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Fielding drills pay dividends for England

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Jonathan Agnew | 18:49 UK time, Saturday, 12 July 2008

England have been all over South Africa since the first ball of this match, and outplayed them in every aspect of the game.

On Saturday, England's bowlers chipped away, backed up by some outstanding catches while South Africa's batsmen - with the notable exception of Ashwell Prince - looked tentative and lost.

England have been working exceptionally hard at their fielding - and their catches in particular.

The new fielding coach, Richard Halsall, has introduced a raft of new routines to complement a range of new specially-designed equipment, and there is no question that England's ground fielding and catching has improved...

One effective exercise Halsall has brought in is hardly rocket science - but has made a difference.

He uses a bowling machine, set at ground height, to pump out catches which, because of the angle, more closely resemble the trajectory the ball takes when hit by a batsman.

Up to now, the accepted method has simply been to thump catches up into the sky and wait for them to come down to earth again.

Andrew Strauss took the first of three top of the range catches today, flinging himself low and wide to his right at first slip to remove the dangerous Jacques Kallis off Ryan Sidebottom for seven.

The other two were both caught by the superbly athletic James Anderson at mid on. Anderson is a brilliant mover, but given the fact that he is also a fast bowler makes his mobility all the more remarkable.

Prince showed precisely the grit and determination that South African cricketers are renowned for.

On a very good pitch, he simply dug in and showed much more resolve than his colleagues who will be dismayed by their performance.

As we thought, Monty Panesar made them all feel uncomfortable with the pressure of men around the bat, and some spin from the rough.

I am more convinced than ever that Panesar will have a leading role to play in this series even when, inevitably surely, the real South Africa stands up.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Good article as always Aggers.
    I think that England have bowled brilliantly today and showed the South African's where they have gone wrong on the first 2 days. If they use the new ball well tomorrow then i think a first English win at Lords since 2004 could be coming.
    P.S. You've got to feel for Collingwood when he's out of form and then gets a bad dismissal but he'll come back strong.

  • Comment number 2.

    England have been on top of their game since day 1.

    Good batting display and a very solid bowling performance.

    The skipper has had a good day in the field and was very proactive as usual.

    Those that want Vaughan to be dropped should take a look at how he captains the side compared to the hapless Smith of South Africa


    Monty for top wicket taker in the series??

  • Comment number 3.

    It's so refreshing to see England set up for a convincing Test win, having batted fluently at a rate of at least 3runs perover, and then bowl accurately and probingly all day. this is the sort of way things were in 2004-05 and let's hope this is finally the start of the purposeful positive England that Vaughan and Moores have been advocating for over a year now.

    Monty u beauty and if Freddie does return isn't it fair to assume that it's Colly for the chop seeing as the three seamers have all done equally well?? And even though his batting is questionable, surely he cannot do any worse than Colly has recently at 6? I mean, wots the difference if Freddie scratches for 15 runs? Colly hasnt made more than a half-century since last June anyway!

  • Comment number 4.

    Great article aggers, and loving the commentary.

    In reply to 2. from Sir-Benjamin, I think it's a bit premature to talk of Monty the leading wicket taker since the pitch does seem to favour him quite well on this pitch(dismissal of McKenzie to note), but excellent performance all the same from all the bowling attack I feel today to back up the performances of the batsmen on day 1 and 2.

    The only thing that I can see stopping us winning this match now is a gritty, traditional second innings batting performance from South Africa - but judging from how they played Monty earlier (and the fact the only good batting performance of note from Prince was lucky to escape an edge through the slips/gully in the first few overs of his innings) then I think we should be fine.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great day for England and Monty bowled excellently I thought sidebottom was pretty average today(good ball to get Kallis) but when it doesnt go his way he sulks in the field one particular incident is when prince chipped a catch to deep mid-off from a broad slower ball-he made no effort to try and catch it-it landed about 2 yards from him! SA were 213-8 they would not have made 247 and england may have had 10 overs of seam tonight! Maybe im wrong just wondered if anyone else noticed the lack of commitment from him especially when anderson was flinging himself everywhere to take catches and stop boundaries!

  • Comment number 6.

    A very good day, but lets not get TOO carried away. If we win, as we should, the temptation to keep the same team will be large, but Flintoff must come back: in place of Collingwood or Sidebottom who knows?
    BUT a change which needs to be made is wicket-keeper.We never expected Ambrose to bat like Gilchrist, but did not expect him to bat like Phil Tufnell. There simply has to be a better keeper who knows which end of the bat to hold

  • Comment number 7.

    I cannot believe SA have performed so badly. Apart from Prince they have looked clueless in all departments.

  • Comment number 8.

    Great listening to the match commentary on TMS today, and yesterday, very nice to see the team as a whole getting good results again.

    Collingwood will get through his current poor form, as they all have, but the perennial argument about Flintoff, Jones and who will go to make room for them is going to be a problem.

