South Africa vs England: 4th Test, day three

One of the common criticisms of England in this match has been that they have looked off the pace, and far less intense now that the series has been won. I’ve alluded to it myself too, and as today’s play proceeded, it occurred to me that I’m just not into this match.

It’s not because South Africa are plainly winning it, but it might be because of the lack of meaning in terms of the series result. Or perhaps it could be that if England aren’t up for it, why should anyone else be either? Whatever the reason, and despite the cricket being more than passable, it’s very much a background interest in the way that the first three Test were not.

Perhaps if there were a fifth Test to be played, as the ECB of the past said they wanted, then the jeopardy of the series would make it more required viewing than it is. Judging by the number of comments in comparison to normal, it could be the sense of it all being underwhelming is shared. Or it could be because these articles are crap.

That’s a pity though, for in Kagiso Rabada, we may be watching the emergence of a rare fast bowling talent. He destroyed the England middle order with some outstanding bowling. He is only 20, and as such there are good days and bad days, but he has pace, and the ability to move the ball. No England player looks entirely comfortable against him.

The difference between the first innings scores was 133, which represented something of a triumph for England after they’d sunk to 211-5 after a decent start. That they got as close as that was mostly down to first Ben Stokes, whose 33 runs had more effect in turning the tide than the runs scored suggests, and particularly Moeen Ali, who marshalled the tail (such as it is) wonderfully. He remains a frustration in that he needs to score more runs than he is, but when he’s in full flow there are few if any players more gorgeous to watch.

With the early loss of Dean Elgar, there was a small chance of putting South Africa under real pressure, but Amla and Cook saw it through to the early finish.

175 ahead with 9 wickets left on a pitch that is noticeably wearing and becoming harder to bat on is a position of complete control.   Even another hundred runs would probably be too much, so unless there’s a miracle session for England tomorrow morning, they’re going to probably lose.

The one concern for the home team will be the fitness of Kyle Abbott, off the field with a hamstring injury. Down to two seam bowlers and without even the club medium pace of Van Zyl to call on, they’ll be twitchy if England keep them out for any length of time. Still, you’d back them to ensure it doesn’t matter.

Day Four discussion below.


59 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 4th Test, day three

  1. Rohan Jan 24, 2016 / 5:25 pm

    The articles are most definitely not crap! 😀 They are 👌. Watching Rabada bowl this morning was superb a brilliant spell. I am disappointed, however, that we were not able to see him in tandem with Steyn and Philander, now that would have been a sight…….

    I think, perhaps, the apathy stems from the fact that this series was billed as a real test for England. The number one side against the youngsters with potential. We have all realised, unfortunately, that SA are not the number one team and, therefore, this has diminished the achievement of going 2-0 up slightly. It feels like we have missed out on what could have been a crackerjack of a series due to SA being weakened by injury etc…..cheated slightly?

    Anyway, keep those articles coming 🍔😉


    • Benny Jan 24, 2016 / 6:00 pm

      Absolutely Rohan. This series has been a bit of a curate’s egg. I’m disappointed not to have seen Steyn and AB doing their stuff. Delighted to watch Rabada and Broad bowling superbly plus Finn till he got injured. I enjoy fierce battles in tests and there hasn’t been too much that is fierce, although Stokes and today’s pitch was interesting.

      Oh yes, without these articles my life would be a lot duller

      Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright Jan 24, 2016 / 6:03 pm

      That’s certainly how I feel about the series.

      Should also draw attention to a point made by Dmitri, and (it seems) precious few inside cricket. England don’t just lose dead rubbers. They have lost six of their last seven final Tests, and of those defeats only the Ashes Tests at Sydney and The Oval had no bearing on the series result.


  2. Rpoultz Jan 24, 2016 / 6:15 pm

    Despite all the media willing to tell us how many strides this England team is making their record since 2014 summer began is still mediocre (careful Colin). 10 wins to 8 losses not including this test, isn’t a remarkable record.

