England vs South Africa: 2nd Test, Day 3 – Doomed

Barring the kind of sporting miracle that a few always cling to, England will lose this match, probably tomorrow, and it’s all down to their batting performance on the second day.  Today certainly wasn’t the worst England have played – they bowled reasonably enough – but the gap between the sides after the first innings meant that to have even the slightest chance they would have needed something exceptional, indeed to skittle a South African side entirely content to accumulate runs.

There are things England could have done better; certainly the delayed introduction of spin was highlighted by the way Dawson and in particular Moeen took wickets once they were finally used, but any suggestion that this was the difference between winning and losing would be rather extreme.  England toiled hard and bowled well enough in the morning session, but they were always going to be in a situation of trying to limit the damage as much as they could after the initial burst failed to bring results.  South Africa played it exactly right – not for them the abandon of attacking batting, they played as though it was a Test match, taking minimal risks and continuing to build on their already overwhelming advantage.  It was curious to hear the commentators criticising them for this fairly early on.  Despite at the time the best part of three days to go, the desire to see them throw the bat was present on both television and radio.  Perhaps it was a subconscious wish for England to get back into the game, for it is hard to comprehend why with so much time left to play it was remotely in the tourists’ interests to take risks with their position.  Perhaps the influence of T20 has become so pervasive that even observers can’t cope with a team playing decent Test cricket any more, for South Africa were hardly particularly slow – they were simply using the time honoured tactic of grinding England into the dirt.

Elgar and Amla did the damage early on, looking in little trouble as they made a strong position completely dominant.  By the time both were dismissed their team already had enough on the board to be strong favourites even if they’d stopped there, and neither dismissal was expected at the time given their level of comfort.  England did miss one opportunity, failing to spot a thin edge from Amla when on 25, but of their DRS problems this series, that was the least damning – players have missed hearing edges from the dawn of time.  They did get one right when Amla had reached 87, Dawson’s introduction bringing the overturning of a not out decision that was entirely understandable as he advanced down the pitch.

By this stage the surface was showing signs of some wear, if a long way from being unplayable.  The lbw of Faf Du Plessis will have sent tremors of uncertainty through England ranks given how low it kept from short of a length, but for the seamers at least, it was unusual to see the ball misbehave that much.  There was some spin to be had, as should be expected in the second half of a Test match.  Dawson had the advantage of bowling into the footholes to the left handers, but it was Moeen Ali who extracted more life, and looked the more threatening.  Part time offspinner England may consider him, but in the absence of Adil Rashid, he looks by far the more potent of the two spinners on show.  Dawson has done little to suggest he is the future, albeit from three Tests, and there are already whispers that his place might be under threat.  This is unfair because he hasn’t had anything like long enough to get used to Test cricket, or to learn, and should he not be retained then questions should be asked about his initial selection more than his performance, for if he isn’t deemed good enough, why was he thought good enough so recently?

Towards the back end of the innings, Philander and Morkel decided to attack, with Moeen bearing the brunt of their assault as he also took wickets.  In microcosm, this was a good sample of Moeen’s bowling career – expensive but taking wickets at frequent intervals.  His 4-78 represented unusually good figures for a spinner at Trent Bridge, albeit three of the wickets came from attempts to hit him out of the ground.  By that stage though, the target had exceeded world record levels, and with Philander’s departure, that was sufficient to invite the declaration and ask England to bat for a tricky 20 minute spell.

One thing is abundantly clear, short of an unexpected monsoon, this match is never going to be a draw.  England would have to bat 184 overs and if they did that they’d probably reach the target anyway.  Either they reach 474 (they won’t) or they will lose, and to that end to have even the slightest possibility (virtually nil) of winning then a good start was essential.  It so nearly got off to the worst possible start, Cook given out lbw first ball to Morne Morkel before successfully reviewing it.  In truth, it wasn’t a great decision, it always looked high and so it proved on Hawkeye.  But it must also be said it really wasn’t a great shot either – Cook was attempting to clip a good length straight ball through square leg.  He got away with it because Morkel is so tall, but it was a reminder that those who berated Moeen Ali for being caught at point tend to go much quieter when poor semi-defensive or defensive shots are played instead.

For the remainder of the four overs the two openers were under huge pressure.  Cook had another close lbw call against him when he again played across a pretty straight ball, while Jennings just about managed to control an outside edge and push it down in to the slip cordon.  Both these players could do with some runs.  Cook hasn’t been in the greatest of touch in Tests recently, but hardly disastrously so, while Jennings is suffering the murmurs of the press despite a more recent century of the two of them, and is only in his fourth match.  Cook quite clearly has a long fine record, but that observation is about him, it is about the seeming lack of patience with new players and the immediate pressure placed on them to succeed.  Cook had faith placed in him at various stages of his career, and perhaps dividends would be reaped if others received half that faith.  England are becoming very careless with opening batsmen.

They got through it, one way or another, and England can at least begin day four with all ten wickets intact.  It is hard to see anything other than a South Africa win, and a convincing one.  If England bat as they did in the first innings, it could be over in short order, but at least with Cook still there they have someone who could bat long and keep the game alive.  He’s not alone in that for the inexperienced Jennings has the temperament to do so, and so could Gary Ballance.  In the last case he really needs it.  Ballance does suffer in terms of perception from being anything but elegant, and this series he’s batted reasonably and not looked out of his depth, but without ever going on to make a score.

England could do themselves a big favour, even in defeat, by making a decent fist of their run chase.  There are question marks over their defensive techniques as a collective, and their ability to bat for long periods.  Falling over in a heap would make those criticisms louder and highlight to the opposition what they must already suspect – keep England subdued and they’ll get themselves out.  For England to come out of this match with their heads held high, they really need Alastair Cook to lead the way.