    Peter

  • Comment number 9.

    I don't agree with much of what Geoffrey Boycott says these days, possibly because I don't understand it, but I do on the question of five bowlers.

    So when Flintoff comes back, he should replace a batsman, on current form Collingwood. It is odd that one of the arguments for four bowlers has a lot to do with the fact that England does not currently have a good wicketkeeper-batsman. Having one would indeed be a luxury but the lack of one it shouldn't get in the way of the main argument.

    I would have thought that Broad's batting prowess should also be placed in the balance, on the side of five bowlers. Let's just hope that he continues to deserve his place for his bowling because his innings yesterday was very impressive.

    Let's hope that England press on tomorrow towards a deserved victory. Outplaying South Africa for three days of the first test was not on the menu. The added ingredient, missing recently, was some brilliant fielding. Thank you Mr Agnew (you said on TMS you liked being called that!) for pointing this out!

  • Comment number 10.

    i think that the lunch time tv talk about 30 years ago was of very bad tast and to show clips of violenceand the then prime minister Foster talking on SABC also rev Tutu instead of clips of some of the graetest SA cricketers that the world did not see namely Peter Pollock Graham Pollock Peter Heine Barry Ritchards Jonny waite Tigar Lance Roy Mcclean Colin Bland Russel Endeen Hugh Tayfield and many more would of been a plesure to watch instead of violence and speeches by people who new nothing about sport so lets show the youngEnglish cricketers and SA cricketers and all of the young cricketers of the world what there fathers and grandfathers missed as i was fortunet to see Len Hutton and Colin Washbrook score over 375 runs in one day in Johannesburg i would like to talk to a presenter by phone my number [Personal details removed by Moderator] regards Andrew

  • Comment number 11.

    Like it or not, one has to agree with Jonathan:

    "Panesar will have a leading role to play in this series even when, inevitably surely, the real South Africa stands up".


    Let us look forward to some exciting tussle between the ball and the bat on Day Four.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho


  • Comment number 12.


    Just wondering if Ashwell Prince's century
    was the first in England by a black South
    African representing his own country?

  • Comment number 13.

    Aggers,
    Interesting to hear about the new fielding drills England are using these days. Just hope KP has been making the most of them given his recent record.
    However, I must take you up one one point;
    "Anderson is a brilliant mover, but given the fact that he is also a fast bowler makes his mobility all the more remarkable". Why? Logic would suggest that someone who, day in day out, runs 20 yards then contorts his body in such a way that he is able to hurl a ball at close to 90mph would have to be a good mover. Why on earth do you think a fast bowler would be anything other than a good mover?
    I`m afraid Aggers that you have entered the world of cliche just as football commentators do when saying things like
    "he's got a good touch for a big man."
    As if being 3 inches taller than the next man has a dramatic effect on your control.
    Sorry for the rant but I would hate the glorious game of cricket to adopt any of the bad habits of football.

  • Comment number 14.

    "Those that want Vaughan to be dropped should take a look at how he captains the side compared to the hapless Smith of South Africa."

    I'm not convinced Vaughan should be dropped but my view from the boundary was that for much of the day the fielding positions were very defensive. (I remain to be persuaded that having a large slip cordon when the ball isn't swinging is an attacking field.) Some top notch catches, and poor South African shots, made a good day into a great day for England.

  • Comment number 15.

    Correction to my own comment (1) England last won a test at Lords against Bangladesh in 2005.
    Apologies to Bangladesh

  • Comment number 16.

    England are in a good position after putting South Africa on a follow-on and shall probably win the first test.

  • Comment number 17.

    DanHodges (#12) - we discussed this at the ground today, although we only considered the first century by a black South African at Lords. We thought it must be, unless Bearders can say otherwise? Certainly won't have been Ntini.....

    I certainly couldn't agree with Jamie Lillywhite's comment in the match report that "Few are likely to tell their grandchildren about Prince's innings". OK, it wasn't that exciting to watch. But as a white Briton, it was a thrill to see him raise his bat to the committee room where the decision was made to drop Basil D'Oliveira. It seemed to complete a circle.

    And some nice extra history, seeing KP a) get a wicket and b) open the bowling against SA. One for Bearders - who else has done those two and scored a century? Let alone against your native country.

    Though he's still an eejit for the way he got out at the Oval the other day....

  • Comment number 18.

    Another thing - Ambrose's keeping. I think the best that can be said of him is that you don't notice his keeping - which is a good thing on balance. But there were two catches that didn't carry today. Is he perhaps standing a bit too far back, playing it a bit safe at the expense of taking wickets?

  • Comment number 19.

    My impression - rightly or wrongly - is that Ambrose is reluctant to stand up to the stumps more because he's concerned about bouncers going over his head. I'd certainly like to see him closer.

