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England exploit SA failings

Jonathan Agnew | 10:18 UK time, Saturday, 30 August 2008

It has been a very long time since I have seen an England one-day team play with this current level of confidence.

There have been moments of short-lived success scattered through the past couple of decades, but generally England's record has been thoroughly disappointing.

Am I the only one who now feels that we just might be on the threshold of enjoying something really special?

The team has been transformed, primarily by the return of Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison. To have two front-line fast bowlers delivering at 90 miles per hour as first and second change is something any captain would die for, while Flintoff's batting finally appears to have turned a corner - in this form of the game, at least.

Flintoff batting at The Oval

Kevin Pietersen's natural enthusiasm, combined with the inevitable excitement of a new captain, has also helped lift the performance of the players.

We are still to see him under the cosh in the field really to assess his ability to think clearly and incisively under pressure - and that is one area where this series has been such a disappointment so far because, let's be honest, South Africa have been absolutely dreadful.

It is no longer an excuse to say that they have lost focus after the Test series. They have had more than enough time to get their minds back on the job.

Serious questions should be asked about Graeme Smith and Mickey Arthur's apparent inability to lift the morale of their team, and having been feeling on top of the world after the Edgbaston Test, they now rightly face accusations of unprofessionalism.

England must take great credit for not allowing South Africa to regroup, too. At The Oval on Friday, there was just a moment where things might have faltered as they slipped from 101-0 to 182-5.

But Flintoff batted with great common sense again and, for the first time, we were able to take a proper look at Samit Patel's no-nonsense approach to batting. He looks a good pick to me; he's a confident young man and certainly more than a 'bits and pieces' all-rounder of the type we have seen introduced to England teams in years gone by.

His bowling has variety, too and the dismissal of Albie Morkel came through a classic piece of left-arm spin. Having been hit twice for six, the temptation might have been to fire the ball into Morkel's pads, but Patel flighted it into the rough outside the left hander's off stump, Morkel mistimed his firm push and Patel took a fine caught and bowled - it was intelligent and confident bowling.

KP now wants a 5-0 whitewash, and the way both teams are playing I wouldn't bet against it.


Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    5-0 would be a long-term boost of confidence to this impressively growing team.

    Keep up the great work lads...

  • Comment number 2.

    Aggers, lets get one think clear, It is certainly not disappointing to see S.A being so comprehensively outplayed..it is fantastic, its a rarity that England play so well so lets enjoy it and give England all the credit they deserve.

    We are grinding S.A into the dirt, I for one couldn't care a less if it the games are uncompetitive as we have been on the receiving end of such punishment many times..forget about South Africa's problems and what they are doing wrong , we have made them look this bad, so lets sit back and enjoy. Well done England, long may it continue.

  • Comment number 3.

    I cant believe the turnaroun in englands fortunes in the od game, from where we were after playing nz. Great start for kp as skipper, and its also good to see every playing is contributing to the side and we are not just hoping one player is going to score runs or take wickets.

    One downside though is ian bell. After playing brilliantly a 1st od hundred was there for the taking and yet again he blew it. For all of englands dominance in this series, we still do not score enough hundreds in this form of the game.

  • Comment number 4.

    I must say that I had doubts about Pietersen's captaincy, but these doubts seem to be unfounded.

    It has been quite amazing how his attitude and confidence seem to have rubbed off on the rest of the team.

    Cricket's a modern game, and to be successful it seems that a modern approach is needed. It's sad to see the old days gone, but the 'British way' is no longer good enough to succeed in sport, as the Olympics have shown.

    Let's hope for more of the same, and that the captaincy doesn't affect KP's form.



  • Comment number 5.

    I am not sure what Ian Bell has to do to get people off his back.

  • Comment number 6.

    England to come good just as the rest of the cricketing world comes to the realisation that this form of the game is not worth the effort.

    Can we have our test winning team back please?

  • Comment number 7.

    Why is it that Jonathan Agnew cant turn around and say Pietersen has been the difference... Is it that he didnt make it and he feels disgruntled a south african is playing for england... is it that Pietersen has a pop star wife and gets paid more than agnew when he was a (average) player?
    He says Englands fortunes have turned around because of flintoff and harmison but:
    1. Flintoff is batting at 5 because pietersen put him there.
    2. Harmison is playing because of Pietersen so surely that is good captaincy.
    Agnew will give him small little compliments but he want give him the credit as he didnt want him captain in the first place.

