South Africa vs England: 1st Test, Day One

A fair to middling opening day to the series all round. South Africa won’t be terribly happy with their total, England won’t be terribly happy with their bowling performance.

If nothing else, it’s set up the rest of the match for anything to happen, for the host’s total is one to get them into the game without being in any way imposing. Equally, England’s ability to fall in a heap with the bat remains undiminished, despite a more patient approach in New Zealand that still resulted in series defeat.

England’s sickness throughout the team dictated at least some of the selection, and Ben Stokes was off the field requiring re-hydration for at least part of the day suggesting he has been suffering the same affliction, adding to what’s been a hard few days for him to say the least.

Two players can be particularly satisfied with their efforts: Quinton de Kock’s counterattack in the middle of the day got South Africa back into the game from a position where they could have disintegrated, while for England Sam Curran was the clear pick of the bowlers. He remains someone upon whom the focus is all too often what he can’t do rather than what he can – he might not be the quickest around, but he does swing it both ways, and does provide control as well. Vernon Philander, for whom this is the last Test series, has never remotely been quick, but he has been an unqualified success at Test level. If Curran were to have a similar impact over his career, he’ll have done alright.

That England had South Africa 111-5 represented their high point of the day. That they failed to take advantage of that position is all too familiar to watchers of England. Sure, illness and the consequent lack of good preparation may be factors in that, but it’s hardly an unusual state of affairs for them to let teams off the hook and today was no different. If there’s one thing that has been abundantly clear over recent years, it’s that a score of around 300 against England is not one that is often shown up to be sub par, and often is enough for a decent lead.

That said, the pitch offered some movement, but it was no minefield either. There’s no reason why England shouldn’t bat decently, except the constant doubt that they are able to put together a big total in any but the most benign circumstances. They have insisted that there is a different batting approach under Chris Silverwood – less helter skelter, more graft – and tomorrow is no bad time to make that obvious.

One constant does remain – despite the extra half hour to compensate for delays, 90 overs still weren’t bowled in the day, with only 82.4 being managed before the close. It is boring to keep highlighting the lack of care or interest from the authorities in enforcing this most basic of requirements, but they could do something about it if they wished, or they could just say what we all think is the reality and that they couldn’t give a stuff. It’s this pretence that 90 is the minimum when it plainly isn’t that grates most of all.

England have one wicket to take in the morning before it’s their turn to bat, and as ever, day two provides a better indication of the direction this match might be taking. After day one, it’s fairly even, albeit England could have had a much better one than they eventually did. Their brittleness with the bat as much as their profligacy with the ball may yet be the decisive factor.

13 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 1st Test, Day One

  1. growltiger Dec 26, 2019 / 4:47 pm

    Curran bowled impressively. He seems to have good control of length, and movement. Just a little more variation ielivery point might make him even more dangerous to careful batsmen. It is clear he is a thinking bowler, and his famous capacity to make things happen is partly due to knowing the right ball to bowl next (the one that goes straight on after the inswinger has been driven through the covers, for instance).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. growltiger Dec 26, 2019 / 4:51 pm

    “delivery point” of course. While adding this correction, Archer is becoming more of a riddle as the matches wear on. He seems to have forgotten the indecision created in batsmen by even a few really quick ones. He should be the bowler least affected by dull wickets and Kookaburras. Mysterious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone Dec 26, 2019 / 7:24 pm

      It was reported Archer had a touch of the bug going around. I can believe that would reduce his ability to produce a really quick one.

      Frankly, given my experience with the bug this winter, I’m amazed they managed to put a team out. Or at least, to be crude, one able to play in white trousers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dlpthomas Dec 27, 2019 / 12:19 am

        Archer was still bowling the occasional delivery at over 90 miles an hour in the last session which was impressive given his recent illness, He bowled a quite a few “loose ones” early in the day so he was, understandably, short of match practice. What worried me a bit was his total lack of reaction when he had Maharaj caught at slip but maybe he was too knackered to celebrate..

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Marek Dec 26, 2019 / 5:30 pm

    Meanwhile, Dobell spots a management elephant behind the Christmas tree: “not for the first time it occurred that, had Moeen Ali been managed a little more sensitively, he might be here and playing his part…”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mdpayne87 Dec 26, 2019 / 5:39 pm

    Presumably England will receive a points deduction for the slow over rate?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Dec 26, 2019 / 5:43 pm

      Probably not. There’s no strict liability on this, there are numerous allowances that can be used to allow for it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marek Dec 27, 2019 / 3:44 pm

      Day 2, 10 overs short even with the extra half hour.

      I agree, it’s the dishonesty that gets me almost as much as the blatant ripping off of the paying public. If they don’t give a fuck about how many overs they bowl, they should at least come clean about it and say there will be six hours play full stop–if they bowl 90 overs fine, if they bowl 72 overs also fine.

      We’re now two days into this match and we’ve already lost over half a session (that is, almost 10% of the scheduled overs). I really can’t see how that doesn’t qualify for some points deductions.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Dec 27, 2019 / 5:21 pm

        45 minutes from time, with 17 overs to bowl, they had a drink’s break. It’s an absolute piss take. It’s an abusive relationship now. We can keep on taking it, or we can just walk away.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. dlpthomas Dec 27, 2019 / 9:39 am

    Holding caught on a “hot-mike” saying that if a batsman doesn’t walk he’s a cheat. I wouldn’t say it to his face but bollocks to that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dlpthomas Dec 27, 2019 / 9:56 am

    Saffers showing England how to use the new ball. Philanders first spell was 5 overs, 5 maidens, 1 for 0.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marek Dec 27, 2019 / 12:16 pm

    …and Bairstow lasts all of one over before getting out in the same way that he did half of last summer.

    So that period away from competitive games working on his technique has worked a joy then. Team ECB have found out so much more about their batting reserves than if they’d given Crawley another go….

    Liked by 1 person

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