BBC BLOGS - Test Match Special
« Previous | Main | Next »

England struggle to turn the screw

Jonathan Agnew | 18:01 UK time, Sunday, 10 August 2008

Although recent experience suggests that their batsmen might make hard work of it, England appear to be on course for their consolation victory.

However, it sums up the level of cricket that England have been playing for too long now that South Africa were able to recover from a situation that at lunch looked hopeless.

It was also the case under Michael Vaughan's leadership that England, in my opinion, are far too quick to give established batsmen a single when a lower-order batsman is also at the crease.

AB de Villiers made England sweat

On the fourth afternoon, Kevin Pietersen showed what a confused tactic this is when, with AB de Villiers batting with Paul Harris, he took the second new ball. But he did not use it as an attacking option to de Villiers, who had 62 at the time, and South Africa's lead was only 119. Immediately, de Villiers edged to second slip - but there was no one there. The fielders were scattered in the deep and the chance went begging.

The point is that de Villiers was still playing cautiously and responsibly. It is a different matter if an established batsman goes on the attack with a tail-ender at the other end - but Pietersen should have looked to take the initiative. After all, the ball has swung throughout the match, and there was always the possibility that de Villiers would edge it.

Bizarrely, when de Villiers had reached 94, Pietersen set an orthodox field of two slips and a gully, with only a deep square leg and long leg in the outfield. That is the field that should have been set some 70 runs earlier.

England also bowled badly at Harris. They either peppered him with short balls, or fired in attempted yorkers - but nothing in between. It is a perfectly legitimate tactic to give lower-order batsmen a bouncer of two - but they are as likely to edge a good length ball as anyone else and England got it wrong.

Harris gritted his teeth and showed admirable bravery and determination, but it was not until he had made 34 in a hugely valuable stand of 95 with de Villiers that Stuart Broad found a good length and Harris edged to Collingwood at third slip.

Conversely, Pietersen got it absolutely right when Monty Panesar bowled at de Villiers on 97. Going over the wicket and aiming into the rough, the tantalising target of deep midwicket was deliberately left open. Down the pitch came de Villiers, aiming for that spot to bring up his hundred and was bowled.

It was unnecessary from his point of view - but showed good research in that England know he is jittery when approaching a century. Six times in the last three-and-a-half years, de Villiers has fallen in the 90s.


  • Comment number 1.

    Slightly harsh in criticism there.

    Test crickets ebbs and flows and it is common to get some sort of a late stand in an innings.

    Overall England have bowled well in this test and once Harmison is on form-he and Flintoff are a real handful.

    The batting is still the main concern.
    Any of the top 3 are vulnerable with Key and Shah surely deserving a chance.
    Steve Davies got a hundred today and Mark Davies-has over 200 first class wickets at 21 apiece-surely deserves a chance.

    England will be disappointed that they have not re-created a team over the last few years with testing some new players v the likes of NZ and the West Indies.
    The Ashes is only a year away and at the moment it would not be a contest.

  • Comment number 2.

    Even though England have played well in this match, there will be the feeling that South Africa didn't put in their best effort. Anways, it will go into the record books as a victory for Pietersen in his first Test as captain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes, very harsh, e.g. "England got it wrong".
    Why not give SA some credit for their determination, instead of saying what the England bowlers and surprise, surprise captain - who have all performed well in this match - SHOULD have done.
    Over the top criticism, becoming par for the course Mr Agnew.
    You used to bowl a bit, didn't you?
    Not always that easy, is it, unlike journalism?

  • Comment number 4.

    Intriguing, but predictable, that Aggers spares De Villiers the relentless criticism that he gave Pietersen for falling short of a century. Not too dissimilar a situation - a batsman well set in the 90s with his team looking to set a fourth innings target.

    I think there's a much stronger argument for saying that De Villiers' stroke could have cost South Africa the game than was the case with Pietersen in the last test.

    Even Ntini hung around with the bat in the first innings so, despite there being only two wickets in hand, De Villiers had the chance to put on say another 50 odd runs for the last two wickets, and give SA a lead of 250+ on the last day. I think that would have set England a much sterner test.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good to see all the bowlers having rewards for their hard work.

    Thought Broad responded well to his captain showing faith in him, Monty seemed to have his tail up a bit more than normal - especially leading up to AB's dismissal - and Harmy looks to be on the way back to form.

    The game's there for the taking, let's hope they batsmen don't feel they have to bat around KP again. Every one of those top 3 owe their country (not to mention their bowlers) a win. And you'd think at least one of them might not be visiting India if they fail again.

    Good luck tomorrow, boys. It's not over yet.

  • Comment number 6.


    England are in a good position in this game and they still get criticised. KP is new in the job, the captaincy has been thrust upon him after Vaughan's sudden departure and your criticising him because he isn't getting fields right every single time.

    I agree with Middlespoon, it turns out being captain of the England side is hard unlike being a journalist.

  • Comment number 7.

    Top #4: good point!

  • Comment number 8.

    er.. that should have been "To #4: good point!"

    Oh dear.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thanks, jimmers75.

    Have to say, Aggers gets so much criticism for the, er, level of criticism he constantly insists on firing at England that I'm surprised either he, or someone at BBC Sport, hasn't got the hint.

    He's better on air but I'm getting fed up of the curmudgeonly nature of his reporting nowadays. I think BBC Cricket is due a change...

    When listening to TMS last weekend, I thought it was shocking the way Aggers readily hung Alec Stewart out to dry during the phone-in when the Pietersen 94 was topic number 1. The lady caller was complaining about how Pietersen's innings, and dismissal, had been treated in the media but Aggers handed her straight over to Stewie since he was "on air at the time". Aggers barely uttered a word about his own views on the subject.

    Sheer cowardice!

  • Comment number 10.

    England have appointed an inexperienced captain, because he's the best batsman and the only guy guaranteed to get in both the Test, 20/20 and ODI teams.

    It's a little bit 'after the horse has bolted' to whine about his flawed captaincy decisions, in the first game he's ever captained a side at a top level game. Maybe he needs Strauss and Collingwood to offer better advice when they can?

    Some might say he's done alright under the circumstances, but then a captain is only made by the choice of, and the form of his players most of the time.

    Also pretty pointless to moan about a guy getting out for 94 and 100 when there are players in the side struggling to get to 20.

  • Comment number 11.

    Comments 4 and 7

    Is it possible, do you think, that you could try to see the difference between what Agnew was criticising Pietersen for, and Collingwood's and De Villiers' apparantly similar decisions when in the 90s looking for their centuries?

    No one, least of all Agnew, I'm sure, would have criticised Pietersen had it been apparent that his decision on 94 was a calculation of HOW BEST to get over nervousness so close to a century, so that England were given the best chance of him going on to score many more runs than the 94 he'd already got. This, I'm sure, is Agnew's perception of why Collingwood dealt being in the 90s the way that he did, and I'm also sure that he saw De Villiers' shot today to be an error through miscalculation rather than one deriving from vanity.

    Agnew, and other writers, saw in Pietersen's shot on 94 not a calculated attempt to do his best for the team at that time, but a vain and deliberate act of self-aggrandisement that they felt should be reported as being out of place in someone representing England.

    I agree with them. Maybe it's too late to moderate Pietersen's narcissism, but it's not to late to point out to all those youngsters looking to emulate him that they would be wise to be selective about which particular aspects of his behaviour they choose to copy.

