England need six wickets. South Africa need one of their specials.
Comments as required. I am on an odd sleeping pattern due to a malaise – why does it always happen when you are off work – so might not be with you for a bit.
But comment away….
UPDATE- two down early. Bed time for me.
There was no fight from SA at all in this game. Some of their selections have been shambolic from Van Zyl as opener, Bavuma and having Duminy as a barely bowling no.7. England have played well, make no mistake about it but South Africa’s selection for this game has aided them considerably.
Big thumbs up to Finn, Mo, Taylor and Compton from the ‘less established’ players, though for me Broad’s contributions from the first half of the match were noteworthy too.
What on earth has happened to SA?!
England could very easily sweep the series without big contributions from Cook, Root or Anderson!
Now will the South African selectors finally grow a bloody brain? Doubtful.
All over then for the match – and the series? and forever? Possibly, Possibly, as far as the series goes, even probably. Maybe England are on the ascendant (the importance of performances by the likes of Finn and Taylor supports that). Maybe SA are in terminal decline.
Hang on a minute though. SA have a terrible recent record in Durban:
With Smith and Kallis (and a fully fit Steyn and Boucher and others), they’ve lost here to India and SL (and not narrowly either). England, on the other hand, haven’t lost here since 1928.
CT has a very different history. SA’s record there puts it in the fortress category:
They haven’t lost to anyone but Australia there going back to 1962. There aren’t many draws either. England have lost 3 out of 4 since SA’s return and the draw was with Graham Onions at the wicket.
Do past records at grounds matter? I caught a brief snatch of Atherton saying they don’t because “you [meaning players] don’t think about them”. That’s pretty superficial analysis in my view. It’s more about the type of wicket. Durban tends to lack bounce and there’s usually some movement for seamers in the air or off the pitch plus it turns. Bounce is usually much more of a factor in CT (although not as much as on the high veldt). Maybe England have that now covered. Maybe the pitch will be different (there have been some rumours about that – we’ll see). Let’s wait another week before going off the deep end.
SA’s main weakness here has been their batting. They bowled England out twice for about 300 and that was with at least four dropped catches. I’d prefer Tahir to Piedt – and there’s Steyn’s fitness of course – but the bowlers did okay. The batting is carrying a couple of passengers – Van Zyl and Bavuma don’t look up to it. What’s happened to Theunis de Bruyn who scored a stack of runs off England Lions (admittedly on ultra-flat pitches) and whose name I haven’t seen mentioned at all? What SA most need of course is for at least one of Amla and FDP to start performing. I can’t see that either has developed a particular technical fault. Both have lost some confidence from the Indian tour but it seems to me that both have lost the tempo of Test batting from playing reams of ODIs (where both have scored lots of runs). They’ve seemed either too frantic or too static. Both – especially Amla – are too good to not come out of this but whether it’ll be in time remains to be seen.