, the series is likely to be still level.

Of course the England backroom staff knew all this and their defensive selection of Ian Bell rather than a fifth bowler rather suggests they will be happy to keep the series level for as long as possible and see if they can nick something somewhere.

Rather like how they stole the Ashes despite being inferior in every statistical category except the one that mattered - the win column.

You do think Bell's selection is partly due to a lack of confidence in the alternative seam bowling options. Ryan Sidebottom is now deemed too similar to the rest of the attack although of course offering natural variety by being left-arm over and looking like a Robert Plant double.

Liam Plunkett seems to be the choice of the sages who seemingly only have memories of less than three years. He is one of these guys who gets better every time he doesn't play. True he hits the deck but he often hits the deck of the square that hasn't been cut.

The aforementioned sages were bemoaning the lack of a fifth bowler at tea but 24 minutes and 29 balls later, three wickets had gone and England were ahead on points.

Andy Flower could probably be seen flicking the v's from under his laptop.

Yes they got a helping held from AB de Viliers who must have attended the same quick single finishing school as Jonathan Trott, charging down the track to see a bemused senior partner failing to shift until it's his time to walk back to the pavilion.

But all of England's attack bowled with discipline and England's rope-a-dope tactic could pay dividends if enough overs are possible to force a result.

Although remember this is the same ground where the Timeless Test was drawn - at least this time England haven't got a boat to catch.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Two balls after receiving yet more treatment on a finger rapped early in the day by Jimmy Anderson, Graeme Smith produced a sumptuous off-drive offering the full maker's name to Graeme Onions.

STAT OF THE DAY: Smith's half-century came off 138 balls and in 189 minutes. It was his second slowest Test half-century.

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "It's the same old story, England still find it difficult to pick a well balanced side. They are similar to the England football team, too many players to choose from but they still can't get it right. When will the selectors learn to pick a winning and well balanced side," Colin's two cents.

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