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Can sorry South Africa fight back?

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Jonathan Agnew | 07:50 UK time, Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Graeme Smith faces a colossal challenge to rescue South Africa's tour which, three weeks ago, appeared to rather overdo the celebration of its success in the Test series.

There was even talk of them going home for a week.

Little wonder, then that at Trent Bridge his players seemed aloof and disinterested - certainly the batsmen did not appear to have any stomach for a fight - and they were thoroughly deserving of their 10-wicket humiliation...

The pitch had some bounce in it, but no sideways movement. The ball barely swung at all.

What England's bowlers did so well was to bowl a full length despite the sight of the ball flying through to the wicketkeeper.

Too often in those circumstances you see quick bowlers drop too short, but Stuart Broad - coming off a poor performance in the previous game - set the standard from the word go with a career best 5-23.

The bowlers were very well supported by the close fielders, with Matt Prior becoming only the second keeper to claim six victims in a one-day international.
Graeme Smith was dismissed by a fantastic catch by Matt Prior

The catch to dismiss Smith was breathtaking - it was a good job he caught it, mind you, as he flung himself full length in front of Owais Shah at first slip, but it was certainly a timely reminder that he has his eye on reclaiming his Test place.

South Africa's lack of application was summed up by Mark Boucher's sorry innings. He looked unhappy from the start, then completely mis-pulled Andrew Flintoff over slip for four before limply hanging out his bat. He walked off shaking his head.

From an England perspective, there are few other thoughts to offer because they were asked so few questions.

They really should take the series from this position - 2-0 up with three to play - while South Africa urgently need to look at themselves.

It has often been my experience in the past that touring teams unwittingly relax and lose their focus after a hard Test series.

They have been away from home for a long time and once the discipline and attention has gone, it is desperately hard to get it back again.

This is the situation South Africa now find themselves in, and they have only a couple of days to sort it out.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    We've seen glimpses of a good England side in the last few years but nothing as good as this. Like KP says, there's still a long way to go and we've not seen what happens when we're really put under pressure, but lets just hope this is the start of something special. Come on England!

  • Comment number 2.

    It is clear that the success of the England cricket team is not unconnected with the achievements of Team GB in Beijing. The cyclists showed how it could be done and the KP has obviously learnt from their methods.

    Although it is not just the similarity of the two sports that brought this about, (cycling and cricket have always been associated at the grass roots level and many players of my small club cycle to home matches), the connections at the top level have become blurred. Well done to KP for finding inspiration from Chris Hoy and the rest of the cycling team.

  • Comment number 3.

    What pleases me is the current balance of the England side. We bat down to 9, and have 4 front line seamers, along with 2 spinners, collingwood and wright who can bowl mid to high 80's mph. We're not overnight world beaters but if we can keep the make up of this side going, it'll put us firmly on the right road.

    I think we showed with a decent bowling display that the Saffas really aren't the great batting side some people thought they were in the test matches. Some of the crap that anderson and broad threw down was frankly awful. Broad needs to continue this discipline and try and become a Mcgrath style bowler and not a flintoff. We've got freddie for that role!!

  • Comment number 4.

    A lot of what has been said and written about Englands last three wins, by implication, has said that South Africa have taken the foot of the gas and the intensty and desire are not there after a long season. Sorry this is an international team who if they won this series would have taken over as NO1 in the ODI rankings. A cricket feat, up there and equivilant to reaching the summit of Everest or Nadal toppling Federer. What could be a greater incentive.

    England as KP has said have still got a long way to go, but at the moment they are not letting South Africa play well. They have put pressure on South Africa and they buckled.

    If I hear that there will be sterner tests than this once more I will have a hissy fit(being female I am allowed those) This team are ranked no2 in the world. There is only one sterner test and that is as it has been for several years.

    What KP seems to be doing is keeping the team focused taking one match at a time not allowing people to be distracted by the wider picture.

    For someone whos team ethic was question he seems to be doing an good job of making a group of talented individuals play as a team.

  • Comment number 5.

    Agree with the article - the game showed us nothing really about England as all the bowlers had to do was bowl line and length (which they should be able to do at this level) and SA gave up their wickets.

    Still not convinced about Prior's batting - I know he was sent out to be aggressive but he mistimed so many pull shots he was extremely lucky to make it past 30, let alone be not out.

    Laodicean2 (comment 2), how is it clear 'that the success of the England Cricket team is not unconnected with the achievements of Team GB in Beijing' or, indeed, that 'KP has obviously learnt from their (the cyclists') methods'? Your teammates cycling to home cricket matches at village level don't really offer any illumination as to England's improving ODI results, as far as I can see. That said, I certainly agree that there is a general feel-good factor about GB sport at the moment and long may it continue.

    Perhaps £5 each way on Andy Murray at the US Open might be a wise move!

  • Comment number 6.

    DJ Kendrick, I'm suprised you can't see the connection pointed out by Laodicean (comment 2) between cricket and cycling.

    I think England cricket supporters should indulge in a little bit of glory basking. This sort of thumping victory has happened so rarely and the team could really do with this sort of confidence boost after the disappointing toil of the test series. If we are to bring the ashes home we need to be flying high.

  • Comment number 7.

    Fair enough, England are playing well. KP is enjoying his honeymoon period and as the last hundred odd years in sport has showed us is that this is can be short lived. Write SA off at your peril, this series is not dead. That is what I love about the English media, as soon as your sportsman do well, then it's open top bus parades like after the Ashes in 2005, only to be taught a cricketing lesson 18 months later in Australia. South Africa came here to win the test series as a build up to their home and away series against Australia later this year. As soon as the honeymoon ends the media will be on KP's back like a pack of wolves. I thought Blowers was going to send KP a marriage proposal on the radio yesterday. He was happy.

  • Comment number 8.

    Totally agree with sisterkaren, to attribute England's three wins to the fact that South Africa have been hungover from the Test Series is ludicrous.

    As she stated, they had a huge incentive to win the series and become the best one-day side in the world. Coupled with the small matter of beating KP in his first series makes that assumption look naive and i would expect better from Sourpuss Aggers!

