It was a typical test match, As typical as saying it would be a draw seeing the second ball of the first over of the test match, when Boucher collected a Steyn “Gun” delivery down the leg side just near his ankles. I knew that at least one of the team would bat for a long long time. The surprise was England was the first team to do so.
What I see is what you get!!
I would to be an unbiased and an unabashed cricket follower. I think I try to be one. Of course I would be hooting for one team or a player but I am always in for a contest. Test matches actually are perhaps the most balanced form of the crickets. The bowler and batsmen both can influence the game. I think it may not be wrong saying that bowlers can win you test matches because to win a test you need twenty wickets.
I think here is the critical difference between India and Pakistan till almost three years back. We “traditionally” have had strong batting line up and ordinary bowling line up until a Kapil Dev inspired a generation of fast bowlers. I can say we have now we have decent bowling attack and victories in test matches abroad are an ample testament.
Mean while the Pakis have produced and kept on producing Sultans of Swing. Imran, Sarfaraz, Mudassar, Wasim, Waqar, Aquib, Shoaib, Gul, Razzaq. Yes Pakis produced some good batsmen too, Hanif, Javed, Zaheer, Inzi, Yousuf but its fair to say that they always had a better bowling attack.
The point I am trying to make is that a team with good consistent bowling attack and half decent batting line up is more likely to win a test match as compared to a team with excellent batting line up and half decent bowling attack. India being the prime example. The other being Aussies and SAfs, both team good look head to head on paper. But since the Aussies have a better balance and varied attack help them stay on top.
Spinning trouble for SAfs.
The spin department has a worry for SAfs. They have still a spinner to burst through their ranks and be used as an attacking bowler The are ordinary players of spin bowling and then have not had a good spinner with them, a Symcock a Boje or a Paul Adams will never ever win a side games for their teams let alone a test match. Then there is a ghost of playing the spin bowling remember when SAfs came to India the skittle India out for 86 in one of the innings and won the test and then India invited SAfs to play on a dust bowl Green Park pitch in Kanpur and they were skittle out for nothing and India draw series 1-1. I think English are the only team which play spinners at par with SAfs. Its no trade secret that SAfs play spin were poorly.
The English predicament.
In the first test too, they were reduced to 117 for 3 from 114 for no loss. There is a tendency of English to collapse as the batsmen come and go. I find no batsmen throwing in the spanner to the opposition. If a couple of wickets fall then it makes sense to bide time and slow the pace of game to your level, a few quick singles a few twos and the sanity is bought back to the system. I know game of cricket is game of glorious uncertainties and more often then not it catches you aware on the wrong foot. But I can say this that there would be a great English collapse sooner rather than later. It is imminent.
England nearly scoring 600, the match end in a drawn.
English piled on the agony on a very very docile pitch. They made over 550 runs with the most incomplete batsmen Ian Bell making 199. Flintoff return is for sure and by making 199 he perhaps have saved his head from the chopping board. I wonder if Ian Bells almost double hundred is the proof of the docile nature of the pitch! Pietersen coming on with a century early in the series will help breather a bit easier for a bit longer. But since there have settled opening pair and a very good one down in form of their captain Vaughan it is vital that Pietersen fires. But Pietersen delivered the goods this time around with a meaty hundred as the SAfs bowlers looked tired after the pitch wearied them out and English were allowed to take charge. Stuard Broad helped himself to a test fifty against a classy attack. The bowling attack did not attack much and pitch was docile and English almost racked up 600 runs. These remain the fact of the English first innings
SAf's first innings.
It was a contrast to English innings would be the proverbial understatement. The start was ordinary no partnerships among batsmen Boucher continuing his poor form from the IPL. The full Monty show saw them peering down the barrel with sill almost more than two days more to come. They were rightly asked to follow on, I am still trying to asses why SAfs folded so easily but the point remains lack of poor partnerships and poor opening. The openers failed to deceive. Prince mean while got a fitting hundred and bought a sense of respectability to the score. But SAfs Followed On as they were more than 200 runs deficit after completion of their first innings.
The cookie seemed to crumble against a very good English batting performance and ordinary bowling performance.
A defiant second innings.
I think Indians should be looking at the review of this test match very closely. The SAf second innings was weathering a decent attack in alien conditions on a decent pitch. It was more about building innings. Neil McKenzie batted and batted. I mean facing 447 deliveries. Greaeme Smith also bludgeoned a century and so did Hasim Amla who played a Chanderpaul like innings. I will be following Amla closely. He is not all that classy but he is damn good, coz he plays “Percentage Cricket”, when in doubt leave it alone. I think SAfs have players who can enforce a draw, Amla, Prince and Rudolph. I don’t know why Rudolph is missing from the action.
The pitch never crumbled and Monty hardly could do a thing. He bowed sixty over for nothing.
SAfs stands for South Africa. :P
England: 593/8 | Bell 199; Morkel 4-121
SAfs: 247 All out| Prince 101; Monty 4-74
393 /3 | McKenzie: 138; Anderson 2-78