Onions makes South Africa weep again as England draw

ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss last night slammed South Africa’s “malicious” actions in the ball-tampering row after his side battled to a hard-earned draw in the third Test in Cape Town.

Tail-ender Graham Onions saw off a fierce Proteas bowling onslaught for the second time in the series to help the tourists protect their 1-0 lead going into the final Test in Johannesburg next week.

But it was the simmering tampering row which dominated the post-match reaction after the hosts confirmed they had “raised concerns” to the match referee after Stuart Broad was caught trapping the ball with his studded boot on day two. The South Africans opted not to make a formal complaint, yet Strauss still expressed his anger, insisting they were wrong to go public with their concerns.

“I do think to a certain extent that the South Africans announcing it to the media – without being totally clear in their minds what they were going to do, whether they were going to put in a formal complaint – is a little bit malicious,” he said.

“Ball-tampering is a very sensitive subject and if you’re going to make allegations, you’ve got to be very clear or confident that is exactly what the other team were doing.

“I’m very comfortable with our actions. It’s always a bit of a shame when these things rear their head, and we’ll be making sure that something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Strauss was full of praise for his batsmen for surviving some hostile South African bowling to cling on for a draw on the final day. Ian Bell (78) and Paul Collingwood (40) looked like steering England home after battling through a session and a half before four wickets in the space of 64 balls set up a dramatic finale.

But after Graeme Swann had seen off six balls from the dangerous Dale Steyn, No11 Onions heroically survived Morne Morkel’s final over to match his efforts in the first Test in Centurion and lead England to safety.

Strauss added: “It wasn’t fun the first time [at Centurion] and the second was a lot worse. We started today outsiders to get the draw and we knew it would take something special. Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell played two exceptional innings.

“Graham Onions – he’s a legend isn’t he? We keep asking our No11 to do the job for us and he’s done it twice for us.”