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The day English hands stayed down

It had become an English boast, however deep the hole, one of their players would put his hand up when things were bleak.
PTI | By Tony Lawrence (Reuters), London
PUBLISHED ON JAN 06, 2005 01:42 AM IST

It has become an English boast that, whatever the situation and however deep the hole, one of their cricketers would put his hand up when things looked bleak.

On Tuesday, however, there was a conspicuous lack of volunteers heading for the front line.

The only hands to rise at regular intervals belonged to the umpires or high-fiving South Africa fielders as England's batsmen trudged back to the pavilion in quick succession.

By the close South Africa, having skittled the touring side for 163, had moved on to 184 for three in their second innings, giving them a massive lead of 462. No side has ever scored as many in the fourth innings to win a Test.

Throughout 2004, that English boast had rung true. The team won 11 out of 13 Tests and drew the other two. There were also a record eight wins in a row.

The man-of-the-match awards were sprinkled liberally around the team. If it was not Steve Harmison who was doing the damage, then it would be Matthew Hoggard or Simon Jones or even the once much-maligned Ashley Giles.

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