The trouble is, it’s all too easy to see England being all out by tea.



121 thoughts on “England vs South Africa: 2nd Test, Day 3 – Doomed

  1. jennyah46 Jul 16, 2017 / 7:12 pm

    Perhaps England and Tom Harrison will learn from this.


  2. Grenville Jul 16, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    My prediction, Cook will be out cheaply. He is rubbish in this sort of situation. He doesn’t make runs when games need saving. He scores when games need setting up.


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 16, 2017 / 7:36 pm

      Was actually there when he made a ton in very similar circumstances in Perth (2006). Thought it was a great effort in a losing cause. But the instances since have been few and far between.

      Going to be an interesting day. Minimum is England need to show some real fight. It’s something we’ve not seen for a while in a losing cause.


      • thelegglance Jul 16, 2017 / 7:39 pm

        His brilliant hundred in defeat at Ahmedabad in 2012 was critical in showing his team it could be done, and arguably was the pivotal moment on that tour.

        Liked by 2 people

      • d'Arthez Jul 16, 2017 / 8:28 pm

        Since then he has made all of 1 4th innings ton (against Bangladesh, in 2010).

        Excluding Bangladesh (2010, not exactly a great attack) and a non-existent West Indies attack, he averages 30 in the fourth innings. Which is decent, but hardly the stuff of legends.

        Ahmedabad (2012) was in a third innings losing cause.


        • Grenville Jul 16, 2017 / 11:07 pm

          Thanks for the stats, D’Arthez and jogging my cock-eyed memory, Dmitri and Legglance.


  3. "IronBalls" McGinty Jul 16, 2017 / 7:42 pm

    They have two full days, and ten wickets, to show that they can really play test cricket. If they’re all out tomorrow, then they obviously can’t, and need a rethink/regroup. If they bat two days, make a good fist of it, then, even if they fall short they will have redeemed themselves, and learned what test cricket is, going to the Oval.


  4. dannycricket Jul 16, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    Is Root in danger of being suspended over slow over rates? Lost overs both yesterday and today, and no obvious reason for it beyond fatigue from England’s bowlers after being in the field for almost three solid days.


      • dannycricket Jul 16, 2017 / 8:16 pm

        Quoting the ICC Player’s Code Of Conduct:

        “Where the actual over rate in any Test Match […] is more than five overs short of the Minimum Over Rate, such an offence shall be considered a “Serious Over Rate
        Offence””, with such an offence being an automatic 1 game suspension.

        By my count, we’ve lost 7 overs in the last two days, and England appear to be responsible.


        • thelegglance Jul 16, 2017 / 8:17 pm

          This happens almost every day. And they do nothing. I’ll be shocked if they take action.


          • d'Arthez Jul 16, 2017 / 8:36 pm

            By my math, the average over lasted 4 minutes and 14 seconds. Give or take a few seconds.That is 16 minutes subtracted for the 8 wickets lost, and 10 minutes for the changeover.

            So by my reckoning, England bowled 82 overs in 6 hours and 5 minutes to grab just 8 wickets – in other words, their average over lasted 4 minutes and 15 seconds. The same overrate as yesterday (and yesterday there seemed to be a few delays with injuries).


          • dannycricket Jul 16, 2017 / 8:43 pm

            Personally, I don’t see why allowances need to be made for taking wickets. Is it really an unexpected delay that wickets might fall during a 90 over period, which fielding captains couldn’t possibly have factored in to their required over rate?


          • d'Arthez Jul 16, 2017 / 8:50 pm

            So, you expect bowlers to bowl at stumps, when the new batsman is not in yet. Uh, that might be interesting …


          • dannycricket Jul 16, 2017 / 9:13 pm

            No, I expect 15 overs bowled per hour. Given there are 30 hours of play and 40 wickets to take in any Test match, it should be expected that there might be one or two wickets taken every hour. Therefore the bowling teams should probably aim for an over rate of 16 so they are still ahead when wickets (or boundaries, or any other aspects of the game which slightly delay it) inevitably occur.

            The only allowances I’d consider are for injury, of course, and truly unavoidable and unexpected delays. The sightscreen not working, spidercam being stuck over the field, a streaker, that kind of thing.


          • d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 4:21 am

            If you bowl a side out in 2 overs, that basically means, that you’d have to bowl the 10-12 balls within 8 minutes, and yet the batsmen coming in and out would already take 18 minutes … So the fielding captain would get suspended, for a sloppy overrate … Though the only thing he did wrong was to take 10 wickets in 2 overs. Uh, how is that the fault of the fielding team?

            That is about as farcical as declaration engineering we get to see quite a few times in the County Championship.


          • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2017 / 8:13 am

            Call me old fashioned or naive, but I think even I could draw up legislation for something like this. Minimum innings length. Tapered.


          • dannycricket Jul 17, 2017 / 7:15 am

            Well yes, I’m not aware of this ever happening in professional cricket but in theory a team could be bowled out within 2 overs. Even in this incredibly unlikely situation it only accounts for an extra 10 minutes, so why do teams with an extra 30 minutes still fail to bowl their overs? Additionally, it is fairly simple to legislate for this kind of collapse. The time taken for the batsman to face his first ball could considered like it is now if the innings ends within an hour or two of the wicket falling (excluding limited overs innings which finish at their regular 20/50-over length).


          • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2017 / 8:10 am

            On the presumption that 15 overs an hour deserves a merit badge.

            100 overs in a day. Can you imagine?