    Botham has been very vocal in saying this is fine that we are not at the races at this test but this isn’t the 70s/80s where teams might have ‘taken a test off’ after the series was won. However, you would have England having been on the end of a few whitewashes would know the standard required to finish off a series well. It’s not acceptable for the fans paying money to travel to support them if they aren’t performing at the back end of series.


  3. SimonH Jan 24, 2016 / 6:20 pm

    Rabada’s second five-for before he’s 21. Only thirteen players have taken more – and only two from outside Asia (Streak and Vettori).


    • RufusSG Jan 25, 2016 / 12:29 pm

      That’s a typically superb piece from Jarrod – it really puts in perspective just how good South Africa have been for such a long period, and going nine years without losing an away series, especially considering how poorly most teams travel these days, whilst also touching on the many self-inflicted wounds they’ve inflicted upon themselves that have damaged their image on and off the field, even when succeeding in spite of them (the “chokers” tag, and the problems the quota system has caused, etc.).

      I think the point about them not being an especially “cool” side, more one that was simply stupendously efficient at going about its business, is a perceptive piece of analysis as to why they’ve never been romanticised like the great West Indian teams, for example (de Villiers and Steyn are possibly the only genuinely “cool” players they’ve had in this run, as much of a disservice as that does to as wonderful a player as Amla). Not many people would tell you that their favourite player was Graeme Smith or Jacques Kallis, for example, yet in their own ways will remain absolute titans of their country’s cricketing legacy (my respect for Smith has grown immensely in recent years when you realise just how much of himself he gave to that team). Despite this, I do think that among fans, at any rate, I’ve never heard anyone question that the South African side of this time wasn’t one of cricket’s great teams on some level of the hierarchy.


  4. d'Arthez Jan 25, 2016 / 9:02 am

    AB collects a pair.

    And is anyone seriously believing that the South African selectors are sensible? Three wicketkeepers this series, and none of them got consecutive Tests. Duminy dropped after the first Test. He batted below Bavuma then. Now he bats at five, above Bavuma. If you can’t back a batsman to bat at 7, why restore him to the team to bat at #5?

    Big question for the remainder of the match is whether Rabada, Morkel and Piedt, with the occasional offerings from Elgar and Duminy will suffice for South Africa. Target is now 200, but obviously no need to declare yet.


    • RufusSG Jan 25, 2016 / 12:04 pm

      South Africa’s selection policy has indeed at times been very baffling, with no real consistency at all: I definitely share much of the confusion you’ve expressed regularly throughout the series. What would your ideal team for them be, out of interest? I’d probably go with, in this batting order: Elgar, Cook, Amla, AB, du Plessis (provided he pulls his finger out and gets back into form, then Rilee Rossouw if not), Bavuma, de Kock, Piedt, Rabada, Steyn (provided he’s fit, then Abbott if not), Morkel. Obviously if Philander returns to fitness I’d think about squeezing him in somewhere: in South Africa’s defence, they’ve got a lot on their plate at the moment, with many of their players struggling with injury and form, to say nothing of the quota policy affecting things too.


      • Mark Jan 25, 2016 / 12:19 pm

        It isn’t just the South African selectors either. England have been extremely lucky in the last year from idiotic selection policies of their opponents.

        How the Australians left out Peter Siddle on seaming green English wickets where line and length bowling was the order of the day is anybodies guess. No doubt our media will put it down to the genius of our captain who confused them with his tactical 12 dimensional chess brain.


      • d'Arthez Jan 25, 2016 / 12:31 pm

        Your team is quite close to what I would have picked, with the only issue possibly being #5 and #6 (which is basically two out of Faf, Duminy, Bavuma), de Kock at 7, Steyn, Morkel, Piedt, Rabada. Possibly dropping Piedt for Philander when he returns (depending on the wicket of course).