  • Comment number 12.

    #4 - I have a slightly different opinion, in that Pietersen still had an established batsman at the other end. De Villiers had just lost
    Harris, and Nel barely survived his first two balls, with only Ntini (real no 11 to be honest) to come. Monty was just landing it in the rough down the leg side, he either had to go for the risky shot or block out the over and hope Nel survived at the other end. He went for it, and I don't really blame him for it as he had played responsibly up until then.

    Anyway, well played England. I'd be more confident if Steyn was playing, but it'll take something special for SA to win from here. Unless we can get past the top 5 quickly. At least it's still a competitive match, not a procession.

  • Comment number 13.

    I do have to agree with aggers here. Why take the new ball, and set the field deep, when you know that de villiers is only going to look for a single off say the 4th or 5th ball of the over. Why not for say 4-5 overs of the new ball set a more attacking field and see what happens. If the established batter goes for his shots, then you can have a rethink of your field placings.

    Good to see broad getting a few wickets as well. I really rate him, and i think that it is important that england stick with him, because while he is still learing he is going to have some bad days. Im not suggesting he will be as good as harminson, but he to struggled at the start of his test career and as he got more confident at this level became the best bowler in the world. Stick with broad, for another year, let him learn.

  • Comment number 14.

    Even with 5 bowlers England have struggled to take 20 wickets... now with just 5 batsmen, can they chase 200 with confidence? Flintoff has massively unbalanced the side and he must be replaced by a proper batsman like De Villiers at 6. Otherwise England will only win Tests very rarely against top opposition; but will crumble often.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think it's fair to criticise KP a bit for the field today for AB with the new ball. What didn't help though was the fairly ordinary bowling to Harris at the other end. Pitch it up, catch the edge, simple!

    Before we head to India the team needs to change. Strauss hasn't looked good for England for some time and someone else should be given the chance. I suggested Carberry for the tour last year so I shall remain consistent. Ambrose, especially and Monty possibly should struggle to make the 11 for the tests. Here's my test XI for India:


    Squad: Sidebottom, Monty, Bell, Jones.

    Agree with the previous replies about India possibly refusing to play if Read was included. Who do they think they are??? Of course Read won't get picked anyway as he's blown his chances in the past.

  • Comment number 16.

    To whofc1985

    Thank you, I've been rating Broad for 2 years, he has at last found a captain who shows his faith and as we know this is rewarded, he is not some callow youth he really understands his game and knows he hasn't been bowling at his best, just you wait til next summer, demon in the making

  • Comment number 17.

    Never mind Aggers, where's Dr Cajetan Coelho?

  • Comment number 18.

    Um, I had always supposed that it was a journalist's job to criticize - that's what they're paid for, to judge a team's performance against what could have been achieved. Of course it's easier to judge what to do when you are sitting in the best seats in the house and not out in the middle in the thick of it.

    The mealy-mouthed criticism on this blog, and personal attacks on Agnew's test record (relevance?) are embarrassing to say the least.

    I have not seen any of the cricket this summer as I live in France, but from the hours I have spent listening to TMS I would suggest that England's tactics and game plan is worked out too far in advance and not enough thought is being applied once the game is underway - they're simply not thinking on their feet (apart from Vaughan who was changing the field willy-nilly to convey the impression he was some kind of messianic figure...)

    In fact, I've just remembered the hilarious theft of England's "masterplan" for each Aussie batsman during the 06-07 Ashes, which would seem only to prove the lack of thinking going on once the game is underway.

  • Comment number 19.


    I've been shuffling pieces of paper around the table today whilst listening to TMS trying to work out the best squad for India.

    I wish I'd seen your selection first as it would have saved me a lot of time.

    Perfect balance to the squad.

    It would be nice to see Chris Read given another chance but the ICL has put paid to that along with previous regimes who treated the lad very badly.

  • Comment number 20.

    England frequently get themselves into good positions, but, for some reason, seem to fritter them away on almost every occasion.

    It seems they can't go in for the kill.


  • Comment number 21.

    #18 - so you're critisicing England for having plans in advance but no plans on the field, but then criticise Vaughan for trying different things.....are you ever happy with England?

    As for today, SA made it clear they were going to just dig in as long as possible. Difference between people like Agnew and the captain on the field is that Agnew has time to sit back and analyze where Pieterson doesn't have that luxury. Easier to criticise with the benefit of hindsight isn't it?

    Only the weather should stop England from winning tomorrow

  • Comment number 22.

    Sorry, I must have missed something; India will refuse to play if Read gets picked? Somebody explain please.

  • Comment number 23.

    the only reason i can think why peitersen didnt set attacking field at time when new ball was taken was because he wanted to restrict the runs and attack harris at the other end. but they didnt bowled well to harris. they failed to follow the basics of bowling good length off stump deliveries mixed with occasional bouncer or me it was a right decision specially when the england batters have struggled to put in consistent performance throughtout summer.
    his captaincy has been good so far and his batting hasnt come under pressure but its still early to pass a judgement on it.
    tomorrow happens to be interesting day with the weather clear. will the batters manage to take england home or fall down to ntini and co. ?
    good luck boys ....

  • Comment number 24.

    He played in the IPL, India cricket are pathetic enough to make it an issue

  • Comment number 25.

    Aggers - I agree with post4 an7.

    De Villiers threw his wicket away at 97, Pietersen style going for glory. No TMS criticism, when an extra 50 runs might have given a winning 250 to bowl England out.

    Also why aren't TMS following Jacque Kallis around for his lack of runs, like Vaughan was hounded by the media? Should Kallis be dropped for Australia?

    190 is very gettable if England move their feet,play the right shots and two batsmen get in and make hay.

    Pietersen would have learnt a few field placing lessons from this match, tactically; and this can't be a bad thing.

    South Africa would need Steyn and a quality spinner to threaten England. I think England will make it but with 5/6 wickets down.

  • Comment number 26.


    I AM criticizing England for relying on advance plans, but I'm NOT criticizing Vaughan for trying different things, I'm saying he has seemed somewhat bereft of real ideas and has resorted to doing something, anything, in the hope it might work.

    Everyone has different opinions, especially as cricket is such an interesting game tactically.

    We need to criticize England with a view to the Ashes next year, when they will face a team who in addition to the great ability they have been able to boast in recent decades, have also proven to be great on-the-spot thinkers (apart from the Ashes 2005 where they were outplayed and out-thunk by Vaughan and possibly the best English team we will be privileged to witness for many a year...)

    #22: If I'm not mistaken Chris Read played for an ICL team, and hence is personae non grata by the BCCI and they'll refuse to play England with him in the team.

    In a few years'/decades' time, cricket will be effed up by money and petulance even more so than football... :0(

  • Comment number 27.


    Does that mean that anyone who plays in the IPL is banned from playing text cricket in India? Really? Are you serious?

    (I loved the wombles by the way).

  • Comment number 28.

    No, Read played in the ICL not the IPL. That is the original Indian cricket league. Now the Indian Cricket board want to ban anyone who played in the ICL from playing cricket in India.

  • Comment number 29.


    Quite disappointed not to read any Boycott bating in your blog after you promised some during TMS today... Good effort with the strike rate BTW... ;-)

    Regarding KP's fielding positions, I think it's good that he's learning his trade in a consolation match where it doesn't really affect the outcome of game in regard to the series.