          • d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 10:24 am

            Trent Bridge 2015? Could would have gotten banned for bowling Australia out in 18.3 overs in 94 minutes. Overrate of less than 12 / hour. Uh, would that really have been fair on Cook?

            Graeme Smith, Cape Town 2010 – would have gotten banned for bowling Australia out in 18 overs in 95 minutes. Overrate of less than 12 / hour.


          • thelegglance Jul 17, 2017 / 11:46 am

            Not true. Even under the existing regulations, if the match finishes then over rate stipulations don’t apply. You can bowl five an hour as long as there aren’t unbowled overs, and with a result, there clearly aren’t.


          • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 11:56 am

            Good point LegGlance…

            With so many test matches ending inside 3 to 4 days they don’t care about over rates. Who cares if only 86 overs are bowled in a day when you don’t even make it to the 5 th day?


        • d'Arthez Jul 16, 2017 / 8:40 pm

          If I am not mistaken that over rate requirement is considered over the entire match. Just about anything from injuries sightscreen issues to reviews, boundaries hit, and such can / will be considered, and thus in practice the overrate needs to be roughly 13 / hour to avoid any suspensions …


          • thelegglance Jul 16, 2017 / 8:41 pm

            Yep, that’s my understanding too.


          • dannycricket Jul 16, 2017 / 8:47 pm

            “Boundaries hit” can be considered? What the chuffing hell? I can’t think of many jobs which are this lenient when it comes to getting your work done on time…


          • Sean B Jul 16, 2017 / 8:50 pm

            On the whole, they’re too scared of banning high profile players. How many times have Smith, Kohli and Cook been banned for slow over rates.

            They’re more than happy to let paying supporters get it in the shorts…


          • dannycricket Jul 16, 2017 / 8:55 pm

            Yes, it was noticable in the Champions Trophy that Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain Upul Tharanga was banned for his slow over rates whilst Kane Williamson got away with just a fine.


          • Sean B Jul 16, 2017 / 8:57 pm

            One set of rules for the big boys, another set of rules for everyone else..

            Naturally comes down to the money, can you imagine the backlash if Kohli missed the Mumbai Test over a slow over rate?? No-one would turn up!


          • SimonH Jul 17, 2017 / 9:18 am

            Misbah got a one-Test ban for a slow overrate in NZ in the winter… for a match he was going to miss anyway!

            The one time they really clamped down on overrates was in ODIs before the 2015 WC when I can remember Cook and ABDV among others being banned.

            When it’s an ICC flagship tournament they bothered, the rest of the time not so much (or at all).


          • d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 10:29 am

            I think Misbah did not know at the time he’d be going back to Pakistan. Think his father in law passed away shortly after that.

            Dhoni got a one-match suspension for a poor overrate at the WACA as well (2011). Think it was 77 overs in about 6 hours.


  5. Milano Expat Jul 16, 2017 / 8:30 pm

    Thanks for the report, I get very little coverage in Italy except from reading the odd paper.

    Were England bad or South Africa good?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Jul 16, 2017 / 8:31 pm

      Welcome! South Africa played well today, but England weren’t bad, it’s just that they were so far behind from yesterday.


      • Milano Expat Jul 16, 2017 / 8:43 pm

        Thank you, it’s quite difficult to tell with TMS these days. Too much waffle, not enough cricket.


        • Zephirine Jul 16, 2017 / 10:34 pm

          I’ve been listening to TMS (because for some reason I now can’t be bothered to buy a pass for NowTV) and God, it’s dull. It’s like a bad breakfast show that lasts all day, with all the presenters doing their little turns over and over again..

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Mark Jul 16, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    Close of play tomorrow, England 280/3.

    Needing just less than 200 on the final day. Cook is carried shoulder high from the field 240 not out by a delirious 39 and the cast CWOTV.

    I’ll get my coat……..


    • SimonH Jul 17, 2017 / 7:38 am

      Just 280 runs in a day? Boring!

      Essex and Glamorgan scored 443 in 40 overs with 29 sixes yesterday. That’s what the kidz want to see – and if you doubt it I’ll leak a rigged survey to #39 to prove it.


  7. man in a barrel Jul 16, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    I saw little of the play but a few things worried me. Amla is getting close to good form and yet still scored runs at will against Dawson. Wood was down on pace and not very threatening – certainly not as threatening as Stokes. In the first innings, Anderson did nothing to dispell the impression that he gets one batsman plus Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub per innings. The second innings did little to dispell it. If I can get to Hawkeye I wonder how much he threatened “top of off”. On the first day, Botham and Holding both commented on the uneven bounce and said that the quicks ought to bowl at the stumps. To be fair, Stokes either aimed at the stumps or the throat. Broad and Anderson seemed to go missing. But I missed a lot of play. The criticism of the English batting seemed misplaced also. Stokes, Cook, Ballance and YJB all got out playing defensively, although YJB was playing down the wrong line, maybe deceived by Maharaj’s drift. I don’t recall any of the King of Spain’s victims being so criticised.


    • Benny Jul 16, 2017 / 10:41 pm

      Amla is just brilliant. Wood inded not threatening. Anderson bowled a lot of moving balls but, yes, not close to the top of off. Our bowlers are trying hard but not getting it quite right. To his credit, Stokes had a ridiculously good economy rate today.

      Still, England’s big problem is the performance of the batsmen in the first innings. SA were able to do whatever they fancied in their second.


    • Prime.Evil Jul 17, 2017 / 5:06 am

      If you go to http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/index.html you’ll see a list of cricket matches. Go to the “live scorecard” page, you’ll see “Summary Full scorecard Commentary Statistics”. Next to it some icons: Hawkeye is the third one. Once on that page, you have all sorts of weird and wonderful things to play with.