    Can't we, for once, celebrate a team that looks united behind their enthusiastic, energetic and highly confident captain who is proving his many doubters wrong? He has shown brave but agressive intent with his decisions to bring back Steve Harmison, Matt Prior and promote Flintoff to no.5. The way that he has backed Broad with the new ball was rewarded with a 5 wicket haul from a bowler 'who can't take wickets at international level' only a couple of weeks ago.

    Well done KP, i am hugely excited about this new era under an inspirational and growingly endearing captain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Enjoyable and convincing the win was, England haven't shown much one-day consistency for decades.

    What's needed is a solid series win, say 4-1 followed by a more rounded winter performance in the ODIs, where some younger members gain composure and cement places, while seniors pull their weight more often.

    Then we'll know we have made some real progress.

    Keep it up England!

  • Comment number 10.

    Jonathan, sorry to be pedantic but Matt Prior became only the 2nd 'England' wicket keeper to take 6 catches in an ODI, Gilchrist has done it 4 times and Boucher has done it once.

  • Comment number 11.

    The Saffers can come up with the "we're struggling to raise our game having achieved our objective of winning the test series" defence if they like BUT they should be questioning the professionalism of their team if they can't get themselves motivated and prepared for what is a major series. South Africa were only a couple of games away from regaining top spot in the rankings, unbeaten in 9 ODI's and face the Aussies next.
    The Saffers needed a bigger incentive than any or all of that to get themselves up for the fight.....don't think so.
    They have just been smashed. I watched the Sky re-run of the game last night and Bumble and Beefyboth talked about how ideal the track was for ODI cricket. 23 overs later...
    They came over here with a hyped pace attack. 5 fearsome fast bowlers blah! blah!
    What we got to see was one fast bowler who didn't play because of injury and 3 or 4 medium pacers. Morkel couldn't bowl straight when he bowled fast, Nel only just qualifies as a medium pacer and I'm sorry but Kallis looks a tad overdone.
    I love cricket for the little things that make a difference to results. It is the "what if's" that make it interesting to talk about afterwards. We weren't outplayed in the test matches we were ground down by dogged determination on some pitches prepared as featherbeds and were terrified of giving these furious speed demons anything lively to bowl on. Of course forgetting along the way that it also played away from our strengths. Which country has 4 faster bowlers than the 4 currently playing for England?
    By the way in a post on 606 last night I said that I would have a punt at the opening partnership being between 80 and 100 inside the first 2 powerplays. (15 overs) Why didn't I put any money on it?

  • Comment number 12.

    Very well written Aggers!
    England are functioning better as a team now under KP than at anytime since the 2005 Ashes.We are very lucky that MPV quit in time to give KP a chance to get as much captaincy experience against top class opposition as possible before Australia come over here next year.
    Our openers still have a point to prove scoring during the power plays but theres so much depth now to our batting that its better to lose his wicket than have Bell hanging around scoring at under 3 per over during the powerplays
    I prefer Bopara over Wright, and I am surprised KP does not select his Hampshire teamate Dimi over both Wright and Bopara
    Its great to see Proir finally justify his selection as wicket keeper, lets hope he can maintain the same standard throughout the rest of 2008.
    Well done England for playing good cricket, and tired homesick South Africa, getting to no1 in the world rankings doesnt seem to be motivation enough to play their best game

  • Comment number 13.

    All the hype about England ignores the main reason - a three-letter word - IPL. England had no-one involved, SA had several, all of whom are non-performers at the moment, apart from Smith, who is injured and shouldn't be playing, but has to play as there is no-one else.

    If India is allowed to continue to control world cricket there will be more mismatches like this one.

  • Comment number 14.

    MickfrmSA - the IPL didn't seem to bother them during the test series. The question is purely down to the south african batsmen. They should be ashamed that they performed so limply

    You can guarantee if roles were reversed this would be the 700th comment instead of the 14th

  • Comment number 15.

    what's good to see is that KP is backing players he believes in, and they seem to be coming good. Harmison, Broad, Prior. It looks like he has a vision of the kind of side he wants to lead, and so far it looks like he knows how to get what he wants out of the players. It's way too early to look ahead to next summer (are you listening Ian? lets see a few big ones from you, lad ...) , for there is the small matter of an Indian tour to deal with first, and that will test the whole unit heavily. But I respect very much what he is doing, and I hope it just keeps on going the way it is.

  • Comment number 16.

    why no bopara? he's been england's form player outside of the test arena and surley offers more than luke wright?

  • Comment number 17.

    Whether or not SA are as motivated as they should be, the England side are clearly not letting them perform. Long may the honeymoon continue - it will certainly be interesting to see how Pietersen adapts once the going gets tough. Despite all my doubts, I think this could be the making of him - from a very good to a great player.

    As an aside, Aggers...what was all that about at the presentation ceremony and the Radio 4 coverage? Atherton interviews Smith...just as he's about to interview Pietersen, Aggers grabs Smith and asks exactly the same inane questions (talking over Atherton so we can't hear him). Then Pietersen is grabbed and probably asked the same things that Atherton asked but we couldn't hear...talking over Broad's man-of-the-match award. Then before Broad is grabbed, we go off to the shipping forecast and never come back. That's it..end of coverage almost in mid-sentence. Pretty disgraceful BBC...carry on showing this lack of interest and I'll start wondering heretically if the coverage should go elsewhere...

  • Comment number 18.

    Quite dissapointed about Agnew's article this week!
    I appreciate that we are in England and that it is good to have a bit of bias.... but this artical is ridiculous!
    To decide that South Africa overcelebrated the test win and aren't interested in the ODI is just plain stupid... Jonathan.. have you forgotten your comments about how deserved England were in celebrating the Ashes win... even if it was to the detriment of the ODI games that tour and lest we forget the zealousness of those celebrations.

    South Africa have had a long long overseas tour and I do agree that after they one the test series they seemed to have relaxed too much, but I think there are other things at play here too.