    Porchos - Bell needs to convert more 50's into hundreds and as he is now a senior player he needs to score runs when the teams in trouble. Remember that when he got 199 Pietersen had already hit england out of trouble before Bell got to 20!

  • Comment number 8.

    youve got to love the guy on post 3 who has a go at bell for not making a hundred. what does bell have to do to stop muppets like whufc get off his back?

    Have we stumbled on a decent odi team? the opening pair has improved with every game, and will only get better after they gain more experience with each other. the middle order, with shah, kp, fredalo, colly is a match for anyone. patel and wright showed how destructive they can be with the bat, but i'd still like to see dimi mascarenhas in the team. plus we have four 90mph bowlers, plus the impressive LAS of samit patel, and useful overs from colly, wright.

    the fielding is also good, colly, anderson, kp, and wright are superb. anderson, harmy and freddie have huge arms, and flintoff and shah are awesome at slip.

    good balance, but i'd want dimi in my team for his nagging and economical bowlingf and six hitting prowess. i dont want to see bopara in the team, he is overrated. he's had loads of opportunities and failed to take them.

  • Comment number 9.

    Snoopy Bopara is a superstar in the making.. He is a better bowler than Wright and behind Pietersen the best one day bat in the country... He has done fairly well in the one day team, including when he nearly single handedly won a match in the world cup...

    And like I said, Bell is good enough to be in the team but he isnt a match winner and looks like he doesnt have the mental strength to be one....

  • Comment number 10.

    Just to add a little balance to this page. I often read these comments carefully to see what others are thinking, and I gotta admit to always being absolutely stunned by the way some swipe at Jonathan Agnew (see post 7).

    His job is to stimulate debate by posing the questions the rest of us discuss. I really don't get that rant at all against him. Pietersen is good, and he acknowledges that - we all do, but there are many factors here that mean there is no great cause for a journalist to go salivating over Pietersen's impact. Yes, it's been considerable, but we can't forget that it's still the players themselves that have lifted their game, and that Pietersen has also profitted from the return of key players to the team, coincinding with a clearly unprofessional and strangely subdued South African team.

    In short, Agnew's top post is just a debate stimulator, what on earth are you doing danmac84 posting such absolute garbage. What have your comments about money or marital status got to do with anything? I respect Agnew's balanced reporting, stimulating debate without ever pushing boundaries too far and I'm afraid you're utterly disillusioned if you think that Pietersen has single-handedly changed the fortunes of English cricket and thus warrants the press salivating over him like some love-sick puppy. We have superb talent in that dressing room, and to do as you wish would be disrespectful to them.

    As for not wanting him as captain, well, all I saw Agnew do was suggest the reason for doubts, as any balanced reporter should do. I really don't get that strange post, really really.

  • Comment number 11.

    I am one who has not been overly impressed with Bell's scoring recently...

    ...but I think if anyone is critical in any way of Bell's last innings then they must be barking mad. It was a masterful innings of pure beauty. Watching it, I was as surprised and as gleeful as a female monkey in a cage full of straight bananas.

  • Comment number 12.

    England have shown that they are one of the best cricketing sides in both forms of the game in the world, with the potential under their new captain to become the best.

    South Africa on the other hand have to realise that you cannot consistently compete with the best in the world if you do not select on the basis of merit. South African rugby post world cup is learning this the hard way. Their is no greater way do demoralise a teams morale than by employing a flawed selection system.

    But that is South Africa's problem and well done to England for providing an exciting prospect for the future tours.

    As for Jonathan, if Pietersen's performance thus far only elicits moderate compromise from you then I feel you have an issue or two to resolve.

  • Comment number 13.

    danmac84 wrote about Ian Bell:

    "Remember that when he got 199 Pietersen had already hit england out of trouble before Bell got to 20!"

    Actually, when Bell reached 20, Pietersen had a mighty 1 to his name! It was Bell that initiated the fightback after the three quick wickets and steadied the ship. He then did what England clearly want him to do - sit in there and put the anchor down while the show ponies blast away around him.