      They do say that it’s not an exact representation of Hawk-Eye.

      Sorry if I’m preaching to the converted.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dlpthomas Jul 17, 2017 / 5:46 am

        I’d never noticed the icons – thanks.


        • man in a barrel Jul 17, 2017 / 8:42 am

          You need good WiFi to get the Hawkeye stuff and I was out of reach for most of the day. But Hawkeye suggests that the bulk of balls delivered by the great Jimmy were 3 stumps or wider outside off. He bowled a slightly fuller length in the second innings, however.


  8. man in a barrel Jul 17, 2017 / 8:30 am

    This kind of context lends itself to a futile century, from memory, the Oval Test against West Indies in 1973, the same summer when Congdon, Burgess, Pollard (but not Glenn Turner) piled on the runs for New Zealand. The Test where England needed 400+ to win and Frank Hayes scored 106 as England were bowled out for 250 or so. This was his debut. Journos raved about his promise but, although he played another 8 or 9 matches, he hardly ever even got into double figures. Didn’t Chris Lewis manage something similar in India 92/93?

    I suspect that Ballance will score an ugly 115 while England collapse to 231 and thereby cement his place for the rest of the year.


    • thelegglance Jul 17, 2017 / 8:34 am

      David Lloyd got an early double century and never passed 50 again in his England career. It happens!


      • man in a barrel Jul 17, 2017 / 8:56 am

        True. Bumble replaced Boycott after the famous walkout and cashed in against a weak India attack. In the subsequent winter he encountered Lillee and Thomson on some sporty pitches. Including the notorious box incident. All things considered, he handled himself pretty well and was unfortunate to be dropped, I thought at the time. He was replaced by his Lancs opening partner, Barry Wood, who played a similar number of Tests without very much to show for them, apart from a glorious attacking 90 against Australia in 1972, in a losing cause on debut! Subtract Bumble’s 214 not out against India and their records would be practically identical


        • thelegglance Jul 17, 2017 / 8:59 am

          Lloyd was before my time, but what’s interesting reading your post is I was thinking something very similar could have been written about Rob Key.


          • man in a barrel Jul 17, 2017 / 9:06 am

            Very true! 15 Tests, 1 century, a couple of 50s and an average around 30. Disappointing when you consider the fight he showed on the never-to-be-mentioned Ashes tour


          • SimonH Jul 17, 2017 / 9:25 am

            Poor Frank Hayes was never selected against anybody but the West Indies. Even Peter Willey got one Test against India!

            NZ’s defeat at TB in 1973 is remembered more fondly than many wins because of the fight they put up. It’s the kind of nuance of the game no amount of bean-counting can ever capture.


  9. AB Jul 17, 2017 / 8:51 am

    I was at TB yesterday. Very disappointed with the uninspired, formulaic field settings and bowling changes. Felt like the cold dead hand of Cook all over them – and given how Root discussed everything with Cook for 5 minutes before handing out any instruction, it seems to be that that was what was going on.

    I think they completely misread South Africa’s intent. From ball 1, they set fields to defend against a side trying to attack, rather than fields to attack against a field looking to build slowly.

    South Africa got there tactics spot on. England were tactically clueless.

    Cook’s England:

    plan A: bowl Anderson and Broad with a ring field, 2 slips and a gully and hope someone nicks off
    plan B: bowl bouncers and hope someone gets a top edge
    plan C: bowl spin to a defensive field and hope someone holes out to long on

    Sorry, but these aren’t good enough for test cricket.


    • SimonH Jul 17, 2017 / 9:41 am

      The amount of time left in the game, combined with a dry weather forecast, made containment pointless. They had to try to bowl SA out – and the pitch still has plenty in it (except when you whack it in halfway down).

      All they’ve done is help Amla rediscover the tempo of Test match batting. Once he’s done that, there’s no-one less likely to be bored out in world cricket. People talked about whether his eyes had gone at 34, but I always thought his recent decline was more down to playing with less patience because of all the white-ball cricket SA play. He was attempting more outside off-stump earlier in the innings than he used to.

      It’s good to see the captaincy hasn’t impacted on Root’s batting and catching – but I agree his decision-making has been extremely formulaic. Bowling changes have been by rote and have shown no feel for the right bowler for the right circumstance. But if there was any danger he’d break the formula at this stage, he’d never have been appointed.


  10. AB Jul 17, 2017 / 8:54 am

    Most of the crowd yesterday got to their seats 10 minutes late, left half an hour early and spend the majority of the intervening period either queueing at the bar or trying to start Mexican waves, so I wouldn’t claim that they worry that much about being short changed.

    Thought Amla’s decision was very odd. How far down the wicket was he? Was he close to the 3m cut off?


  11. nonoxcol Jul 17, 2017 / 10:03 am

    Haven’t seen this discussed much, but are elite umpires in some sort of race to the bottom? I haven’t seen much of this match at all – about 10 overs. In that time I’ve seen Fry give Dawson out to a ball not in the same postcode as the bat, Fry miss the lbw against Broad that looked about as straight to me as it’s possible for right arm around the wicket to a LHB to look, and Reiffel give Cook out to a ball that was patently going over the top.

    Clearly Ravi isn’t the outlier I thought he was…

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Jul 18, 2017 / 6:14 am

      And his “understudy” Shamshuddin decides that with nothing behind the line, he can’t give a stumping (as a third Umpire) against Dickwella in the one off Test against Zimbabwe.