    As much as it saddens me to see another South African captain England (and I do understand why he left).. Kevin Pietersens attitude to the game is spot on and I believe it spreads like fire across the rest of the squad... and England have been good for a while.. they have just needed that spark.

    South Africa were due a poor innings too... that is only the 2nd time in over 400 matches that they have posted less than 100.. and it should kick them into gear (though too late for this series admittedly).

    Finally, South Africa are short of one good ODI bowler... Steyn has struggled this tour. Nel, although always giving 120%, isn't world class and Kallis is really a 5th choice bowler.

    Well Done England, but don't over celebrate because it is still v v early..

    South Africa...Don't panic, use the next 3 matches to re-set that must win attitude and prepare yourselves for the Ozzies.

  • Comment number 19.

    The problem with last night's result is that we might be falsely lured into believing we have a great team put together.

    We've made good progress, but the team hasn't been tested much for stress fractures to show.

    Anderson's looking very poor. Geeze, if you can't get your game up in a confident, winning team then... adios.

    Prior's keeping was first rate, but was very lucky with his batting. But fortune favours the brave.

    Bell can't get the singles required and places pressure on himself and the incoming batsmen.

    Broad was an absolute star. What a diamond he will develop into. Play him, and play him often. He'll polish into a really sparkling gem.

    The Bopara's, Patel's, Shah's and Wright's are still unknown quantities/qualities. And even Collingwood's return is for that matter. Maybe even Harmy, too.

    Great result. Great to watch. It felt great! Guess we'll find out if they really are great...

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm in a slight daze of disbelief after yesterday, but am well happy to enjoy the feeling for a couple of days.
    We lost the plot quite successfully against NZ in the One Dayers this summer, so it would be nice to see a bit of solid professionalism in the London matches.
    All of sudden the Saffers look like a bunch of old crocs - not particularly fit and not many youngsters in the team.
    The KP effect really is extraordinary, coupled with the Harmy and Fred X factor. Let's enjoy the moment!

  • Comment number 21.

    "have you forgotten your comments about how deserved England were in celebrating the Ashes win... even if it was to the detriment of the ODI games that tour and lest we forget the zealousness of those celebrations."

    During those Ashes the ODIs preceded the Tests, so it seems unlikely that the celebrations had any effect on them.

    In general I prefer that format (ODIs first) as otherwise they can feel a bit of an afterthought, particularly for a victorious toutring team.

  • Comment number 22.

    ODI's should not be considered an afterthought.

    Pietersen has said that he wants England fired up every time they represent the country. South Africa deserve to be slaughtered for such a disgraceful display. I am glad I didn't pay to watch that, or go on a 200 mile round trip to be there

    No excuses of the importance of the matches

  • Comment number 23.

    Re the IPL - most of SA's success in the Test series came from people not involved in the IPL, such as McKenzie, Prince and Amla.

    Not only the batting, but the bowling as well have gone down the drain since the IPL, where Steyn and Morkel just got used to bowling there by the end of the tournament, and couldn't adjust back to proper cricket.

  • Comment number 24.

    Disinterested means impartial. Uninterested means not being interested. Is it asking too much to get this right?

  • Comment number 25.

    A good performance by all and I was extremely happy to see Stu Broad knocking over the top order.

    The next game is so very important as England have had this irritating trait of beleifing their own hype when the press go all gooey for them.

    Let's save the majority of back slapping until the series is won convincingly.

    There is a very good England side in the making but it must keep progressing. This performance should be seen as the standard rather than the pinnacle.

  • Comment number 26.

    Jurgen Hingsen - I still can't see the connection Laodicean2 was making between KP and the cycling team. Could you or he actually explain? What are the 'methods' that KP has copied from the cyclists? I think it's great if KP is adopting successful methods from other sports but I haven't heard any specifics so would love to know. Cheers.

  • Comment number 27.

    laodicean2 - "Although it is not just the similarity of the two sports that brought this about, (cycling and cricket have always been associated at the grass roots level and many players of my small club cycle to home matches), the connections at the top level have become blurred. Well done to KP for finding inspiration from Chris Hoy and the rest of the cycling team. "

    I SAID ONE OR TWO OF THEM SHOULD BE ON THEIR BIKE AFTER THE TEST SERIES

  • Comment number 28.

    D J Kendrick,
    The comments made by Pietersen are almost identical to some of those made by the cycling team management :

    "There's an energy and a buzz about us," said Pietersen.

    and a friend of mine who was at the match says he distinctly heard (or read the lips ) of Pietersen when the South African captain was caught...

    "On yer bike, Smithy!"

    ...which could be taken as a reference to the fitness training which the whole England team now follows.

  • Comment number 29.

    I understood Pietersen told Smith, when caught behind, "Get out of here!" which surely is more a reference to the gold medal won by the British Olympic Maze Escape team.

    Nothing to do with cycling at all, as bikes are not allowed in "Maze Escaping."

  • Comment number 30.

    On yer bike is hardly a cycling reference, its another way of saying 'off you go' or 'get out of here' I too fail to see the cycling connection as any top sportsmen/women use fitness bikes to train! Great performance by the boys, I always like to see them silence the critics, give them time and they will come of age. The players have always been there its nice to see kp get the best out of them. I think its his attitude towards the game and confident approach that can make him into a match winning captain, it will tell when the pressures on in India, nice to see them do well!

  • Comment number 31.

    A bit bored of people slagging off the Ashes celbrations and going on about 2007.

    To be fair nobody was hailing it as the start of a new world order. It was with relief of getting a monkey off our backs that we'd had for 18 years. I grew up wondering if I would see an Ashes win in my lifetime. I know my celebrations were based on that, I was well aware we were likely to give them up in the series.

    There were a number of other contributing factors.

    With regards to this ODI performance, our lads have been hammered for poor post Test series ODI performances (notably SA 1996) so lets not start making excuses, lets view it as a good start to KP's captaincy with the basis (and that's all it is at the moment) of a competitive one day side.

  • Comment number 32.

    According to 'Chambers' disinterested can also mean 'uninterested', 'lacking interest' or 'unconcerned'.

