South Africa vs England: 4th Test, day two

England are developing a habit of going through the motions in the final Test of a series, and this is proving no different. For a side who profess a desire to be the best in the world, it’s less than impressive. The bowling was once again off colour, the fielding laissez-faire. The batting retained that intensity, but for the first day and a half, there was little to suggest it was a team who had come out on top in the series.

De Kock’s reinstatement in the team x been met with universal approval, for his late understudy at Johannesburg had done exceptionally well with the gloves, yet he answered those criticisms in the best way here, with a scintillating innings that turned South Africa’s decent position into one of substantial strength.  He didn’t even have much in the way of support, except in terms of the lower order staying with him, it was all his own doing.

Stokes finished with the best of the bowling figures, but in truth no one except Broad on the first day will look back on their performance with great pleasure, and the frustration of the captain was evident.

As always in such circumstances it is then all about how the team batting second respond, and England will be content with their overnight position. Alastair Cook was had a poor series, but here looked somewhere back towards his best, and if he goes on tomorrow then the match could get extremely interesting. The concern will be that the pitch showed signs of unevenness as early as today, with Compton being desperately unlucky to receive one that whistled past his ear off a length, and then a grubber which gave him no chance whatever. If the pitch continues to deteriorate, England are going to have to bat exceptionally well to get close.

Should they do so, and with South African memories of a third innings collapse still fresh in their minds, England will look to strike, but at this stage and with such a big lead, the home team are warm favourites to win the so called dead rubber. 

Hales failed to get going, and while he has made pleasant runs this series, he’s failed to get the big score that would get the critics off his back. But England need to make a decision on this, for the revolving door of openers not called Cook whenever there is a mediocre series is becoming rather busy with discarded batsmen. If a player is considered sufficiently talented then a longer stint in situ with a clear brief that the player in question is being backed might be the way to go.

Day three comments below.


38 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 4th Test, day two

  1. alecpaton Jan 23, 2016 / 7:35 pm

    Hales should at least get the England summer (although Cook’s partnership with Compton today implies the latter should never have been dropped in the first place). Or England could persevere with choosing a new opening batsman with the start of each series.

    I feel bad for Chris Woakes. He was a recipient of bad luck with the fielders but has shown little to recommend him otherwise with the red ball at test level. Given he can’t get a proper run in the side (and won’t have the opportunity until Anderson retires) so he needs to make the most of what chances he gets.


  2. Rohan Jan 23, 2016 / 8:39 pm

    Spot on about the opening position TLG. At some point they (Bayliss et al) need to pick an opener they believe has the talent to succeed and back them over a longer period than has been the case so far. I hope this opener is Hales, but I am not so sure.

    I can’t help but feel that Hales has been tried because they felt they had to, whilst the whole time it is Compton they want back in the openers slot. I think, however, they were not sure if he (Compton) could settle in the team/be trusted (due to the previous we have read about). So they put him in at 3 to see if he could do well and if so, he will be promoted in the summer at Hale’s expense…… least that’s my theory.


    • jennyah46 Jan 23, 2016 / 10:40 pm

      Baylis is on record as saying that he wants two attacking batsmen in his top three. Compton was selected simply because he was the best that we have got. He was never pencilled in as the opener, for this series at least.


  3. Jamie Jan 23, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    I too expect Compton to be promoted to open and think this would the wisest choice for the next year or two. He’s shown enough at three and his slower scoring rate should be less of an issue with the firepower down the order. Strict instructions to see off the new ball however he sees fit. Would like to see Taylor at three with Ballance / Vince at five.

    I wouldn’t be overtly against Hales getting a longer run to see if he can show something we haven’t seen, but it appears that better and more technically suited players have been discarded before him and I think we risk it detrimentally affecting his shorter format ability. It’s not just the low scores (obviously Cook’s haven’t been much better in this series), it’s his manner at the crease and the mode of his dismissals.

    Obviously we don’t want to prolong the merry-go-round, but probably worse to continue to back what clearly appears to be the wrong horse.


  4. jennyah46 Jan 23, 2016 / 10:55 pm

    Lyth when he was scoring, and I know that wasn’t often, was the only one who has looked the part. I would have stuck with him but we will never know how that might have turned out.

