South Africa vs England: 2nd Test day four

It is when a Test reaches this kind of stage that the thoughts of England supporters turn to the Test Which Must Not Be Mentioned.  As we go into the final day, only South Africa can win the game, a scenario that seemed unlikely to say the least as Stokes and Bairstow flogged the hosts’ bowling around Newlands a couple of days ago.

This was always going to be a possibility, given a surface that has shown no signs whatever of deterioration and has proved something of a batting paradise, and unlike one or two, for this particular blog it isn’t being wise after the event.  Of course, in reality the draw is by far the likeliest outcome, and for England to lose would represent an even worse calamity than The One That Didn’t Happen given both surface and the much more limited potency of the South African attack.  It is an amusing temptation to draw parallels, but they almost certainly aren’t going to be there.

And thus England should be able to comfortably bat out the final day, making the most of the batting practice.  Ideally, they will be able to take the same from it that South Africa have, the opportunity to play a couple of the batting line up into form, not least the captain.

The regrets will be there, England were astoundingly profligate in the field, dropping anything up to ten catches (depending who is counting) in the duration of the innings; some were tough, some were anything but.  One of the more peculiar truths of playing cricket is that dropping catches is…well, catching.  At the start of South Africa’s innings the question was whether England would create enough opportunities to take twenty wickets, to not be too far off that after the first innings, and without bowling South Africa out is quite something. A quick (and of course simplistic) totting up of what those drops cost comes to around 350 runs.   Amusing then that Stuart Broad ended the day charged with a Level One offence by the ICC for dissent, one wonders if it was directed at umpires or fielders.

If England had a slightly better day than yesterday – four wickets!  Four! – it still belonged to South Africa.  Hashim Amla duly completed his double century and Faf Du Plessis continued to provide sterling support.  What followed came completely out of the blue, as three wickets fell for ten runs including both set batsmen.  De Kock was skittish and won’t look back fondly on the shot that led to his dismissal, and with a deficit of still nearly 200, the England bowlers suddenly had a spring in their collective step.

Temba Bavuma has had a pretty terrible press this series, dismissed as being a quota player, derided for not being remotely good enough.  Of course, for English eyes it is the first time most will have seen him play, and given his travails in the first game, questions about that were reasonable enough.  Yet one game never has been sufficient to judge a player, particularly one unknown to the observer.  He didn’t look great, but a few keen watchers said he had talent.  Eleven years ago, similar aspersions were laid at the door of another South African batsman starting out, one who looked out of his depth at the highest level.  Perhaps people have heard of him – his name is Hashim Amla.

The one thing not to be is holier than thou over this; given the political element of the composition of the South African team the suspicion that better players are not going to be picked is always there, and Bavuma had hardly taken the world by storm in his first six Tests. For British observers though, he is nothing but a new player, and one who may or may not succeed – we rarely have the in depth knowledge to make assumptions about the ability of a particular player, and perhaps staying silent is the wiser course until the evidence is in place.  Plenty of people have been made to look stupid by Amla proving himself a wonderful cricketer, to risk it a second time is careless at best.

One innings doesn’t make a career, but the while the symbolism of Bavuma’s hundred is obvious, it was in itself a delightful innings, full of wonderful strokeplay.  Given the stick the England team gave him on his arrival at the crease and a slightly (but not dramatically) uncertain start, symbolism wasn’t required to take pleasure in seeing a young player ram the taunts back down English throats.

If nothing else, Bavuma’s innings lit up a day’s play of a Test that was limping towards a terminally dull conclusion.  Made off only 148 balls, it may not have had quite the brutality of Stokes, but it had style, dash and elegance.  It was, quite simply, a joy to watch.

Chris Morris deserves a word of praise as well; he had a difficult time of it with the ball, taking the brunt of Ben Stokes’ murderous assault, and for a young player on debut, it will have been a chastening experience.  Today was his day too, showing no little batting ability in making a fine 69.

England’s bowlers again didn’t do anything especially wrong, beaten by the pitch and the Kookaburra ball.  Indeed, the pitch has of course received the most criticism for being too batsman friendly, but a Duke ball might well have given the bowlers just enough for one side or the other to be able to force a result.  The pitch is only one element of the equation – although even then it would require England to have held their catches.