    I think in this context, Aggers just about gets away with it.

  • Comment number 33.

    Well Aggers, yet again you give England NO credit, just tear SA apart. Yes they were worse than a Sunday league side but England still had to take advantage of that and mix up the bowling and field well etc etc.
    Credit where it's due for once would be nice. Well done England.

  • Comment number 34.

    South Africa weren't interested at the Oval in the last Test match. Can they be fined for under-performing?

  • Comment number 35.

    Apparently, when the England batsmen arrive at the crease they say "On Guard" which is a clear reference to fencing - one of the disciplines in the modern pentathlon where we won a silver medal in Beijing.

    I also saw them doing warm up lying on their backs and "air peddling", infusing them with that gold medal buzz. All thanks to Chris Hoy and Team GB!

    However, even though I cycle a lot, I have yet to break onto the international cricket scene. I will just have to cycle more and I'm sure the call up will come soon.

  • Comment number 36.

    Great result by England but don't let it distract from problems with the team makeup. Great fielder though Ian Bell is (although he was still asleep for that run out attempt in the first over) I have no idea why he is batting at the top of the order given the slowness of his strike rate and his inability to adapt to the shorter game. Is he supposed to be the rock around which the innings are built? Isn't that the role of Collingwood to support the tailenders at the death? Don't really understand it.

  • Comment number 37.

    Baz,

    We tried the pinch hitting set up and it doesn't work in England with the ball swiinging around so much. Bell is there to anchor the innings, with big hitters around him.

    There's no point in going 2 wickets down in the first 5 overs.

    But for overseas tours, we may need to rethink the set up.

  • Comment number 38.

    I thought the most important aspect of yesterday's victory was Matt Prior's performance.

    Solid batting, good catching and an injection of energy to the fielders. Such a contrast to Tim Ambrose (sorry).

    This is Prior's third go in an England shirt; this time he needs to be stuck with in all forms of the game.

  • Comment number 39.

    Only 39 comments on this page. How very predictable that the mindless majority on these pages fall silent every time there is England success

    England's bowling unit is looking extremely aggressive now. Broad in the high 80's, Anderson in the 90's. Oh to start the test series all over...

  • Comment number 40.

    What South Africa do next England have no control of. Lets not disrespect SA. They are a good team.

    It is obvious they were concerned at the later 90mph pace and bounce they would have to later face from Flintoff and Harmison, and tried to target Jimmy Anderson and Broad; and came a cropper with Broad.

    If you look at Broads bowling pitch chart, you will see 90% was metronomic line (Glen McGraw like) and length at 86-88 mph pace. It surprised me and one understands why he got his 5fer as the SAs were trying (Gibbs et al) get him away. On this pitch Jimmy Anderson became slightly the weakest link, and this is saying something because Jimmy bowled reasonably well. Flintoff.Broad, Harmison were simply pulling out top draw fast/bouncy bowling.

    We really have to get behind Matty Prior. The guy has proved he can raise his wicket keeping technique (front top stance), keep tidily, equal Alex Stewarts 6 catch ODI record and take world class pace attacks (Steyn, Ntini, Nel) to the cleaners.

    Prior is not the best gloveman in the UK! For sure. He is not a Gilchest with the willow, but not near off at 25. He might put down one catch/match. Well so might Monty, Pietersen, Cook or Collingwood. Its relative!However he proves along with Gilchrest, Stewart it is easier to up the quality of keeping, with training and coaching; than it is for a specialist keeper to up his batting average/technique from 25 to 40+.
    Prior can make a good to very good keeper/batsman; were as the other 3 keepers with make very good to excellent keepers, but unsatisfactory/average batsmen at test level.

    Foster, Read, Ambrose - all super keepers but they don't get runs/ look weak in front of the stumps with the bat (they are steady county batsmen, not test); their footwork/temperment and batting technique is cruely exposed by test bowlers (look like rabbits); this in turn affects the batting balance/quality/depth and confidence of the top 6.

    Prior is age 25/26 so lots of fuel in the tank (5-7yrs of steadiness) and rallies fielders well behind the stumps. As long as he keeps working on his keeping the keeper /No6/7 batting order looks vastly more potent. It also takes the pressure of Freddy to come up with No6/7 batting and will allow him and England to profit from his natural batting game.

    Any keeper keeps well if his confidence is high. Media and England fans can make the keeper/No6 issue to become a non issue by backing prior, accept he might drop a few but add vastly more to the team, especially if critics lay off. Critics can damage individual confidence, thus inadvertantly (chicken+egg), damage the England performance. Positive accolades do the opposite and allow individuals perform positively at a higher level.

  • Comment number 41.

    Laodicean2 - I am not sure that interview comments as banal as saying 'there's energy and buzz' about the team show a clear link to GB's cycling team - they've been said by sportsmen before and will be again. You could equally say the GB cycling team copied the many football managers who have trotted out the same line. As for 'get on your bike', which was probably mouthed by Pietersen when Smith got out - it seems a bit tenuous to me.

    I think I require a little more convincing on this one, but none of this should detract from a really exciting period for English cricket and hopefully a buzzing four years (and hopefully many more after London 2012) for GB sport.

    On the Matt Prior issue - I definitely think he should be given a run but am still unconvinced by his batting. I know that once we reached 30 or 40 for 0 we were never going to lose the game, but he could have been out a handful of time in his short innings and mixed some genuinely high-class shots with some pretty ropey slogging. Clearly talented but the jury's still out.

  • Comment number 42.

    There's enough potential in this England group to push on and become one of the top few sides in the world. Few players have really realised their potential or been able to consistently perform over a period of time at the required standard. I do believe that Pieterson and Flintoff are the only exceptions. If the likes of Cook, Bell and Collingwood can produce anything close to their best regularly with the bat along with sensible selections like Shah and Prior instead of Strauss and Ambrose (this includes test cricket too) then we potentially have a side who could do a lot of damage. Especially if Harmison could find form again and Broad and Anderson were both to mature into the bowlers we all know they can be. There's a lot of ifs though.

