England v South Africa 1st Test
Looks like England are going to blow it again.
FIRST TEST, Lord's, day four (close):
England 593-8 dec v S Africa 247 & 242-1
By Jamie Lillywhite
Smith's determined rearguard frustrated the England bowlers
An opening stand of 204 gave South Africa an excellent chance of drawing the first Test, the tourists closing day four at Lord's 104 behind at 242-1.
On a day of few chances, Graeme Smith's 15th Test ton and an adhesive 102no from Neil McKenzie inspired the highest opening stand by a team following on.
Smith appeared to edge on 22 but there was no appeal, and Tim Ambrose spilled chances at the wicket on 26 and 107.
Finally, in the 78th over of the day, Smith top-edged the new ball to point.
England did not bowl badly on the penultimate day. They were perhaps slightly jaded after Saturday's exertions but the accuracy was there, they were simply blunted by a placid pitch and, above all, excellent application.
Michael Vaughan rotated all his bowlers in various combinations, experimented with unusual field settings and tried to get the ball changed but it was South Africa's day.
606: DEBATE Ambrose has got to go - it's bad enough that he's struggling with the bat, but it's criminal to miss golden chances like he's doing
Smith, never one for the purists and never one to care about that, produced exactly the sort of single-minded defiance required when resuming 333 behind at 13-0.
He had the perfect accomplice in McKenzie, who had looked set for a big score in the first innings until undone by a magical ball from Monty Panesar.
The 32-year-old right-hander, organised and pragmatic at the crease, was troubled by cramp shortly before his century, but deservedly reached three figures six overs before the close.
Those planning to attend on the final day will have been pleased that the stout South African resistance kept the contest alive, but they will no doubt be hoping for rather more in the way of entertainment.
It is to the credit of the large Sunday crowd that they patiently absorbed the impressive resistance, with none of the tiresome Mexican waves that often appear in quiet periods.
Half an hour before tea a slow handclap developed into more substantial chanting in an attempt to rouse the bowlers.
It was a day of endurance when not much went right for England
Panesar had been expected to cause more problems after his 4-74 on Saturday but strangely he did not find as much turn and spent much of the latter part of the day over the wicket, from where he was never likely to get a favourable lbw decision.
It was a situation tailor made for a heroic burst from Andrew Flintoff, and the selectors will surely have that on their minds when they select the team for the next Test after close of play on Monday.
Paul Collingwood, the man perhaps most under threat by Flintoff's imminent return, came closest to an afternoon breakthrough, McKenzie getting a leading edge just short of a diving Kevin Pietersen at short mid-wicket.
Collingwood was kept on after tea, his nagging length often proving as testing as anything else on offer at that stage.
McKenzie, in particular, did not find it easy to get him away when he pitched the ball up, and an inside edge flashed past the stumps, rather summing up the England one-day captain's recent fortunes.
The one ploy remaining was the short ball, and Stuart Broad was entrusted with that, but the soft ball, slow pitch and dominance of the batsmen soon put an end to that, hook shots played down with rolled wrists and great control.
Pietersen was denied the one wicket he no doubt craves above all others, when Ambrose could only parry Smith's edged cut that would have carried to Collingwood at slip.
Pietersen's exasperation was evident but he was at least able to have a hand in Smith's dismissal, safely pouching the mis-cued hook.
Anderson had Hashim Amla in all sorts of trouble with some hostile new ball bowling, giving England renewed hope that they can work their way through the strong South African batting line-up on the final day.