Archive for the ‘England in South Africa’ category

Port Elizabeth

December 3, 2009

The Cape Town game was a bad day in the office for England. Everything seemedto begoing in SA’s way and they slaughtered their way to a mammoth 350. And they weren’t going to let a repeat of 434 happen.

Coming to St.George’s park, all the talk was on Smith winning the toss and chosing to bat in such conditions but Im sure he was a little carried away by the big total they posted in the previous match. Anderson and Broad were brilliant in the opening spell, bowling as straight as possible and hitting good lengths.

I’ve always believed full lengths with the new ball will surely fetch wickets,whatever be the format and even on a relatively flat pitch. Because that is when the batsman meets the ball with least control. The uncertainty of the behaviour of the ball is maximum when it’s a little fuller than good length. Broad pitched it up, Smith missed and was caught in front of leg stump. LBW appeals in front of leg stump generally go in favour of the batsmen, especially for left handers but this was a fine decision by the umpire. Smith shuffles in huge amounts and I doubt he’ll ever change that. Amla was stifled by some tight bowling and in trying to force the pace after five dot balls, held out at mid wicket.

The Duminy-De Villiers pair is one of the most exciting to watch but not a secure pair after the loss of two quick top order wickets. Duminy got out to a false pull shot, a shot which a lot of school and club batsmen get out to and AB was a little unlucky to be caught in front of leg stump off Bresnan.

Once 4 wickets were down, good captaincy took over and Strauss brought Anderson back into the attack. Even at the international level, it would have been so easy to go back to defensive mode and give Swann the ball.

Anderson did exactly what was expected of him. He uprooted Boucher’s off stump with a ball that moved a trifle away from it’s original line. Ryan Mclaren did not have the substance to pull SA out of that mess. Alviro Petersen made yet another half century and was the only one who could hold his face high up.

This South African side has a very depleted look. Thank goodness Morne Morkel is back now but I’ve always wondered why he was dropped in the first place. Kallis is sorely missed and perhaps even Ntini’s stability with the ball. And someone like Justin Kemp at that No. 6 slot should do this side a lot of good.

119 was simply not enough for SA to defend. The only bright point of their bowling was Morne Morkel’s performance. He showed good pace and rythym and is going to pose a threat in the tests. Trott played another masterful knock to steer England home.

Beware South Africa, KP is warming up nicely for the tests.

The Centurion ODI

December 2, 2009

The schedule for this series is something I admire and something from which other boards badly need to learn from. The 5 ODIs are spread over 3 weekends and matches held only on Fridays and Sundays. Fridays host the day nighters while Sundays host the day games. Brilliant. Very unfortunately, the first game in Jo’Burg was a washout.

The quality of bowling has deteriorated drastically over the past decade. Here’s a short list of bowlers, I feel are far from international class.

Tim Bresnan

Sajid Mahmood

Pragyan Ojha

Praveen Kumar

Mitchell Jihnson

Nathan Hauritz

Johan Botha

Some have been very successful recently and I’m sure I’ll be taking some stick for some of those names. But I’m pretty sure none of these would have found a spot in national teams ten years ago.

Such an elite English county format has not been able to produce bowlers better than Mahmood and Plunkett.

Coming to the match, SA badly need to find a replacement for Amla in the one day set up. Amla is good, very good but I’m sure SA has someone better. After the quick dismissals of Smith and AB, Duminy should have played with some caution but continued with his natural flair. His casual shot resulted in a simple caught behind. I have wanted James Anderson to flourish and establish himself as international class and I’m pleased with his success. He’s a very natural bowler and keeps himself athletic and fit.

Apart from Anderson, the bowling attack consisted of Wright, Mahmood, Bresnan and Rashid. Two of them belong to my list above and the other two weren’t too successful. SA fell to the dibbly dobbly cutters and medium pace from Trott and Collingwood. They gave an impression of a very sluggish wicket. And the same pair demolished SA’s bowlers and won the match for England with their bats. They had to start watchfully and they did that. SA did not have good enough slow bowlers. Both Colly and Trott enjoyed the ball coming on nicely to the bat. It was a stroke filled partnership and Colly ended up with plenty of reasons to celebrate for.

Most capped English ODI player

2nd highest in the list of ODI run getters for England

An extremely effective bowling spell

A match winning century

Its amazing to observe the kind of maturity batsmen display immediately on arrival to the international scene. Trott’s going to be a huge asset to this English team. Duminy is another who gives us the impression that he’s here to stay for a long time. Marcus North, Umer Akmal and Grant Elliot among others are the ones to watch out for in the coming decade. Alviro Petersen was the only batsman to put up a steady innings. SA had a chance when Strauss and KP fell quickly but they couldn’t make further breakthroughs. This was a match to remember for Collingwood and Trott.