South Africa vs England: 2nd Test Preview

Happy New Year everyone from both Dmitri and myself.

Memories of Newlands 2005 - Shaun Pollock Fielding at Fine Leg
Memories of Newlands 2005 – Shaun Pollock Fielding at Fine Leg

One of the joys of England tours to Australia and South Africa (and it could be New Zealand too if they scheduled it that way) for the spectator is how the Test matches fall, one on Boxing Day and one at New Year.  For a cricket fan, tuning in late on Christmas Day or early on Boxing Day for some Test cricket remains one of the pleasures of the game.  For those who intend to travel, the same applies, Christmas or New Year in a great destination, sunshine and some good cricket.

It is therefore unsurprising that the perennially popular destination of Cape Town has the potential to be near enough a home game for England, with thousands of Brits descending on Newlands.  Few national sporting teams are lucky enough to have the support the England cricket team receive away from home, and if perhaps they haven’t always deserved or fully appreciated it, it remains one of the highlights of the travelling fan’s calendar. (Dmitri here – when I went in 2004/5, a taxi driver taking us from the town centre to our hotel said England’s turnout that year was the most overseas sports fans he’d ever seen. Including Ireland during the Rugby World Cup. It’s a great place to watch test cricket.)

Memories of Newlands - Being Able To Walk On The Outfield (Day 4 I think)
Memories of Newlands – Being Able To Walk On The Outfield (Day 4 I think)

On this occasion, those supporters will arrive at Newlands buoyed by the comprehensive victory in Durban, and with the UK media generally predicting more of the same.  At first sight, that confidence may not be misplaced, for Dale Steyn is out of the match having twice pulled up lame in the first match, and Kyle Abbott – himself a replacement for Vernon Philander – facing a fitness test on his hamstring before seeing if he’s fit to play.  Steyn’s place looks certain to be taken by the raw 20 year old Kasigo Rabada.  He may be relatively unknown, but he took 6-16 on his ODI debut against Bangladesh last year (checks…yes, last year now) and is highly rated by the likes of Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald.  One thing he appears to possess in abundance is pace, being clocked at 94mph in that match; England haven’t always handled express pace well, particularly on bouncier, pacier wickets.

Yet despite the bowling problems, at Kingsmead the Proteas bowling stocks performed fairly well, it was the batting that let them down.  And here is where media confidence in England may end up misplaced.  For Dean Elgar was the best batsman on either side, and Hashim Amla will surely return to form at some point soon.

On Top Of The Table
On Top Of The Table

AB De Villiers is being relieved of his wicketkeeping duties, with Quinton de Kock returning to the line up.   That selection would be at the expense of either Temba Bavuma or JP Duminy, and with Rabada replacing Steyn, the selection quota is satisfied, so the expecation would be that Bavuma would be the one to make way.

Graeme Smith has been brought in as a batting consultant; a cynic might think that is more about limiting his public comments as much as anything, for it seems unlikely he will have much of an impact beyond a pep talk in one day before a Test match.

A Long Day's Play.....
A Long Day’s Play…..

England have no such problems, with their only decision concerning the fitness and match fitness of James Anderson.  The indications are positive, and Chris Woakes is the most likely to make way.  It’s a rare thing where England go 1-0 up away from home and strengthen for the second Test.

It is nearly 60 years since England last won at Newlands, and since South Africa’s re-admission only Australia – who appear to regard it as their second home, so impressive is their record – have beaten the hosts.  For England to prevail would represent one of their finer recent away performances.

(Dmitri simple question – something happened on my visit to Newlands in 2005 that has happened on just nine other occasions in the history of test cricket. And no, it’s not that we lost. What is it?)

Day one comments in here!


64 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 2nd Test Preview

  1. Arron Wright Jan 1, 2016 / 4:47 pm

    Happy New Year TLG.

    The answer to Dmitri’s question is literally the only thing I remember about that Test match in 04/05. I have checked my instinctive guess against cricinfo, so I’ll let someone else have the satisfaction of giving the answer.


  2. cricketjon Jan 1, 2016 / 4:53 pm

    It’s remarkable that the SAF bowling attack is seen as the strength in the side rather than the batting. Not that you are wrong to say that because it is true. And yet I do not see SAF now having an attack that can bowl England out twice cheaply.

    What they do seem absolutely lowing is confidence and fight. In connection with the second attribute they just seemed to give up in the third innings of the match at Durban when England were building in their lead. That is not something I am used to seeing in SAF sporting teams. Maybe that’s why Bayliss stated that England left 100 runs on the field.