  • Comment number 20.

    18 - thats the only issue i have problems with regardig Ambrose's keeping; hes a fantastic keeper but for whatever reason seems to stand a yard or two further back than needs be. Otherwise, hes the best keeper/bat we've had since Stewart (although Read is a far superior glovesman)

  • Comment number 21.

    jones and flintoff must earn there places back with good form and they both must be able to bowl the amount of overs broad sidebottom and anderson are bowling.ei 20 a day.i think the trio we have currently are the fittest in a very long time this is shown by the amount of the games they have played together.these guys should get a chance to play an unpresidented 7 games as the same eleven at headingly.

  • Comment number 22.

    It is such an unbelievable breath of fresh air for england to have such an effective and dangerous spinning option. Montys performances have attracted a lot of praise but it's almost as if we take the threat he poses for granted when you consider how many barren years we endured without such a high quality spin option, years when, at quite a few grounds, there would be talk every year of dropping the spinner for an extra pace-man.

    Who would have thought during these times that with a test series against the number two side in the world stretched in front of us, so many pundits would be suggesting that it would significantly aid england's efforts if the groundsmen could produce turning pitches?

    Crazy times.

  • Comment number 23.

    "evsboss" I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. Most fast bowlers, who charge up to the wicket countless times a day run like carthorses (care to comment Aggers)!

    The main difference with Anderson is he is an ATHLETE who can bowl fast. Watching him field only serves to prove that point.

    In fact one of the problems with British sport, in general, is that we insist on trying to make our sportsmen athletes, rather than turning athletes into sportsmen. This includes the ridiculous hieghtist attitude of soccer commentators which now seems to have infected soccer academy coaches. But not in Germany, Italy, Holland!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    dougw65.. cant agree with you at all. Like it or not South African sport in the aparthide era was an international focal point for change. The Basil D'Oliveira affair as well as the anti-aparthide movement that targetted cricket should not be forgotten.. to suggest this era should be whitewashed and only great South African cricketers of the past are worthy of debate, discussion and reminscing is actually small minded and of poor taste. Plenty of younger people today don't know about it and its of far greater value than listening about Bary Richards straight driving!

  • Comment number 25.

    Jonathan, I just wanted to say that the interview with Lord Joffe was fantastic!

  • Comment number 26.

    DanHodges:

    Herschelle Gibbs has scored centuries in England for South Africa, and he's not white.

    I don't really know enough about the currently acceptable nomenclature to discuss whether he is black or not without fear of causing offence.

  • Comment number 27.

    Yo lol England should win this i know they're screwed up but it'll be a big screw up if they don't even win.

  • Comment number 28.

    Sports for Purists - Why don't we follow suit?

    Watching the cricket yesterday, for a minute I found myself ever so slightly bored. Then looking closer I realised something, something very special. This was England hammering the second best team in the World and despite the slightly dull middle session you couldn't help but enjoy what you were seeing. We were winning and winning well!

    And why not, after all what an exciting team we have. Our best batsman is South African, our bowlers range from the ridiculously named Sidebottom with his long frizzy hair, to Monty, who according to some members of the press doesn't even know the LBW rules. More importantly these don't look like over paid sports stars, they seem to enjoy playing for their country and have been around the top two teams in the World for a long time now.

    No doubt it is a bit of a purists sport, but watch the highlights on channel five, or listen to Tuffers on 198 LW. It's very funny, a bit like listening to an episode of Blackadder, with all the characters eagerly watching the cricket, talking about cakes and that bloody Lords slope.

    A far cry from the mundane games of football that England loose on a regular basis, in fact what a fantastic thought. Geoffrey Boycott commentating on the next England football match, perhaps he might inspire them to a victory.

    www.ukonlinenews.co.uk

  • Comment number 29.

    Sports for Purists - Why don't we follow suit?

    Watching the cricket yesterday, for a minute I found myself ever so slightly bored. Then looking closer I realised something, something very special. This was England hammering the second best team in the World and despite the slightly dull middle session you couldn't help but enjoy what you were seeing. We were winning and winning well!

    And why not, after all what an exciting team we have. Our best batsman is South African, our bowlers range from the ridiculously named Sidebottom with his long frizzy hair, to Monty, who according to some members of the press doesn't even know the LBW rules. More importantly these don't look like over paid sports stars, they seem to enjoy playing for their country and have been around the top two teams in the World for a long time now.

    No doubt it is a bit of a purists sport, but watch the highlights on channel five, or listen to Tuffers on 198 LW. It's very funny, a bit like listening to an episode of Blackadder, with all the characters eagerly watching the cricket, talking about cakes and that bloody Lords slope.

    A far cry from the mundane games of football that England loose on a regular basis, in fact what a fantastic thought. Geoffrey Boycott commentating on the next England football match, perhaps he might inspire them to a victory.

 

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