        The injuries are also a result of the lopsided calendar. Before the India series, South Africa had played 8 Tests since March 2014 (1 of which was a near total washout too). So that is roughly 1 Test in 2 months – with the longest series being 3 Test (against West Indies, and even that had a Test that barely lasted 200 overs, due to rain). Now they play 8 in 3 months.

        As I detailed in a previous thread, Amla and AB de Villiers account for about 55% of SA’s Test experience this match (numbers differ slightly due to dropping, chopping etc, with Morne taking another 20% or so.

        Six of the current 11 South Africans have played less than ten Tests. That number is only 3 for England (Woakes, Taylor, Hales; two of whom will be very lucky to get beyond that mark). Even Moeen, who only debuted in May 2014, is playing his 23rd Test right now. That is the kind of playing time that most other nations do not even come close to getting, due to financial imperatives / Big 3 stitch up. At least the “youthful / inexperienced” side should be laid to rest with regard to England now.


      • RufusSG Jan 25, 2016 / 12:41 pm

        In hindsight, not picking Siddle earlier in the Ashes was indeed foolish, seeing how well he bowled in that last test (I think it may have saved his career). However, I can kind of understand the scepticism the Australian selectors may have had towards picking him: he’s been steadily losing pace for the past year and a half and been dropped several times, and was largely unthreatening in the county games between the tests. In the Australian home tests this winter, he’s been tidy and reasonably penetrative if not lethal (seven wickets in three tests at 33), and has been rested/rotated a couple of times to preserve his energy and what pace he still has. So whilst in retrospect I agree they should clearly have selected Siddle earlier in the Ashes I can see the reasons why they may have been reluctant to do so. It’s not leaving-out-Hauritz-in-2009 levels bad.


  5. Topshelf Jan 25, 2016 / 9:03 am

    De Villiers’ first Test duck didn’t come until his 110th Test innings, which I have a feeling is some sort of record.

    That his 1st Test pair has come at the hands of Broad and Anderson is nice schadenfreude for the England camp after his pre-match comments.

    I don’t suppose he’ll mind too much when he gets his 1st Test victory around tea tomorrow.


    • SimonH Jan 25, 2016 / 9:58 am

      Stasguru reckons it was his 78th innings which is still a record (ahead of Aravinda De Silva):

      ABDV has also collected his first pair in his 106th Test. I can’t find any records about longest stretches without a pair – can anyone oblige?


      • Topshelf Jan 25, 2016 / 7:08 pm

        @SimonH Thanks for the correction – was on my phone on a lesser website and missed the Bangladesh one. At least I was right about the record.

        Went straight to the top for the most matches without a pair – Sachin never got one in 200 Tests, which will no doubt be the record for all time.

        Pleasingly, one DI Gower holds the record for most Test innings between ducks, with 119.

        As to the pre-match comments, it is indeed clear that Anderson has lost pace. But I can’t see how having a dig before a dead rubber could have any sort of positive outcome. I’m pretty sure AB has a reputation for not being the brightest, and this might be more evidence that way.


    • northernlight71 Jan 25, 2016 / 1:06 pm

      His pre-match comments were simple unarguable facts, blown out of proportion by the usual suspects, hacking their living for the dying medium of newspapers.
      Anderson and Broad really are a pair of simpletons if they truly got riled up by it. But let them pretend they did so there’s some nice play-acting out on the field for the spectators to enjoy.
      As for the actual cricket . . . well, I’m not sure anybody really cares much anymore?


      • Benny Jan 25, 2016 / 1:54 pm

        It is kind of pathetic. Do our quickies not try as hard, unless the opposition winds them up?

        Similarly, when McGrath talked about “targetting” the England skipper, was he suggesting he’d give the other batsmen an easy ride? Probably not


  6. pktroll (@pktroll) Jan 25, 2016 / 9:37 am

    I actually thought England might have a little chance if they can wrap SA up with not much more than a 300 lead. However loose bowling from Ali and Woakes in particular is pushing the initiative more firmly in SAs favour if it had ever really been away.


