South Africa vs England: 4th Test, day one

At the start of the series, a player called Cook scoring a century could have been expected to result in endless articles paying glorious tribute, so it’s an undoubted irony that Stephen, on debut, would be the first Cook to reach three figures. In the way of cricket, there will be celebration at the achievement, and an accusing finger pointed at the selectors for waiting until he was 33 before picking him. In the wider scheme of things, it may yet matter little, but the achievement of a Test century cannot be taken away from him, and perhaps he’ll have that late career opportunity that Chris Rogers took so gleefully with both hands. 

That South Africa don’t have another Test for six months may cause a problem with that hope, but in becoming the hundredth player to score a hundred on debut, he has made his mark.

It was a curious sort of day, and the kind that Test cricket is so good at, in that one side was utterly dominant for the first two thirds of the day, only for it to move slightly more back in the balance after tea.

England consistently bowled too short, something they are prone to do to immense frustration all round given how dangerous they look when they bowl a fuller length. Broad was once again the pick of the attack but even he failed to make the most of what movement there was, though he did more with the ball than anyone else by a distance. 

In the case of Anderson, he was unthreatening and innocuous. It’s not been a great tour for him, and he’s at the age where the whispers start about a player in decline. Given his record that’s unquestionably premature, for he’s far from the only player to have had a quiet time, notably the captain has too.

Woakes looked tidy and decent, but sooner or later he’s going to have to start taking wickets to justify his place. His batting is certainly decent, and so is his bowling. Test quality? Well perhaps, perhaps not, but in his fifth Test he’s on his fourth spell in the side, which is hardly going to help him settle in.

Moeen just has the knack of taking wickets, and that cannot be overstated, while Stokes keeps threatening to break through with his bowling without yet showing consistency. Patience is a key to all watchers.

At 237-1, South Africa were in total command, so finishing on 329-5 will represent something of a disappointment, and so it should. On a flat surface 400 is a minimum, and while they should do that, England will feel they’ve got away with it today. 

They were at least honest enough to admit it wasn’t a great day for them, which in itself is welcome given the days in the past where the approach was not dissimilar to Channel 9 commentators when assessing the chances.

Hashim Amla was again dropped early, and again punished England for it. Amla remains one of the most watchable batsmen in world cricket. Yet the malaise of the captains this series has seamlessly transferred to AB De Villiers who collected another duck.

Day one is always a wait and see day, unless one side or the other has a total catastrophe, and so it is here. But both sides have cause to be relieved and both have cause to be dissatisfied. 

Day two discussion below.


35 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 4th Test, day one

  1. MM January 22, 2016 / 9:24 pm

    Did they bowl a load of old gash for about 60 overs? Has Anderson chosen to counter-subvert ABDV’s taunting? I’m wanting Wood back in place of Anderson, please. Shame his ankles are made of Dorritos.


  2. Topshelf January 22, 2016 / 9:41 pm

    England’s bowling and fielding – bar Mighty Mouse James Taylor – was woeful. It was evident after 30 mins that we simply weren’t up for it, and I mostly watched the Big Bash instead.

    It’s not a huge surprise with the series won. But you would hope that Woakes would produce rather more than he did. He has never looked a Test-class bowler for me, which is a shame, as he seems to have the tools. Maybe he’ll rediscover his outswinger one day, but I’m not sure it’s worth the wait. I would rather have watched Footitt busting a gut to make an impression.

    I think that the wickets that fell in a heap were a product of a bit of complacency on SA’s part – we really were awful – and England belatedly waking up to the fact that we could get back in the game.

    What I saw of Cook was good, and made the selection of van Zyl even weirder. No reason I can see he can’t have a Rogers or even Mike Hussey-type career. Like those two he has a FC triple-century. When you start older you have the big advantage of knowing your game already, and you’re much less likely to get worked out and get dropped for a poor run of form.


  3. Sean B January 22, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    I really don’t rate Woakes, seems like the traditional England all rounder of the 90’s, bowls ok, bats ok, but not good enough for Test cricket.

    The most frustrating part of the day is how we wasted the new ball twice (says he who gushing in Ottis Gibson praises not so long ago). We had actually clawed our way back into the game after tea, only to let it slip again after 80 overs.

    Jimmy has had a poor series, not sure if he is over the knock from the first test. I still don’t think it’s terminal decline yet, he has a knack of proving us wrong.