      That would have left Sri Lanka 237/6, needed 151 more to win that Test. Truly atrocious stumping decision. Sri Lanka will now probably win the game, due to this brilliant umpire.


  12. "IronBalls" McGinty Jul 17, 2017 / 10:43 am



    • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2017 / 10:57 am

      Bet 365 have England at 14/1.

      For a world record run chase on a helpful wicket to the bowlers and a bad start.


      • d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 11:21 am

        Should have been closer to 50/1 (and even that should net them substantial money).

        Guess those odds show how little clued up a lot of people are.


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2017 / 11:24 am

          Out to 20 to 1 now. With three down. 1 on 20 times we would get them from here. Must be Cook keeping the hopes alive.


      • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 11:48 am

        14/1 what a joke. Shows total lack of understanding of cricket. More like 250/1.

        Out to 20/1 with 3 down. More like 500/1

        Bet 365 obviously only want morons to bet with them.


        • man in a barrel Jul 17, 2017 / 12:12 pm

          Offering 500-1 is only going to tempt suckers. The 500-1 @ Headingley in 1981 did draw in some suckers but England are now so much further behind than they were in 1981 that surely no one would punt. The only chance is if it rains solidly for 2 days. Whatever odds are offered, would you bet on England now?


          • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2017 / 12:14 pm

            Cook goes and so do 365’s odds. Even Ray wouldn’t take these odds.


          • d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 12:24 pm

            It also drew in some Australian bowlers …


          • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 1:51 pm

            How many times have a side chased down 450 plus to win a test match? And they are offering 14/1 when England are 28/2. Moving out to 20/1 when they are 3 wickets down.

            If you regard a pundit as a sucker to be tempted at 500/1……he must be bat shit insane at 14/1.

            I wouldn’t take any odds on a side chasing down that score with history completely against on a pitch like this.

            Quite good, well fancied horses win the Grand National at 14/1. Not teams chasing 470 to win a test matche.


  13. Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 11:04 am

    We’re not very good at defensive shots are we? For all the talk of milk and honey attacking cricket most England players in this match have got out defending.

    I guess in the modern world you don’t need many of those defending shots. It’s all about 4s and sixes.

    Oh, and SA seem to bowl much more wicket to wicket.

    Cook still there!…… #prayforcook


  14. d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 11:45 am

    5 in 96 now?


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2017 / 12:41 pm

      5 in 94.

      The “Cook needs to….” pieces overnight were amazing to behold.


      • rpoultz Jul 17, 2017 / 12:49 pm

        They really were. Bearing in mind Cook’s 4th innings average and performances it was the MSM at their ignorant best. Almost as many of those pieces as there were in the first test of Cook being ‘freed’ from the captaincy


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2017 / 12:52 pm

          You can’t keep on reviewing this stuff. I’d always put Brisbane in the same bracket as some of the top defensive efforts. Just because it was 3rd innings makes no difference. But that was 6 and a half years ago. I still watch that innings – I have the whole of that series recorded.


  15. nonoxcol Jul 17, 2017 / 11:45 am

    Cook has just drawn level with Allan Border in the Test runs chart, and celebrates by getting caught behind.

    Highest score at Trent Bridge remains 50, in 12 innings at an average of exactly 21.


    • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 11:53 am

      Bob Willis made that observation on the verdict last night that Cook only had a top score on this ground of 50. David Gower looked a bit flustered by the revelation.


      • nonoxcol Jul 17, 2017 / 12:00 pm

        I do find that a bizarre outlier, rather than incontrovertible evidence of weakness in swinging conditions. For example, all sorts of players like Anderson and Kumar were filling their boots in 2014, and Ashton Agar nearly made a hundred in 2013.

        However, his average against SA is now 34.75, from 17 matches. Uniquely among all his Test opponents, below 35 (the next worst is Australia at 39.20). That is worthy of proper analysis, rather than being casually dismissed as “curious”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • oreston Jul 17, 2017 / 1:04 pm

        Facts. Nasty, inconvenient things. Should be banned…

        Just watched a clip of Cook’s dismissal on BBC Sport and I’m afraid I think he made a mess of it. Yes it was a fast delivery but I don’t buy that he was merely “beaten by pace.” Getting out of the way of bouncers seems to be a dying art and he didn’t display much technique. Decent take by de Kock though.


  16. man in a barrel Jul 17, 2017 / 11:56 am

    This might not last till tea. However, at least YJB hasn’t kept Stokes off strike for 5 overs as he did in the last innings. I am sure that the way he was kept so long off strike without a run to his name contributed to his tentative defensive push


  17. SimonH Jul 17, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    Some speed-gun info off TV: Morris has been fastest with a 92mph ball, Wood second at 89 (although his average speed was 3mph down on Lord’s) and Morkel third at 88.

    The difference between Morris before and after he took his first wicket has been amazing. His first spell in the match was absolute dross.


    • d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 12:23 pm

      Bear in mind that Morris played all of 3 FC matches since making his Test debut 18 months ago.

      So can’t expect him to be perfectly ready, without much match practice, and plenty of limited overs stuff under the belt. Something similar may well apply to Amla: due to the crashing Rand he has played more T20s, and though he can obviously bat quite well in the format (you don’t get two IPL tons in a season if you’re bad) it does interfere with the technique.

      We saw the same thing happening with Cook when he was made the ODI captain. Axing him from that role has definitely improved his Test fortunes.


  18. d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 1:30 pm

    Well, Moeen can’t complain about S. Ravi here.


  19. nonoxcol Jul 17, 2017 / 1:37 pm

    ‘ksake, this is 1989 level shite.


