South Africa vs England: 2nd Test, day one

One of the delights about Test cricket is how often the final hour of play proves pivotal, and makes the previous five hours seem pedestrian and unimportant in comparison.  It isn’t really like that of course, but day one is a set up day to begin with, and that final hour so often determines which side is the happier, almost irrespective of how things have gone up to that point.

For at drinks in the evening session, England were 224-5, not in trouble as such, but in severe danger of thoroughly wasting the opportunity of batting first.  Stokes and Bairstow’s thrilling counter-attack, particularly against the new ball, means that England will be reasonably content with their day’s work, though much more will be needed from them in the morning to turn it into a position of strength.

The day had largely been one of England players getting in and getting out.  Only Taylor was dismissed early; Cook was loose once again outside off stump, Hales caught in the slips again off a pretty decent ball, Compton nailed a pull straight to midwicket and Root played a rotten waft outside off stump.  If that seems overly harsh, individually it probably is.  Hales made his first Test fifty and batted extremely well, Root looked a million dollars and it was a surprise when he got out, and Compton played the number three role well again.  Yet for at least three of the top order to perish needlessly risked throwing away what could and should have been a position of dominance.  Sometimes these things just happen in the game of cricket, but it looked somewhat careless; the players will know that better than anyone – certainly Root looked about to explode as he left the field.

Compton himself has 179 runs in three innings since his recall, which ought to satisfy anyone.  Not withstanding his failure to go on from a start today, he is doing well.  Yet the pundits and commentators seem awfully quick to get on his back about his scoring rate. At lunch he was 3* off 27 balls, and it was a topic of conversation.  It is hardly unusual for a batsman to start that way, especially so in the run up to a break, and nor is it putting pressure on his batting partner at such a stage.  Given his struggles in the Test before he was dropped perhaps that is a legitimate topic of conversation, but the same thing kept cropping up throughout his innings, which was ultimately at the same strike rate as that well known blocker Alex Hales.    Nor is this a one off, given how Graeme Swann criticised Compton for slow play in the first Test, where Compton’s first innings knock was not only exactly what England needed, it went a fair way towards England winning the match.

Let’s be clear about this – Compton played a perfectly normal innings for a number three.  If it’s going to referred to as “staccato” then do so for other players, not just him – there is an undercurrent of being desperate to criticise for the sake of it.

But the day belonged to Bairstow and Stokes.  Their unbroken partnership of 94 came off just 19.1 overs, but it was the new ball that they were particularly severe on, particularly Stokes.  At one stage they were scoring at 9 an over, as Amla scattered the field.  There’s something to really like about this England team, and it’s the way the younger players respond to adversity by looking to attack.  It isn’t always going to come off, and an understanding of what they’re trying to do is needed.  That means not slating a batsman who is caught on the boundary for example.  It’s high risk but a calculated risk and when it comes off it is both thrilling for the spectator and can completely change the direction of the match.  We cannot have it both ways here: we can’t praise players for taking the game by the scruff of the neck and then complain when they get out.  Stokes could have been caught in the slips on at least two occasions when the new ball was taken, and mistimed a couple of pulls as well.  Yet it doesn’t, or shouldn’t matter – it is a calculated assault that on this occasion worked.

Bairstow played largely the supporting role, but scored not much less quickly.  He’s been good this series with the bat, and looks a much more solid player defensively, which bodes well for the longer term.

The big plus for South Africa was the bowling of Kagiso Rabada.  He’s clearly raw, but has pace, and the priceless quality of hurrying the batsmen even when the speed gun doesn’t necessarily support that.  Joe Root was very late indeed on one attempted pull, and lucky to survive.  For such a young bowler his control was decent as well, certainly better than Chris Morris, who Stokes in particular took a considerable liking to.  Given the injury crisis afflicting South Africa’s frontline bowlers – and there were suspicions Morkel wasn’t entirely fit by the end of the day – this is a welcome sign of promise.

One other item of business from today: even with the extra half hour, only 87 overs were bowled.  This is entirely unacceptable, there were 23 overs of spin in the day, and failing to complete the scheduled allotment is inexcusable.  The ICC have shown no kind of inclination to clamp down on what is tantamount to stealing from the paying spectator.  Fines clearly don’t work, so there is a need to find what does.  Run penalties are sometimes mooted, but there is an understandable reluctance to allow over-rates to impact on the game itself.  Yet if there was a ten run penalty for each unbowled over, does anyone really think that South Africa would have failed to get 90 in?  They would have made sure of it.  Three overs may not seem worth becoming exercised over, but this happens sufficiently often for 85 overs in a day to be considered reasonable.

