Smith promises further positivity
South Africa captain Graeme Smith was pleased with the way the second Test against England ended, despite his daring declaration failing to ensure a result after rain had stolen two sessions of play during the five days.
Smith declared with 40 overs to go at Headingley, setting England a target of 253 to win in the evening session on day five. This decision, coupled with Stuart Broad's five-fer earlier in the day, made sure the Test ended on an exciting note when it seemed like heading for a dull draw.
It was not to be though, and England were on 130 for four when Smith called it a day, with six overs to go and the light fading fast. England had tried to chase the runs, opening with Kevin Pietersen for the first time in Tests, but the Proteas took regular wickets and England batted the overs out.
Smith made sure to emphasise in his post-match conference that his formerly conservative skippering approach was taking a back seat, and that the third Test at Lord's would continue to show a positive, attacking Proteas side as they chase the number one Test spot.
A newly daring Smith said afterwards: "We showed with our declaration what our mindset is and I don't see it changing it Lord's at all.
"If anything, we will take a step forward. There were positives for both sides in this match and probably both teams can improve a little bit.
"From our perspective, we played positive cricket with intent. We played to win here. On a wicket that was difficult on day one, 420 was important and good from our batting line-up.
"Kevin Pietersen's knock got England back in the match and on an even keel but I think the weather took its course.
"I was hoping the wicket would do a little bit more after lunch. We wanted to be positive and scored at a good rate but probably lost one or two wickets that cost us having a real go just before tea."
He added: "We decided at tea to give ourselves five overs - no matter what, we were going to bowl and try to win the Test match.
"England started really positively, which I was hoping they would do because it would give us chances and we were probably one wicket away from having a real go with 15 overs to go."
Of England's decision to let Kevin Pietersen open the batting, Smith said: "He's a good player but England have a lot of positive players. That was the whole point of the declaration - we wanted them to have a go to give us a chance.
"I think the session when Kevin played so well took its toll on our bowlers but we know we can improve for Lord's and that's really exciting."
England skipper Andrew Strauss was pleased with the way the chase went, though he felt the loss of Matt Prior in a silly run out meant the chase was over before it got going properly.
He said of the entire match plan: "I was pretty happy with the strategy. We felt our best chance was win the toss, bowl first and make use of the wicket.
"We probably misjudged the wicket a little bit, and it didn't do as much as we would have liked. If it had done a bit more and we had taken a couple of early wickets then the strategy would have worked, but in the end South Africa played well and we probably missed Graeme (Swann) in the second half of the game."
He added: "Once Matt got out we had to close the door a little bit. It was a viable chase, but we needed a lot of things to go right for us and unfortunately not enough did.
"It was a nice way to finish the game and create a bit of interest but with the weather around it was going to be hard for both sides to force a result.
"Our bowlers were probably feeling frustrated they weren't getting their just desserts, and a few catches went down which is always disappointing, but Stuart Broad's spell showed that if the bowlers keep doing the right things we will get our rewards."
The third and final Test starts on 16 August at Lord's, where England must win if they are to retain their number one Test ranking.