Patience the key for England

  • Last Updated: August 3 2012, 18:09 BST

England must follow the example set by Hashim Amla at The Oval and Alviro Petersen in the first innings here at Headingley, to bat their way back into the second Investec Test

Cook with an aggressive stroke against the visitors' attack

The hosts at last shifted Petersen after almost nine hours, for a career-best 182 from 365 balls, in South Africa's 419 all out on day two in Leeds.

Then came their own turn to try to bat big and long - and Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook made an acceptable start with an unbroken stand of 48, in trying circumstances against a heavyweight new-ball attack.

Petersen, and JP Duminy with an unbeaten 48, made England wait two more sessions today before they could start their reply.

Even after Stuart Broad (three for 96) had the opener caught-behind, Rod Tucker's initial not-out verdict overturned on DRS, England had to battle through the tail this afternoon - with the last three South Africa wickets adding 66.

Petersen and Jacques Rudolph's stand of 59 had required plenty of hard work, and a little fortune too on Friday morning.

James Anderson and Broad, starting with a ball only seven overs old, gave the sixth-wicket pair very little - and the result was six consecutive maidens to start the day.

There were plays and misses from both batsmen, Rudolph struggling most obviously against the moving ball and with cloud cover prevailing.

Petersen needed his second successful review against a Steve Davis lbw decision, having survived on 119 last night when Steven Finn was the bowler and then this morning before he had added to his overnight 124 - Hawkeye demonstrating that a delivery from Anderson would have passed high and wide of leg-stump.

South Africa had to be watchful - and even after a run-less first half-hour, progress remained slow from a start-of-play 262 for five.

But on a pitch compromising fluent batsmanship, and with those overhead conditions favouring the bowlers, every run was precious.

It was an irony lost on few, least of all Graeme Swann surely, that in the frontline off-spinner's absence for the first time in three-and-a-half years, part-timer Kevin Pietersen turned only his second delivery sharply and won a marginal third-umpire stumping decision to end Rudolph's 74-ball vigil on 19 runs and provide England's overdue breakthrough.

There was little doubt nonetheless that Petersen had ensured South Africa's advantage in a pivotal session, by batting through his fourth in succession.

He lasted only six overs of the next, before Broad found his outside edge pushing forward in defence.

Petersen might have gone in similar circumstances many times previously, of course, England's seamers regularly threatening the edge but creating a chance only once in his tour-de-force stay - when he was dropped at second slip by Cook on 19 early on Thursday.

Petersen's great virtue was not the way he used the middle, as in a collection of commanding pulls among his 23 fours whenever England dropped short.

His skills also included a refusal to be undermined by imperfections, determination to stay put and patience to wait for mistakes from tiring bowlers.

England, 1-0 down already after their innings defeat at The Oval and therefore 'chasing' this three-match series, do not have that benefit of time on their side.

Even without interruptions from forecast bad weather over the next three days, it is perhaps already fanciful to dream up a method for home victory.

But Strauss and Cook knew too that they still had to provide a solid platform - a point proven by triple-centurion Amla, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis in the 637 for two declared which rewrote the script in London last week.

So it was that England's openers rightly took few chances as Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn and finally Jacques Kallis all found enough in the pitch and through the air to beat the bat regularly.

Strauss and Cook were parted on nought and then two, in England's Oval misadventures, but redoubled their efforts here to defy South Africa - and increasingly awkward conditions - before bad light and rain brought an early close after just 18 overs of the home innings.