    The only thing I agree with you about is that I wish he had translated more of his innings into really big scores but I am sure that will come. He is just too good a player for it not to happen.

  • Comment number 14.

    Very well done to England! I don't think England should get too excited about this though. They are playing a team lacking in drive and motivation with some big names badly misfiring. Kallis is way way better than his performance this summer. He is a batting liability right now. I get the impression they would rather be at home enjoying the sun, sand, and ... That said, this England team appears to be progressing exceptionally well, especially under the captainship of you SA import - KP.

    I am a South African living in the UK for the past 8 years and haven't seen the SA team play, live or on telly, in quite a few years now. When I saw some of the test matches this summer, I was shocked to see how bloated (Fat!) some of the SA players had become. I too have gained a little over the years, but these guys are professional sportsmen and should keep themselves in check. Just consider Ryan Giggs for a moment, that guy is old and super fit like an 18 year old.

    One solution to SA's woes is to select a few players based on current form. I can think of a few plying their trade here on the UK scene.

    Anyway, well done England you thoroughly deserve your victories thus far. SA thoroughly deserve the test series, so they will be happy they got the "big fish" they ultimately came here for.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm sorry, but Ian Bell scoring a 75 at a strike rate of 100 deserves praise! Please can people stop criticising him so ridiculously, his job is to get the side motoring in the powerplays, and he did that in quite glorious style.
    Samit Patel is an excellent cricketer - his batting is actually his strong point, and he averages 45 + in first class cricket. His bowling looks very steady, with some clever variation.
    Kevin Pietersen also looks an inspiring figure. The way he talks about the side is so positive, and he is showing more and more maturity now that he has the captaincy.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    don't agree with you discospurs. (post 10)

    if people disagree with what Aggers writes in his blog the perfect place to post it is here, on his blog page.

    especially if what Aggers writes is supposed to stimulate debate. And even though I wouldn't go in for a personal attack against the man himself, anyone who reads his blogs regularly will know that he didn't think KP should be, or would be, captain because of his so called "ego".

    Therefore, I think it's very fair comment to say that KP is the MAIN reason for England's sudden turn around in form, and not Flintoff and Harmison as Aggers puts forward.

    bring on the Aussies!

  • Comment number 18.

    danmac84,

    That was an ignorant and childish rant at Aggers, you need to grow up mate.

    Maybe you're the one craving a pop star wife!

  • Comment number 19.

    bladeswinger....

    By your logic, Pietersen wouldn't now be playing any international cricket - he would never have been given the chance to play for SA. So a quality player would be denied the right to play and flourish at the highest level? You haven't thought it through have you.

    His mum is English by the way so that makes him half-British.

  • Comment number 20.

    we just need pieterson to persuade Trescothick to come back and I think England will have a very decent team!

  • Comment number 21.

    What a turn-up for the book, not just because England won handsomely again today, but because it was another team effort. Not everyone is going to star every game but, with very few exceptions in the three matches so far, everyone has played a part.

    I have to admit I am getting very bored with the Bell argument. So he is not a world-class batsman: so what? It's not a very powerful argument, since very few batsmen are. As long as he continues to to the job he has been doing in recent matches, that's good enough for me, as I am sure it is for KP. I don't believe that anyone else, selected to replace him, is going to do a better one.

    I confess that Patel was not really on my radar, though many of you have argued for his inclusion. Well, he has been and he came up trumps, with bat, ball and safe hands. Brilliant! His speech of acceptance of the MOTM award was quite touching.

    Pietersen has said that the current team may not be the finished product. After all, the ODI team has for a long time been in a process of transition, until now not very successful. Three successive victories over the Saffers suggest that, at last, things are beginning to go very, very well.

    So let's just enjoy the moment, show a bit more faith in the selection process and, above all, admire the new spirit that KP seems to have introduced ino the team. No more silver medals: winning is what it is all about!

  • Comment number 22.

    It's like dog muck.

    One dog fouls the pavement and it looks really bad.

    A couple of 'Bell haters' make a lot of noise.

  • Comment number 23.

    In India, England must play another spinner, replacing Luke Wright.

  • Comment number 24.

    I would like to apologise, on behalf of SA cricket supporters, for the disgraceful performance of the SA cricket team. I'm sure you don't mind a string of convincing wins, but this lot aren't even providing competition.