    He's done something now that he hopefully wont do again in the coming tours, and that can only be a good think!

  • Comment number 30.


    please read the posts.

    the stuff that you wrote about KP during the last test isn't going to go away.

    post #4 makes the perfect case as to why you have dug yourself into a bit of a hole.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think the england test team shoudl go as followed
    1.Alister Cook
    2.Robert Key
    3.Ian Bell
    4.Kevin Pietersen (C)
    5. Paul Collingwood
    6.Steven Davies (WK)
    7.Andrew Flintoff
    8.Alid Rashid
    9.Steve Harmison
    !0.James Anderson
    11. Simon Jones

    Wat do you think of this team

  • Comment number 32.

    What the de Villiers/Pietersen comparison brigade fail to mention is that in the Pietersen case it was of VITAL IMPORTANCE to the Series that Pietersen stay put and continue to score whereas with Villiers it doesn't matter one way or the other, they've already won the Series.

  • Comment number 33.

    It really gets me when players have 1 bad test and everyone wants to drop him?? In test cricket not every batsmen is going to 100 every time!! Keep the same batsmen apart from Strauss!! Bell is one of the most technically gifted cricketers I have seen for a long time and you must remember he is still a young player! Why are some of you calling for a) Monty to be dropped? he is the 2nd leading wicket taker in the series, figures don`t lie! b) Simon Jones is NOT ready to come back he is progressively working his way to full fitness. Broad I think does an excellent job for England already, he is a threat with bat and ball and is great as we have depth with the 2 all-rounders if he gets 20-30 every time and takes 2-3 wickets every time I would be more than happy. Our depth in bowlers at county level is something to be really impressed with, adil rashid, kabir ali, saj mamood, graham onions, chris tremlett, simon jones, jimmy anderson, ryan sidebottom, liam plunkett! Wheras the batting doesn`t seem to be as deep!

  • Comment number 34.

    Unbelievable criticism of KP - again. Come on - the team has just taken 20 wickets for the first time this series - and on a flat pitch. I was at the second day of the Test last year and India got 650 plus. Its no coincidence that our bowling attack has looked the most balanced all summer. KP has appeared very much in charge - has placed his faith in Broad and Harmy - and they have repaid him.

    I think he is making a decent fist of his first game in charge - and I hope we win it tomorrow. We deserve it we have played some good cricket in this match - and we need give this side a run (with maybe a change of wicketkeeper)

  • Comment number 35.

    I expect we will get the required runs tomorrow with perhaps 6 wickets down provided the weather is good, we sure dont need rain. I hope KP reads this column to get some objective feedback about his fielding strategy. 197 is gettable, the saffers so nearly made it a dangerous 250.
    Finally we will get an England test win against a good side!

  • Comment number 36.

    I think tomorrow is a pretty big day for english test cricket. Its the kind of run chase that 4 or 5 years ago you would have backed England to get fairly easily. But just trecently England have started to lose or draw from this sort of position, so I think it begins to be important for these players to start winning from this position.

  • Comment number 37.

    Oh and on the whole Read thing. I think England should pick him, and dam the consequences. Have the ICC said ICL players are banned? If not I think its time the BCCI should be made to realise that it doesn't run world cricket.

  • Comment number 38.

    May I ask why you have not slated de Villers for being greedy? He played a risky shot against a spinner bowing into the rough (the most dangerous as it is unpredicatble) and lost. Given the situation, had he got another 20-30 runs SA would have gone out tomorrow thinking they had a chance. He had a chance and he blew it! At least that is what you should be saying Aggers, as that is what you said about KP last week, so if SA loose this match now is it de Villers fault? I know England are not the most consistant with bat or ball at the moment, but could we at least have some sort of consistancy from the commentators/pundits! Or is that too much to hope for?

  • Comment number 39.

    I thought your piece today was spot-on Aggers, and much of the criticism levelled at it pretty wide of the mark, and often personal rather than rational.

    In such a short piece, Aggers cannot be expected to make an analysis of the whole day's play, so he may not have full given credit to ABDV and Harris for an excellent rearguard action. Most of his readers are, anyway, more interested in what he has to say about England.

    His criticism of KP over the use of the new ball was perfectly reasonable and well-argued. Other TMS commentators were saying the same thing. It would be surprising if a new and inexperienced captain made no mistakes in his first game at the helm. But Aggers has given full credit to him for the way he uses Monty. I sometimes think that some of us bloggers or blogrespondents are looking for the slightest thing to criticise Aggers.

    The results of the selectors' work before this test have, on the whole, been positive. And, in case noone noticed, England took 20 wickets in not much more than two days. It is always possible to make improvements in the bowling line-up but, for once, all of them made their contribution. To have five bowlers available is clearly a good idea.

    Tomorrow should be an interesting day. It is the turn of our batsmen. This has been an excellent test wicket, quite unlike the feather-beds of earlier matches. It has given encouragement to really good fast bowling, whether it depended on genuine speed or the ability to make the ball swing. but any wayward stuff has been given the treatment it deserved, allowing the best of the batsmen to build big innings.

    The pitch seems to be holding up very well, maybe getting a little easier. And there is no sign that, as often happens on the last day of a test, it will give a lot of help to spin-bowling. Harris is not likely to be able to take much advantage of it anyway, as he is not a Warne or even a Panesar.

    So, with the whole day before them and if the weather doesn't intervene, England should be able to complete a comfortable victory tomorrow. It will be a damning indictment of the batsmen if they fail.

    I think this series has been fought out between two fairly well- matched teams. England should have won, if only because they were on home ground and better suited to the conditions. The reasons why we didn't have been endlessly debated so I won't add much more to that.

    There has clearly been more than a little "trouble at mill", involving the management, selectors and even the captaincy. Let's hope we can put that behind us with the new regime and turn a new page. There are a lot of fine cricketers in the current team and very few "shoo-in" replacements, though two or three members of the team are not just now doing the job they were selected to do and their places should be subject to reconsideration match by match.

    There you go! Both I and all my fellow contributors are given all the time and space we need to put forward our views, something that Aggers doesn't have, whether from limitations of space or the pressures of his job.

    Come on, England!!

  • Comment number 40.

    Forget the match - we will win it unless weather centre disappoints us.
    A question for you all - has Monty made any progress during last 12 months
    Fielding no!
    Batting no!
    Running with another batter no!
    Appealing no!
    Celebrating ??
    Bowling ?? Any improvement ? Arm ball - more astute thinking?
    Can he strike / contain on flat wickets like Underwood / Lock ?
    Would welcome any comments - even though I suspect there is no-one better
    KP did ok for much of match but like Vaughan seems to be short of sensible thinking re field placings
    While it is easy for Sky commentators to say it - I have to say I as a mere amateur also so great gaps in thinking

  • Comment number 41.

    "Both I and all my fellow contributors are given all the time and space we need to put forward our views, something that Aggers doesn't have, whether from limitations of space or the pressures of his job."
    Hmmm, I think that's the point that many contributors are trying to make.
    Batsmen and captains have to strike a balance between pro- and reactivity, sometimes getting it wrong.
    In the case of a batsman, one mistake and you're out, for a captain, one change of field setting can look inspired or daft.
    That is real pressure, immediate, instantaneous pressure, not having to meet a press deadline after watching a game of cricket all day (tough gig, eh?).
    Yes, journalists are paid to criticize, but a little more balance please, criticism can also be constructive.

  • Comment number 42.