As far as the over-rate watch is concerned, once again the day finished with the 90 incomplete.  This time it was a solitary over short, and doubtless some will say that doesn’t matter, but the half hour additional has been invoked every day, and still the overs aren’t being completed.  In times past, this would not have mattered, as play would have continued until they were.  It was the TV broadcasters who objected to that, as late finishes played havoc with schedules.  The half hour leeway was intended to ensure all overs were bowled while still offering a definitive finishing time.  The match referee’s decision on over rates and any punishment following is not determined until the end of the match, but after four consecutive days of failing to meet their obligations, there is no excuse whatever for failing to take action.

Elsewhere today, news broke about a school match in India, where 15 year old Pranav Dhanawade shattered a century old record for the highest score in a competitive match, making a scarcely credible 1,009 in a game that redefines the term “one sided”.  It’s been interesting to follow the response to this, initially astonishment and no little awe, turning quite swiftly to criticism of the teachers for allowing it.

One final thing for now, although it is a subject which given the wider ramifications we will return to over the coming weeks and months.  The Lodha report in India on cricket governance in that country has taken something of an axe to the current BCCI structure.  What follows, whether that is court challenges or acceptance is something that will impact on cricket across the world.  What can be said, is that for the first time in a while, there is cause for a small degree of hope.  There’s a good summary on Cricinfo for those who wish to read a little more:

Day Five Comments Below


65 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 2nd Test day four

  1. LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2016 / 6:31 pm

    A Test Which Must Not Be Mentioned?

    Some people name blogs after it!


      • LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2016 / 6:34 pm

        Confront your demons.

        Also on that 1009. Not got the link but Peter Miller did on twitter. A blog highlighted several major inconsistencies in the story.


      • thelegglance Jan 5, 2016 / 7:08 pm

        I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Scoring is less than focused in schoolboy matches.


      • thelegglance Jan 5, 2016 / 7:51 pm

        Thing is, I don’t regard that as unusual or in any way surprising. I’m sure most of us have had at some time or another the joy of untangling the scorecard when someone has been doing it with less than complete attention.

        The question of it being more than slightly unkind is a different matter.


  2. Tuffers86 Jan 5, 2016 / 6:49 pm

    That innings from Bavuma was pleasing. Nice response to the nonsense on and off the field.

    The English (media, mostly) have a nasty little habit of writing off opposition players after a brief look, case point was Ibrahimovic for years by the football press. Amla, as TLG notes is another. Even Steve Smith needed a few bloody scores before the mood turned.

    Perhaps first impressions count a lot, so that egotistical Indian lad (and the adults who demonstrated a complete lack of sportsmanship in this sorry tale) have some in the bank with the British media who have all fallen over themselves covering this story. Well done.

    As for tomorrow, Cook will deliver a 50, Hales will fall cheaply so the scribes can chew the bones on it for a week. It will fizzle out with a draw. Who knows, the captains might shake hands just after tea.


    • Grenville Jan 5, 2016 / 7:34 pm

      I had to run away into town to try to sort out the crisis (if anybody has a room for an Iranian asylum seeker in Brighton, please let me know), so I missed the Bavuma innings. I am pleased for all the obvious reasons, but also because I backed is getting the nod over Duminey.

      Of course, the fact that he scored a century does not prove that that is the right decision. We do not know what JP would have done. But, for me, that is part of the justification for the quota system. You cannot know what the best possible team would be. You can only pick a team that merits selection. There is always going to be a good chance that of all the different plausible 11’s that could take the park at least one of them will contain a good number of non-white players. You may as well pick one of those teams, if you think that having non-white people in the upper echelons of organisations will help your society overcome the legacy of apartheid.

      (btw., Given their backgrounds, far as I can work out the choice between Bavuma and Duminey was not an issue of making sure that the proteas hit their transformation targets. I do not pretend to be an expert on South African politics).


      • Grenville Jan 5, 2016 / 7:35 pm

        *a crisis. I’m not that arrogant.