    Before I saw that Compton was as pedestrian as ever I would have had him opening to give Hales a bit of protection at three, but with hindsight I doubt that it would have worked. Hales would have been challenged wherever he had batted.

    I guess Compton is the best we have got as the next opener if they drop Hales. Not the ideal partner for Cook but there is no one else. It might turn out ok in the end as did Cook’s captaincy. It’s a good thing we stuck with him!


    • Rpoultz Jan 24, 2016 / 7:53 am

      If the next opener turns out as good as cooks captaincy has then I am not sure how good that is going to be. Will his opener get three years to settle into the role as opener, regardless of runs/results get his place guaranteed in the side and then hopefully teams will get worse so when you this person does well against them it will be all down to their batting genius??

      Liked by 1 person

      • jennyah46 Jan 24, 2016 / 1:22 pm

        Ok ok! Lol. Point well made.


  5. northernlight71 Jan 23, 2016 / 11:00 pm

    Is there any point commenting on the Guardian anymore? I’ve had two wiped out today for no good reason I can see. The tale of staffieman’s deletion is desolate as well.
    Off topic, I know. It just makes me *so* sad.


    • Arron Wright Jan 23, 2016 / 11:16 pm

      The simple answer is no.

      It’s a total embarrassment.


    • Arron Wright Jan 23, 2016 / 11:24 pm

      Speaking of which:

      “snivelling little celebrity sycophants whose understanding of cricket stretches no further than a tweet :-)”

      wctt there, ingratiating himself with aquitted, as you do.

      New byline for the blog, Dmitri?


      • northernlight71 Jan 23, 2016 / 11:46 pm

        Insult the right posters and be left there. Insult the friends of Selvey and get modded!


      • Zephirine Jan 24, 2016 / 12:31 am

        There are some real genuine trolls infesting that place now, not just amateurs like wctt and duc but people whose only reason for being on any site is to stir up arguments and trade personal abuse. And they don’t necessarily get modded.

        Meanwhile the really knowledgeable, nice people have mostly gone. So BTL is becoming what people like Mike Selvey have always said it was, a bunch of idiots and weirdos.

        Call me a snob, but it irks me to be part of someone else’s self-fulfilling prophecy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Jan 24, 2016 / 2:58 am

        No. That would be “you’re dangerous”. One of the funnier things said about us.


  6. Grenville Jan 24, 2016 / 1:48 am

    Re: openers, Carberry should never have been dropped. I’d have him back. Re the rest of the order, KP should never have been dropped. I’d drop one of Taylor and Compton, put the remaining one at 3 and have a 4, 5 of Root and Pietersen.

    Re: the G. I never commented there because, well, you guys always knew more and put it better. I always read BTL because it was both informative and a respectful place where disagreement occurred. Now I don’t even read it. I miss it, and I was not part of it.

    PS. If Cook doesn’t like my selection, I’d drop him instead.


  7. thebogfather Jan 24, 2016 / 8:33 am

    Selfish wish for the day….. Cook doesn’t get to 10000 nor his ton, KP gives us another big reminder of what we’re missing with a match winning innings


    • Arron Wright Jan 24, 2016 / 9:32 am


      Part One has gone all right.

      Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH Jan 24, 2016 / 9:40 am

        Cheer yourself up about humanity by some of the replies here:

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 24, 2016 / 10:11 am

          Have I missed any muted classics?

          Maxie still fighting the good fight.


      • LordCanisLupus Jan 24, 2016 / 10:16 am

        Some people sick that they haven’t been able to pile in because KP didn’t fail. Sick.

        I seem to recall someone this week wrote this:

        Mentally weak. Seriously the best yet.


      • Sherwick Jan 24, 2016 / 1:05 pm

        Looking at those responses to Hoult and Maxie, I now know that English cricket support is forever fractured. Despite loving England cricket with love and passion since the 70s, I have absolutely nothing in common with the KP haters. How and why a person who brought so much joy to fans and success to England can be so despised is a mystery to me. I will never forgive those comments against KP, especially by the press.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright Jan 24, 2016 / 9:47 am

      He’ll reach 10,000 at Lord’s.

      Which is only right*

      *feel free to interpret this any way you like ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • Sherwick Jan 24, 2016 / 11:02 am

      Next they’ll be saying that he’s too timid as well.


    • jennyah46 Jan 24, 2016 / 1:25 pm

      I’m surprised at you Boggie.