    Noticed you were getting personally tired of Boycott at one stage. Any critique of aggers journalism isn't personal, its largely asking for balance, better objectively and lack of contradiction that were the qualities of greats like Richie B. His critique of KP many felt rather unfair and focusing at wrong batting failure, as it was Strauss, Bell, Ambrose, Vaughan and Cook et al who were the collective batting reason for Englands 2 defeats. Richie B would have picked this up first off.

  • Comment number 43.

    I would like to raise the question – should KP have taken the new ball when he did?. Maybe he should he have given ‘Monty’ and ‘Freddy’ a couple more overs each with the old ball. Prior to the new ball being taken, ‘Freddy’ was roaring in with the crowd behind him and had both de Villiers and Harris well contained such that neither were scoring freely. This meant that these batsmen had to break out by having a go at ‘Monty’ – just what ‘Monty’ likes to see. At this point in the game ‘Monty’ was weaving his magic and stood every chance of picking both wickets.

    The issue here is that once the new ball is taken a captain losses the options that the spinner brings with the old ball. Monty had waited long enough for his ‘post-prandial’ spell. To my mind there was to be lost in giving him a few more overs - he could have wrapped up the tail before tea was taken.

  • Comment number 44.


    I'd say two improvements I saw today where Monty's slower flighted ball, speed variation and his arm ball.

    A slight negative were 3 shorter easily despatched long hops.

    Monty would do well to work on a "wrong un" if he is to progress to being a major wicket taker.

  • Comment number 45.

    While I was sitting in bed this morning watching the Community Shield match on the box and listening to the TMS internet/radio coverage of the test match, there was a heated debate on the latter about Monty Panesar among SMS and e-mail contributors.

    The facts speak for themselves. He may be a pretty poor fielder and occasionally misses easy catches, in spite of all his efforts to improve in that area. One missed catch per match may be par for the course, no better and no worse than anyone else in the team. But he has achieved eight "Michelles" in a pretty short career, often against the very best competition, something that few of our bowlers have been able to match.

    As I mentioned, he has dedicated much time and effort to sprucing up his fielding abilities but, if he is to become the exceptional spin-bowler that many people believe he can, it is to that that he should be devoting his efforts. It would not take very much for him to add new dimensions to his bowling but he needs the help of an exceptional spin-bowling coach, something that England does not appear to have.

    Just one last thought: the enormous popular enthusiasm for English cricket awakened in the 2005 Ashes Series seems to be dying away. How else could it be if so few people can watch it on television? Test match attendances have rarely been better but it is only the reasonably well-off or people making sacrifices to go to the matches that are able to watch them. It is not good enough.

    The hefty amounts of money paid by Sky for the concession may, over time, filter through to the grass-roots of English cricket but that will be no consolation for many people who want to watch the matches now, live and all day, just as they were able to do not so long ago. I have no doubt that the BBC are paying huge amounts of money so that people can watch the Beijing Olympics, on TV and by internet, which are very interesting but only, I suggest, to a minority of people. The fact that London will be the next Olympic hosts will have influenced that decision.

    Many more people in Britain may be interested in football than cricket and the amounts of money swiiling around in the coffers of the big four teams will never be able to be matched by those of the cricket teams. That is the reason why Twenty20, whether we like it or not, may be able to change the balance, because there are many people out there ready to invest huge sums of money in this version of the game. I just hope that the English cricketing authorities are able to ensure that a big share of the losh comes back to English cricket teams and that the BBC is once more able to compete with other media companies to ensure that the international cricket competions which we have come to call Test Matches, will be able to be seen, free of charge, by so many cricket fans.

    I am not too confident.

  • Comment number 46.

    The new ball is used as an aggressive attacking option - England would always toil to make headway with the older ball, especially with a bounce/hit the deck front line, and what has been an indifferent summer for Monty.

    But, to lay blame for field placements at KP's feet is a little harsh. Jonathan Agnew amongst many other cricket followers would have been first to criticise England had attacking field been set, AB de Villiers had cut loose, Harris had hung with him and left England with 275/300 as a target. With the assets that a new ball's hardness brings, it must be weighed up carefully in each individual match situation, that it can also be a tap for runs.

    As it happens, Monty varied him metronomic bowling for once and pinches out de Villiers leaving England in a prime position to close this game down.

    SA do not possess a spinner of calibre to turn the match at this stage, and the wicket remains favourable to batting.

  • Comment number 47.

    Yes, the tactic against Harris was wrong. Harris is not a useless batsman. The tactic seemed like the dreaded English over-confidence rearing its ugly head on the part of the captain.

    Nice to see Stuart Broad take some wickets, but England shouldn't have to rely on the fifth bowler. They are still a batsman short, a selection policy that mustn't become the norm.

  • Comment number 48.

    what is with all the monty bashing? granted he has basically no other skills than his bowling. But can someone in all seriousness provide me with an alternative of the same caliber?

    He seems to be gaining more control on his bowling in recent months and is varying the flight and pace much more than he had been a year previously.

    Obviously he has a long way to go with all aspects of his game, but look at his stats. 8 5wi in 20 odd tests. more than 100 test wickets, and reached this feat in quicker time than danny vettori. The only comparable bowler to him. And he still takes wickets every match and when he isnt taking wickets is generally extremely economical. he probably need another ball in his arsenal but hes done the damage with only 2 real balls in his bag and develops a lot of turn for a finger spinner.

    I'm not saying he is guaranteed his place in the squad but can peopel please stop berating arguably the second best finger spinner in the world(after vetorri obviously), without having any clue about a legit replacement for him.

    Also the same goes for broad. Hes young and learning, but hes definitely showed hes got the strong character to play well when hes under fire. Hes taken good wickets and looked very threatening throughout the second innings. Hes still learing his trade but hes a tall fast bowler, and working closely alongside steve harmison could really help him learn how to use his size and height. hes also shown his talents with the bat, granted he had a blip in this test, but prior to that he had been outscoring many of the top order batsman and was very consistent and level headed batting with the tail order. england need a man like him at number 8 to hold together an otherwise poor tail(i include ambrose in that).

  • Comment number 49.

    oldmanwillow - not disagreeing with your well thought-out analysis, but thought I'd mention that only three of Monty's 5-fors (in 57 innings) have come against the 'very best' opposition:
    1 vs Aus
    1 vs SL
    1 vs Pak
    3 vs Windies
    2 vs NZ
    0 vs SA or Ind

    Still, he remains the most attacking spinner England have had in a while, and at least he turns the ball when conditions suit. Take it from me, we have Harris, our very own Gilo! It is just a bit worrying that after 33 tests he is not showing more signs of improvement. Where is the top-spinner or the one that goes the other way? Why isn't his batting improving like Jimmy's has? Young spinners these days know they have to work on a variety of deliveries, would be good to see some sign of this from Monty.

    In his defense though, before this series this board was full of comments like "these Saffas are useless against spin", and everyone expected him to dominate SA. Obviously these posters were thinking back to the 90s and the early part of this decade when Warne and Murali often ran through the SA team, but hadn't watched the recent away series in Pak, SL and India - particularly AB's double hundred at Ahmedabad. When he didn't destroy SA, the knives came out and people started saying he had gone backwards.

    From an opposition point of view, I say you should value his talent, but possibly use him more as a horses-for-courses selection replaced by a spinner who can bat (or KP) when conditions don't suit him. And the next time he gets two months off it should be spent in solid fielding practice!