Enough is enough.  The players are showing disrespect to those who pay to watch them.

317-5 is anything but a decisive score; early wickets will leave England some way below what looks like a par score on this surface.  But the ball turned for Piedt, suggesting that by days four and five spin could be a weapon, especially since Moeen gives the ball rather more of a rip than his counterpart.  In order for that to matter, England will need 400+ to put pressure on the misfiring Proteas batting order.

On balance, England will be the happier team this evening, but that is based more on the way the last hour unfolded than the score itself.  Tomorrow is another day and while the first session will not dictate how the Test will unfold, if England win it then they should be in good shape to put South Africa under pressure.  For all the plaudits Stokes will rightfully receive, this game is quite finely balanced.

Elsewhere, tonight is the start of the Australia – West Indies annihilation at the SCG.  This is nothing but depressing, not because of Australian dominance, but the desperate fall of West Indies cricket.  No fan of the game can feel anything but sadness, anger and despair about it.

Day two discussion below.

 

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115 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 2nd Test, day one

  1. marees Jan 2, 2016 / 5:59 pm

    seems to me England have got their balance perfectly right.

    with Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen & Broad down the order it makes perfect sense for Compton to play his natural game. In another line-up where there are only 5-6 proper batsmen the criticism against him might have some merit, but for now I think the critics of Compton should give it a rest for a bit.

    Stokes has a naturally attacking game, he throws himself into the ball and plays the shot as close to the body as possible like a natural test batsman as opposed to swinging away from the body like a T20/baseball player. I would continue to bat Stokes up the order, so that he is free to play his natural game safe in the knowledge that there is a “proper” batsman like Bairstow below him.

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  2. Ian Jan 2, 2016 / 6:33 pm

    Highest total by England at Newlands since readmission.

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  3. alecpaton Jan 2, 2016 / 7:10 pm

    Stokes is the God of Sex and Violence and we should all bow down lest he show his anger and smite us (or give us a thump, thinking we’re the lockers: one or the other).

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  4. Mark Jan 2, 2016 / 7:53 pm

    Didn’t see any of the cricket today, but I gather England got over 300 for 5 wickets. SA didn’t even manage to bowl the full 90 overs. So a pretty good days play, and a decent run rate. So why are the cretinous media moaning about Comptons strike rate again? This is getting stupid. They are making fools of themselves.

    The English cricket media has reduced itself to nothing more than a clown car. With exploding seats, and doors that fall off. They all wear big clown boots, and have silly hats, and big red noses. Morons the lot of them. Are they so stupid they can’t see with so many stroke players down the order what is needed is stability at the top to wear the bowlers down and occupy the crease. In their pathetic attempt to settle old scores they have lost sight of the basics of test match cricket. And they wonder why people laugh at them. And laugh at them we do. We point, and laugh at their pathetic obvious agenda.

    Time for the captain to come clean and he needs to be asked if he is responsible for all this leaking and sniping. Does he want Compton in the team? Or has he been over ruled? and is captain sulk letting his idiotic chums in the media inject the poison into the English patient?Pathetic.

    SA have lost their strike bowler for this match, and their other top bowler was not up to taking the new ball late in the day. If England can bat for 3 hours tomorrow they will just about finish off SA for this match and the series. But the morons in the free loading media are too busy with their old tired agenda. They just won’t let it go. Always plotting and sniping. They are the real enemy within English cricket.

    Liked by 3 people

      • Mark Jan 2, 2016 / 8:39 pm

        Iam sorry, and I want to tone it down a bit this year. But really? They have become a joke. Their agenda is so obvious.

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      • Mark Jan 2, 2016 / 9:42 pm

        Oh I know, I didn’t take it in any way as a criticism.

        Be a little less ranting in 2016 Mark. New years resolution up in smoke straight away.

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      • Mark Jan 2, 2016 / 9:03 pm

        With his white jacket on and a flower which spurts water when you Smell it.

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      • thelegglance Jan 2, 2016 / 9:15 pm

        I wonder what memory the onboard car computer has….