  • Comment number 43.

    to #19 neonsockmonkey- you said 'Anderson is looking very poor'. Absolutely rubbish. he bowled beautifully yesterday at 90mph plus and was very unlucky with edges going through the slips. He has been a revelation this summer and is a top class bowler now in my view. Your criticism is unwarranted, especially after his bowling yesterday

  • Comment number 44.

    ODIs: An apology.

    In recent years while England have repeatedly underperformed in limited overs cricket while doing rather well in Tests, I may have given the impression that the only form of the game that matters is the longer form.

    I now realise that Tests are for stuffy old bores in dusty pavillions, and the future of English cricket lies in the 50-over (or 23-over if you're "the second best side in ther word") format.

    Until we win our next Test/lose our next ODI, at least.

  • Comment number 45.

    ADSM, totally agree. He was handed the responsibility last summer and took it with both hands, and he hasn't looked back since

    Throughout the test series he ran in all day, but had little support from other bowlers.

    His pace is now consistently in at over 90, and assisted Broad yesterday in keeping the pressure on the batsmen.

  • Comment number 46.

    Locohero, what you say is what I guessed at but surely there is a better option than Bell. The ideal for me seems to be the partnership which I recall scored the runs that inflicted a similar ten wicket defeat upon the Proteas 5 or so years ago: Trez and Vaughan. While the former bludgeoned the runs, the latter supported him in a positive if less aggressive manner. I know Bell did not need to extend himself yesterday but I cannot see him being the positive player we need when the opposition have posted 383 rather than just 83.

  • Comment number 47.

    Oh here we go again England this England that.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ Locohero: Cricketers have been taking guard since the game began! 'on guard' used in cricket bears NO relation to fencing at all, they don`t say on guard, what they do is take guard which essentially is guarding the stumps and knowing where the stumps are in relation to the bowler, if I walk out to bat the first thing I would do is take guard, if I wanted a middle stump guard I would ask the umpire for 2 and mark middle stump in a line or a dot on the popping crease in relation to where middle stump is so I know where to stand and take my stance. If it was a left arm bowler I may ask for 1 which is leg stump guard, so I would mark leg and take my stance accordingly, the term 'on guard' as far as im aware doesn`t exist in cricket, its taking guard.

  • Comment number 49.

    I cannot help thinking that the inclusion of four front line bowlers shows the error of previously picking "bits and pieces" cricketers.

    What a pity the ECB did not schedule a game over the bank holiday weekend.

  • Comment number 50.

    Come on Aggers! Long hard tour - been away from home a long time! Do me a favour. Tuss tuss didums then, big babies!
    Try telling that to guy who took a days holiday and paid £40 odd quid to get in to watch them crumble.
    As with a lot of today's 'sporting starts' they are over paid and overrated and therefore have nothing to work for.

  • Comment number 51.

    leftarmluke - don't want to be pedantic but I am pretty sure that 2 represents a middle-and-leg guard. 1 is leg stump and, although you could say 3, most people tend to say middle for that stump.

  • Comment number 52.

    Yes you are right, I just say middle or leg! Either way thats not the point I was making

  • Comment number 53.

    There are a number of comments about the two teams and there "focus" on the game. Since KP became captain the England Team appear to have regained theirs. I begin to wonder if Vaughan had begun to run out of ideas to help his team concentrate for longer periods and that the appointment of a new captain has forced all the players to look at their own game with a corresponding improvement in performance (Freddie?)

    KP's enjoying a "holiday" period at the moment and I expect them to win this one day series. The series in India and the West Indies will ask more questions of KP's captaincy crudentials especially if/when some of his own players begin to lose focus. I expect there will be very few pedalos near England's hotel in the new year!

  • Comment number 54.

    Wow! That was fantastic! Doubt we'll ever see such a dominant England performance again. I'm not normally prone to wild sweeping statements but if you look at the balance of the side and the confidence they exuded under the irrepressible KP how can you not be excited by the direction English cricket is going in!

    At the moment there seems to be just one glaring weakness in our side; despite knocking off 85-0, our openers don't look good! Though I'm certainly not saying the same two batsmen can't do! Prior was so lucky not to lose his wicket to some frankly appalling pull shots, but apart from those few shots he looked good! And I'm sure someone (KP!) will talk those poor decisions out of him! Ian Bell is farming far too much of the strike, I have the same reservations as many of you for when it comes to chasing 300+, but a guy with his class should be able to develop and evolve his game for the role.

    Let's be honest the bowling has never looked so formidable! And again how much credit does KP deserve! Freddy coming back is obviously a huge boost, but KP has not only lured Harmy out of retirement but also got him bowling with renewed confidence, key for him, and ditto for Broad; KP's so full of praise and plaudits how can they not feel good about themselves!

    Finally, anyone who says Jimmy bowled badly needs to wake up! I admit I'm biased as a Lancs fan but it was the team's awesome bowling that made his good bowling look ordinary - not poor. With some of the luck of the other bowlers he could have had two or three for, he's a different style of bowler to the rest of them and crucially important to our side (IMHO!) Don't forget how good a fielder he is too!

    I fully expect England to pull out at least a 4-1 series win here, then in the winter we'll really see how good we are on the sub continent where we've traditionally struggled! Come on England!

  • Comment number 55.

    It's a shame for the series that South Africa capitulated without really testing England. That on top of a close encounter in the first ODI going England's way and South Africa now need to win the last three.

    But don't write them off just yet, England have had things go kindly for them so far and it only takes a couple of Pietersen LBW type decisions to favour South Africa and they're more than good enough to turn the series around.

  • Comment number 56.

    leftarmluke

    i was joking

  • Comment number 57.

    The recent performances and results make the test series defeat even harder to bear. I think it proves how important the mental aspect of sport is. Clearly the England dressing room was a negative place towards the end of the MV era and it showed in the players body language and thus the results. Now under KP the confidence is high and the level of performance has increased also. Hopefully to continue!!!!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    While 2 matches are not decisive, I think Prior has played in a way which shows he should be one of 2 candidates to play in the Test side. He is clearly the best batsman-wicketkeeper available to us: he has been a bit lucky so far, but only because he is playing the attacking role at the top of the innings. He is playing proper cricket shots all around the wicket - compare with Ambrose's limited shot range. I place him above both Ambrose and Jones in this role.