    I can't believe how badly they're playing after a great recent record in one-day cricket, and how England have turned things around after being (lets face it) poor in one dayers for a long time now. Suddenly England have the potent bowling attack and batting to 9, whereas our bowling has fallen apart and our tail is longer than I can remember. The days of Pollock coming in at 9 or 10 in a one day game are long gone!

    post #12 - the 'merit' issue is an ongoing problem (when there aren't enough merit/quota players as can happen with injuries and loss of form) and as you said it's affecting the rugby team too. To be honest, we just try not to think about it now as it's too painful for a sport-loving nation - we just accept that our best backline never seems to be selected in rugby and that players like Rudolph (test avg 40+ incl century in Aus) are now playing country cricket and possibly qualifying for England. It's also a reason why so many of us have left SA. You can't compete with the best unless you ONLY select the best (I wouldn't care a bit if all 11 players were "of colour" as long as they are the best).

    But this is slowly but surely killing sports like Rugby and Cricket, whereas football can select whoever they wish. Perhaps this is the intention, or perhaps this is justified 'payback' for the past. I guess history will be the judge of that.

    But all credit to England. In an amazingly short space of time they've now reached a level in 1 day cricket where I think they can take on anyone and win (as long as the start isn't too slow). Only drawback is you may be stuck with Moores for a while now!

  • Comment number 25.

    When will people like little_jon_uk to understand that Trescothick will NEVER play for England again?

    He has a stress related illness that prevents him travelling abroad because he worries about what could happen to his family while he is not there. We can't have a man who only plays in England, it would upset the balance of the team and reduce the morale of the man who is removed from the team to make room for him.

    He doesn't want to play for England anymore because of his illness and he has stated that he just wants to stick at somerset and play county cricket.

    Besides, with this murray mint/ball 'tampering' revelation, he's not going to be the most popular choice around the world, and that could only serve to aggravate his stress further. Trescothick was and is a great player, but unfortunately, his international career is over and we have to look ahead and encourage players like Alistair Cook in tests and Ian Bell in ODI's with their batting instaed of constantly talking about a man who is better than them coming back when he won't!

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi all,

    Being an American who started following cricket *after* the 2005 Ashes, I've never really enjoyed a prolonged success like this. I've seen flat play, confused selection, and overwhelming (and often unjustified) pressure from the media make it almost impossible for England to succeed. And as an American, I chalked a lot of it up to 'the English way'. Sticking by the Ashes heroes, no matter their declining fortunes on the pitch, was one of the most frustrating things I've witnessed in sport. This was brought to a head at the '07 Ashes, when the summer's star debutante, Monty Panesar, was left out the first couple Tests in favor of Harmy, Hoggy, et al. We all know what happened next.

    The next two World Cups saw England outplayed not only on the pitch, but in attitude and style as well. For no matter the situation, England bogged itself down with Test-style play and never seemed to 'get' that ODI and T20 *was a different game entirely*.

    The injection of KP into the captaincy is *at last* the injection of modern style and attitude into England's game. It won't be ALL roses and champagne, but just you watch - it will be miles ahead of the last three years...

  • Comment number 27.

    I am not sure that it is fair to say that Flintoff's batting has finally turned a corner. It sounds like he has never batted well before. He was one of the highest ranked one day batsmen in the world well before the Ashes.

    I agree that it would be nice if people would get off Bell's back. He has a fairly good record and with such depth in batting currently I'd rather he still went for his shots on 75 than played for a hundred as post 3 suggests. Anyway it would not have been his first hundred.

    Similar with Prior. I hope he continues as he is rather than bowing to pressure and playing for milestones.

  • Comment number 28.

    what do all the bell bashers do for a good time? beat their wives?

  • Comment number 29.

    Too be honest a 5-0 whitewash would be nice, but I doubt there isn't a single member of the team who wouldn't have taken a beating in the one days in order to win the test series. Englands approach to 1 days has been simple for decades - it's practice. Taking that into account who really cares our record is bad, it's a place to try out new players and ideas and worked well for England untill they started playing the "one day warm ups" after the test series! The biggest 2 series we have played in the last 2 years are Aussies away and Saffers at home, we lost both test series and won both 1 day series, in both cases the one days came second! The moment we put 1 day back in it's place as warm ups is when we'll see the test results improve. Who cares if our 1 day play is rubbish? In 10 years it'll be a dead form of the game!