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      • Mark Jan 2, 2016 / 9:25 pm

        They don’t drive the clown car into the big top circus arena. They just drive it onto the set of CWOTV. and then all the clowns scramble out and start their act.

        ROLL UP, ROLL UP FOR THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR.

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      • Pontiac Jan 3, 2016 / 4:59 am

        Ed Smith on a Segway, or better, one of those hoverboard things.

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    • Tuffers86 Jan 2, 2016 / 8:11 pm

      It’s early days, and only three innings, but I wonder if Cook’s sulking will affect his form. It’s been a while since we saw his outside off stump wafting. Perhaps it’s one to keep an eye on. And a conclusion the press pack will jump on if St Alistair continues to struggle a touch and the way they keep on hammering Compton for no apparent reason.

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      • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 8:36 pm

        Cook isn’t sulking, is he? Do we think that?

        A real tin foil hat merchant could say “Look, Cook will play with Compton and he can’t abide him. Just how much of a prick had KP to be to not even have a sniff of forgiveness?”

        I don’t think it was Cook, though. Not what I’ve heard on the grapevine. No proof, only whispers.

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    • jomesy Jan 2, 2016 / 8:36 pm

      Mark – did you see Fungineer’s post earlier today? Quite insightful and copied below:

      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.

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      • Mark Jan 2, 2016 / 9:00 pm

        Yea I read that. Interesting.

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    • jomesy Jan 2, 2016 / 8:53 pm

      Pls don’t turn down a single notch Mark!

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    • paulewart Jan 3, 2016 / 8:50 am

      Don’t forget the trombones, Mark.

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  5. Escort Jan 2, 2016 / 8:12 pm

    Jonathan Trott isn’t really cut out to be a guest on the verdict is he? Any criticism of a player is met with a head in the hands moment with almost disbelief that Bob Willis could say such a thing. Charles Coleville does quite a good job for Sky, perhaps it’s because he is firstly a journalist, I can remember an episode of cricket writers that he presented when Paul was unavailable that was by far more entertaining than anything Allott had done because he would ask the questions that Allott wouldn’t.

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    • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      Most of those close to their playing days around the England camp, who appear on these sort of shows, are very careful in what they say. Any words against the hierarchy are greeted with horror, as if those being sorted out are being personally betrayed. Even journos who print critical articles are subjected to the comments from the players. I’m not surprised there is a reluctance to criticise. As an example, I was driving home from the shops a couple of weeks ago and the interview Aggers had with Cook after the Ashes was on. In it Cook picked on a specific comment that Mark Butcher had made about “watching the Ashes from behind the sofa” (he did not mention Butcher by name, but the Beeb helpfully played the quote).

      Trust, as has been put forward by the likes of Strauss, and “good environment” looks a hell of a lot like an “omerta” to me.

      I think The Verdict is a flabby programme, used as a vehicle for Bob Willis’s sometimes amusing “say it how it is” schtick. Colvile MC’s it well, and yes can and does ask the tough questions (his interview of Downton post World Cup is superb), but he lapses too much into hyperbole and greatest ever drivel to be taken seriously. Because, as we can, I think, all see, the main relationship anyone cares about is the Sky/ECB one. It hasn’t exactly tackled the top brass, and the sense with Downton was that the ECB were quite pleased post World Cup to let the muppet hang himself on his own incompetence. He’d done his main job.

      The Verdict works well at the end of very bad days, to a lesser extent to the very good days, and is massively too long for humdrum test matches. Player interviews should be declined until someone says something interesting. I think it funny we get as much chat about a day’s play we miss than we do the actual cricket itself. It’s mad.

      As for the CWOTV, absolutely. Allott is a joke on there. Treats Selvey in particular with the sort of reverence a head boy has for the Headmaster. Colvile makes them work for their breakfast.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jan 2, 2016 / 9:20 pm

        I thought that comment about what Mark Butcher had said was very, very revealing. It showed how precious this England set up is. Remember when he got in a strop about what Lovejoy said about the ODI team? Something about a former friend.

        I thought the last test match verdict was quite interesting when Broad had bowled well and they were talking about how he is better when he is not trying to be the enforcer. Charles Coleville asked Trott if he had ever thought about asking Broad to pitch it up and stop being the enforcer. Trotts answer was priceless. Paraphrasing something like ” oh no, we would never tell the bowlers how to bowl. They liked to be spoken to In a certain way.” I BET THEY DO! Didn’t captain strop get all huffy when Aggers had KP in the same commentary box with him last year? He seems very touchy.