    I say 2 candidates because if we play 5 bowlers, we need a batsman-wicketkeeper to shore up the batting at 6 or 7. If we play 4 bowlers, there could be a case for playing a wicketkeeper-batsman such as Foster or Read.

    The question is do we take a keeper of each type to India to allow flexibility of selection (as we did disastrously for the last Ashes series) or decide in advance how we want to balance the side and pick the best 2 keepers to do the job required (for me this would be the Prior/Ambrose/Jones type). Tricky.

  • Comment number 59.

    Hah! The cycling debate is brilliant - just shows how easy England's win was, since there isn't much else to talk about. Long may that continue!!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Why should South Africa bother about a meaningless one-day series? They've already won the war in convincing fashion, they've nothing left to prove and the best they can hope for in these trivial matches is to get them over with as quickly as possible. Then they can get home and revel in their Test triumph.

  • Comment number 61.

    There's no use pretending that South Africa "don't care" about the ODI's

    They were blown away yesterday, and were totally incapable of responding

    I'm sure the paying south africans inside Trent Bridge were not of the same opinion that it was "meaningless"

  • Comment number 62.

    I think Laodicean's comments are very pertinent. I was watching a tour of the dressing room at Lords and there was an exercise bike in the England physio room used for warm ups - coincidence? I think not.

    In addition to that I understand that KP now insists that Lords is known as 'The Velodrome'....

  • Comment number 63.

    What always amazes me about the English press and commentators, is that England win 3 games in a row and people are already building up their expectations!

    They are already insisting that England will regain the Ashes next year, but it has only been three games! Three for crying out loud!

    Their selection is not yet settled for the test side, doubts still remain about the balance of their side and their keeping dilemas remain!

    Pietersen has also yet to prove himself as a good leader of men! He is a confident and extremely talented cricketer, but until he proves himself as a leader in a major series against world class opposition (New Zealand, Zimbabwe, West Indies etc don't count!) it is too early to be hailing England as the side to beat Australia.

    England are at the very best, the 3rd ranked side in the world and the fact that South Africa have turned in two poor performances does not change the fact that they are definitely the better side!

    All credit to England for a good last few games, but do it for a year or two, before people start saying that they are the side to beat the Aussies!

  • Comment number 64.

    While Pietersen's start to his captaincy has been, frankly, incredible, I don't think people should downplay the role Michael Vaughan's captaincy had on our current team's self-belief.

    Just as Hussain set the tone for a really professional England side, only for Michael Vaughan to benefit from that during his reign, so Vaughan's era has shown England that we can compete - and beat - the very best in the world. Despite a lack of form when Vaughan resigned, that self-belief and knowledge is still with England and Pietersen is benefiting from that.

    I am quite sure that Pietersen has brought, and will continue to bring, plenty of other successes and attributes to the role but no one should denigrate the role that the previous skippers have done in transforming England to a position where we can compete (as we never could in the '90s).

  • Comment number 65.

    GBDan, I hope your joking! ;)

  • Comment number 66.

    Laodicean2
    ( "The comments made by Pietersen are almost identical to some of those made by the cycling team management :

    "There's an energy and a buzz about us," said Pietersen.

    and a friend of mine who was at the match says he distinctly heard (or read the lips ) of Pietersen when the South African captain was caught...

    "On yer bike, Smithy!"

    ...which could be taken as a reference to the fitness training which the whole England team now follows." )

    I can't believe the posters contesting this claim of a cycling connection. Surely Laodicean2 is winding you up. I mean they might have had some inspiration from the team GB's success but the above is surely intentionally ridiculous.

  • Comment number 67.

    I agree that the media do seem to get carried away with their praise but that should not detract from what was an excellent performance from England.

    SA can play better, we all know this but you can only play whats in front of you and England exploited SA's frailties to the full yesterday. In the past, even playing like that SA would have made 150, 200 or England would have struggled to chase it down. But England showed a ruthless streak that once SA were in trouble, England were determined to keep them there and the openers were positive without being reckless especially Prior who I think was man of the match alongside Broad who was outstanding. Anderson whilst a little wayward at times bowling consistantly in the high 80mph, Flintoff is a bowler no one wants to face when he's on form and Harmison was just back up.

    The key now is getting this to last. England won't win by 10 wickets in the next ODI, SA can't be that bad twice but England need to show the same kind of intensity and performance and show that they can string performances together

  • Comment number 68.

    Not convinced Laodicean2 was joking, based on his initial comments at post 2.

  • Comment number 69.

    Well let us not claim the series is won yet - still 3 games to go but there really are a lot of things to be happy about.

    KP so far having a dream start as captain. I trust he won't worry when an inevitable loss brings the wrath of 606 down on his head. May be a bit early but he's won me - hope sisterkaren will let me join the fan club ....

    Prior come back looking good. Did feel he was discarded a bit sharply. Tour of India will test him but he has to be a good chance to take back the Test role if he keeps like that consistently.

    4 x 90 mph bowlers. Just what will be needed next year ? Harmison seems revitalized - hope it lasts (Even back in the odi which he didn't want to touch : Is this down to KP ?) And IF Broad can only transfer this form into Tests I can see a viable batting order and a strike force to be feared.

    Look forward to Friday. Today it's all good.

  • Comment number 70.

    I agree, I hope he was joking though. Difficult to tell in blogs!

  • Comment number 71.

    What we always seem to forget is that we are perennial whipping boys, specifically in ODIs. A few wins, and hey! we're the best thing since Goochies' laminated bat. The South Africans came to England to win the test series, and they've done that. I find Agnew's effervescent glee a trifle embarrasing. Having had to swallow an ODI and test series defeat so far this season, two ODI wins doesn't make the summer - by any stretch. Granted we've the makings of a good team, but lets crow when we've earned the right to.