  • Comment number 50.

    Think you are right here Aggers.
    It may seem a bit mean to be marking KP down over one detail when he has really captained the team pretty well, but isn't constructive criticism what journalists are paid for?
    As a bowler myself , I hate the tactic of giving the "good " batsman an unpressured,few slips,easy single etc just to get at the bunny.It tells the bowler his captain doesn't think he can get the man out and with a new ball this is just plain wrong. The bowler cannot help but lose a bit of his confidence and focus if he is essentially using 4 balls an over just waiting for the batsman to take one so he can attack rarely works anyway.I've seen a lot of tail end partnerships in just these circumstances.
    Apart from that I have been impressed with KP on leadership debut.
    Only a start , OK, but a good one.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hi robious3 # 42: thanks for your answer. Yes, I was getting very tired of Boycs' comments, awfully repetitive, but I also said he had come back refreshed from his temporary absence and was doing a good job again.

    I have never been a great fan of Richie Benaud as a commentator. He was one of the greatest leg-spinners in history but I never enjoyed his commentaries, they always seemed a bit ingenuous

    Maybe that is because, a few years ago, a friend sent me a couple of cricketing books for Christmas. One was Richie Benaud's My Spin on Cricket and the other David Frith's Bodyline Autopsy. The latter was one of the best cricket books I had ever read, right up there beside CLR James' Beyond a Boundary, almost certainly the best cricketing book I have ever read. Of course, that is only my opinion.

    So Richie Benaud's book really didn't have a chance I listened to his commentaries during the 2005 Ashes, Richie Benaud's swan song. He was sympathetic, often amusing and occasionally able to offer insights on the basis of his great experience. Nothing more. So I would not give him any more credence than I would to Jonathan Agnew.

  • Comment number 52.

    obvously you can see im a bit of a monty fan. but i do agree that he needs to perform more consistantly against top level opponents, And he hasnt taken advantage of surfaces tailored for his bowling style. But we all know he has the talent. look at his demolition of the aussie attack in his first ashes test. But he does need discipline in all areas of his game. he needs to sit down and look at his game and assess where he can improve his bowling first and foremost and once that has fallen in line hten focus on his batting and fielding.

    If he can get control over his bowling over the next year and show some signs of improvement, particularly with his pace variation, then he has the potential to take 300-400 test wickets in his career.

    Hes enthusiastic about everything that happens on the pitch so u cant say hes not willing, he jus needs to work closely with a good bowling coach and get some more control after that the rest will follow.

    Also with broad i think if he can keep his place in the side, and it looks like KP is behind him, i can see him being bred as englands new all-rounder. his batting is phenomenal for a man who is picked on his bowling merits only. and i can see it coming to a point wher he is the direct replacement at number 6 or 7 for flintoff when he eventually goes.

    hes 22 and learning every match, as we've clearly seen this series. at 26 or 27 with the right people around him this guy could be a scary prospect for australia, because the discipline is there and time is on his side. hes one of the youngest men in the side and looks like it, but he also shows great composure to continue after being knocked around the ground to still take wickets. I can expect him causing some problems in india if hes taken and dont be surprised if hes a major figure in the ashes next year. a real promsing talent. possibly the most potential out of anyone in the squad.

  • Comment number 53.

    Hi moustacio #52: you will have seen my comments on the Montster, he is the best we have and we should do everything we can to make him even better.

    I also agree with your comments about Stuart Broad. Just when his batting ability seems to have gone off the boil, something he is not really in the team for, he comes up with a couple of wickets (three in fact) to silence his critics. He is clearly one of the most promising bowlers we have and his ability with the bat, quite impressive, may enable him to be a genuine all-rounder not too far in the future.

  • Comment number 54.

    England should stop playing negative long as it is swining the ball should be pitch up to every batsman.Talls from the first test against new zealand earlier this year could creep into the batting and this match could well be lost.

  • Comment number 55.

    Yes, i did notice ur comments. It seems that the general consensus is that monty is a good bowler but every other aspect of his game is in need of a drastic overhaul. I personally think that monty is inmportant to the englsih game as he draws people who want to see not only a good finger spinner which is very rare these days at test level, but also those who want to see a real character and loveable guy on the pitch enjoying every second of the game. Dropping him would not help ticket sales, thats for sure.

    Broad has shown that if you focus on one aspect of your game instead of trying to improve them all at once, then you will succeed. He has obviously spent time working on his bowling and less time on his batting. Granted england are probably in more need of the runs than the wickets because they have 4 other bowlers that should be able to do the damage. But monty should follow his example, by not listening to what everyone has to say, but by getting on with his bowling which is why hes in the team and proving his worth in that respect.

    I dont understand why people are so quick to criticise players who are doing a good job at their elected position.
    Another problem i had was the calls for broad to be dropped after the second test. Correct me if im wrong, but he was the highest scoring batsman on the english side from both innings, with cooks 60 the nearest to him. Im really glad to se hes back in the squad, but i wish people would actually read what they write before they send it, because my personal opinion is, that unless youv played test cricket then you can keep your mouth shut about peoples skills with the bat and ball. Theyre representing their coutry at the highest level and your not.

  • Comment number 56.

    Hi saffavescent #49, thanks for your comments. I have to admit, that unlike many of the contributors to this blog, I don't do much research but accept what other contributors are saying, After all, this is one of the most serious and interesting cricket blogs around just now.

    I have read your contribution and can assure you that I, at least, have never doubted that your country's cricket team is one of the best in the world just now. That is why not beating you, as we should have done, on home turf, was very disappointing.

    But it has been an excellent series, just as all test match series should be. That is what sets aside this kind of competition from any other sporting competition. Cricket is the greatest sport in the world.

  • Comment number 57.


    My reflection was Aggers commentary and journalism was less objective and less responsible than someone like Benaud's.

  • Comment number 58.

    So many contributors to this blog and your constant criticisms of Aggers need, quite frankly, to learn a little about the game. To say that Aggers failed to criticise de Villiers when he was so quick to criticise KP when out on 94 in the previous test serves only to highlight the ignorance of some English supporters. When playing a stupid shot on 94, KP had an established man at the other end and another hour at the crease would have taken the game away from the SA's. de Villiers will no doubt be kicking himself for what he did, but at the end of the day he was batting with the tail. He is also a very nervous player when in the 90's, which his record only confirms. There is nothing in the comments of Aggers that should cause offense. If English supporters cannot take constructive comment and criticism then what hope is there?

    As a lover of cricket and one who supports neither SA or England, I have to say that England have been very lucky to get as close to SA as they have at times in this game. The SA batting has been weak at times and the bowling, without Steyn, has absolutely no penetration. KP must make sure that he does not make the same mistakes as Vaughan constantly did and take too much "confidence" and too many "positives" from this series. The only way that England will improve is for them to face up to the fact that SA have not played as they should/can for the most part of this series and that for England to be truly competitive much work remains to be done. As things stand, 5-0 in the Ashes next year is looking likely. Let's hope not.

  • Comment number 59.


    I take your point, though I am not sure I agree that Aggers' commentary is lacking in objectivity or responsibility.

  • Comment number 60.

    To moustacio, #55, I agree with everything you say, except your last paragraph, which was clearly not addressed to me.

  • Comment number 61.