      • nonoxcol Jul 17, 2017 / 1:55 pm

        I think you know my view on “ZOMG IN THE 90S ENGLAND WERE UNIQUELY TERRIBLE”. I even used it in the crossword.


  20. nonoxcol Jul 17, 2017 / 1:59 pm

    Fans of Shiny Toy will find George Dobell’s Twitter feed interesting at the moment.


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2017 / 2:26 pm

      A great team.

      Great been downgraded a lot recently but this is a stretch. If this is a great team…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 2:30 pm

        Who are the usual suspects?

        He’s been spending too much time with the ping pong man.


      • nonoxcol Jul 17, 2017 / 2:44 pm

        A team he played in managed to turn a 192-run first innings deficit against South Africa into a winning draw…

        The winter after he retired, an England team managed to draw two Tests against South Africa they probably should have lost.

        And *this* is a great team?


  21. oreston Jul 17, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    I predicted England would be all out for 175 during the afternoon session. The only bit of that I got wrong was the score.

    How many more performances like this are we going to have before the powers that be acknowledge that there might just be a teensy bit of a problem with the way this team goes about its business? Assuming of course that playing competitive Test cricket is something the ECB even cares about anymore.


  22. d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 2:13 pm

    Well, England lost by 340 runs, And the innings did not even last a combined four hours in total. Which also begs the question of England’s tactics yesterday (we won’t find much on that in the MSM sadly).

    Other than Duanne Olivier (who took the last two wickets), South Africa have bowled pretty well here. But such bowling performances should not be beyond England either (so why haven’t they delivered?). And unless Rabada does get injured, I do not see Duanne Olivier playing in the next game.

    Of course South Africa were helped by some curious shot selections, but still. Lots of thinking to do for England selectors … and if Woakes is not fit for the next Test, it will be a complicated puzzle to solve.

    Personally, I’d get rid of Dawson and Wood. Might seem a bit harsh on Wood, but he has generally not been that threatening. And hiding an average opener at 8 seems a bit ill-advised.


    • oreston Jul 17, 2017 / 2:23 pm

      So who to come in? Rashid for Dawson and Woakes (if fit) for Wood? I agree that might be a bit harsh on Wood who has genuine pace and perhaps needs a bit of a run in the team (go back about three years and see where Chris Woakes was…)
      Anyway, I’m afraid none of this is going to sort out the batting.


      • d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 3:06 pm

        Something along those lines.

        After the India tour, I cannot understand why Rashid is dropped, for another spinner. It would be one thing if he was replaced with a pacer (horses for courses argument), but that has patently not been the case. And it is not like Dawson took 10 wickets in the match on debut in India either. 2 for 129 and that is good enough to be the #1 spinner? Seriously?

        The call on Wood would be harsh as I said above. He seems to be down on pace, and if he is struggling to bowl at 85 mph, then I am really not sure what he is offering. Whether it is lack of match fitness, or simply the effect of the debilitating injuries he has suffered is the big question. If it is match fitness, and he can consistently get it up to 87-90 mph, do play him. If it is a case of a body that cannot cope with the strains, then, England probably need to look for other options. And that would be on the England medical staff.

        As for the batting, there are some serious concerns. And I am really not sure how England are going to solve the batting woes. The only certainties for me are Root (at 3 or 4), Stokes (at 5 or 6) and Moeen (at 7). Bairstow is obviously guaranteed his spot as well, not sure where I’d jig him in the batting order.

        I exclude Cook from that, not because he is bad (probably still the best opener in England), but because since Strauss retired, no opening partnership has really worked for England. And as I argued previously, I am pretty sure there is a potentially very good partnership possible with the discards. Better than any Cook – A.N. Other opening partnership can / has offered in the past 5 years. It would require an extremely brave call on part of the selectors though.

        Might be an idea for Cook to drop down again to #3, instead of Ballance. And pick say Stoneman to open alongside Jennings.


        • oreston Jul 17, 2017 / 3:42 pm

          Can’t really disagree with any of that – especially the notion of moving Cook to no. 3 and declaring a new era for the opening pair. I’ve wondered too if there might be something in AC’s personality (and let’s not overlook the impact of the rabidly partisan UK media) which has contributed towards the revolving door for the other opener slot.
          As for Mark Wood, much as I would wish it otherwise I have to concede that you may have a point – and yes, I’m sure that is partly down to poor injury management. I think I’d still give him the rest of this series though – he deserves that much and you never know. Anyway, who are the options within the England set-up to come in? Woakes isrecovering from injury. Someone like Ball or Plunkett would do a job, but wouldn’t necessarily be any more effective.


          • thelegglance Jul 17, 2017 / 3:46 pm

            Can’t help but notice that England flop with the bat twice and much of the discussion is about the bowlers…


          • man in a barrel Jul 17, 2017 / 7:38 pm

            The trouble with the batting is that the selectors have painted themselves into a corner over Ballance. If you recall someone there should be grounds for it. Yes, Ballance has scored runs for Yorkshire and he is one of England’s top scorers in this series but it is looking increasingly that he has no clue about his technical flaws. Disciplined bowlers got him out bowling by numbers here. Jennings was out because his bat was both crooked when he brought it down and it came down in an outside-in arc, creating a massive gate. What are the coaches doing? Presumably this must be apparent in all the nets they work in? If he really is an opening bat, surely something about his set-up must have changed – you wouldn’t last long in schoolboy cricket with a flaw like that.
            Would it be better to call up Robson, Lyth, Hales or stick with Jennings? Cook has had a few runs of 10 innings or so without a score, so should Jennings be given more rope? There are few alternatives who could be guaranteed to improve the side.