      • thelegglance Jan 5, 2016 / 7:38 pm

        Correct, it wasn’t a quota selection. By picking Rabada (incidentally, there were pointed articles saying he wasn’t a quota pick, with the obvious implication) they didn’t have to choose Bavuma.


    • Ian Jan 6, 2016 / 8:56 am

      Well he only got 8 so we will see how they defend that. Hales goes not long after but of course all criticism is for Hales.


      • LordCanisLupus Jan 6, 2016 / 9:22 am

        Getting sick to death of people mentioning Adelaide after just two wickets. Maybe I’m just getting old and even more cantankerous.


      • Arron Wright Jan 6, 2016 / 9:25 am

        It is all a bit Clive Tyldesley “that night in Barcelona”, whenever a losing Man Utd side scores a late goal…


  3. LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    I thought Paul Newman’s article today was absolutely magnificent. I’ll give you the opening three paragraphs.

    “Even the heat of Newlands was no match for the temperature of the steam coming out of Ben Stokes ears on Tuesday as the man who produced one of the great Test innings now found himself getting a taste of his own medicine.

    Stokes could not believe it when Temba Bavuma, the pint-sized batsman many believe is playing here only because of the colour of his skin, inside edged him for four at the start of a superlative century that led South Africa to safety.

    ‘You are absolutely s***,’ mouthed Stokes at the local township boy whose unbeaten 102 not only extinguished any faint hopes England had of winning this second Test but vindicated South Africa’s controversial selection policy.”

    Grabbing history by the balls.


    • northernlight71 Jan 5, 2016 / 11:26 pm

      Why are all of our bowlers such unimaginative, insulting boors? Are they just taking their lead from Pottymouth Anderson, or do they think it actually makes them look good to come out with such nonsense?
      Still, 102* kind of shoves it back in lovely Ben’s face, doesn’t it?


      • Grenville Jan 6, 2016 / 12:22 am

        I suspect this curse applies to most cricketers, unfortunately.

        It is the entitled whining that seems to set England apart.


      • emasl Jan 6, 2016 / 12:24 am

        Stoks may be a great cricketer but he has a nasty little streak in him. Did it to Samuels last tear and got shown up for the twat he was and now doing it again. Sky commentators saying Oh he waers his heart on his sleeve in excuse. B******s.


      • AB Jan 6, 2016 / 12:05 pm

        Most cricketers? Really?


      • Grenville Jan 6, 2016 / 1:17 pm

        I did mean most international cricketers. There seems to be a lot of chuntering at batters. I can’t believe the are all Oscar Wilde.


  4. MM Jan 5, 2016 / 9:03 pm

    England grinding to 180 for 8 off 75 overs bubbles up in my minds-eye. Or worse… much worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gambrinus Jan 5, 2016 / 10:31 pm

    What happened in the field then? I’ve seen a couple of mentions of Stokes, Anderson and Cook acting the giddy arsehole.

    (Only had the chance to catch the scores briefly on Cricinfo today in work)


    • Mark Jan 5, 2016 / 10:47 pm

      They got frustrated, and started sledging and swearing. The umpires intervened, and told them to calm down. So Cook changed into a version Marcel Marceau, and did a mime routine of bizarre hand gestures.

      Broad just kicked a massive lump out of the pitch, but got a charge of constant appealing brought against him.

      I think they should have just blamed the fielders for the dropped catches.


      • LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2016 / 11:15 pm

        Seems like they are all out to regain one #1 in the world slot. The team most loathed by match officials.


      • emasl Jan 6, 2016 / 12:25 am

        What a ghastly horrible lot they can be. Rather enjoyed not seeing misery guts aka Anderson in the last Test.


      • thelegglance Jan 6, 2016 / 10:40 am

        Just to note that Broad was charged for dissent, not excessive appealing. Reason for the confusion was that the ICC changed the numbering of the disciplinary code, and some of the media didn’t initially notice.


  6. Mark Jan 5, 2016 / 10:38 pm

    How about the Kookaburra ball for use in England, and the Duke everywhere else? If the Duke people are reading, I will take a small commission.