        Some people really don’t want Compton back in this England team. I don’t know if the captain wants him or not. Maybe it’s the usual media clique. Compton is not KP, or even Bradman. So he will need to get scores or he will be shown the door. When he does score runs they talk about his run rate. They will always find fault. There is a double standard in team ECB.

        Liked by 3 people

      • thelegglance Jan 3, 2016 / 1:10 am

        Colville is severely underrated. His particular skill is one of the hardest in media circles – the ability to shut up and let others talk. I watched him, Dominic Cork and Mark Butcher cover a Test in New Zealand where rain ruined the first three days and he just let them talk, with the odd question. It was astounding watching. To the point you were hoping it was raining so you could listen to them. And bear in mind this was Dominic Cork!

        He gets a hard time. He’s actually good, but his style is to let guests hang themselves. Sometimes that’s extremely effective. God knows he’s in a different galaxy to Tim Abraham.

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    • Ian Jan 2, 2016 / 9:00 pm

      I was just wondering that as it was on the bit where they were talking about the captaincy of Amla. Butcher said it appears at moment that Amla isn’t a very good captain then when Trott said he felt that Amla’s hand s are tied, Colville followed up with why is that? To which Trott looked as if he wasn’t meant to say that and tried to wiggle out of it.

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  6. jomesy Jan 2, 2016 / 8:58 pm

    LCL – I missed that verdict with Downton and guess you have it stored but do you know if it’s available anywhere? I’ve struggled to find… Thanks

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    • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 9:22 pm

      Try this:

      Up 10 minutes and 6 people have played it already. He’s popular!

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      • Mark Jan 2, 2016 / 9:49 pm

        Ground control to Major Tom. Take your protein pills, and put your helmet on.

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      • jomesy Jan 2, 2016 / 9:57 pm

        Thanks. Sounds odd but in some (tiny, tiny) way I miss him as he lays bare all that is wrong at the ECB.

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      • SimonH Jan 2, 2016 / 10:26 pm

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  7. Ian Jan 2, 2016 / 9:48 pm

    Sad news that Matt Hobden a young bowler with Sussex has passed away.

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    • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2016 / 9:52 pm

      I saw that. All over Twitter.

      22. Absolutely no age. Terrible news.

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    • Tuffers86 Jan 2, 2016 / 10:05 pm

      I’m a little saddened by that. I saw him take three wickets in his first four balls during the first over of a T20 match here in Dubai in the county/mcc preseason get together. I think they were playing Yorkshire, so the batsman were no slouches.

      We were drinking beers at what would be fine leg after he completed his over and said “I don’t think I will bowl an over like that all season.”

      Always kept an eye on him after that.

      RIP Matt Hobden.

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      • Tuffers86 Jan 2, 2016 / 10:09 pm

        And when I say ‘a little saddened’ I am saddened. Wish I could edit posts sometimes 😦

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      • Ian Jan 2, 2016 / 10:10 pm

        I saw him play at the Ageas first game of last season and thought he looked decent. Just looked up his figures for the game and he definitely bowled better than they suggest.

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    • MM Jan 2, 2016 / 11:57 pm

      Rest in peace, young man. Condolences to his family and friends.

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    • thelegglance Jan 3, 2016 / 1:15 am

      I’ve a feeling I played against him. Things are shit sometimes.

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  8. Pontiac Jan 3, 2016 / 4:54 am

    West indies at least have started well. I like Kraigg Brathwaite nearly as much as I like Nathan Lyon, so to see a session and a half of both of these players really playing at their best was great.

    I consider this a good start because I wasn’t expecting more than two of the top four to score any runs at all, and I think Australia’s bowling has been as good as I have ever seen from them recently. Lyon and Pattinson had a really intense bowling partnership at one point, something like six maidens or maiden-but-for-edged-boundary in a row.

    By the way, Marlon Samuels is Done. He’s been Done ever since he got an orbital fracture from a Malinga bouncer 18 months or so ago. Kemar Roach, too, is Done although he might still come back after a year or two.

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  9. paulewart Jan 3, 2016 / 9:05 am

    Selvey’s report was beyond parody. He detailed how all the batsmen got themselves out except Cook. Didn’t mention his shot at all!
    Let’s hope the grumps btl get of Stokes and Compton’s backs after yesterday. Both showed what they’re all about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hatmallet Jan 3, 2016 / 10:11 am

      The reports for the first game mentioned Cook’s innings (and dismissals) a bit too much – not sure I’ve seen so much written for a 12-ball duck!

