x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Strauss stunned by escape act

The England captain admitted he was amazed that Graham Onions yet again batted out a final over to salvage another nerve-jangling draw against South Africa.

CAPE TOWN // Andrew Strauss, the England captain, admitted he was amazed that Graham Onions yet again batted out a final over to salvage another nerve-jangling draw. Onions, the tail-ender, saw off the final six balls from Morne Morkel as the Test went down to the wire for the second time in three matches. Onions was the hero of the first Test in Centurion and Strauss did not fancy the Durham man's chances of pulling off the rescue act once more.

"I was not really confident," said Strauss. "To be honest, it was more thinking we've been in the situation before and the end story is not always the same. I was actually feeling really comfortable until Graham went in there. "But he did a great job in the end and I always feel that as batsmen we should apologise for putting him in that position." Paul Collingwood (40) and Ian Bell (78) put England in position to save the game in a four-hour rearguard stand worth 112 runs.

"You need batsmen to stand up and say, 'You can rely on me'," said Strauss. "We've seen Colly do that a few times before and he found a very worthy ally in Ian Bell. When you see other guys doing it you want to be the next guy that does it and that's what ultimately spurred Belly on. "I think Bell's innings was as significant as any of his centuries but it was the way he did it. "He was very much in control of his emotions and the bat looked like a barn door until he got out."

A deflated Proteas captain Graeme Smith was left to wonder how a thrilling new-ball spell by Dale Steyn and Morkel did not remove Collingwood and put the home side on course for victory. "The wicket got slower and slower and that made the second new ball key," he said. "I can't complain with the performance the two seamers put in with that second new ball. We asked a lot of questions. "I think Paul Collingwood played and missed 10 out of 18 deliveries at one stage so you cannot really ask more." @Email:sports@thenational.ae