    Most notably their fielding was very Un South African and even if they had the odd poor game when their side was bristling with giants, they ALWAYS fielded well. I fear for them, I really do.

    England are by no means perfect as we know but I trust the bowling attack more than I used to and It was very noticeable how Finn got more out of a slow pitch at Durban than anyone else. (Mr Saker did not get any Xmas cards from me).

    England have a poor record at Newlands and SAF a good one but that was with a good team. Atherton is right to put a telescope to the rankings by stating they are effectively a rear view mirror on history. SAF are not no 1 in the world now, no-one is really and this series could be the watershed one for the Big 3 test teams prospering at the expense of the others including SAF.

    Should be a good game and I expect SAF to show a tad more fight but don’t expect it to be enough.


    • thelegglance Jan 1, 2016 / 11:48 pm

      To be honest, in recent times it’s rarely been England’s bowlers who have been at fault. It’s almost always been the batting. Broad was outstanding even in the 5-0 Ashes hammering. So in my case it’s less about being worried about South Africa’s bowling and more about not being confident in England’s batting!


  3. cricketjon Jan 1, 2016 / 4:56 pm

    no11 top score (Harmison)?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jan 1, 2016 / 9:17 pm

        I heard him on the radio moaning about the time between the 1st and second test matches.

        Of course he is completely right in his complaint, but he asked who’s idea it was? As if he doesn’t know?

        Well Mr Cook, it was the SA board, and the ECB in conjunction the with the broadcasters. Two of which pay your wages, and have bent over backwards for the last two years to protect you.

        Perhaps not a wise move for the England captain to become “outside cricket.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 1, 2016 / 9:20 pm

          Imagine in 1999/2000. England came into the CT test having been in the field for pretty much three days!

          Liked by 1 person

      • MM Jan 2, 2016 / 2:28 pm

        That tells Woakes he’s not the best then. Cheers Cooky. Effing tart.


    • Rohan Jan 2, 2016 / 8:48 am

      Correct me if I am wrong, but this is the first time I can remember anyone in the MSM considering strike rates as an important factor/stat, certainly in relation to Finn. Yet BOC has been making the point about his excellent strike rate for years……

      Selvey couldn’t resist a dig, could he, not these words at the start of the article ‘if not fully understood’ in relation to Finn’s travails of the past 2 years. More of the ‘you don’t understand because you don’t know, but I do, but can’t/won’t really you’ mantra.

      I am really gobsmacked at the stupidity/front of the ECB and Cook. How can he sit there with a straight face and say ‘you want your best players’, having forced both KP and Compton from the team, with the ECB seemingly complicit in this.

      Is it normal in cricket for the captain to demand the dropping of players because he does not get along with them/trust them? Has this ever happened with other test captains?

      It all just stinks, Cook is not to be trusted, I don’t actually think he is the nice guy they (MSM) make hom out to be. He seems self-absorbed, self-entitled, arrogant and only in it for himself.

      Liked by 2 people

      • paulewart Jan 2, 2016 / 9:37 am

        Quite. Though I don’t think Bayliss will take any nonsense from him. As for Selvey, well the subtext of the whole piece is that everything he and most other correspondents have ever written about Finn is nonsense. We are to clear our memory banks. This is news, the other stuff doesn’t matter: it is old.


      • jomesy Jan 2, 2016 / 11:26 am

        Agree. I think it may have been Zeph who called him a “man child” and it’s stuck ever since. Like a spoiled child within the family who everyone seems to polite to comment about publicly…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ian Jan 1, 2016 / 8:42 pm

    Shiny Toy replaces Swann for this test in the TMS box.

    Looking forward to this game mainly because surely we won’t have ever had a much better chance of winning at CT.


    • Ian Jan 1, 2016 / 8:43 pm

      In recent times that should say.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 1, 2016 / 8:47 pm

      Lovejoy v Shiny Toy

      Difference between a persistent heavy downpour, and a long period of dank cold drizzle. Whatever it is, you feel worse after it.


      • Mark Jan 1, 2016 / 9:22 pm

        I have to say I like shiny new toy. I have a respect for his time as captain, and his management of players. I know he can be a bit, well….look over there, shiny new toy, but I would rather that that the smug, pretentious clap trap of Lovejoy.

        It’s a no brainier for me.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 1, 2016 / 9:32 pm

          Mark – as a batsman, Vaughan was up there with my favourites. Saw that 177 in Adelaide in the flesh. Saw the 195 at The Oval at a brilliant pace. Great to watch. Excellent captain. Very good man manager.

          And then he went and spoiled it all (nearly) by saying plenty stupid.

          I’m a notorious curmudgeon.


