Vol. 5 Num 206 Tue. December 21, 2004  

Simon puts Eng on top

Fast bowler Simon Jones held a sensational catch and took four wickets in an inspired spell as England moved within sight of victory on the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa at St George's Park Monday.

South Africa were all out for 229 at tea, leaving England a target of 142 to win.

Jones took four for 18 in a spell that wrecked South Africa's hopes of setting a big target.

Earlier the Glamorgan player had played a major role in the key breakthrough of the day when he sprinted in from fine leg and dived forward to hold an exceptional catch to dismiss South African captain Graeme Smith.

Smith and Jacques Kallis, South Africa's leading batsmen, had put on 88 and were gradually getting on top of the bowlers before Smith hooked Andrew Flintoff and Jones held a catch which had his teammates racing across the field to exchange high fives with him.

After Boeta Dippenaar had been bowled by left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, Jones was brought on to bowl in mid-afternoon and had almost immediate success when, with his second and third balls, he dismissed Kallis and Shaun Pollock, South Africa's most experienced players, with successive balls.

Zander de Bruyn was caught at slip off Flintoff before Jones followed up by bowling Thami Tsolekile, who was totally deceived by a slower ball, and trapping Makhaya Ntini leg before wicket. Jones finished with four for 39.

With both teams striving to gain an early ascendancy in the five-match series, Smith and Kallis resumed with their team only 11 runs ahead.

Both batsmen started cautiously before picking up the scoring rate. Kallis should have been caught at cover by Butcher when, on 28, he mistimed a drive against Matthew Hoggard. The ball travelled at a relatively gentle speed to Butcher, who reacted late and then could not hold a right-handed effort above his shoulder.

Smith was not so fortunate. After punching Flintoff past mid-off for four, he hooked the next ball and Jones, running in from fine leg, pulled off the catch.

The dismissal once again put South Africa in a vulnerable position, only 64 ahead with seven wickets remaining.

England surprisingly only brought Giles into the attack 15 minutes before lunch and the spinner had almost immediate success. First innings century-maker Dippenaar, attempting to play a forcing back foot shot, edged his third ball of the day into his stumps after making ten.

SUPERB SIMON: England paceman Simon Jones celebrates taking the wicket of Jacques Kallis of South Africa on the fourth day of the first Test yesterday. PHOTO: AFP