    I’d love to know which country has been on the receiving end of more players making 100s early in their careers? I will have a bet on England. I have seen a shed load of newish players make debut 100s against England over the decades. Of course it may just be England play more matches in the course of a year. They don’t seem to know what to do if they haven’t got a plan.

    Don’t think the English media should make too much about a player only being in the team because of a quota. Just makes our bowlers look even worse, ” they can’t even bowl out a quota player,” They do like to zero in on Stokes, mind, if he does anything wrong. There is still a whiff of the rebel in him. That is a complete no no to some in high places.


    • northernlight71 Jan 5, 2016 / 11:30 pm

      A rebel? For mouthing off to an opposition batsman? No, he’s fitting right in.


    • emasl Jan 6, 2016 / 12:26 am

      He is not a Rebel he is just a Very Naughty Boy


    • d'Arthez Jan 6, 2016 / 2:18 am

      Now it is late here, so it is possible an error crept in. I am pretty sure that if I missed something obvious the good people here will point it out.

      “Early in their careers” is very hard to define. Is say Moeen early in his Test career? He is playing his 21st Test in less than 2 years. Bradman played 52 Tests in 20 years. Eddie Paynter managed just a 20 Test career (from 1931-1939). You can’t really put a fixed number to “early in their career”..

      Tons on debut is of course easier to define.

      Bear in mind that England have played 958 Tests, Australia 778, West Indies 510, India 488, New Zealand 399, South Africa 391 and Sri Lanka 240 Tests. So England’s numbers are not as bad as they appear – England simply have played more Tests, and as a result will be on the receiving end more often.

      The numbers for the last 15 years are even better. 202 matches played by England, and only Hamish Rutherford managed to make a ton on debut against England. India, who played fewer Tests conceded 8 tons on debut since Jan 1st 2000. Animul Islam, Thilan Samaraweera, Michael Clarke, Alastair Cook, Alviro Petersen, Kane Williamson, Kirk Edwards and Jimmy Neesham got to three figures on debut against India.

      Also notice that the last time Pakistan conceded a ton to a debutant was in 1983!

      Of course, we’d have to consider how often a batsman debuts against England, but the numbers do not give reason for concern.

      Since 2000:

      England do well against debutant batsmen (batting positions 1-7).

      Conceding just one ton and 3 fifties in 51 innings. That is a very good record.


  7. Julie Jan 6, 2016 / 12:48 am

    Emasl, I love that but don’t think putting him in the naughty chair will help.Watch Bavuma bat. He is a beautiful bat.No wonder a few Eng boys got upset.I hope they didn’t upset him but I suspect he has heard it all before.Surely the boys realised after batting on that wicket it wasn’t going to be easy.Why do they have to be so foul mouthed and embarrassing.Where is the discipline from the Captain and coach. One night to go ( for me)🐰


  8. Arron Wright Jan 6, 2016 / 8:42 am

    Oh dear, guess who’s out and averaging 10.5 for the series. Guess whether or not anyone will draw attention to the fact that his total runs are less than the highest individual score of every other member of the top seven (and, indeed, lower than Nick Compton’s lowest completed score at the time of writing).


    • amit Jan 6, 2016 / 9:38 am

      There’s an easy fix for this statistical anomaly. They will ask Moeen to bat in top 7 😉


  9. amit Jan 6, 2016 / 9:42 am

    The game has suddenly become tricky for England. Of course a draw is still the most likely result, but if SA have to make 100-150 runs in the last session, I wouldn’t put it past them. They could certainly have a crack at it.
    But this does change the series. The confidence should be back for the SA team and this second innings might be the shot in the arm the bowlers needed after the mauling in first.


  10. Mark Jan 6, 2016 / 10:53 am

    Can I just point out that England of late seem to have difficulty batting on good pitches. The two best pitches in England for the Ashes, Lords and the Oval saw them lose heavily. Although they scored 629 in the first innings here they were 223/5 on a belter with the top order failing again. They were bailed out by the extraordinary Stokes innings backed up by Bairstow. And now 4 of the top order have gone again for not many.