    A lot of posts here talks about how dare the Indian board can 'prevent' Chris Read from playing in the English Test Team. Sadly and unfortunately this is true. A lot of Indian fans like me are opposed to the authoritarian ways of this Indian board. Dictatorship was bad when the English and Oz caucusses were doing it and it is bad now. Period.

    A lot of true Indian fans are sad that the greatest Indian player of all time and a World Cup winning Indian captain, Kapil Dev, is treated shabbily by BCCI, only bcos he is associated with ICL. They control cricket with an iron hand and a lot of people are pissed off.

    If the English board has the courage, a big IF in the current situation, they should add Chris Read to their squad just for the heck of it. Stand up to the bullies and call their bluff. If not , do business with ICL. You will be surpirsed how many Indian cricketers and general public will jump ship to the ICL side.

    Let there be competition and not monopolies. Let there be fair rules and not rules made up to protect vested interests and Zimbabwe.

    And Aggers, your comments are spot on!!

  • Comment number 62.

    All this talk of Chris Read is a red herring. He's not in the reckoning at the moment, nor likely to be.
    There are 3 wicketkeepers in the 30 man performance squad. Ambrose, Mustard and Prior. Outside of these I would guess that Foster and Davies are next in line.

  • Comment number 63.

    England did enough to remove the South Africans for a reasonable total and should win the test.I dont think criticism is fair regards the removal of lower order batsmen.For many years now the make up of most teams dictates that bowlers have to be able to bat and the higher up the order a bowler bats the better they need to be to secure a place in the side. Indeed,its the journalists like JA who constantly go on about the need for the lower order to score decent runs.Our own side is always being accused of not batting low enough.That being the case its not surprising that bowlers end up sticking around and scoring runs or holding an end up for a genuine batsman.It strikes me you cant have it both ways.

  • Comment number 64.

    England’s most important for some time Test cricket day ahead. At Lord’s and Edgbaston the Saffers showed us how to bat when up against it. Today’s task is much easier than SA had at Edgbaston but will we blow it? I was at Adelaide 2006 and I still can’t get it out of my head! True Harris isn’t Shane Warne and Ntini and Morkel aren’t Lee and McGrath. But Smith has a bit of the Ricky Ponting in him and our top six today is identical to the top six at Adelaide!! Good luck lads – please don’t let us all down. It matters!

  • Comment number 65.

    Come on Aggers! I would have thought that as a former bowler I could rely on you to stand up for your blokes.

    I am so tired of people saying, "the lower order need to bat well too." Batsmen are paid to get runs. And, more importantly, consistenly. A series of low scores and then a 100 seems to secure your place in the side for a further run of low scores. Not fair. Not good enough.

    I'd much rather have a Cooke in the team who gets 40s, 50s and 60s regularly than say a Colly, who does nothing innings after innings and then gets one score and the obligatory reprieve.

    Let's try the boot on the other foot. The recognised bowlers are not doing well so, "Okay, Strauss/Cooke/et al. Tie up that end for the next 5 overs and don't go for more than 20. And, get a wicket now and then too.

    I can already hear the shouts of, "don't be stupid! How can you expect a batting specialist to bowl at Test level?" Why does the same not apply to the bowlers?

    Bowlers bowl, batsmen bat, And those who can't do the job should be dumped sharpish. There are plenty of batsmen in the wings itching for a chance.

  • Comment number 66.

    South African batsmen De Villiers, Amla and Harris worked hard to keep the innings going . Others too made their modest contributions in putting up a decent total in their second innings. It is a joy to see this South African side taking Test cricket with utmost seriousness, discipline, application and dedication.

    England bowlers tried hard and eventually bowled the visitors out. One felt early introduction of Monty could have even hastened the end of the innings and given still a smaller target in the final innings. KP and Co have enough time to get the required runs and then switch on their TVs to get some of the highlights of the day's early action and England's hockey triumph in Beijing.

    Best wishes to the two sides on Day Five.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 67.

    Aggers could write that grass is green and someone somewhere would write in to disagree.

    The problem with English cricket fans - and this probably comes down to class - is that they have a grossly exaggerated sense of their own intelligence. This perverts reasoned argument into constant, and rather tiresome, arguing the toss.

  • Comment number 68.

    Monty's bowling at the moment is crying out for top quality support in tandem - I suggest Saqlain for the India tour. Still only 31 and he would take it to Pakistan and show Monty a thing or two.

    de Villiers irresponsible coming down the pitch to Monty? yes, strange Agnew didn't pick up on that.

  • Comment number 69.


    HMMM, and what class would you put yourself in Sir !!!!

  • Comment number 70.

    yes, I meant Saqlain would give it to India.

  • Comment number 71.

    Morning Aggers, morning everyone.

    England should get their consolation win, but I've a feeling they'll lose five or six wickets and have to sweat this afternoon...

    ABDV should think back to his gap year stint at Carrickfergus CC over in Northern Ireland. No nervous nineties there- the big man smacked a couple of 200s in limited overs games ;)

  • Comment number 72.

    What a lot of tosh some people write.
    Who can see what is going to happen next?

    DeVilliers could have clipped a single out to deep square leg and Anderson should have been able to knock Harris over.

    I have seen Harmison on more that one occaision, during this test, virtually insist on the field placing he wanted. So, Anderson could have made more of a thing about not having 2 catchers there.

    I'm not even sure that it counts as a mistake. It breaks with convention not to immediately reinforce the slip area when the new ball is taken, but sometimes defence can be the best form of attack. (Ashley Giles made a career out of being able to bowl so negatively that it became an attacking option)

    In the second test it would have been seen as defensive had Vaughan not enforced the follow-on but overall I think it would have proved to be, strategically, the best option of attack. In taking the least attacking option in the short term, England could have heaped misery upon the demoralised Saffer's and in setting them an unreachable target made it less easy for them to bat for the remainder of the match. How much difference would that have made to the rest of the series.

    Overall, I agree though England are too quick to settle on trying to bowl at the weakest link. I think that with a new ball and with the top order already back in the hutch, England should have been more confident in their ability to get rid of the number 6. Back yourselves boys! You picked 5 bowlers for exactly that reason.

    I am interested to see some of the picks for the India tour. I too would like to see Key coming into the side. Not because of anything he has done at county level (although of course that is relevent) but because I never quite understood why he has been out of the side for so long. From what I remember he had a pretty good start as an international.

    On the bowling front, it really annoys me that we start thinking about spinners just because we are on our way to the sub-continent. We should be picking our most effective 4/5 bowlers. We constantly hear that Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan batters are brought up facing spin, so why do we want to serve any up for them. I'm sure that back in the 80's WI didn't have an emergency team selection meeting trying to figure out where they were going to find 2 spinners before a tour to India. They still took their 4 fast bowlers and so should we. If the pitches are to be slow, low and unresponsive, Harmison becomes a must. Surely the bowler who gets the most bounce is still the bowler who gets the most bounce even if there's not much to be had. More to the point, if we have a test class spinner waiting in the wings why is Monty still being picked. I love him to bits but it's not like he is going to keep anyone out of the side with his abilities in any other department of the game. If Adil Rashid is good enough to go on the tour as a second spinner, he should have been in the side as the first spinner who might turn into a useful number 7 or 8 and can catch and ground field. So, add these to comments together and you arrive at my conclusion, that we don't need more spinners in the squad we need our most capable, most in form, fittest test calss bowlers.