  7. Rpoultz Jan 25, 2016 / 12:26 pm

    Literally no idea what Chris woakes brings to test cricket. Good county player but just isn’t enough at the top level


    • Grenville Jan 25, 2016 / 1:12 pm

      His skin is a different colour to Jordan’s? I am not sure that Chris Jordan is really a good enough bowler to be in the test side, but he is more likely to take wickets than Woakes. That is what I want from my 3rd/4th seamer. It is probably my bias, but I do feel that the ECB spend a lot of time finding reasons not to pick non-white players.


      • Rpoultz Jan 25, 2016 / 2:35 pm

        That’s a big call. To be honest I don’t think that is the case as such. The ecb will find many reasons not to pick a certain player I grant you but racial bias would be a step too far for me.

        I would take Jordan over woakes for sure. He isn’t the most consistent bowler but can bowl wicket taking deliveries which is something woakes does not. Perhaps it shows that the pace bowling stocks are not as full as some would have us believe. Without Finn this test we have looked toothless.


      • Grenville Jan 25, 2016 / 3:51 pm

        I don’t think that they have a deliberate pro-white policy, but, it seems to me, that non-white players find it harder to get in the team and easier to get out. Could be my anti-establishment chip obscuring my vision.


      • Mark Jan 25, 2016 / 3:59 pm

        I have to agree with RPOULTZ. God knows there are enough things I hate about the ECB, and despite what some of the people in power there may think privately, I really don’t think they stop players playing because of colour. (Wrong type of family or school may be more of a problem.)

        England have been the most diverse of test cricket teams for the last 30 years. That is what happens when you live in the age after empire.


  8. d'Arthez Jan 25, 2016 / 1:56 pm

    So, four hours in, and we already need an overrate of 15+/ hour to get all the overs in.


    • d'Arthez Jan 25, 2016 / 2:10 pm

      Correction, that was 4.5 hours in. Overrate of less than 13.


  9. thebogfather Jan 25, 2016 / 3:14 pm

    Don’t tell Jen, but it’s ‘hope Cook doesn’t reach 10000 part two’ time….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine Jan 25, 2016 / 3:23 pm

      I was thinking that.
      Now I just think OK, get on with it and get the runs and then the fan club can all roll about in ecstasy for a while and then we can, ahem, ‘move on’.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Rpoultz Jan 25, 2016 / 3:26 pm

        It really doesn’t matter whether he gets there now. Whatever runs he gets for me will always have an asterisk next to them with the words ‘sacked the only player near him who could have scored more runs than him’ . Great achievement when he gets there but tainted in my eyes

        Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright Jan 25, 2016 / 3:31 pm

      Re my weekend post about Cook reaching 10,000 runs at Lord’s:

      I honestly thought Lord’s was the first Test of the summer! I meant to suggest that it would be entirely appropriate for him to reach 10,000 in front of lots of people from the right kind of family, and hence receive the kind of ovation that would make Southampton look like Old Trafford under Van Gaal.


      • Zephirine Jan 25, 2016 / 4:11 pm

        They could have charged extra high prices for such a momentous occasion.


    • Badger Jan 25, 2016 / 3:38 pm

      Looks like we’re safe until the Summer…


      • Rpoultz Jan 25, 2016 / 3:44 pm

        Imagine that innings from cook has secured his final series rating of 8 from scyld berry.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Mark Jan 25, 2016 / 3:41 pm

    SA didn’t know IT was going to rain, but I really don’t know why they batted on so long. They may as well lose the series 3-0 as 2-1. With the forecast for rain again tomorrow they will run out of time. The modern fear of giving the opposition even a sniff of victory makes so many final innings about survival only.


    • jomesy Jan 25, 2016 / 4:22 pm

      I had wondered if they knew it was going to rain and wanted a bit of dampness in the wicket??


