Third Man Cricket » Day 2, the English View – Still can’t call it..! : An Expat Cricket Website
Day 2, the English View – Still can’t call it..!

So, last night I went to bed thinking that I hadn’t really talked about my Essex connection (See my Profile) in my intro of yesterday not just for this match but the series.  No matter, I thought, Cook will go on to make a ‘double’ tomorrow and I can do a big piece about him at the end of Day 2.  Alas, today wasn’t about Cook at all.  It was all about what a good side South Africa are and how you can by no means write them off and certainly not after just one day!

Still, there were actually three things I forgot in my intro story, first, what buffoon came up with the plan of playing only a three Test series between the two best sides in the world!  Instead of two more Tests which would have had crowds packed to the rafters in England (somehow us Brits just love paying $200 to laze around watching a day of Test Match cricket), we had 5, yes FIVE pointless ODIs against Australia.  I really need not say anymore, cos most of the cricket world has already said it.

Okay, second, on to Cook.  Is it me, or is he massively underrated..?  Maybe not and I think most will agree he is a top player.  But currently he is only 9th in the ICC rankings.  Absolutely crazy!  Apparently he is behind Younis Khan and Ross Taylor!  That was a terrific innings yesterday and particularly that he had to overcome losing his Captain in the first over, although I guess he is becoming accustomed to that.  Alas he did not make many more (actually, did he make ANY..?) this morning, nevertheless, what I wanted to talk about, is that have any of you realised that he could just go on to be THE all-time great..?!  Yes, BETTER than Tendulkar!  I am guessing he won’t, but the fact is, he already has over 6,500 runs at the age of 27.  If he plays 10 more years (he averages around 1,000 runs a season), he would beat what Tendulkar is on now.  Added to that, he is an opener and of the top ten all time run scorers, there is only one opener.  No question that is a harder skill.  Quite often an early ripper with the new ball will get you.   So, better than Tendulkar?  Let’s hope I can find this piece of writing in 10 years.  We shall see I guess.

My third and final point I wanted to make yesterday was about the other Essex connection, Ravi Bopara.  Ultimately, my point was going to be that he was pivotal to the outcome of the overall series.  Why?  Well, frankly there is little to choose between the bowling and both attacks will have their moments.  What will define the Series is how well they both bat and if Ravi gets runs, England will have the edge.  How do I mean?  Well look at it like this, if England have a poor start and Ravi gets a hundred, well then it seems likely we will have scored 300 on a tough pitch.  If England have a great start like they did yesterday and Ravi gets a hundred, then we will most likely score 600 on a good pitch.  See where I am coming from?  Ian Bell won several games for England getting big scores at No. 6.  Alas, today, poor Ravi got 0..!!  And so England rather disappointed.  I feel for him.  He is obviously a talent and indeed, a handy 5th bowler, but the big occasions do seem to get to him and whist he was a smidge unlucky to get a touch to the snorter from Steyn, the fact is he rather nervously wafted at it.  My heart goes out to him to prove everyone what a great player he is.

As for the game, well, 385 was okay and nothing more and Smith and Amla are slowly putting the Saffers into a good position.  Tomorrow is the key day.  Right now England are on the back foot, but the fact is by the end of tomorrow (which promises warm sunshine all day), we will doubtless have a strong favourite……or we will be fancying a draw.

I still just can’t call it!

Til tomorrow…

 

NIKHIL PURI now reviews from a neutral’s view…

 

The Proteas are back in it!

The day of course belongs to the men from Africa. They dismissed a strong English batting line up and picked up the last 7 wickets for 118 runs on day 2. The world best test bowler started the demise and he was backed up by some good swing bowling by Philander and Kallis. Eventhough, Morkel grabbed 4 scalps, he was probably the weakest link in the attack on the day. My favorite dismissal of the innings has to be Ian Bell, Jacques Kallis when he burst on the scene in 1995, he was picked on his great aggression and ability to swing the ball and reverse swing the old one or and he had some potential to bat a bit back then. He later developed into one of the world’s greatest batsman, with his bowling taking a back seat but fans, go watch that over to Bell. 2 brilliant out swingers, followed by the ball that nipped back. No need to appeal Mr Kallis, you knocked him over!  Does this ring a bell, Mr Bell http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYAH-fj0_ac

Matt Prior showed his worth again, scoring runs quickly with the support of the tail to take England to a very respectable total on this track. A total the Proteas will be more happy with but a competitive total none the less.

At the innings break, James Anderson was very threatening with the new ball. A beautiful in swinger from a length to remove Alviro Peterson, who I’m still not convinced should be opening the innings for South Africa. Broad looked dangerous too but after the rain interrupted session, it became evident that the pitch wasn’t doing as much and it got easier to bat on. Swann bowled well but will get increasing more dangerous as the match progresses.

England may rue the chance of giving Hashim Amla a 2nd life, he is not the batsman you invite to have another bite at the cherry. A lot has been discussed about England’s poor slip fielding at the beginning of the series and I felt Strauss should have taken that catch. It wasn’t an easy attempt but one a specialist 1st slip fielder should pouch. Not sure why he wasn’t standing at an orthodox 1st slip position, seems he was a little wider than he should be.

So, who’s in the driving seat? I would say neither team right now but I still have England ahead as they have the runs on the board. Eventhough, the test appears to be heading for a dull draw, I still see a few twists and turns ahead in the next 3 days. A individual moment of brilliance  can change the landscape of this match, will it be AB DeVilliers in the Proteas 1st innings or will it be Swanny coming back strong on this pitch that will suit his bowling.

 It’s yet to be seen. Enjoy the next day’s play!

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