    Why can’t England’s batsman, who our media think are the best in the world can’t bat on flat pitches? I look forward to a Selvey in depth article explaining it to me.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 6, 2016 / 11:08 am

      England were effectively 127/5 at Adelaide at lunch on day 5. Just saying for shit and giggles.


      • Mark Jan 6, 2016 / 11:16 am

        Who’s going to get the blame if England screw this up? My bet is Compton.

        (“A slow scoring batsman who gets to 40 odd and then gets out. Got a start in the second innings, and did not see it through when the situation was set up for him. Blah, blah blah.”)


      • SteveT Jan 6, 2016 / 11:42 am

        A belated happy new year to all at BOC. Remember that 43 is worth a hundred.


      • SteveT Jan 6, 2016 / 11:54 am

        OO-eck, Stokes has just gone!

        Liked by 1 person

      • SteveT Jan 6, 2016 / 12:07 pm

        You sure we’re not going to screw this up! Taylor’s now gone – 117-6! Lokks like it’s up to the good old lower order again!


      • SimonH Jan 6, 2016 / 12:14 pm

        Effectively 124-6 at drinks with 52 over left.


      • Arron Wright Jan 6, 2016 / 12:24 pm


        Stokes already being blamed for the sweep shot.



      • d'Arthez Jan 6, 2016 / 12:48 pm

        England are going to save this. There won’t be enough time left for South Africa to chase whatever England set.


  11. thelegglance Jan 6, 2016 / 11:55 am

    Graeme Swann being himself again I see. No one is allowed a view.


    • Arron Wright Jan 6, 2016 / 12:15 pm

      Tell us more. Twitter?


      • Ian Jan 6, 2016 / 12:40 pm

        Some of the replies to that tweet are good.


      • Arron Wright Jan 6, 2016 / 12:42 pm

        Of course, this is exactly the sort of tweet that lends greater credibility to the notion that he left the Ashes tour before his bowling average rose above 30…


      • Mark Jan 6, 2016 / 1:30 pm

        So to pass comment on the game and players performance you have to have achieved a certain statistical landmark of expertise?

        That rules out Selvey, Agnew, Newman, Hughes, Bunkers, Henry Blofeld, Johners, CMJ, John Arlott.

        Swann is an idiot.


      • MM Jan 7, 2016 / 4:41 pm

        The replies to that tweet are better than good!

        Perhaps we will no longer accept punditry / banter from anyone who bottles it mid-series?

        Can anyone make a hybrid word out of punditry and banter?


    • SimonH Jan 6, 2016 / 1:29 pm

      Marcus Trescothick and Nasser Hussain doing the teatime analysis on TV – but both had averages below 45 so I turned off.


  12. Arron Wright Jan 6, 2016 / 12:22 pm

    Our fave journo on for five out of five in the bullish hubris stakes: after Lord’s (SL), Grenada, Lord’s (NZ), Cardiff and now Durban, he was bigging up England and all but dismissing their opponents.

    They never. ever. learn.

    Which is why we’re here, and leaving BTL to the sycophants.


  13. Mark Jan 6, 2016 / 1:24 pm

    Looks like we might just scrape out of this one now. (Dmitris confidence proved correct.)

    157 lead at tea. Overs remaining 37 ( which is a shocking over rate again!) but two will go for change of innings so only 35 left. 10 more overs after lunch should just about do it.


    • d'Arthez Jan 6, 2016 / 1:26 pm

      To be fair, Rod Tucker needed half an eternity to adjudicate the Bairstow decision. You can’t blame the fielding side, nor the batsmen for that.


    • Zephirine Jan 6, 2016 / 3:55 pm

      Perhaps he decided to do that just before he went out to bat, hence his form came back.


  14. Sherwick Jan 6, 2016 / 6:47 pm

    5 from 2


  15. Grenville Jan 6, 2016 / 7:00 pm

    my highlight is that written off chappie who did what, oh that’s right, scored an unbeaten century under some personal and team pressure scoring the same as that bloke who took no wickets, made no runs, didn’t have much imagination in the field and whose team looked, shall we say, rudderless. What do I know? I can’t hold a bat, let alone average 45.


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