  • Comment number 72.

    My favorite is "cycling and cricket have always been associated at the grass roots level and many players of my small club cycle to home matches".

    Some club cricketers have been known to walk to matches and that is where the England game has fallen down in the past. Taking training ideas and inspiration from the mediocre GB walking team was always a mistake.

  • Comment number 73.

    Anyone who has a literary reference as relatively obscure as a Thomas Hardy novel is almost certainly taking the p**s.

  • Comment number 74.

    leftarmluke - you are a m***n

  • Comment number 75.

    Two very good 1 day performances by England.

    How much stronger do England look with a fully fit and strong Flintoff in the side. I have to say that I am surprised that he has managed to rediscover the hostility he showed prior to his long spell out with injury. Batting at 5 or 6, he is able to express himself freely in the knowledge that we bat all the way down to 9.

    Most onlookers will have seen very little of Samit Patel, but I can assure everyone that here is a very talented batsman in his own right even if England are using him at no. 8. He isn't a front line slow bowler in the Panassar mould but he is able to do a job.

    I remain unconvinced about Prior (despite yesterday) and would be looking critically at his keeping if we are to consider him as our test keeper (great left hander though) - time will tell !! Our openers

    Also, Bopara for Wright in our strongest side - he has serious talent and is capable of being really explosive and is a naturallong term replacement for Collingwood in both forms of the game.


  • Comment number 76.

    I think the key to Englands brief success is that they are back to playing hard, aggressive cricket, similar to what we saw against Aus.

    SA were terrible but England bowled quick, tight lines, which came off well. If England keep playing positive, aggressive cricket I think they can turn round their shokcing one day record.

  • Comment number 77.

    I see the bell knocker's are busy once again. mike gatting should know better, at the top of the order you need partnerships and a partnership of 6 runs an over is better than england have had for years. normally we are 2 down for 30. I wonder if bell played for middlesex gatting would see things differently.

    as for the comment from blowers on tms that the oval test was meaningless, he is mad. no test is meaningless, the south africans would have loved to prevent pieterson's first test victory and the success in these odi games in part stems from that success.

  • Comment number 78.

    Enough grumbling already.

    Let's just keep smiling with them! Fred with a smile on his face is such a great sight for English fans and such a bad sight for the opposition. If we all keep smiling perhaps Freddie will keep on performing.

    Enjoy it while it's going well, I know I am.

  • Comment number 79.

    Jonathon, TO RESCUE the tour. What a lot of tripe you spout

  • Comment number 80.

    Well, the cycling connection would normally be that England is involved in the team pursuit...

    Amazing: England do badly and it's all England's fault; England do well, and it's all the opposition's fault.

    Credit where it's due: you can only play the opponent who is put in front of you. A traditional demotivated England side would have let the South Africans hang around longer, then lost a few wickets and panicked chasing a target in the low three figures. Instead, England went in for the kill with bowling, fielding and batting.

    Credit where it's due, 2: so far in his reign, Pietersen's scored a century, featured in a record partnership, taken a wicket or two, found form from Harmison, and won three matches in a row. You can't ask more than that. Much more of this and I'll have to change my opinion of him.

    Will Harmison ever have a better analysis than 1 over, 2 wickets? I suppose the nay sayers will point out he didn't bowl a single maiden over.

  • Comment number 81.

    "Disinterested" means neutral, unbiased. I think you were aiming for "uninterested" Aggers. Otherwise spot on as usual.

  • Comment number 82.

    Whether it was the ' Hoy effect' or not, (and I believe it was, not least because of the bikes that the whole team use in training except Panesar who insists on stabilisers) it was a remarkable victory.
    L A Odicean.

  • Comment number 83.

    Result was good for England but disappointing for the crowd - South Africa should have put up more of a fight. Twenty 20 games have lasted longer - another poor night for the paying spectator. I shall not be shelling out for another ODI.

  • Comment number 84.

    Post 2 (Laodicean2). What on earth are you talking about? If you wish to bang on about the Olympics, please do so somewhere else. This is a cricket blog!

  • Comment number 85.

    When will the British public and media learn to stop getting carried away with a couple of decent results?

    I'm loving watching England play some good cricket, especially after the whole Pattinson debacle mid summer, and Pieterson has done exactly the right things as captain, namely using his influence to have a team he trusts and giving them a specific role to play. Everyone plays better in those circumstances.

    But seriously: calm down, or you'll be slanging off the same players in about a week.

    PS Cricket and cycling? Someone explain the link?

  • Comment number 86.

    What is the obsession with some of the people posting here in finding negatives? We actually won a game of cricket, everyone go "yay"! Why can't people just be happy for a change? It's not as if your sporting advice or criticisms are going to influence our teams' performance in the future now is it.

  • Comment number 87.

    Mr Agnew,
    Good thing you are not one for talking out of areas which are not condusive for such manners. or are you?

    Firstly, thoroughly deserving? The 'talk' of the south african team going home was probably circulated and started by the british media, lord knows they are good at making up nonsense.
    secondly, we in no way 'overdid' our celebrations, we won the series fair and square, whether you like it or not.

    Ill admit that there is no excuse for the way that South africa played yesterday, it wa a disgrace. and also agreed on the lack of oomph or any kind of inspiration.


    Congratulations to england for a good performance, you brits are always to quick to celebrate and hail this a turn around until the next time you lose, then you want the coaches or captains or players head on a block.

  • Comment number 88.

    i still think that bopara should play instead of wright because he is a better batsman than wright is and is similar to wright in terms of skill with the ball as well.

    However, the team in general looks awesome and shah at 3 looks a wise decision as he a better batsman thaan bopara is and his performances recently show he is deserving to move up the order.

  • Comment number 89.

    We finally have some balance to the side. I have been screaming for Prior to replace Ambrose behind the stumps and the sooner it happens in the tests the better!!

    In modern cricket you need 'cricketers'. Ambrose is not a cricketer, (not an international standard one) he can't bat! At international level , you cant afford to carry passengers, everyone has to contribute; this is the message KP seems to be getting through.

