South Africa's batsmen were poised to cash in, but New
Zealand had no luck in the opening session of the second test
at St George's Park last night.
At lunch, the home side, having won the toss, was 99 for one
off 27 overs. New Zealand ideally wanted a second wicket or
more in the first session, but at least it was an even
contest, albeit threatening to drift away from the touring
side, but in sharp contrast to the first two hours at Cape
Town last week. So step up Doug Bracewell.
With the first ball of his second over, the forthright seamer
struck South African captain Graeme Smith a fierce blow on
his helmet, behind the right ear.
Smith, who had turned his head away from the lifter, took a
couple of minutes to recover, squatting on his haunches as he
regathered his wits.
Throughout the session Smith was clearly not his usual
assertive self and was fortunate to get to lunch on 40.
Although Smith chose to bat, New Zealand skipper Brendon
McCullum confirmed he would have fielded first. Nightmare
visions of his batsmen being put under the hammer again by
South Africa's top class quicks might have flashed through
But there was also a practical reason New Zealand would have
opted to field. There was a breeze from the south west,
usually regarded as a bat-first, drying breeze.
But New Zealand left-armer Trent Boult relishes a breeze to
help his inswing to the righthanders, and he locked on to a
tidy line from the start of the day.
Alviro Petersen, century-maker in Cape Town, looked pretty
secure, unfurling one superb off drive from Bracewell which
rocketed to the boundary.
However, he departed to the final ball of the 10th over.
Petersen tried to hook Bracewell from outside his off stump
and the ball flew straight to Jeetan Patel running in at fine
Neil Wagner, recalled for his third test, was unlucky, three
times Smith edging wide of the slips to the fence. Meanwhile,
New Zealand will be boosted by the services of its best
batsman when it faces England next month, after former
skipper Ross Taylor yesterday announced his intention to
return to cricket.
Taylor confirmed the end to his self-imposed exile when he
wrote on Twitter he would be back for Central Districts in
its Plunket Shield match against Canterbury, on January 24.
He then said he would make himself available for selection
for the series against the touring England side, beginning
with the first twenty/20 international in Auckland on