    Or, if Graham Swann, who in reality must be next in line, is of test quality for Indian conditions he should be keeping Monty out of the side now. The best keepers don't get picked ahead of batting keepers (Bob Taylor, Jack Russell, Chris Read, James Foster) why does that not work for bowlers too? Is Monty really that much better than the rest that we can forgive just how totally abismal his fielding, and particularly his catching, are?

  • Comment number 73.

    I meant the first test when referring to enforcing the follow-on - Sorry

  • Comment number 74.

    # 65

    "I'd much rather have a Cooke in the team who gets 40s, 50s and 60s regularly than say a Colly, who does nothing innings after innings and then gets one score and the obligatory reprieve."

    Come off it, Cricket isn't just about looking fluent and playing elegant strokes. It's a team game.

    Even after his recent dip in form Collingwood's test average (41.3) is almost the same as Cook's (42.3) and Collingwood is also probably the world's best fielder, a useful bowler and a great team man.

    The wisdom of persevering with him has been proved in the last two matches - a big century and a disciplined 61, plus some important catches show his value. He wouldn't have dropped Smith first ball.

    Maybe if Collingwood came from Sussex or Middlesex it would be different...?

  • Comment number 75.

    Instead of average. I prefer to go with the mean score. 0, 0, 0 , 200 = an average of 50. Does that tell the true story? Who would you rather in the team? That batsman or a bloke who gets 50, 50, 50, 50?
    And remember, the opener's job is also a) seeing the shine off the new ball and b) wearing the full force of the opening attack so the later batsmen have an easier time of it.
    I don't care how graceful he looks at the crease as long as he does the job.

  • Comment number 76.

    "Come off it, Cricket isn't just about looking fluent and playing elegant strokes. It's a team game."

    I agree. And do you think Colly has been pulling his weight for the team or has he been being carried by other batsmen--even bowlers--who score the runs? (NB: In an interview after his ton those were his words).

  • Comment number 77.

    Just read a post written whilst I was writing above.

    Paidster wrote:

    "The only way that England will improve is for them to face up to the fact that SA have not played as they should/can for the most part of this series and that for England to be truly competitive much work remains to be done. As things stand, 5-0 in the Ashes next year is looking likely. Let's hope not"

    He states that he supports neither SA or England. If he supports Australia I think he might be a little one eyed about their prospects. Still a fine side but not even clost to being as great as the side while Warne was around. They're in the same boat as everyone else (except SL and Ind) without a really classy unorthadox spinner their bowling is only as good as anyone elses on any given day and on any given pitch.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think it’s brilliant that finally people are starting to see Agnew’s true colours. All he ever does is criticize people and yes it could be argued that it is a journalists job to be critical, but I think what people are putting across here (which I completely agree with), is his criticism is unfairly inconsistent and his clear biasness towards certain players always seeps through. He seems to get personal vendettas against certain players and then will not let it go until they’re out of the team, but then asoon as they do something right he suddenly jumps on the bandwagon of praise and acts like he hadn’t been trying to get rid of them for the past year. If you remember not too long ago his criticism of Bell was apparent after every match, then asoon as Bell got that 199, he has never been mentioned since, but im sure asoon as Bell starts getting a few low scores he’ll be back on that trail.

    What you don’t seem to understand Jonathan is that the England players in the side, generally have got into the side because there the best quality players we have and the best suited test players available in England. This has generally been proven by there scores and achievements, yet asoon as one player goes through a slight rough patch your always calling for there head, when a big score is always just round the corner? Like Geoffrey Boycott said yesterday, he hopes naive viewers with little knowledge of cricket, don’t start criticising KP asoon as he gets a few low scores, and saying that it’s the captaincy that’s doing it to him. It’s inevitable that he’ll get low scores!

    I feel very strongly that you had a strong part in the dismissal of Michael Vaughan and no matter what you say it is clear that you dislike him and that when you interview him there is a sense of ‘two-facedness’ to it. I notice how once he has been effectively forced to go because the media (led by mainly yourself) would not stop hounding him and probably put him into such a bad mental psychological position, that he thought he was letting his country down, but now he has gone I have not heard you once stand by your views before hand which were clearly that you thought he should go, why have you not had the bottle to stand up and say “I thought it was the right decision for him to go”. Like another poster wrote, you just stand back and stir up tension. What is even more worrying for me is that all of it generally seems so calculated, that you actually put a lot of thought into trying to turn the public against a certain player, without actually making it look too obvious that you are doing it.

    I honestly think that all the rest of the TMS team are great and that I am getting sick of this completely bias, hounding approach taken by the leader of the show.

    With regard to the England team, why are so many people calling for Robert key to come back? Does no body remember that he only had an average of about 29 over 15 tests and if you take away the double hundred, which if im remembering correctly, he scored against a poor Bangladesh side, he actually averages in the low 20’s. If Key comes back into the England side (with the now included, exclusion of Michael Vaughan from the side), then it would be a very sad day for English cricket.

    In addition to this, please get Simon Jones back! And I wish people would stop over-rating Monty Panasar, he isn’t anything special, whenever KP comes on he turns it more than Monty and whenever we’ve been in a situation over the past year or more where we really needed a spinner to come through and get a ‘5 fer’, he never has. Get on Swann, someone who can field, bat and probably get just as many wickets as Monty.

    Final comment goes to Harmision, I was right at the helm of never wanting him back in the England side, but he has really proved himself and showed that if he puts the hard work in he is a top class bowler, so long may that keep up!

  • Comment number 79.

    pupjoint at no. 6

    I too probably overestimate my own intelligence. That's probably why I flatter myself that I can spot the difference between proper journalists (Aggers) with many years of cricketing experience behind them, and armchair nitpickers with too much time on their hands.

  • Comment number 80.

    The criticism of Aggers is petty and unwarranted. Setting such a defensive field to the new ball was a mistake, which Aggers has rightly commented on. Seeing as it's KP's first game as captain, a critical analysis of his tactics seems like a good idea. Aggers has been generally complimentary of KP's captaincy- what's wrong with pointing out one mistake?

    As for comparing ABDV's dismissal in the nineties to KP's, there is a clear difference. KP was in with an established batsman (Colly), and thus had the chance to tot up a match-winning lead. ABDV was in with the tail, so had no choice but to start taking some risks. Furthermore, SA had already wrapped up the series, whilst England were depending on KP to keep them in it.

    Aggers is a great cricket journalist and commentator, in marked contrast to the armchair pundits with poorly thought-out opinions on ths blog.

  • Comment number 81.

    It strikes me that a great many so called cricket fans dont actually want England to win at anything including the journalists of this world.I suppose the patriots amongst us shouldnt be surprised its almost a sport with some.Even if all the various combinations of who should be in the team were given a chance it wouldnt stop the relentless criticism which is heaped upon every player and more importantly every captain.The choices the selectors have are dependent upon many factors and sometimes they make bad mistakes.If anyone should take blame it should be the selectors and they should be made to explain why they chose who they did. A great amount of underhand dealing still goes on in selection(the Pattison affair?) and the never ending battle between the interests of the England team against the survival of County sides most of which are virtually bankrupt.If you were the manager of a county side with a player who should be playing test cricket but is propping up a county side,what excuse would you make?Lets have a more open selection process and perhaps those who constantly rebuke this player or that will just shut up!

  • Comment number 82.

