Morkel, Steyn hurt England
Englandís fourth wicket fell at 56, just as South Africaís had on the first day, but two identical scores had a different feel: South Africa had the sense merely of a troubled Test first morning; Englandís smacked of a side labouring to turn the tide of a series that South Africa have dominated.
There was no further deterioration as Ian Bell, trying to set himself for the long haul, and Jonny Bairstow, who initially was more concerned with setting himself for the next short one after a shaky Test baptism against the West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach, rebuilt until the interval. Bairstow, who this time had donned a chest guard, met all thrown at him with reasonable equilibrium.
The skies turned a supportive shade of blue as England began to bat at Lordís with Andrew Strauss in his 100th Test. More than eight years ago, he made a century on debut on his home ground. With the Test series against South Africa in the balance, a capacity crowd hummed with respectable debate about whether he could possibly make another one.
But by tea, Straussí day was also turning blue. South Africa were defending only a moderate first-innings total, but Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Alastair Cook and James Taylor were all dispensed with by the 24th over.
South Africa pair up Dale Steyn against Trott as soon as possible and Steyn straightened one a fraction to have him lbw, an excellent use of DRS by Smith. Cookís footwork had been stilted and he had only 7 from 40 balls when his disorientation was summed up by his chasing of a wide one from Steyn to offer a catch to Jacques Kallis at second slip. Taylor, after two boundaries in an over against Steyn, a nervous edge followed by one of his specialities, a back-foot boundary through point, edged Morne Morkel to first slip.
As for Strauss, once again it was his old terroriser, his old adversary, Morkel, who did for him. In the last over before lunch, he brought one back down the slope to demolish Straussí stumps and, in the process, destroying any assumptions in north London that in the wake of the Queenís Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, history could be so pre-ordained.
In one delivery, Morkel had reminded us that Test cricket was a hard school where statistics had to be earned. Morkel has been Straussí perpetual nightmare. He began his innings with 112 runs against Morkel at an average of 17. As he walked to the pavilion, he was in no mood to update the statistics; the media will do that for him.
Smith allowed himself a stern smile of satisfaction. South Africaís captain had again preferred Morkel for the new ball ahead of Steyn and even though Morkel was initially inconsistent, he tightened up as the short pre-lunch session, 10.4 overs in all, developed. Strauss played and missed and was struck in the ribs, his unease again evident.
Earlier, Vernon Philander took his best Test score to 61 before he was last out, stumped trying to advance to Englandís offspinner Graeme Swann, as South Africa were dismissed for 309.
The total represented a fine recovery after they had lost half their side for 105 on the opening day. At 262 for 7 overnight they added another 47 runs in 13.4 overs. Philander, 46 not out at the end of the first day, reached his half-century by pulling Stuart Broad through square leg. Broadís pace, again noticeably down in his 50th Test, was causing growing conjecture about his state of health only a month before he is due to lead England in World Twenty20.
The first day had concluded with Steyn struck on the body by Steven Finn and successfully protesting that with two Lordís floodlights inoperative it was too murky to continue. The second morning began with Steyn peppered by James Anderson and flinging a glove up to protect his face.
Steyn became the eighth batsman to fall, pouched by Swann at second slip as he edged a drive at Broad and when Morkel also began to provide useful late-order runs, South Africaís resilience was again beginning to put Englandís four-strong attack under pressure. Finnís introduction, his rhythm still far from satisfactory, offered further licence, but he picked up his fourth wicket with a wide ball delivered from around the wicket and Morkelís edge was expertly intercepted in front of first slip by Matt Prior. Finn finished with 4 for 75.óAFP