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  10. metatone Jan 3, 2016 / 9:24 am

    Unfortunately, it’s time once again for me to point out that England are really good at winning Test matches against weakened attacks. (Steyn was not fit but played in the 1st Test, SA are without Steyn and Philander in the 2nd.)

    You can only beat what is in front of you, but I’d be cautious about getting too enthusiastic…

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    • pktroll (@pktroll) Jan 3, 2016 / 9:46 am

      Much as Stokes and Bairstow have been excellent this morning, the pitch map that has just come up shows how bad SA has bowled. Real pie-chucking stuff.

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      • thelegglance Jan 3, 2016 / 10:43 am

        It’s been a bit like Headingley v Sri Lanka in reverse.

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    • Escort Jan 3, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Not sure anyone on this blog is suggesting that England are now the new Invincibles. What they do have in this series at the moment is a chance which is exactly what South Africa had when they won the toss in Durban and asked England to bat.

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  11. hatmallet Jan 3, 2016 / 10:12 am

    Rolled over at 9:30 to check my phone and just said “wow!” – was downstairs pretty quickly. Pity I missed the first hour!

    It’s absolutely outrageous from Stokes. He scored 100 runs off his first 55 balls this morning, 1 better than the record for the fastest (proper) Test century. And if he makes a double, it will probably be the second fastest ever (Can’t match Astle’s 153 balls, but Sehwag’s 168 is getable).

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    • Rooto Jan 3, 2016 / 11:10 am

      And indeed got…
      Well done that man. Now, bets on first MSM writer or btler to completely miss the point about Compton and Hales establishing a platform yesterday?

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    • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 10:57 am

      The people/pundits/ complaining about run rates yesterday should hand back their wages. They are taking money under false pretenses.

      Set a platform first, and 20/20 has showed how quickly runs can be scored later. When you have a bowling side who are inexperienced and/or lacking in confidence it is even more so.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 10:59 am

      Another player who was dropped by the Flower regime?

      One for the flower groupies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Jan 3, 2016 / 11:23 am

        Mark, he was dropped by Moores rather than Flower. I find remembering how Moores treated Stokes (and Hales) a fairly effective antidote to feeling too much sympathy towards him (other than for the manner of his sacking which was disgraceful whatever anybody’s mistakes).

        One thing that’s seldom remembered is that Stokes should have played at Headingley against SL. He declared himself fit but was told to play more in the CC to prove himself (where he took 7/57 against Sussex while Mathews was hitting 160). At the time the narrative was that only experienced players “know their own bodies” and whether they were fit enough to last five days. That’s when England were playing a keeper with a three-inch tear in his Achilles.

        What was clear was that someone had decided Stokes had to be punished even more for the locker-punching incident (as if a broken wrist wasn’t punishment enough). Then when they did bring him back there was the whole batting him at No.8 farrago – and there were plenty who agreed that No.8 was the right place for Stokes in the order (shiny toy and Bob Willis were two for starters).

        Liked by 1 person

      • greyblazer Jan 3, 2016 / 11:34 am

        I thought Flower gave Stokes his chance in Adelaide?
        He then broke his hand in the west Indies in an ODI series?

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      • greyblazer Jan 3, 2016 / 11:36 am

        Yes Simon. Thats it.
        They went with Ali at 6 too, to get the spinner in.

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      • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 12:23 pm

        Yes Simon you are right.

        Stokes didn’t play in the first test in the 2013/14 series. But then came in.

        Why he was discarded who knows, probably didn’t fit in or some such crap. Didn’t Selvey keep chipping away at him against the WI last year?

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 3, 2016 / 1:07 pm

          Just for giggles, I looked up what Selvey said after the Lord’s test v India….

          In Australia he was England’s best batsman in the four Tests he played, sufficiently proficient, it was thought before his wrist injury, to receive serious consideration this summer as a top-order player irrespective of his bowling. It is his bowling that has been holding up while his batting has been dismal, with three successive ducks in this series, the point being that there are better bowlers around. If his batting is no longer a consideration (and it ought to have had him going in above Prior), then the bowling can only be weaker for his presence. Chris Jordan, an ebullient cricketer, was unfortunate to be replaced by him at Trent Bridge but the compliment could well be returned this time around.