    South Africa were lucky to win the series - reasons:
    First. All but one Smith won the toss. Mostly, whoever wins the toss has an enormous advantage.
    Second. The first test would have been won by England had the weather not intervened.
    Third - very poor captaincy by Vaughan. By enforcing the follow-on - he handed the South Africans the chance to re-group. Had he not enforced it and gone in to bat again - then for sure England would not have lost.
    The follow-on has always 'done' England - I've seen it backfire on England in Australia.

    In this series - South Africa were let off the hook and they turned the test around from a position of weakness to strength - solely because they were asked to follow-on and then their batsmen didn't hit anything whilst the England bowlers tired. Had England batted their second innings - they would have put South Africa out of the game.
    Pieterson should never employ the 'follow-on' in future matches. By doing so hands opposition teams a way back into the match.

  • Comment number 83.

    #82 -"The first test would have been won by England had the weather not intervened." What? What weather? Guess the selective memory is kicking in as usual. There was a decent amount of play on every day (have a look at Cricinfo again if you can't remember) and SA were 390/3 in their second innings. How you can say Eng "would" have won this is beyond me.

    It's easy to come up with ifs and buts when you lose, but thats cricket. If the series were still alive now Steyn would be playing in this test.

    When everyone on these boards was praising the Atherton innings vs Donald in 1998 as one of their favourite memories, noone was saying that he should have 'walked' when he gloved it (guess it's different when Smith is batting) or that the series 'should' have gone to SA.

    Try to lose with some grace. The Aussies were generally respectful after the Ashes and didn't go on and on about Kasper's hand being off the bat when given out gloved behind. You could learn from them.

  • Comment number 84.

    75, 76

    I agree Collingwood had a bad trot in the early part of this year and struggled. He could have had no complaints about being dropped. But his two most recent scores are 135 and 61, and he showed more determination that the rest of the team put together in the last match.

    Cook's average in theis series is fine - 43.6 before the current innings - but he hasn't ever looked likely to drop anchor and score a ton, let alone a big one, when England needed it.

    Don't get me wrong, I like Cook and want him to develop into a 50+ average opener, but he needs to be more disciplined and score big tons.

    My point is that ctiticising Collingwood because he doesn't look "pretty" is unfair. He kept pace with KP in their stand in the last test but all the talk was about how amazing KP's strokes were. And Collingwood didn't throw his wicket away on 94.

    Teams need a mixture of grafters and shot-makers.

  • Comment number 85.

    I think you're right, Aggers. I can remember Bob Willis giving Border singles to bowl at Jeff Thomson in that famous Melbourne test in 82/83. Bowled him back into form, and possibly even saved his (subsequently brilliant) test career.
    I think bowling to batsmen with the field well back makes things easier for them, as they can more or less do what they like.
    Yep, Harmy and Flintoff are a potent force, but it's still a bit of a worry that England regularly struggle to knock over tailenders.

  • Comment number 86.

    Pot (At 6:52pm on 10 Aug 2008).

    This is a different situation. KP went for the 100 when the match and SERIES was still not lost. Here ADV went for a 100 when the series was won. These two points should not be forgotten.

    That said, I still think KP should have gone for it. You can't blame a series loss on one person...

  • Comment number 87.


    So you're suggesting AB's dismissal doesn't matter because the series was secure and the Saffers didn't care if they lost the match?

    Players at that level play to win every time. If they don't, then they don't belong there.

    If you think KP should be blamed for losing that match (I don't, as it happens), then exactly the same should be applied to AB.

  • Comment number 88.

    to number 87:

    Rubbish. The clear difference between the two dismissals is not just the VERY different match/series situation.

    The main difference is the fact that ABDV was batting with the tail, with Nel in and only Ntini to come, who could have got out any moment, leaving him stranded. Therefore he had no choice but to go on the attack and try to get his ton before the tail fell. KP, by contrast, was in with Colly, and thus had a chance to continue forging a huge partnership and put England in a true match-winning position.

    Hence ABDV was right to have a heave. KP's similar dismissal was rash and unnecessary

  • Comment number 89.

    Surely there must be others out there who are starting to get sick of Monty's constant appealing. Im sick of just listening to it on sports extra.

    Also from reading some of these posts, i believe that Collingwood should go, I still cannot believe that he has been given so many chances to stay in this old boys network called the england cricket team. I think this will only get worse with KP, as most of the team have been used to getting their own ways for ages

    As for this game, it appears like the old days are back i.e. England lose a series, then always win the dead rubber when the pressure is off, which simply means that it papers over the cracks present in the whole set up.

    Congrats to SA, should us how test cricket should be played.

  • Comment number 90.

    #87 - I don't necessarily blame KP either, but I do think there's a big difference. AB had just lost Harris, and had only Nel and Ntini left. Nel had barely survived his first two balls and Ntini hardly ever lasts more than an over.

    KP had an established batsman, who was in, at the other end. To me this is a different situation.

  • Comment number 91.

    Aggers, I agree that sometimes England are quick to give a single, However, a couple of points on your blog. Pieterson is learning and he knew full well the moment that 'catch'went to second slip. It is perhaps a little harsh expecting England to have bowled them out for much less. They are a strong side and a determined one and getting them out for less than 200 is good work as this is a good track as England are proving now.

    Anyway, an interesting blog. Just one quick point, with test cricket in this country rarely lasting a full day due to bad light why don't we start Test matches an hour earlier. I understand people travel from all over the country and an early start is difficult but those not able to get to the ground before 11 say would still see the same amount of cricket as they would before. Due on the ground may be an issue but in reality it is generally dampish anyway. Thoughts?

  • Comment number 92.

    "With regard to the England team, why are so many people calling for Robert key to come back? Does no body remember that he only had an average of about 29 over 15 tests"

    Well Ramprakash had an average of 27 after 52 tests and everyone complains that he wasn't given another chance.

    Incidentally, Key's double hundred (221) was against the West Indies not Bangladesh. If Strauss is to be dropped then I'd consider getting him in as an opener.

    With England close to victory, congratulations to Kevin Pietersen, but I think he will have his work cut out in the one-day series.

  • Comment number 93.

    Well selecting the correct bowlers won us the match. So what happens next!

    Harmison is stopped from playing for Durham.

    Again complete management nonsense.

    The big mistake by Fletcher and now Moores was to restrict what matches platers on central contracts are allowed to play.

    If Harmison had been playing regularly he would not of had his trauma prior to the Ashes tour.

    It also degrades the County Championship that I hope we all want to promote.

    Not 20-20 baseball cricket.

  • Comment number 94.

    I do think people are refining far too much on one match win, with the pressure firmly off. What if the Saffers were giving Pietersen his head to see what he might be up to? I would never underestimate Graeme Smith who incidentally, unlike other mediocre players turned commentators, gave Michael Vaughan total respect.

    Oldgit 57- you're right: the endless criticism from the toxic media does for all the captains in the end. I read the hypocritical stuff from Angus Fraser in the Independent, and I wonder how he can look at himself in the mirror. He was all over Michael Vaughan, now suddenly in Fraser's view, over the past 2/3 weeks Michael Vaughan has transformed himself into a total authoritarian who endlessly bossed his players and caused them to fail to perform. Now according to people like him, the utterly miraculous captaincy of Pietersen is allowing the bowlers to do everything they want - and hey presto, we've got the match winning captain/coach.

    My view is that it's not quite so simple as the media, especially the mediocre ex-players who got themselves a cosy little niche in the media, like to think.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.