Rain disrupts play in Centurian Test

Agence France Presse

Centurion, January 23:

A lightning storm stopped play early on the third afternoon of the fifth and final Test between South Africa and England at Centurion Park on Sunday. England were 79 for three at the stoppage in reply to South Africa’s first innings total of 247.

Only four overs of play was possible after lunch in a match already hit by the loss of the entire first day because of rain. Shaun Pollock took two wickets in an over as South Africa made early inroads before Andrew Strauss and Graham Thorpe stabilised the innings with an unbeaten fourth wicket stand of 50.

A run-out by Nicky Boje changed the early course of the England innings after opening batsmen Marcus Trescothick and Strauss made a rapid start. Boje swooped on the ball, there was hesitation and Trescothick was sent back but could not beat Boje’s direct hit on the stumps at the bowler’s end.

Pollock then had Robert Key caught behind down the legside for a single and four balls later claimed the wicket of England captain Michael Vaughan as England collapsed to 29 for three.

Strauss survived until lunch, when he had scored 21 off 80 balls. He added another nine runs after the break off only seven balls.

Thorpe was unbeaten on 15 off 86 balls. Big clouds built up during the lunch break and the post-lunch session started with lightning streaking across the sky. With the clouds sweeping overhead and lightning striking near the ground, the umpires took the players off the field shortly before the storm reached the ground.

Despite high winds, thunder and lightning, relatively light rain fell for about an hour. South Africa resumed at 247 for nine Sunday morning but England only needed two balls to wrap up the innings.