          Sure there’s more I’m missing….

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    • SimonH Jan 3, 2016 / 11:01 am

      250 by Doug Walters is the No.6 record for all teams. Bradman’s 270 (when Australia switched their batting order on a rain-affected pitch) the highest for Nos. 6-11.

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  12. cricketjon Jan 3, 2016 / 11:15 am

    Still think Ballance at 3 in the WC is my fav Moores moment. I believe Stokes ( fastest 200 ever in a non drop in pitch) was omitted from the squad

    Liked by 1 person

  13. d'Arthez Jan 3, 2016 / 11:25 am

    Anyone still doubts about me being too early to congratulate England with a series victory?

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  14. thelegglance Jan 3, 2016 / 11:48 am

    Anyone else get a big lump in the throat watching him get that hundred and the celebration?

    Lovely. Just lovely.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Escort Jan 3, 2016 / 12:08 pm

      A great moment wasn’t it.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Rohan Jan 3, 2016 / 12:15 pm

    Watching Stokes and Bairstow bat like this, is the best tonic for forgetting all of the rubbish we have put up with over the past 2 years. It may be a shadow of the full SA attack and it may be they (SA) have given up, but enjoy it for what it is, see ball hit ball, just like KP taught em!

    PS Amla’s travails over the past 2 tests, seem to be closely mirroring Cooks, in the difficult winter and summer that followed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Jan 3, 2016 / 12:21 pm

      As I said to an Indian friend, even before the elimination in the World Cup this year, that it was the last chance South Africa realistically would get to win the ODI World Cup. I am not optimistic about the future of cricket in South Africa, or even the future for the country for that matter.

      And just as I type that, the South Africans finally attempt to field and run out Stokes for a magnificent 258.

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      • Rohan Jan 3, 2016 / 12:33 pm

        Yes I agree. I have nowhere near your knowledge D’Arthez, but I do try to keep abreast of what’s going on in SA, outside of the sporting arena. I would say for the whiff surrounding Giles Clarke, read also Jacob Zuma………

        That was all fun wasn’t it. How will SA bat? Surely scoreboard pressure will be a factor. Or is this pitch perfect for Amla to finally return to form, ably supported by AB and Elgar etc.

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      • SimonH Jan 3, 2016 / 1:03 pm

        D’Arthez (or anyone interested), any thoughts on the set-up around the SA team? Allan Donald’s gone as bowling coach I believe – why did he go? Who are the batting and bowling coaches? I’ve read comments about a lack of Test experience and quality in the set-up and would like to know more. What do you think about Russell Domingo?

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      • Escort Jan 3, 2016 / 1:45 pm

        Domingo?
        He’s an Ayrton Senna isn’t he?

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    • SimonH Jan 3, 2016 / 12:30 pm

      “Amla’s travails over the past 2 tests, seem to be closely mirroring Cooks in the difficult winter and summer that followed”.

      The differences are enormous.

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      • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 12:32 pm

        Who said that?

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      • Rohan Jan 3, 2016 / 12:35 pm

        I did Mark. Specifically it was the way Amla spread the field late last night and again today, just as Cook did in Aus in the difficult winter and against SL when Matthews was batting…..generally Amla seems to be struggling with his captaincy though, or am I missing something?

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      • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 12:43 pm

        I think Amla’s problems are because the team has suffered a number of reirements. In Cooks/ECBs case they took out a shot gun and shot themselves in the foot.

        I take your point about captaincy ability. Maybe Amla is not cut out to be a captain. I don’t think Cook is either, but that is not something that is allowed to be said in polite society in England, TINA and all that.

        Don’t think they will indulge Amla as a captain like the indulged Cook.

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  16. Rohan Jan 3, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    After that, I would be tempted to give Stokes a few overs with the new ball at the start of the SA 1st innings, if he was up for it!

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  17. pktroll (@pktroll) Jan 3, 2016 / 12:32 pm

    I was really starting to think that Stokes was on for a tilt at Lara’s record, so quickly and purely was he scoring. Oh well. Brilliant fun that.

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  18. Zephirine Jan 3, 2016 / 12:43 pm

    Apart from the tatts there’s something wonderfully retro about Stokes. You can imagine 1930s schoolboys collecting him on cigarette cards. Words like ‘dauntless’ and ‘gallant’ spring to mind.