      • Ian Jan 1, 2016 / 9:48 pm

        I am fine with Shiny Toy apart from when he is pushing forward an ISM client.


      • paulewart Jan 2, 2016 / 8:21 am

        Harsh on Vaughan that.


      • Arron Wright Jan 2, 2016 / 8:26 am

        I’m with Mark on that one. Said it before, but the irritation factor of Vaughan and everyone else can be measured on an arithmetic scale. Lovejoy needs logarithms.

        Liked by 2 people

      • MM Jan 2, 2016 / 2:33 pm

        Shiny Toy = MV, yeah? I’m guessing this is an attention span thing. I also prefer him over Swanneee as well. Swann’s joy over the sound of his own anecdotes don’t half break the spirit.

        The lack of The Essayist helps, too. Long may that remain the way of tings, bruv.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. SimonH Jan 1, 2016 / 9:45 pm


    “There is now being conducted in the host country an exercise in navel-gazing and anxious reappraisal which seems to be de rigueur everywhere when teams suffer heavy defeats. Long gone are the days, if they ever existed, when a bunch of blokes could be simply beaten and they would pick themselves up, dust themselves down and start all over again without the accompanying angst”.

    De rigueur everywhere? Well, there was one time and place where it wasn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 12:19 am

      I notice of our top three regular journos, Selvey, Newman and Bunkers, only the latter hasn’t filed today.

      Though Newman’s article was of the “mailed in” variety.

      Selvey’s was, god bless him, at least a product of thought.


      • paulewart Jan 2, 2016 / 8:23 am

        Of revisionism, don’t you mean?


    • Mark Jan 2, 2016 / 12:09 am

      Oh boy this will play well…….

      “It’s no secret he was cast aside because Alastair Cook had an issue with him. He did not like him and felt he couldn’t trust him. I’m just pleasantly surprised he has got another chance…….”

      “He was absolutely fine in the dressing room. He is just an individual who knows what he wants and how he can get it. He will also say when he does not agree with something and unfortunately that was not tolerated in the England dressing room at the time. It was frowned upon.”

      Press pack word processors being switched on as we speak.

      Liked by 2 people

      • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 12:18 am

        I could have done a post on this article, but I’d rather his critics do it for me. It’s funny.

        This on the same day as Cook (and the ECB) say that you want your best players on the field.

        Liked by 2 people

      • paulewart Jan 2, 2016 / 8:24 am

        Wait for the outpouring of bile.


      • Arron Wright Jan 2, 2016 / 8:33 am

        You know, if personal grudges could be set aside, how much of what he writes and says makes perfect sense? It has always been stark staring obvious to me that the late Flower era (and its cosy media nexus) was a cliquey, rancid, festering mess not down to one “unmanageable individual”. It is equally obvious who benefits from distorting and misrepresenting it.

        Liked by 5 people

      • SimonH Jan 2, 2016 / 9:07 am

        In public, I’ll be surprised if there is an outpouring of bile. ‘Operation Unperson’ has been the script for a while. Kevin who? You might as well ask Walter Hammond.

        In the press box, just make sure any microphones are turned off.


      • Arron Wright Jan 2, 2016 / 9:13 am

        On this subject, there’s a nice little Twitter exchange between George Dobell and the ever-delightful Jamie Cook…


        • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 1:42 pm

          The talk less to f***wits line was pure poetry.

          BTW – Cook’s changed his Twitter address since the juvenile “I Hate 2005” drivel.


    • Rohan Jan 2, 2016 / 9:08 am

      I think there is an undertone of ‘if you can give Compton another chance, then what about me’ to that article and fair play to him. He must see a kindred spirit of sorts in Compton, they definitely share some similar traits i.e. not afraid to speak their minds.

      Lots of good points in this article. Whatever your views on KP, you cannot deny he talks a lot of sense and has an excellent knowledge and understanding of the game. I can see why the younger players responded well to him…..shame the MSM/twitterati/guardian bozos can’t be more balanced in relation to KP.

      Liked by 3 people

      • fungineer99 Jan 2, 2016 / 4:38 pm

        I know someone that used to play for Middlesex and was good friends with Nick Compton. He (Nick) said that one of the reasons he was disliked by Cook was because he became quite close to KP, partly because of their South African backgrounds, at the time when KP was beginning to be pushed out of the team in 2012 after the SA home series.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Arron Wright Jan 2, 2016 / 8:50 am

    Duminy dropped instead of Bavuma has gone down well with SA fans on Twitter.

    Guess d’Arthez will have to wait for the SA selectors to grow that brain.


