| Shaun Pollock celebrates the wicket of England captain Nasser Hussain on the fourth day in Birmingham on Sunday. (Reuters)
Birmingham: Michael Vaughan scored a near-flawless unbeaten century as England battled to stay alive in the first Test against South Africa on Sunday.
England were 374 for seven in reply to South Africa’s first innings 594 for five declared, a deficit of 220, at stumps on the fourth day. Ashley Giles was batting on nine after Andrew Flintoff (40) was out to the last ball of the day with England needing another 21 runs to avoid the follow-on.
The right-hander unfurled one textbook drive after another at Edgbaston to reach his ninth Test hundred, his eighth in 15 games, as England, chasing South Africa’s first innings score of 594 for five, reached 245 for four at tea on the fourth day.
Vaughan was 131 not out and Alec Stewart on nine, with England requiring another 150 to avoid follow-on.
Vaughan added 89 for the fourth wicket with Anthony McGrath to stabilise the innings after two wickets fell for one run. The England ODI captain with ambitions to succeed Nasser Hussain in the Test arena is not an easy man to fluster.
On Saturday evening at the start of his innings he was dropped at slip off a no ball. On Sunday, he soon edged again off Makhaya Ntini but the ball dropped short of second slip.
The pitch had resembled a docile featherbed during South Africa’s rain-blighted innings, particularly when Graeme Smith was carting the ball to all parts during his 277. But Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick endured a torrid opening session.
The South African quicks extracted far more life from the track than England had and Vaughan became so studious in defence at one stage that he failed to score for 40 deliveries spanning more than an hour.
Trescothick made 31 out of an opening stand of 66 before getting in a tangle and being castled by Ntini.
Vaughan picked up the rate just before lunch, hitting left-arm spinner Robin Peterson’s first over for 14, including three boundaries. Immediately after the break, he pulled Ntini for four off his first ball and then repeated the shot for six just forward of square as 13 came off the over.