    So pleased for Bairstow. He must now be in the England all-time Ginger XI?

    I’m having to listen to TMS today, Geoffrey B absolutely buzzing from that innings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 1:31 pm

      Yes and no mention of his tattoos which seemed to cause such outrage when another player had them.

      I always though Bairstow was one of those players who got disguarded too quickly. He played quite well in the 2012 series against SA, but was gone soon after.

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    • paulewart Jan 3, 2016 / 1:43 pm

      I thought Geoffrey would like that. He seems to have a real soft spot for Jonny B, which is, of course, understandable, given what happened to his father. Lovely to see Geoffrey show his human side

      Like

      • Zephirine Jan 3, 2016 / 10:43 pm

        At the tea interval, Agnew did a fairly impromptu interview with Jonny B’s mother and sister who were there. They were full of gratitude to Boycott, who apparently helped a lot after the Dad died and is still a good friend of the family.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 12:49 pm

    Is it just me or is cricinfo becoming very Australia biased? Yesterday, while the SA England test had started the headline was all about the Australia vs WI match to come.

    Today as Stokes has been setting new records the main story is WI first day play. Which at 207 for 6 is hardly ground breaking.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Jan 3, 2016 / 12:56 pm

      Made me chuckle when Sky advertised The Verdict as a “Ben Stokes Special”.

      You see there are problems with this on two levels. One – when you indulge in childish, attention-deficit hyperbole about any performance above the ordinary being hailed as “the greatest ever”, when something genuinely amazing happens you have nowhere to go. It actually, in some ways, demeans the achievement putting it on a par with other less amazing feats. So a Ben Stokes Special is just needless nonsense, a chance for four people to wet themselves on TV, crawling over each other to outdo the superlatives.

      Second – an hour’s highlights (around 48 minutes action) and then an hour to talk about it. How about cutting out the bunny and letting us see half an hour more of the action? I know, a radical thought. Somewhere, talking about things became more important, or as important than what happened.

      I know, I’m barking at the moon, but someone has to.

      399 partnerships don’t come around often for us.

      Like

      • SimonH Jan 3, 2016 / 1:31 pm

        If they played a loop for an hour of every time Bob Willis said Stokes wasn’t good enough to bat above No.8, I’d watch that!

        To be fair to Bob, he does acknowledge when he’s wrong (as I was about Bairstow for this series). What was it that made Bob eat his words on The Verdict not that long ago?

        Liked by 1 person

      • MM Jan 3, 2016 / 1:32 pm

        A great little blog in its own right there, LCL.

        399 = wowsers!

        re: fastest double centuries, didn’t Graham Thopre score a very fast one in the same match as Nathan Astle’s all-time great blitzkrieg?

        Like

    • Rooto Jan 3, 2016 / 2:14 pm

      Mark. Re: cricinfo. Check which version you’re getting. Maybe something has switched you to the international version, or – shock, horror – the Australian edition.

      Like

      • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 6:16 pm

        I think I am on the International version, but you would think that would be a bit more, um international. I don’t just want a domestic slant, but I will have to switch to the England setting.

        Like

  20. Larry David Niven Jan 3, 2016 / 1:30 pm

    Just walked in to hear Gower say “I refuse to mention him”. Presumably a statement of intent about his childish treatment of KP. Nice to remind us of pathetic agendas in the middle of an upbeat day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • MM Jan 3, 2016 / 1:33 pm

      If that’s true (ain’t got Sky) then Gower needs his big nappy changing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 1:38 pm

      Sky should replace Gower with Charles Collvile. He is a proper Broadcaster/journalist who happens to love cricket, instead of an ex pro who wants to be a broadcaster. He listens to what the person says instead of constantly talking over them like Gower does. And he doesn’t try to answer his own questions before anyone else has had a say..

      Gower was a great player, and he is ok as a commentator, but a front man he is not.

      Like

      • paulewart Jan 3, 2016 / 1:45 pm

        He was my favourite batsman, ever. Such a shame that he of all people should side with the ECB.

        Like

      • Rohan Jan 3, 2016 / 1:56 pm

        The thing about Gower is, he of all people should be able to empathise with KP. Especially in terms of silly things KP did, but also how poorly he was treated by Cook, Flower, Strauss, Downton and the ECB.