    • oreston Jul 17, 2017 / 4:19 pm

      You’re right, TLG, but I did make the point above that changing a couple of bowlers isn’t going to do diddly squat to help the top order batting.

      Saying that though, Rashid and Woakes are both fairly useful with the willow…


    • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 2:23 pm

      So are Sky. They have just paid a fortune for the next 4 years of this team.


  23. Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    England first innings 51.5 overs.
    England second innings 44.2 overs.

    Mike Atherton has got a shit eating grin on his face when interviewing Joe Root. He’s been there before. Mind you, this pretty bad. SA were able to bat out there twice.


  24. Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 2:25 pm

    First journo to blame those who called for Cooks head in 54321………….


  25. SimonH Jul 17, 2017 / 2:44 pm

    There’s a definite pattern to ‘new era’ England’s results which was why I wasn’t reading much into the First Test (although I wasn’t commenting much because of computer problems).

    England have played 12 series since the ‘Difficult Winter’ They’ve only lost the First Test once (against Pakistan last year). They’ve won 6 and drawn 5. In none of those draws were they outplayed and in at least three of them they were close to winning (even within six inches on one occasion… ).

    The record in Second Tests is W3 D1 L8. Two of the wins were against feeble WI and SL sides and the other was against Pakistan last year (the one series that bucks the regular pattern). Most of these defeats were pretty comprehensive (some were quite humiliating). I’d guess most of these were back-to-back Tests so why do they seem to have such a problem with this? Aging bowlers carrying injuries may be part of it – but it doesn’t explain the terrible batting collapses. Why doesn’t a win lead to the team going forward, why does it seem more of a pitfall than a springboard?

    England’s record in Third Tests is more even (W4 L3 D1) and given the different lengths of series I’m not too sure much can be read into it. For what it’s worth, there’s a plus side that the three defeats have all been away from home and a negative side that the Third Test is (oddly) at the Oval where England have been heavily beaten in the last two Tests.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. "IronBalls" McGinty Jul 17, 2017 / 2:57 pm

    “I wonder if the South African captain will rue his reckless decision to bat first?”…FICJAM day 1


  27. Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    The old Nasser just emerged again…..BRAVO. The emotion, the anger, the heart. Where have you been?

    He just had a rant about the selectors and the selections of the last 2 years. Non of the new players have done anything. It’s an iticment of county cricket. Paging 39, paging 39.


    Captian? Whitiker? Coach? Flower? Strauss? We have no end of Chiefs, but no Indians.


    • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 3:09 pm

      Bothams just had a go about the absence of Rashid. He goes to India and takes a fair bunch of wickets, and he comes back and they say he hasn’t got his mind right.

      So glad we are choosing the right types, and discarding awkward types.


    • SimonH Jul 17, 2017 / 3:11 pm

      An indictment of county cricket?

      The team needs a couple of top order batsman, a specialist spinner and possibly a seamer (depending on Woakes’ fitness). Let’s have a look at who’s pulling up trees in the CC? Has Hameed got his form back? How’s Leach going?

      Oh, they’re playing nothing but bish-bash-bosh for a month (just one D2 match is scheduled in the CC between July 6th and August 6th)….


      • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 3:20 pm

        Yup, this is why 39s ODI 20/20 take over will kill test cricket. It’s what the kids want.

        Old timers are not important anymore. Get with the programme. By the way, nice to see you back Simon.


      • mdpayne87 Jul 17, 2017 / 3:52 pm

        And yet the old format of playing T20s on a Friday night was widely criticised by the players, who wanted it played in a block. Reap what you sow…


        • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 4:07 pm

          As we move into the test series the counties are playing 20/20. How can a player get in form for test cricket? When we were playing champions trophy, the counties were playing 4 day matches.


          • oreston Jul 17, 2017 / 5:29 pm

            Yeah, but that’s just basic common sense. You don’t really expect the powers that be to take on board anything so plebeian and alien to their highfalutin’ management theories, do you? Surely elite players must show resilience and be constantly “challenged” to adapt to different formats? What else are the special forces training exercises for? How else are we to develop an “exciting brand of cricket”?


  28. SimonH Jul 17, 2017 / 3:04 pm

    This was England’s first Test lose at TB since the jelly bean Test against India in 2007. They’ve lost only one other Test there in the last 15 years (against SL when Murali was gifted a raging Bunsen).

    It’s not exactly winning at the Gabba in terms of breaching a home bastion – but it isn’t far off and with a key bowler missing as well (bit like how Steyn was missing when SA won at Edgbaston in 2007).

    Thank heavens England play India in ten home Tests before playing this lot again. Nobody wants to watch this sort of thing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jul 17, 2017 / 3:22 pm

      It’s England’s biggest defeat on this ground. Pitty Larwood wasn’t available. He was another who’s face didn’t fit.


  29. BoredInAustria Jul 17, 2017 / 3:19 pm

    Had a long day in Paris, just managed in the airport lounge to catch up … what to say… oh yes…
    “I guess it’s like an arm wrestle in many way. Once you lose the advantage it’s hard to get the momentum back.”


  30. SimonH Jul 17, 2017 / 4:58 pm

    Newman didn’t waste any time getting this up:


    “What a mess. What a pickle England have got themselves in just two Tests into the ‘brave’ new world of Joe Root’s captaincy. This was simply pathetic”.

    Try not to make your delight quite so obvious, Paul old chap. Notice too how the failure is totally owned by Root (not the team, the management, the set-up). Newman has done this in every report of this match.

    “an England team who, time and again, cannot muster the discipline and basic application still necessary in the longest form of the game even in an impatient modern world”.

