x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dead ball, rain and a century

Petersen top-scores for South Africa but day one of second Test marred by controversy as umpire rules England paceman Steven Finn's delivery that dismissed Graeme Smith illegal.

Umpire Steve Davis, right, signals a no ball after Steven Finn, the England fast bowler, removed the bails while bowling yesterday. Davis' call brought about consternation from Finn and Andrew Strauss, his captain. Ian Kington / AFP
Umpire Steve Davis, right, signals a no ball after Steven Finn, the England fast bowler, removed the bails while bowling yesterday. Davis' call brought about consternation from Finn and Andrew Strauss, his captain. Ian Kington / AFP

LEEDS // England's bowlers managed only stuttering progress as Alviro Petersen shut them out on day one of the second Test at Headingley.

Five wickets in a stumps total of 262 amounted to far better than they mustered against South Africa in the entirety of the innings defeat at The Oval.

But the match was marred by controversy as Steven Finn was denied the wicket of the South Africa captain Graeme Smith in the 12th over of the morning session when the batsman edged the England fast bowler to Andrew Strauss at first slip but Steve Davis, the umpire, ruled the ball dead.

The ICC and the MCC later stepped into a row and in a joint statement, confirmed that the umpire had ruled the ball was dead because Finn had dislodged the bails in his bowling follow through.

"Jeff Crowe, the ICC match referee, [said] that Finn had broken the wicket at least three times prior to this specific incident," the statement said.

"Both batsmen complained that it was a distraction and Finn was told to move over. The umpires decided that if it happened again they would call dead ball. It did and so Davis called it under [rule] 23.4(b)(vi)."

Strauss, the England captain, had an animated discussion with Davis after the decision, but the law in question says: "An umpire shall call and signal dead ball when the striker is distracted by any noise or movement while receiving."

Smith clearly was not distracted when Finn collided with the stumps for a fifth time in the 20th over because he pulled the ball to the deep midwicket fence, only for Davis to again call dead ball and negate the boundary.

"Unlike some other laws, there is no specified warning procedure for this situation," the statement added.

"MCC's Laws sub-committee will discuss the matter … and will work closely with ICC on issuing guidance to umpires."

After winning the toss, and under cloud cover either side of teatime rain, England could have done with plenty more as they seek to remain competitive in this three-match series.

It was thanks principally to Petersen (124 not out), who followed a fluent first 50 with a stoic second, that the hosts could not make more telling gains.

When Tim Bresnan had Smith (52) caught at square-leg in early afternoon, he was delivering England's first wicket since he himself last got rid of the opposition captain 10 hours previously - in playing time - dating back to day three in London.

James Anderson should have had Petersen, reprieved by Alastair Cook when he missed a straightforward chance at second-slip.

But worse was to follow for England because Finn, returning here in place of Graeme Swann, paid dearly for his stump-kicking idiosyncrasy and gave Smith a second chance.

Petersen was past his 50 before lunch, with a pull at Bresnan for his seventh four, and Smith reached his from 91 deliveries in early afternoon.

But he was to succumb at last to England's packed leg-side field, and only three overs later the hosts picked up the big bonus of Hashim Amla's wicket too.

When Cook redeemed himself with a smart catch low to his left, at second slip again, after Jacques Kallis toe-ended an attempted cut at Anderson, South Africa had faltered from 120 for none to 157 for three.

Rain brought an early tea, though, and when play resumed an hour and a half later Petersen was still not for shifting - and AB de Villiers was watchful too in an important stand of 97.

Petersen did not always use the middle of his bat, but dug out his fourth Test century - completed off 215 balls when he clipped Stuart Broad for his 11th four.

He was then to have an lbw decision overturned on DRS on 119 off Finn.

Even De Villiers' chop-on to Broad with the second new ball, and nightwatchman Dale Steyn's clean-bowled duck to Finn, therefore could not alter the complexion of another day when world cricket's balance of power tilted towards South Africa as they aim to snatch the world No 1 Test ranking away from England.

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