    • Grenville Jan 2, 2016 / 1:04 pm

      I think that it is a fair call. Duminy averages in the low 30s. He’s never cracked test cricket. Bavuma has potential. He came in and did well (by comparison) in India. I’d happily give him a chance over JP.


    • d'Arthez Jan 2, 2016 / 4:05 pm

      The selectors are absolutely nuts. Chris Morris? Hell, I’d rather have they picked Parnell, or Ryan McLaren. Both of whom got exactly one Test after Kallis retired. Both copped injuries in the series against Australia, and were never picked again.

      As for Bavuma over Duminy? The only person, outside of the selection panel, who would have thought that is a good idea is probably Fikile Mbalula.

      Congratulations England on a series win in South Africa. You can only play and defeat what the selectorial morons put in front you.


    • hatmallet Jan 2, 2016 / 4:31 pm

      Bavuma was batting above Duminy so I think the pecking order was clear. Duminy’s bowling has hardly been used, with Elgar used instead of him, so that extra string to his bow couldn’t save him.

      Though really, neither Bavuma nor Duminy deserve to be in the team at the moment.


      • d'Arthez Jan 2, 2016 / 6:05 pm

        Duminy bats at 5 for his franchise. Bavuma bats at 5 for his franchise. Duminy plays for the stronger franchise too.

        So, probably the reason that Duminy batted below Bavuma is because the selectors think that Duminy is more experienced at batting with the tail. There is nothing in the domestic record of Bavuma (avg 38 in FC) to suggest that he is actually the better batsman than Duminy (avg 46 in FC).

        Then again, asking for a sensible decision from the South African selectors is asking the impossible, on the evidence on display in 2015 and this year thus far.


      • Grenville Jan 3, 2016 / 12:27 am

        I still disagree. Bavuma showed some guts and some skill in Dehli. Duminy has an average of 32 after 33 matches (I must admit, I thought it was higher). 33 games is a good go at test cricket. He’s not good enough. Give the new kid a go.


    • mdpayne87 Jan 2, 2016 / 6:10 pm

      It’s the transformation policy that is hindering their selection process. Sad to say but true nonetheless.


      • SimonH Jan 2, 2016 / 6:21 pm

        There’s an interesting discussion of the policy on the new Geek&Friends podcast.

        The policy dates back to 2005 and SA have been pretty successful for most of the time since then!

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 6:27 pm

          The policy was only going to be a massive issue when legends left the team and weren’t replaced. They were lucky with Pollock being replaced by Steyn, but Kallis and Smith going has left a gap.

          But the insinuation is it was Philander’s selection for the World Cup semi that tipped the pot. I’m not well up enough on it to know.

          I’m still getting over Bunkers using “yottabytes” in an article.


      • d'Arthez Jan 3, 2016 / 3:52 am

        Sorry for the slow response.

        The policy is not static. As time passes, the requirements have become steeper over time (and South Africa were lucky with Ntini). There is nothing wrong with trying to get the teams to be representative of the country. It is actually quite important, to avoid turning cricket into a niche sport.

        I am sure that Black, Coloured and Indian players face discrimination and racial prejudice. Old boys’ networks exist in South Africa too. Which must have limited opportunities for these players too, so that White players would get more opportunities to play. But that is just one aspect.

        The other aspect is that the South African government has enormous wasteful expenditure, in the education budget. To give but one damning example: Right now, the government is looking to contest a ruling by an appeals court, in the Constitutional Court, that sets the requirement that all pupils ought to be supplied with their textbooks, before learning commences.

        This after, on several occasions, textbooks have been found dumped in fields in the middle of nowhere, as the Department of Basic Education, cannot be bothered to actually check if suppliers and service providers actually do their job.

        So rest “assured”, mud schools are still there. The bucket system (not exactly the most sanitary system) is still there in some schools. Despite supposedly investing billions into school infrastructure, there is no money to even maintain sports fields where they were.

        The problem is that investment in the grassroots is limited in South Africa. Much more limited than in England. Thus, the first major hurdle that Black and Coloured (and Indian to a lesser extent) players have to overcome is economical. Your average school in South Africa will not have even the basic facilities for any sports. The wealthier the school, the more likely it is, that the pupils will get a chance to play cricket or rugby.

        Ergo, unless you get a scholarship to one of the prestigious sports schools in South Africa, your chances of even getting to play cricket as a Black or Coloured person are far more limited than if you are White. But to get one of those you also have to have displayed serious sporting talent. Which of course means, that you would have had to had the luck to be relatively well off. And we all know, which racial group are underrepresented in that category.