    Whic would obviously make it crazy to advocate picking white-ball specialists as the answer. We’ll be returning to that….

    “Their 4-0 defeat in India last winter was to be expected in alien conditions against such a strong team but to be beaten so shamefully on one of their favourite grounds by a South Africa side that looked down and out is a new low”.

    Alternatively, SA were badly undercooked and lost a crucial toss in the last Test. Now the No.2 ranked team have won a match on a tour they’ve won the last two times and haven’t lost since 1998. Losing to SL in 2014 was a new low, losing to this team isn’t.

    “England were said to have stagnated under Alastair Cook’s captaincy but clearly their problems run a lot deeper than simply needing to swap the leader for a supposedly more adventurous model in Root”.

    This is the bit Newman really cares about. Stop blaming poor Cookie, you rotters! It was only in the strawman arguments of the cultists that everyone though Cook’s captaincy was the only problem. As for Root’s “supposedly more adventurous” captaincy, it hasn’t been too impressive so far but if one captain can still be learning after 20 games in charge, perhaps it’s a tade early to be so contemptuous.

    “Selection has been an issue for more than a year now and time after time a panel that were lucky to keep their jobs last season have come up with flawed squads that appear at odds with the choices coach Trevor Bayliss would make”.

    Ah, the guitly men! Once again we have the answer to the existential quesion, ‘what is the point of James Whitaker/’ He, Fraser and Newell are human shields to protect the coaches, Flower, Strauss and Harrison.

    “For a start England can avoid picking an all left-handed top three when, in Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, South Africa have two bowlers with fantastic records against left-handers. Did the selectors not think of that?”

    Did any of the press?

    “Bayliss must surely put his foot down and insist that Root needs to bat at three for the good of his side”.

    Bayliss didn’t get the job because he’s the sort who puts his foot down. How is disrupting the one in form batsman to cover for others’ failings a good idea anyway? FDP has dropped down the order as captain (as has Steve Smith).

    “The frustration comes in knowing how good England’s one-day cricket has become and seeing no reason why that should not be replicated at Test level with England still having such a strong talent-pool at their disposal”.

    That one-day side that has the same world ranking as the Test team and recently blew their chance to win an ICC tournament?

    “If Bayliss wants to give opportunities to Dawid Malan and the exciting Mason Crane, as he appeared to before Lord’s, then he should insist on them playing now rather than deferring to the panel and even the captain”.

    So Newman started by saying the team can’t play the long form – and ends up calling for two selections based on T20 performances! Crane was massacred at the Oval recently and Amla and co. are better players of spin than Rory Burns. Malan has an f/c average of 41 this year, okay but nothing exceptional. Newman’s idea that Bayliss should get whoever he wants in the team is absolutely bizarre, even without Bayliss’s lack of knowledge of England players at CC level (remember Bayliss said he’d never seen Mark Stoneman bat). If Newman wants the coach to pick the team he should start blaming the Comma who refused to adopt such a system in 2015.

    Liked by 2 people

    • d'Arthez Jul 17, 2017 / 5:15 pm

      Nothing much to add, except:

      “an England team who, time and again, cannot muster the discipline and basic application still necessary in the longest form of the game even in an impatient modern world”.
      Time and again? Uh, how many Tests has Root lost in this fashion? So now we’re blaming Root for the 20-odd fiascos from 2012 to present? Wow, I did not know FEC were that powerful!

      “Their 4-0 defeat in India last winter was to be expected in alien conditions against such a strong team but to be beaten so shamefully on one of their favourite grounds by a South Africa side that looked down and out is a new low”.
      Yes, and care to explain, Paul, how a team with just three recent whitewashes in Asia, managed to win a Test in India, and be in a position to win the series, going well into the last Test of a series in India?

      “Selection has been an issue for more than a year now and time after time a panel that were lucky to keep their jobs last season have come up with flawed squads that appear at odds with the choices coach Trevor Bayliss would make”.

      So, obviously the actual captain does not have a voice in the selectorial processes, but the FEC has! Or must have, since the failings of the past five years are all because of a new captain.

      Also notice that it is “Joe Root’s England have lost 6 of their last 8 Tests” captioned under a picture, yet he has been in charge of all of two of them. So now he is responsible for failings under the previous captain as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Jul 17, 2017 / 5:23 pm

      Sterling title defence from the Essex boy.


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 17, 2017 / 5:38 pm

        I do have to say “what did you expect him to do? Shiny Toy is an arse. ”

        Stocks running big time with this here in the UK at the Indy and down under with the Australian media.


  31. man in a barrel Jul 17, 2017 / 5:41 pm

    Maybe Nasser is being reborn now that Cook is no longer in need of his defence. He pointed out that, before the start of play, he had seen Faf du Plessis walk over to the pitch with Maharaj and have a discussion with him about the rough and the state of the pitch. He also explained how he had seen Faf managing his bowlers – discussing specific plans with them and coming over to them to ensure he knew exactly what the bowlers were going to attempt to do and setting the field accordingly. In other words, supporting and encouraging the bowlers rather than doing a Cooky – letting the bowler get on with it and then blaming them for lack of ability at the press conference. For what it’s worth, I would point out that Faf did not take off Maharaj when Moeen took 3 fours in one over off him and also when he took another 4 in the next. He spotted that Moeen was sweeping from outside off stump and had top-edged at least one effort and set a man at forward square leg. Moeen fell straight into the trap. I think this is one case where we can blame a batsman for an injudicious stroke. I suspect that Cook and Root would probably have taken Maharaj out of the attack by then. However Faf did have a ton of runs to play with


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