    On a last note, it was a very good innings from Cook (not the haloed one presented in the English media). I just can’t understand why the Saffers took so long to pick him, as he seems to have a good technique and temprament. Perhaps that’s for another article, another day….


  4. Escort January 23, 2016 / 9:04 am

    De kock looking to cut loose here, a test for Cooks captaincy skills looks to be on the cards.


  5. pktroll (@pktroll) January 23, 2016 / 9:58 am

    With SA edging up to 400 I can’t help feeling that might be a good score given that it looks rather overcast there. One or two of their bowlers have a point to prove, although I have a feeling that Cook, A will get a score on the board this time and our darling media will be in full swing.


  6. Tuffers86 January 23, 2016 / 10:13 am

    Goodness, this is innocuous from Woakes.


    • SimonH January 23, 2016 / 10:35 am

      A good demonstration that Steve Finn is now England’s most important player? Bit worrying that since he won his Test place back he’s broken down twice with injuries.


    • hatmallet January 23, 2016 / 2:36 pm

      Personally I thought it was a strange thing to argue about considering that AB is bemoaning the amount of cricket (even if that is partly his own fault due to playing IPL) plus the volume of cricket England have had over the past 12 months with still plenty to come by the time the home season starts.


  7. Escort January 23, 2016 / 11:14 am

    India scrape past Australia to win final ODI with a ball to spare.


  8. LordCanisLupus January 23, 2016 / 11:34 am

    Getting absolutely sick of this “dead rubber” excuse over the airwaves.

    England have lost all but one of the last test matches of a series, home and away, in the last 2 years.

    In Sharjah – series at 0-1
    At The Oval v Australia – Series at 1-3
    At Headingley v New Zealand – Series at 1-0
    In Bridgetown – Series at 1-0
    WON v India at The Oval – Series 2-1
    At Headingley v SL – Series 0-0
    At SCG v Australia – Series 0-4 so if we take their logic, Australia didn’t give a stuff.

    They are playing for England, they have an aim to get to number 1 and dominate. You don’t take test matches off. Sorry, that’s not washing. We finish series badly winning, losing or level.


    • Escort January 23, 2016 / 11:46 am

      Is there a problem with your host site? Can’t seem to get a comment posted today


      • LordCanisLupus January 23, 2016 / 4:12 pm

        No idea. I know WordPress doesn’t like your user name!


      • Escort January 23, 2016 / 7:40 pm

        As your not above a change of name I guess that’s the answer😉


    • Mark January 23, 2016 / 11:54 am

      Haven’t been paying much attention to be honest. But I wondered when the media would go into operation protect England/Cook.

      But Of course I don’t really understand the job of the cricket media. It’s far too complex for us mere mortals to fully compute. Golf days out with the players, birthday celebrations for media ‘friends’ attended by the players.

      You can’t expect them to be objective. How would they be able to get all the inside story’s?


  9. Escort January 23, 2016 / 11:44 am

    Sad news about Jack Bannister.
    Always enjoyed his commentary


    • Mark January 23, 2016 / 12:49 pm

      I reckon there is more corruption in sport than the authorities either know or will own up to. It’s the worst thing for sport. You can go and get drama from a film or a play but quite often you already know the outcome. After all some people go back to see Shakespere over and over again.

      But in sport you never quite know. You may guess what the result will be, and the favourate may win most of the time, but not always. There is a sense of mystery. If that goes then what’s the point?


    • Topshelf January 23, 2016 / 3:20 pm

      This is a brilliant analysis of the sort of thing that has gone on and not been properly investigated.

      Sports authorities rarely have the appetite to investigate fixing properly. It is notoriously difficult to prove in court, especially with judges, prosecutors and juries who don’t understand sport and gambling. It does the sport’s image no good to pull back the veil on what really goes on, risking losing viewers and sponsorship. So, if they can help it, they don’t.

      And it does bookies no good to expose shenanigans either – the authorities are rarely interested, and shouting about it themselves just stops people from betting on that sport and affects the bottom line. Better to manage the fixers as best you can, it’s not that hard to spot a fix. It’s long odds-on that several sporting events around the world have been fixed in some way today – for a bookmaker that’s just another part of the game.