  • Comment number 30.

    England have been on top form since KP taking over, however all this praising is far too early...nothing can be taken away rfom the england performances-world class, all of them, however just think what will happen if england have an off day at lords and then lose at cardiff as well, a 3-2 win which would have been excellent at the start of the series would have a sour taste to it having got into such a good position. Surprisingly i am not a pessimist and believe that england will continue to improve however there is no certainty of this yet and they have to win at least one of the last 2 games unless they want the fickle press to be on their backs again

  • Comment number 31.

    Bell's 70 in this game was a masterpiece. Nice if he'd got a hundred but it really didn't matter in this case as he had so destroyed the SA attack that a very large England total was inevitable.

    Unfortunately Bell is one of those players who will always be one bad match away from a host of "Why is he in the team ?" posts.

    Simple answer: he is a classy batsman. And I think he'll get better.

    And KP as captain continues to justify his appointment.

    Future looks pretty good.

  • Comment number 32.

    Aggers is absolutely right, after winning the Test series the South Africans should be feeling on top of the world, and playing with the pride and vitality that success for your country normally brings.The fact that they are not must be down to their leadership attitudes and the KP factor(the Saffers perceive him as a matchwinner so thats exactly what he is against them!).
    Our previous captain Vaughan has been under a rather dark cloud this past 3 years and his negativity permeated the rest of the team. Now with KP leading from the front and seeking the greatest potential in each player and playing them to exploit it (like Flintoff at 5) everyone is inspired not only to do their best but also delivering a well co-ordinated team effort with everybody visibly contributing rather than relying on one or two star performances to win matches as has been the case in recent years when we have won.
    My doubts about KP´s captaincy have been eliminated and he is clearly the best man for the job and long may he continue in this vein.I wonder why KP´s Hampshire team mate Dimi is not in the side, not only is the the best 6 hitter he is a world class one day and 20-20 bowler clearly more worthy of a place in the side than Wright or Bopara - either somebody has to keep the ship afloat at Hampshire or perhaps theyre just not the greatest friends...

  • Comment number 33.

    "One downside though is ian bell. After playing brilliantly a 1st od hundred was there for the taking and yet again he blew it."

    What you mean like he blew it at the rose bowl last year, incidently Ian Bell holds the highest individual score of anyone in the current ODI line up including KP and FF

    If your going to moan at least check your facts before blasting a player

  • Comment number 34.

    I am off to Lord's tomorrow, and I CAN'T BELIEVE the current state of affairs! England imperious and the Saffers a right shabby bunch. I certainly won't boo if England do another demolition job - I've waited years for this stuff!
    Shame about the weather forecast.....

  • Comment number 35.

    I am very new to cricket, also female and quite elderly (appealing to your good natures) I love Rugby,like footy(cos my grandson loves it and I love him) Love tennis and I want, to like cricket. I must say I like this one day thing because it is quick and not long drawn out. I know Australia and N.Z are good at this game and give us many a sleepless night from what I read in the sports pages and on 606 but what I want to know is. "how good is S.A.???. If as good as Aus and N.Z. that means our victories this past week are admirable yes?

  • Comment number 36.

    The Bell-Prior combo at the helm awakens faith in batsmen in their abilities to realise their true potential. A century for the opening wicket in good time is a fantastic start.

    Once again the pair provided a fine platform for Freddie and colleagues to come and fire. There were very many decent partnerships down the order and that is what gave the total a challenging but not that imposing a look.

    South African batsmen could not get partnerships of real length and weight. Freddie showed his class with the bat and the ball and so did Patel adding precious runs in quick time. His five wicket haul against the lower order batsmen will give him loads of confidence when he takes on the more accomplished batters in the coming encounters.

    South Africa can still take some thing from this series. Best wishes to them in the remaining matches.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 37.

    How can you say on one hand that South Africa have been truly dreadful and England really great. You can't have one and the other at the same time.

    South Africa HAVE been truly dreadful. England can only be judged to have had outstanding performances when they actully win something of note!