    On the same note, I think monty should be very concerned, he is another England player who is not a cricketer, he cant catch/field and he cant bat. I know he is in the test side as a key member of the bowling attack but i think he often struggles against the better batsmen and he also struggles on unfavourable pitches. I don't expect him to make 50's or 100's but the odd 20, and as for his fielding and catching it is inexcusable at proffessional level.

    It is getting to the point were monty's inability as a cricketer is outweighing his benefit as a spin bowler after all, is monty's bowling that much better than the likes of swann or patel? These two can both contribute in the field and with the bat!

  • Comment number 90.

    viscera316, we are happy but we are not blinded by a hattrick of very good results. We have seen it all before. Have you?

  • Comment number 91.

    Is Monty's bowling better than that of Swann or Patel?

    Emphatically yes.

  • Comment number 92.

    To clarify the cycling link:

    Much the same as a cyclist's wheel goes around and around, as does the Olympics and English cricket on a regular basis, you will find Pietersen, without his bike, at the helm of the circle following proceedings.

    I hope that clarifies matters for you.

  • Comment number 93.

    One of the "mindless majority" (#39) signing in. Fortunately, in our absence, the minority have kept us all amused, with their leg-pulling, semantic skills -- not entirely correct, it seems -- and Thomas Hardy (?) quotes.

    Of course we were all delighted to see England win so handsomely yesterday. Brilliant! If we have no batting failures to go on about and the bowlers did their job as usual, better than ever this time, there is not much more to say, is there?

    It was great to see Stuart Broad do so well, as he has not had much luck or success this year. I agree with those of you who say that the youngsters replacing Jones and Hoggard in the "fabulous four" are really beginning to come good. It is turning into a very formidable line-up indeed. Yesterday wasn't Jimmy's turn but he still bowled very well.

    Anyway, the captain asked us not to get too excited yet. There is still a long way to go in the series. We, the "mindless majority" are an obedient lot!!

  • Comment number 94.

    Unfortunately the media and certain fans always get carried away.

    Pietersen has had an incredibly lucky start - and he was gifted a dead rubber by Vaughan, with no pressure whatsoever at the Oval. Basically he could do what he liked and nobody cared. At Trent Bridge, the Saffers didn't even turn up so where was the captaincy skill under pressure?

    I will believe he's a good captain when he copes with all the interviews which he regards as nonsense, disciplinary problems in the team, Harmison going off the radar with extreme homesickness in India, groups of young players scooting off to the nightclub when they should be in bed, Flintoff going off on a bender etc. etc. etc. and coping with it with the grace that Vaughan showed. I notice Peter Moores was extremely vociferous a few months ago about coaching issues, but now is totally silent - so despite Schofield are we now to understand that the captain controls all the selection? I don't think so.

    Pietersen has a very long way to go and three matches prove not a lot when it comes to England captaincy because what happens on the pitch is only a small part of what he has to do - and let me remind him that he now embodies English cricket even though he wasn't born here or brought up here. That is a serious responsibility which I get the impression he hasn't even begun to embrace. So far I see Pietersen making sure that his best profile is turned to camera (today's photo in the Independent expresses exactly what I mean).

  • Comment number 95.

    Hi Alexbokkie01, #87. Some straight talking from the SA point of view, not too common on this blog.

    The real contest, the Test match series, was won by the better team. All this talk of the Boks having gone home early is rubbish. South Africa is a proud cricket team and it was obvious that Graeme Smith was more than a little upset about yesterday's result, and he went as far as to apologise to the spectators. In the end it was little more than a Twenty20 match, though you guys enjoyed a few more overs.

    I'm sad to see that Smith may not be fit for the next game. He is a very good batsman and a great captain. "Shark" will undoubtedly do a good job standing in for him and England, who finally seem to be emerging from a very poor period of transition in the one-day game, need to have the best competition possible. Trent Bridge is not likely to be repeated.

    Come on the Boks and come on England! This may yet turn out to be an exciting series.

  • Comment number 96.

    Girlfan

    Thats is awfully harsh. Kp does have long way to go. However you imply he is not taking the job seriously all the evidence is against that implication.

  • Comment number 97.

    To further cement the relationship between the cycling and cricket teams KP and the gang should adopt the cycling style helmet.

    Stylish plus could shave off vital hundredths of a second when running between the wickets.

  • Comment number 98.

    Hi GirlfanLondon #94.

    Yes, you may be right about Pietersen, but you can't expect him to jump fences before he reaches them. It's always good to have luck on your side but KP has so far done an impeccable job.

    Your point was about the off-the-field responsibilities of the England captain, which are numerous, time-consuming and sometimes very difficult, giving the media attention that the England team attracts.

    Even there, he has made a very good start. Coaxing Harmison out of one-day retirement was brilliant. I would like to think he might be able to do something similar with Trescothick, a player who could make a real difference to the England team. Tresco may never be available to tour again but, is there any reason why he shouldn't play in all forms of the game for and in England? KP may have a very difficult job persuading the cricketing establishment that this would be a very good idea but if there is one person who may be able to do it, it is Pietersen.

    Pietersen, above all, is a maverick, someone who cares little about accepted ideas and just wants to do the best for his adopted country. He has already had a big effect on the team's morale. We should give him every support in his new role.

  • Comment number 99.

    For "giving the media attention", read "given".

  • Comment number 100.

    Maybe a few of you have thought along these lines.

    England could potentially put out a 5 man Test 90mph bowling attack in the West Indies, Jan 2009

    ie
    Freddy
    Jimmy
    Harmy
    Broady
    Jones

    With Broad/Jimmy upping their youthful pace from 85mph to 89-90mph the 5 man relentless pace attack might be possible. This is potentially very possible if Prior holds down the keeper/No6/batter role.

    Obviously we know its silly to do this in India where spin/ regular pace is more suited. Lets hope Monty can weave in more flight/variation of speed and a third ball variation to up his game. Hopefully Rashid/Swann can up their game, and Sidebottom comes back fit with left arm zip.

 

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