  11. SimonH Jan 25, 2016 / 3:47 pm


    • Mark Jan 25, 2016 / 3:53 pm

      Shouldn’t think Cooks average is much better. I heard someone mention 23. Don’t know if that’s right. Can’t be bothered to work it out.

      Anyway, it’s TINA now as far as his batting is concerned. Once his captaincy was TINA, now it’s his batting that is TINA. We can’t even find a partner for him.


      • Arron Wright Jan 25, 2016 / 3:55 pm

        Cook’s average is his lowest-ever in a series of three or more Tests.

        I just posted this, but the link seems to be causing a delay.


        • LordCanisLupus Jan 25, 2016 / 4:05 pm

          Both you and Simon had a post in trash. They have been liberated.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 25, 2016 / 4:02 pm

      TMS has a tweet on Compton averaging 30 with 240 odd ruins and whether he has convinced.

      184 at 23? That would be abusive.


      • Mark Jan 25, 2016 / 4:06 pm

        Don’t think the managements policy of trying to get Compton to play a few more shots has been very effective.


      • Arron Wright Jan 25, 2016 / 4:08 pm

        I dare someone to post this stat BTL on the Guardian tonight. Without comment or negative judgement, just as a fact.


      • d'Arthez Jan 25, 2016 / 4:16 pm

        On the bright side, Cook has scored a century this tour. Pity for the ECB, it was Stephen. Pity for CSA, they only bothered to pick Stephen for the dead rubber.


  12. Mark Jan 25, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    Just like to remind everyone…………..



    Just wanted to clear that up!


  13. Arron Wright Jan 25, 2016 / 4:21 pm

    Go on then, someone. Defend Hawkeye.


  14. Mike Westerton Jan 25, 2016 / 5:26 pm

    Thought this was a serious website for cricket lovers, but sadly reading the comments it would appear it’s just a bunch of oddballs who slag off the England players for beating the Aussies and SA by luck/accident. Apparently when England win it’s because the opposition is poor. And as for the nonsense about racism: the bowling coach, who is part of the selection of who plays, is probably NOT going to be a racist for reasons that should be obvious. What a hate filled bunch. A very apt name for the blog: you’re outside cricket because you were probably never in it. Thank god real cricket supporters enjoy and love the game.


    • thelegglance Jan 25, 2016 / 5:47 pm

      1) welcome

      2) we tend not to moderate much and allow discussion. You’ll note your post is allowed for the same reason

      3) your post seems somewhat hate filled. Feel free to disagree with people, it’s allowed

      4) with reference to point 2, there’s a difference between a blog and comments. Point 3 tends to make it clear how to deal with that

      5) since you claim to be Inside Cricket, please let us know your qualifications to be so, under strict PCA/ECB criteria

      6) please do also let us know how a “real cricket supporter” is defined.

      Looking forward to hearing from you.


    • Rpoultz Jan 25, 2016 / 5:51 pm

      Is everything alright at home Mike?

      Can you let me know how I get inside cricket please? I play ebrry Saturday and Sunday, and also midweek. I also go to county games and test matches. I pay for a sky subscription and follow cricket online and in print. If I am missing something then please let me know. Although I doubt you will be back


    • RufusSG Jan 25, 2016 / 6:06 pm

      I’m not going to pretend my views are as extreme, and my discontent as great, as those held by the blog’s regulars: I took great delight and enjoyment in England’s wins against both Australia and South Africa, although I feel like there’s a lot to improve on, and I still derive pleasure from seeing both Cook and Pietersen doing well, and feel like both men get a lot of stick that isn’t merited, not one over the other. However, posts like these suggest that you haven’t really bothered working out why these people are so angry and disillusioned in the first place, or what “outside cricket” actually means in the context it’s usually discussed here.

