Success and failure are part of life and sports. But Success tends to make us a reluctant students and failure is a hard task master. Failure and your enemy can be the best teachers you will come across. England went into this match in robes of numero uno team in test matches, lost it all. SAf were suppose to pose a stiff challenge,but England sitting on past laurels were caught napping when SAF batsmen were forging meaty partnerships. Smith, Amla and Kallis scored century with the bat and Anderson, Broad, Swann and Bresnan scored a century with their bowling. The batsmen helped themselves to big scores in the very first inning of the tour. The ball is literally in English bowlers court and they need to bounce back.
Well within the means, day one.
The English had a bad start, losing the captain Strauss in the first over, Morkle claiming him LBW with a delivery in the very first over, that was hitting middle of middle stump, following that dismissal, the SAf just looked very subdued all day. Trott and Cooked helped themselves on a slowish, docile pitch. SAf bowlers meanwhile had a tough day, were operating pretty much on half accelerator and second gear. English batsman through the first and second session kept scoring by mean of a good solid partnership, between Cook and Trott. They kept scoring the round against SAf bowlers who were not even half throttle.
Storm in the tea cup.
In the first two sessions SAf bowlers managed just a single wicket, after tea, Trott nicked a wide delivery and went caught behind. Pietersen fresh from retire, re-retirement from limited overs and IPL walked in, scored a few boundaries good looked for more. But there is no batsman playing International cricket who flatter to deceive like Pietersen. He came, he scored, he edged and he was gone. He scored a 40, got out. The English woes started when he went out. His dismissal was that point on the cliff when the descend started and ended with England capitulating with an inninsg to spare. After that no partnership lasted more than 10 overs or so for probably the whole match.
Day two exact opposite of day one, un-redux.
It seemed Steyn was just warming up. He kept the run flow in check on day one, build up to day two. We all know SAf didn't have all the practice they thought that was required. After summing and sizing the conditions on day one,SAf bowlers were back and back in style. Dale on top on his mark and peering down English batsman on the other end of the pitch. The bowler with one of the best strike rate in Test Match history was beginning to ask question without the batsmen having a sniff of a hint, The English batsmen came and went with their bats tugged into their arms and tail in between their legs. They were cruising at 271 for 3 and were reduced to 313 for 7. Cook, Bell, Bopara, Bresnan found themselves on bull eye of a raging Dale “Steyn Gunn” . The English lost their last Seven wickets for 114 runs. An interesting and a very long tale with no twists was about to unfold. England found themselves 385 all out.
1/1 bring on Hashim Amla.
Alviro Petersen got out for a duck. SAf were in a spot of bother Amla is a man of few words. It does not reflect his repertoire of strokes. Broad and Swann had worked him out when SAf hosted England in South Africa few years back. Both were at sea against Amla as he started rebuilding, hoisting his sails and steering the SAf ship away from England's grasp. Smith meanwhile seemed looking to get into an exclusive club of batsman who have scored century in their 100th test. He ground himself on the pitch and then pulverized the attack. When the big bliff Smith scores, he bludgeons bowling attack and makes a very big score. Smith and Amla cautiously stitched a very meaningful and vital 200 runs second wicket partnership. The English bowlers looked more helpless with each passing over. The second and third day being the easiest to bat on a traditional test match pitch. SAf batsmen are traditionally know how to trade caution and aggression, flair and grit. Smith was being outscored for a while by Amla. But story changed once he breezed past his fifty.
Amla being very choosy of what to play and how, every on middle and leg was played straight down, taking LBW out of equation. Every Indian batsmen wanting to score runs should get the CD of Amla innings and should force to see every ball he played. He for better part of the innings chose to stay in the middle there by scoring runs. He did this by playing percentage shots, his strengths, dab behind third man and cover, flicks to midwicket square leg if the ball pitched outside the line of leg stump. Amla scored a hundred and another hundred and another hundred in the same innings. A triple hundred in a test match is tough to get, getting against the Number One team in their own backyard is something worthy of respect.
Jacques Kallis the greatest unacknowledged.
Jacques Kallis is a Colossus. He has taken wickets scored century taken catches. He is a perfect team man. He came into this series with an average of 29 at the start of the tour. Flintoff was all over him last time around. He looks more eager now. Boucher injury has given him an extra reason, if ever he required one. He and Amla made sure England bowlers keep bowling, two days on the field is never fun. It means that team that behind the contest will never catch up and will have to play beyond their measure to get out of the jail. Kallis exactly ensured that. Amla, Smith and Kallis helped each other and SAf boasted a score of 637 for 2. The jury is out whether Smith called them in too early, it is perhaps the right call considering SAf won the test.
Not quiet England, the team.
English bowlers presented a very tired and lack luster body language. Yes there was nothing in that favour, Strauss is most into the box kind off campaign. I can ever see him instigating or engineering a turn around. His batsman score his bowlers take wickets. Pakistan humbled them in Dubai earlier this year. They were all at sea. Philander claimed Cook early, if there was anyone who could have batted for a draw it was Cook. Steyn, Morkel and Tahir broke the back of the batting line up. Steyn with the second new ball cleaned up the tail, Tahir collected three and Steyn five and SAf completed one of the most astounding victories we have witnessed. They won by an inning and 12 runs, losing only two wickets in the match. A superb effort.
England should bounce back probably on more responsive bouncier pitch.