        A guy like Ngam is a perfect example. He seemed destined to have a good career, but he simply could not last long, before injury struck time and again. The reason? Having had a poor diet in his childhood. Poverty simply selects naturally against a career as a professional athlete. And as long as the debilitating poverty that many South Africans still suffer is not addressed, it is extremely unlikely that the strongest team that could be selected is racially representative.

        I don’t blame CSA for that. They’re not running the country.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. SimonH Jan 2, 2016 / 9:03 am

    Nasser Hussain on SA involving Graeme Smith:

    “You could argue they have brought him into the set-up to silence him. He has been very vocal in his criticism of the Test side of late, and the last thing they need is him doing the same for the next three matches. But if this is the case, it strikes me as clutching at straws. Having said that, England have done a similar thing of late by bringing former captains closer to the team. The likes of Bob Willis, Michael Atherton, Ian Botham and myself have all been involved, but with the realisation that we will still be objective in our punditry”.

    Objective like “redemption for Cook” that is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rohan Jan 2, 2016 / 9:12 am

      Hahahaha, Nasser must be tongue in cheek there! Flipping heck, Sky, devoted a whole programme to lack of objectivity called ‘Cook’s ashes redemption’ and guess what Nas, they are your paymasters and the ECBs.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sherwick Jan 2, 2016 / 11:07 am

    Another England reject, Luke Wright, blasts a century at the MCG in front of 80k spectators.


    • hatmallet Jan 2, 2016 / 4:28 pm

      Wright was a useful T20 player for us but couldn’t quite make the step up to international cricket and become more than just ‘useful’.

      And I think once injury restricted his bowling, that made it harder to squeeze him into the squad.


  9. Arron Wright Jan 2, 2016 / 11:26 am

    We shall have to wait and see if that 27, and a three-innings aggregate lower than the highest score of every other batsman in the top five, constitutes “making the difference”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Escort Jan 2, 2016 / 11:38 am

      Am sure it will be discribed as a positive 27 that set the tone for the rest of the innings😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. thelegglance Jan 2, 2016 / 11:36 am

    Note how quick the assorted commentators were to get on Compton’s back about scoring rate. This after an excellent return to Test cricket. He’s batting normally, playing for lunch and then getting going in the afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Escort Jan 2, 2016 / 11:44 am

      It’s painful having to listen to Mike Haysman at the best of times but when he’s talking rubbish like that you find yourself hitting the mute button

      Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright Jan 2, 2016 / 11:47 am

      These people don’t have a leg to stand on. The exact same innings played by Captain (Media) Darling would elicit fulsome praise. Imagine if their scores for this series were reversed… Compton would be finished and, in between the told-you-sos, we’d still be reading about how Cook beat Vaughan’s record for England Test runs in a calendar year.

      People are sulking because the England batting isn’t following the expected script.

      Liked by 3 people

      • SimonH Jan 2, 2016 / 11:52 am

        Four players chewed up and spat out by the Flower regime are doing rather well.

        None of the MSM have noticed the pattern – and none will. What would it take? Kerrigan to come in and take Jim Laker c.1956 figures?

        Liked by 4 people

      • thelegglance Jan 2, 2016 / 11:54 am

        Precisely. They are basing response on who it is, not what it is. Which is no surprise.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 1:44 pm

      Nasser Hussain. Durban. 1999.

      A knock absolutely needed, but Compton was/is Viv Richards compared to the pace that was scored at.

      Liked by 1 person

    • greyblazer Jan 2, 2016 / 3:26 pm

      I’ve noticed Greame Smith go for Compton quite quickly in all 3 innings. Is there any history there?


      • hatmallet Jan 2, 2016 / 4:24 pm

        Not sure. My first thought was that they may have played age-group cricket together in SA and that Smith was miffed about his move to England, but Compton actually played U19s cricket for England (with Bresnan and Patel).

        There’s this little ‘spat’, if you call it that, on Twitter:


      • greyblazer Jan 3, 2016 / 11:09 am

        Ooh yeah, that’s interesting. Didn’t Smith play for Somerset too?


  11. cricketjon Jan 2, 2016 / 12:43 pm

    The SAF fielding as a barometer of their talent and application remains well telegraphed.


  12. LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    Been dog sick this morning, so just got out of bed to watch some of the play. Second ball i watched saw Hales nick off. Now Compton has gone for the same “not bad score, but not big enough”. 167 for 3 is neither here nor there.


  13. ArushaTZ Jan 2, 2016 / 1:43 pm

    S.A. have bowled a lot of shite today. I think there is more in this pitch than their bowling has shown.

    Worth noting Compton’s strike rate exactly the same as Hales’.

    Liked by 1 person

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