      I’m not intending to speak for anyone individually here, but it’s clear to me that many of the people here have followed the sport passionately for years, only for recent decisions made by the administrative bodies supposedly looking after the game, like the Big Three formation, to leave them gravely concerned with the future of where the sport may go and whether it can survive in the most competitive way like this. I still enjoy every cricket match from any country I watch fervently, but can you not see why such self-serving administration and their perceived damage to the sport we all love would make some people angry? If you actually try to discuss and engage with the people here respectfully, as I enjoy doing, you’ll find there’s actually plenty of common ground and concerns about the game’s future we should all share.

      Liked by 1 person

    • northernlight71 Jan 25, 2016 / 6:44 pm

      True lovers of the game would have little time for the current “Big 3” carve up of the international game, and would probably hope that more people were able to both watch cricket on free TV and be inspired to play it as they grew up.
      But that’s not the view of the ECB, and that’s why everything they touch – including the England team – is currently tainted.


    • Ian Jan 25, 2016 / 7:05 pm

      Hello again Neil!


      • Zephirine Jan 25, 2016 / 8:10 pm

        Yes, I did wonder if Mr Westerton owns a grey blazer.


      • Rohan Jan 25, 2016 / 8:28 pm

        From what I have seen of other regular adversaries of this blog on Twitter, there are a few others I could think of, who this kind of statement would sit well with!


    • Mark Jan 25, 2016 / 7:20 pm

      “Thought this was a serious website for cricket lovers”

      How modest of you to think you get to decide what is a real cricket lover. Apparently all you need to do to be a real cricket fan is discard your critical intelligence and just suck ECB cock all your life. Thanks but I’ll give that a miss.

      As for “hate filled” I suggest you look at the bile and hatred slung at KP in the last 24 hours by your chums on the inside of cricket. If that is an example of the sort of person who boasts as being inside cricket them I wear as a badge of honour and integrity being on the outside.

      Anyway, nice of you to drop by. Delighted you view our opinion as worth commenting on. Thanks for playing!


      • LordCanisLupus Jan 25, 2016 / 7:33 pm

        Being at work, and not getting home until now, means that I don’t get to change much in the way of posts/comments, even if I wanted to. The functionality of wordpress on a mobile is decent, but not great.

        I knew something would be made of Grenville’s comment, but felt it was discussed properly. Just as when Rohan mentioned a poke in the eye last night, I thought “oh well, someone thinks we’re coming after them with knuckle-dusters” or something.

        I don’t think “suck ECB cock” adds to the sum of human knowledge, Mark (oooh, I’m telling you off!) but that’s how it works round here. Each commenter is responsible for their own actions.

        To address Mike Westerton’s points…. nah. Oddballs. Says it all really. I plead guilty. I must be odd to write a blog on cricket when the vast majority of the country couldn’t give a flying toss about it. That’s odd. I was never a real fan of cricket so I wrote a blog about it.

        Have a day off.


    • Escort Jan 25, 2016 / 8:12 pm

      If believing that the England team should be selected on merit only makes me currently outside cricket then I guess I’ll have to live with that. if also believing that most of the MSM are far to close to the team to be able to give an objective view of how things are also makes me outside cricket then I guess I am in your view “hate filled”.


  15. sherwick Jan 25, 2016 / 5:54 pm

    Cool. I’m also an ‘oddball’ now! 🙂

    A bilious oddball.

    Couldn’t be happier!


    • Zephirine Jan 25, 2016 / 8:11 pm

      You’re not real either. Nor am I. Fun, isn’t it?


  16. Rohan Jan 25, 2016 / 8:24 pm

    Oddballs, a new line to add? Being outside cricket, a place for hate filled oddballs……hehe.

    Would love to see Mike Westerton respond thoughtfully, intelligently and considerately to the questions posed to him above; could he manage that!

    Hope I didn’t get you in trouble last night Dmitri, but don’t fear I don’t own a knuckle duster and never have😀👍. I do have a cricket bat though 😉……… For playing cricket of course!


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