  10. LordCanisLupus January 23, 2016 / 2:16 pm

    Meanwhile, Straight Outta Nairobi is on his hobby horse…


    • hatmallet January 23, 2016 / 2:39 pm

      Compton gone to one that keeps low. Pringle looking a tad silly…


    • BoredInAustria January 23, 2016 / 2:50 pm

      Even Selvey describes a minefield: “Two balls of similar length from Rabada. One the keeper took above his head, another hit Compo half way up the shins”


    • Escort January 23, 2016 / 3:10 pm

      What an absolute Strauss he is.


      • Mark January 23, 2016 / 5:01 pm

        Compton went against the machine. They will never forgive him for that.

        He will not last long in this team. I think he should open the batting. His partnership with Cook was the best England have had in the last few years. They should never have broken it up. Yet another cock up from the past. But I can’t see that happening.


    • Escort January 23, 2016 / 6:37 pm

      And when you bowl Derek every ball Is a half volley.


  11. SimonH January 23, 2016 / 5:42 pm

    Six inches of carry 3.0.


    • SimonH January 23, 2016 / 6:48 pm

      What I’m referring to, of course, is this –

      This line is ominous:

      “An extra Test now will provide a much better contest”.

      Here’s the narrative for the first half of 2016 taking shape. It’s revenge for 2014. Never mind that SL are virtually bankrupt, never mind their best players are gone, never mind they’re in meltdown – it’s revenge for Downton-y, Moores-y and Cook-y.

      I think I might take up watching indoor bowls. Or Tiddlywinks.


      • Arron Wright January 23, 2016 / 7:04 pm

        I cannot believe he literally reprises the phrase, when absolutely everyone else knows it was Cooky wot lost it.



      • Arron Wright January 23, 2016 / 7:25 pm

        By the way, staffieman just suffered probably the single most absurd modding the cricket pages have ever seen.

        As we saw a few days ago, you can be racist and abusive to your tiny mind’s content. But don’t you dare call Cook a dead rubber bully.


        • LordCanisLupus January 23, 2016 / 7:49 pm

          Never saw the original post, but Staffieman said it was because of the responses it got, rather than the content of the post. He, and I’m assuming he is a he, has also said he’s not sticking around BTL.

          On the Selvey article, I mean, for crying out loud. I suppose six inches of carry and two more balls scans better than a horrendously late declaration and a batshit lunatic captaincy display on Day 4 pissing away a winning position.


      • SimonH January 23, 2016 / 8:02 pm

        While the Day Four captaincy was the lowlight of Headingley, let’s not forget that SL also should have been bowled out much more cheaply in their first innings – and weren’t partly because a keeper playing with a three-inch tear in his Achilles dropped a catch and missed a run out.

        There was also the matter of not playing a manifestly fit Stokes to teach him a lesson (his replacement Jordan took 0/137).


        • LordCanisLupus January 23, 2016 / 8:07 pm

          I don’t actually think the declaration was that bad either. But it works both ways. But to Selfey, nuance is thinking his dad just discovered a long lost sister.


      • Mark January 23, 2016 / 8:30 pm

        Selvey can go fuck himself. His vindictiveness shines through everything he writes. The whole game of cricket can be sacrificed on the alter of Cooks revenge. It’s like Nasser’s girly cry of …”Cooks redemption.” These people are insane.

        It’s the politics of a bully. No, the politics of a cowardly bully. Let’s kick Sri Lanka when they are down. It’s a grown up version of competive dad syndrome. The Cook fetish has become deeply alarming. Something is very odd in these people? They worship him, it’s straight out of the Greek Gods. But Cook is no Greek God. He is not even an Essex God.

        There is a whiff of fascism in all of this. The supreme leader, that can do no wrong. Hero worship that is off the scale. I’m sure Sky can put on there own version of Triumpth of the will.


      • Arron Wright January 23, 2016 / 8:53 pm

        All subsequent posts about the modding have now vanished. Usually, abusive replies to an innocuous post are deleted and the OP remains.

        Aquitted and the G deserve each other.


        • LordCanisLupus January 23, 2016 / 9:06 pm

          I’ve kept the two that were deleted. I think that it was deleted due to Gluck accusing someone who has commented on HDWLIA in the past (and here perhaps) of being a racist (and not “aquitted”), which might have been the trigger.

          Still wctt is comparing Hales and Compton to Bell’s career, so all is right with the world.


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