Cricket: Review SAf vs England

Success has many fathers, failure is always an orphan. In last few seasons,teams have climbed on the top, stayed there for few seasons and saw themselves on the wrong side of slope. Its all the more reason, to look back at the great Australian, team and their performances 1995 to 2005-2007. It was a complete team. Two fine openers, and gritty middle order batsmen, a most fearsome, batsman/glove man ever to play the game. A wizard tweaker and a metronome fast bowler along with very capable pace battery. Their fielding was top notch, their motivation, ability and fitness were source of intimidation. They prevailed in all conditions home and abroad. It was as if they would walk into a contest as the lone competitors and walk away with series win against all opposition under all circumstances. No team cricket team in modern times held such a swagger.

Now follows the review of the series between SAf and England.

England looked lack lustre. We all know that problems don't come in drip of water from a leaking tap, instead they come as a flash floods. England players looked out of boil. The bowlers hardly showed any inspiration, their batsmen shone in bits,not many partnerships worth the note. Then there was The Pietersen issue. He shoots from the hip and invariable his aim is his own toes or fingers tips. I mean it is not the sole reason for a very feeble show put up by English. We expected a contest when the best two teams on top of the table met,it ended in a whimper, after reading the scoreline of 2-0 looks more like a no contest..

When problems do come, so much ambiguity and collusion and distortion of thoughts take root in the thought process that mind goes numb and rigid and dense. Strauss may confess to this very fact. It need some inspiring selection and imagination, both for much missing. Strauss is not the most expressive and imaginative captain to play test matches. He is likely to search for his handkerchief when its time to pull the rabbit out of the hat. His own form too didn't inspire much. He just scored 107 runs,at times Morkel was on top of his mark and Strauss was marking his exit standing on top of the batting crease. Cook and Trott looked clueless. Bell the most incomplete batsman across an age. Only Rohit Shama on current form will give him a run for his money. Pietersen meticulously keeps shooting his own foot. He took four wickets and scored a hundred only to be inevitably be dropped. He went too far one way, took a u-turn came back a long way and reached a point where he thought he had travelled a long road and still found himself just behind the start mark. Surely there would have been a subtle and smarter way to resolve issue. English players can't even blame IPL for their misery, so at least for England IPL cannot be a valid excuse.

This also brings down the excellent setup and the coaching staff which we thought we were brilliant a season. There is more to it than support staff that win you matches. England have taken a step back to the lost 90s when they lacked imagination. The provisional success of England especially against teams of the sub continent and WI was based on green pitches and in form pace attack. SAf had a better pace attack purely on the form of fitness and ability which almost negated the advantage to zilch A team may have a bowler and batsman out of form and still the team may do well. But if a newbie in Baristow and talismanic batman Pietersen lead your batting and bowling averages respectively, its time to rush to buy a new drawing board. The seeds of English capitulation were sown in series in UAE against Pakistan. England never recovered.

South African charge, inspired by Mark Boucher.

Not everything went in favour of SAf from the word go. A freakish career ending injury was hardly an auspicious start to the tour. England in England one would have thought at the start would fight fire with fire but wasn't to be. Boucher has been such an inspiration who everyone holds in high esteem. Everyone in SAf squad would swear by grit and determination of Boucher. It was grit and determination that saw SAf come up triumphs. His injury provided SAf with an extra zip if ever they needed one. SAf have always been tough mean competitors. They have always been good fighters and disciplined in approach. At times one would scoff when they would choke. Gary Kirsten seemed to have replaced this choke with an extra spark plug. His success with Indian team and now with South African team is surely no coincidence. Steyn, Morkel, Philander with the wickets, Amla, Smith, Kallis with the runs, Duminy and Rudolph with meaningful contribution lead an all round and complete assault which saw England being bought down the ladder.

Ama kept batting, England bowlers would have seen enough of him but couldn't have a clue as to whats operating within Amla. He kept one end up, scoring runs, and the entire SAf team batted around him.

At the last session on the series, at one point there were four possibilities, a win either ways, draw and a tie. Baristow, Prior and Swann kept the SA in check, if only for a more meaningful partnership, this test match could have been one of the best comeback in the game by England. It wasn't to be. Also, Tahir operating round the wicket, didn't help matters. Tahir is not threatening enough or imaginative enough to use outside the leg stump line to good effect. Murali and Warne could don't think many bowlers can tie batsman down, claim wickets and make run getting difficult. Smith used him far too long from round the wicket. Prior was amused to say the least.

Two wickets in two balls sealed it for South Africa in the end. Philander with another five-for

I don't know who prepares cricket schedules or who they are settled. But surely whoever is in-charge of setting up schedules has no clue of the pulse of test cricket fans. I mean when top teams are playing is three test matches good enough? Isn't it a shame? Surely a lousy series against Aussies could have been done away with a couple of ODI from SAf should have done away with for a full five test match series. It is such a whimper. It is something that takes the interest away. I mean ODI are struggling for survival. If top teams are playing, it will give your more revenue if you play longer test series and shorter ODI series. T20 will get you the money anyways.

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