      • Sherwick Jan 24, 2016 / 1:35 pm

        My wish too.


      • thebogfather Jan 24, 2016 / 6:04 pm

        Jen! Calm down…

        I didn’t want Cook to fail per se – after all he had already passed 50. I just could not face the puff pieces and overblown nonsense that would comprise so called ‘reporting’ over the next few days. I fully acknowledge his run-scoring abilities and even accept that he has finally learned how to captain reasonably well at last.

        However, I still don’t think he was totally whiter than white in the KP saga.

        Being a lover of KP’s batting, I also wanted him to further shove it back down the throats of the ECB mandarins and complicit MSM who deprived US of seeing him play for England.

        Finally Jen, I hope our plant is thriving, despite you leaving it on its lonesome whilst sunning yourself in SL! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  8. d'Arthez Jan 24, 2016 / 10:31 am

    It looked like a draw, but then again, it is obvious there are no middle order slots up for grabs, right?


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 24, 2016 / 10:42 am

      I like Taylor but he should be feeling the same heat as Hales and Compton. That he isn’t is based on his miracle catching at short leg, and, I think there may be other, more pernicious reasons!


      • rpoultz Jan 24, 2016 / 10:50 am

        Agree that Taylor’s short leg exploits have overshadowed his under performance with bat. Very reminiscent of bell in the 05 ashes series.

        I hope he does well but then again each time he does well the comment about the south African born Kevin Pietersen not rating him will come out again


      • Sherwick Jan 24, 2016 / 12:12 pm

        To be fair, Bell’s exploits in the 05 Ashes were far worse. Take a look at what happened in the final Oval test..


    • d'Arthez Jan 24, 2016 / 10:55 am

      Hales does not seem to be working out (though of course, there are easier series to debut in – but for one, but playing in a tough away tour did not save Carberry either). I doubt Hales will be spared the axe.

      So new face #9, or promote Compton to open? That potentially leaves a hole at #3 or #5.

      I for one, had argued for years that Taylor should have been picked. A bit of perseverance is warranted. Still no one can be picked for their fielding skills alone.Then again, batting in the UAE and South Africa are not the easiest of prospects to begin with, even against South Africa without their two best bowlers playing a serious part in the series. I think he’ll come good.


  9. Escort Jan 24, 2016 / 11:13 am

    Following up on a comment a couple of days ago about the media being to close to the team did anybody else hear Jonathon Agnew personally thank Mark Boucher for talking to Jonny Bairstow and offering advice, Boucher said that Bairstow had made the initial contact so it wasn’t as though Agnew was acting as an intermediary.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 24, 2016 / 11:42 am

      I think the longer your response, E, the more likely it is to get through without being “spam”.

      Just a guess!


  10. Zephirine Jan 24, 2016 / 2:19 pm


    Kevin Pietersen was in a belligerent mood. The Englishman was in rare form at the ‘G, crashing five sixes in his 74 (38) to provide the backbone of the Stars innings. With his fourth half-century of BBL|05, he passed 300 runs for the tournament and again showed why he’s been one of the batsmen of his generation.

    (BBL website)


  11. Rohan Jan 24, 2016 / 4:33 pm

    Seeing as all England squads are selected on merit, then surely Kevin Pietersen must be selected for the T20 World Cup and then considered for the summer test squad. For those who don’t know, Kevin is a South African born batsman who endured a difficult winter in 2013/14, but since then has been playing some remarkable innings.

    In the BBL (one of the premiere T20 tournaments in the world) he has just scored over 300 runs, at an average of 40 and strike rate of 159. Now we all now how fair handed and even minded Cook and those who run the England team are, so I am sure that Kevin Pietersen must be on their radar.

    I expect that the ECB and England management are, as we speak, working out how to build their T20 team around this maverick who has come from nowhere, with these stunning innings. Although doubts remain about his mental toughness. After all he only scores runs in the second division in county cricket.

    Imagine if some of this was true and KP was unleashed on the world T20, I think, with a definite point to prove, he would excel and show everyone what he can do………


    • Sherwick Jan 24, 2016 / 5:16 pm

      “Seeing as all England squads are selected on merit”

      You lost me there.


      • Rohan Jan 24, 2016 / 5:26 pm

        Tongue firmly in cheek Sherwick!


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