Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

Even though fewer than 10 hours' play have been possible, South Africa's captain Graeme Smith is determined to secure victory in the final cricket Test and tie the series 2-2, writes Ted Corbett at Centurion Park. After two thunderous showers reduced play on Sunday to 46.2 overs, England still lagged 133 runs behind with six wickets standing. The forecast for the last two days is for mainly sunny weather but then so was the forecast for Sunday.

The odds remain on a draw but Smith and coach Ray Jennings hope they can bowl England out early on Monday and set a final innings total that will tempt Michael Vaughan's batsmen to go for victory. "We will do anything to go for a win short of playing in lightning," said Smith. "We are still positive and we are not going to give up."

England's top order batsmen followed the pattern set by the South Africans when they began their innings early on Sunday. After Marcus Trescothick had made a fluent start with 20 of the first 27 runs he was run out by his partner Andrew Strauss. "I half thought there was a run," said Strauss. "It is one of those things. You say sorry and move on."

As often happens two more wickets fell quickly. Robert Key sparred at a ball outside his leg stump to give a catch to Mark Boucher. Four balls later Vaughan played his trademark pull shot and skied the ball to mid-wicket, leaving England on 29 for three. Strauss and Graham Thorpe nudged England towards safety and, after the first storm, passed the follow-on mark of 98. But, with the second thunder- storm looming, Strauss tried an extravagant cover drive and was caught by Boucher off Andre Nel.

* Football cannot be reduced to statistics, writes Jonathan Wilson at Highbury The bare facts say that Arsenal scored one and Newcastle none on Sunday, that Newcastle had three booked and Arsenal two, but the truth is that Arsenal won by a mile, and Newcastle were fortunate not to have at least one player sent off in an ill-tempered first half.

Arsenal are unbeaten in 32 at home and have more points after 24 games of the season than in all but two previous Premiership seasons, yet Sunday's win kept them eight points behind the leaders Chelsea.

However, there were signs of a re-emergence of their fluidity. José Antonio Reyes had his best game in weeks, Mathieu Flamini was superb on his return from injury and Dennis Bergkamp was in majestic form. Bergkamp got the only goal, getting in front of Steven Taylor to reach Flamini's flick, and then mastering a difficult bounce before steering the ball past Shay Given. From then on the Newcastle keeper was unbeatable, making four exceptional saves from Henry alone, one of them with the help of a kindly upright.

Arsenal could have paid for their lack of ruthlessness nine minutes from time when Lee Bowyer broke clear, only to hit his shot straight at Manuel Almunia.

* However great England's mid- field back crisis becomes, it is unlikely that Mark Mapletoft will be asked to renew a brief international career, writes Huw Richards at Vicarage Road. But the diminutive London Irish veteran showed he could still be a match winner at club level as the Exiles beat Saracens 21-15 to reach the semi-final of the Powergen Cup. It was as a runner that Mapletoft made his impact a decade ago but he has always been a useful goalkicker and it was his boot that took the decisive role as he accounted for all the Irish points with seven penalties. Where the four he landed before half-time were reward for the Exiles domination of territory and possession, the trio kicked after the break were all from 50 metres or more. Saracens could only look on in envy as their goal-kicker Glen Jackson experienced a miserable afternoon, missing four penalties and a conversion.

They managed to lose a match in which they scored the only tries. Hooker Matt Cairns crossed just before half-time and Jackson added the conversion to cut the interval deficit to 12-10, poor reward for Irish's superiority. Sarries had the better of the second half but scored only once more - replacement flanker Kris Chesney going over in the 72nd minute.

Irish, who go into Monday night's draw with Bath, Leeds and Gloucester, will feel they have every chance of repeating their 2002 triumph and taking the backdoor route into Europe.

* Roger Federer and Andre Agassi set-up a tantalising quarter-final showdown between the current and former world number ones after they both emerged victorious at the Australian Open on Sunday. Federer kept his title defence on track with a commanding 6-2 6-2 7-6 fourth-round win over Cypriot qualifier Marcos Baghdatis. Agassi, a four-time champion in Melbourne, beat big-serving Swede Joachim Johansson 6-7 7-6 7-6 6-4. Agassi, the oldest player in the men's draw at 34, withstood a record 51 aces from Johansson.

* Ukraine's Vitali Klitschko is "happy to go" with a rematch against Lennox Lewis after the former world heavyweight champion reportedly declared himself ready for a return to the ring. Lewis is being tipped to earn £21m for a one-off fight. The pair last met in June 2003, when Lewis triumphed by technical knock-out after six rounds. However, Klitschko felt the decision to stop the fight had been harsh, because even though he had a deep cut above his left eye, he was leading on points.

* Local favourite Tim Clark won golf's South African Open in Durban for the second time in three years on Sunday with a final round 66 for a 15-under-par 273. The 29-year-old South African finished six shots ahead of compatriot Charl Schwartzel and France's Gregory Havret.

* Macs Joy (11-8) just got the better of Brave Inca (7-2) and Hardy Eustace (7-1) in an epic finish on Sunday to horseracing's AIG Europe Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Get alerts on News when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article