        Why has Gower become such a dull, boring company man? What happened to the dashing stroke maker, the tigermoth flyer, the cheeky t-shirt wearer, etc. His behaviour is poor in my opinion, he is a broadcaster, a lead/anchor and should, therefore, be balanced and free of bias and vested interest; poor show Gower.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 2:17 pm

        He drove Captain Gooch to distraction on that last tour of Aus. The last ball before lunch when the Aussie captain put in a square leg, and then Gower hit it straight down his throat. Goochs face was a picture as they both walked off.

        Gower was always a mixture of establishment and free spirit.

        Like

      • pktroll (@pktroll) Jan 3, 2016 / 3:17 pm

        I have recently read Gower’s autobiography and he was my favourite England batsman as a kid. There are real echoes in how both him and Pietersen fell foul of a conservative management (Gooch & Stewart read Strauss/Cook & Flower) with the maverick players being eased out of the team. Gower was lucky in the era that he played that the TCCB as was didn’t mobilise the media
        against him. He has now long since jumped the fence and probably will do as little as possible to rock the boat on the Sky TV gravy train.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jan 3, 2016 / 1:47 pm

      I heard Nasser compare it to the 149 by KP. I didn’t hear Gower’s retort, but if he did say that, I’d say it’s bloody typical.

      You may hate him, but to erase him? Really?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 2:04 pm

        Yes, Nasser was pointing out that KPs 200 against Australia was scored quickly so as to give time to get 20 wickets. A valued point as yesterday they were fussing about run rates. Gower quickly moved him on to something else.

        KP has a record, a very good record. Don’t try and air brush him out of history. Not sure what he has done to Gower anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

    • hatmallet Jan 3, 2016 / 2:55 pm

      Thanks for the hattrick stat – Simon Mann said on Twitter that it was second to Michael Clarke, which definitely wasn’t right (when Clarke made his triple, Ponting came out for the hattrick ball).

      Like

  21. Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    Only 76 over bowled in the allotted time. An extra half hour will add a few more overs but that is pretty pathetic. I guess the excuse will be the numerous delays picking the ball out of the beer tents after what happened this morning.

    Wont make any difference to the result so I guess it won’t really matter.

    Like

    • d'Arthez Jan 3, 2016 / 4:20 pm

      If my math serves me right, we’re 6 overs short for the day. I have not paid attention to when England started, so I can’t comment on England’s overrate. South Africa’s was poor to say the least.

      Like

  22. Escort Jan 3, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    Hasn’t Stokes been dismissed in a similar manner before? I’m sure I can remember a comment from Captain Cook that said he would bet he wouldn’t do that again?

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Jan 3, 2016 / 5:03 pm

      Are you thinking of the Buttler “Mankad”? Sure Cook said that then….

      Like

    • d'Arthez Jan 3, 2016 / 5:17 pm

      It seems doubtful. The only other time that Stokes was run out in international cricket was at Lord’s in the fourth innings against Australia. That was a case of not bothering to drag the bat in – and he was the runner then.

      Like

      • d'Arthez Jan 3, 2016 / 5:18 pm

        Sorry non-striker.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 3, 2016 / 5:24 pm

          Escort (and you) is/are bang on. Stokes never ran his bat in. Just watched it. Got a load of stick for being dozy and not following the game.

          Like

      • Escort Jan 3, 2016 / 5:25 pm

        thats the one I’m thinking about 😉

        Like

  23. cricketjon Jan 3, 2016 / 4:58 pm

    Mark, you think England will win?

    Like

    • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 6:23 pm

      I think they have a very good chance. A lot depends on these two at the wicket now. If England can get them out tomorrow they should be well set. If the pitch starts to turn on day 4 and 5 SA won’t fancy batting last.

      Like

  24. Escort Jan 3, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    Didn’t the bat appear to kind of bounce when he was trying to run it in? My memory is generally shocking but it was the Cook comment that made me think about it. Absolutely brilliant performance by Stokes today and especially Bairstow.

    Like

      • Mark Jan 3, 2016 / 6:29 pm

        I remember that, but it was quite funny. He’s well over the line, but his feet are in the air and his bat not grounded.

        It tends to happen to certain players. Free spirit types. And they get a lot more stick than if a more conservative type player did it. Perhaps it never happens to those type of players.

        Like

  25. cricketjon Jan 3, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    It also happened to Daniel Vettori at Manchester on the 2008 tour to England. That was the innings where Ross Taylor came of age.

    Like

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