  • Comment number 38.

    Dear Sir Aggers
    I suggest u get a KP teddy-bear and cuddle it at night. in this way u can learn to love him (what is it with u and kp? did he refuse an interview?). u have a nice voice for basic comentary but please stop all the opinions which are so repetitive and defensive.
    AK

  • Comment number 39.


    One downside though is ian bell. After playing brilliantly a 1st od hundred was there for the taking and yet again he blew it.

    ..........

    Bell already has an ODI hundred, he scored 126 not out against India last year.


    preciousMerryboy
    "how good is S.A.???. If as good as Aus and N.Z. that means our victories this past week are admirable yes?

    .........

    SA are the second best ODI side in the world, just below Australia, but above NZ, three wins in a row against them is doing very well.

  • Comment number 40.

    "bennynomates" You are a pal, that answers my question nicely. Thank you young man.

  • Comment number 41.

    Lordy L - does SA poor showing take anything away from the fact that our bowlers have bowled as a unit and our pace attack have been bowling accurately at 90mph consistently during the last 3 matches?

    SA have been poor but England have contributed to that with great bowling and batting displays that have exploited the SA's weaknesses. That is what has been missing (among other things) from England teams, that ruthless streak to really punish teams, kick them when they're down.

    I'm not going to get carried away but the signs are extremely positive

  • Comment number 42.

    I am disgusted at some of the really stupid attacks on Agnew. He annoys me sometimes, particularly when he shows he doesn't know the meaning of the phrase "begging the question" (neither do most broadcasters) but he is generally sensible and enthusiastic. As for the idiots who taunt him over not having been a star international cricketer, by the same logic none of us are entitled to post our opinions on this forum!

  • Comment number 43.

    # 42, Belmons: absolutely right.

    There is nothing wrong with criticising what Aggers says, especially if you have a good argument to the contrary, but too many blog contributions have been angry and petty and little more than personal attacks on the messenger.

  • Comment number 44.

    #35 preciousMerryboy:

    All of your assumptions were spot on and I suspect you know much more about cricket than you are letting on.

    I hope you will continue to contribute to the blog in future. In order to gain maximum enjoyment from it, it is essential you take a position on one of the England cricketers. He is called Ian Bell and plays for a County cricket club called Warwickshire.

    There are two points of view. Either you think he is useless and doesn't deserve to be in the team, or you take a more measured view. You note that he has scored eight centuries (100 runs), in Test cricket, a much superior form of the game, together with one century and 14 fifties in One day internationals. If you get a chance to see him on the box, you will not fail to observe that he is also a brilliant fielder.

    I conclude with a note of warning: those of us that think that "Belly", as he is sometimes referred to, is doing an excellent job for his country, do not seem to be having anything like as much fun as those who spend their time slandering him and bending the statistics to support their views.

    As you probably know, cricket is the quintessential "gentleman's" game with fairness as its core value. So some of the people who continually pour out vitriol against Mr Bell, for no apparent reason, may probably be accused of bringing the game into disrepute. I'm so sorry!! I should obviously have said "gentleperson's" game.

  • Comment number 45.

    With respect to Post 3 from whufc1985: you are quick at blogging but an idiot. You submitted the third post to Aggers as-ever-excellent-editorial but your comments were insulting. A score in the 70s from Bell that helped win us the match are, yet again, a great contribution from the best stroke maker in the team and not a 'disappointment.' This country, I ask you.

  • Comment number 46.

    All this shows just how much knee-jerk reaction there has been on here in the past. Three weeks ago it was hip to say that England were rubbish. Now we are brilliant. Neither were we as bad as many posters wrote before (we had beaten sides as good as Australia, India and New Zealand in series over the last 18 months), nor are we world-beaters right now.

    However, by beating a side that genuinely aspired to win the series 5-0 and take over Australia's role as Number 1 in ODIs (something that they did briefly do a few months back) England have shown that the potential is there to be special IF we can add the consistency. The fact that England can potentially climb from being ranked #7 to being ranked #2 in just a few months shows that we were never so far off the pace.

    Yes, Jon Agnew is right. A little consistency. A little self-belief and, yes, we could see something very special from this side.

    Various brave decisions were made. The decision to appoint KP as captain for one (and yes, I was a sceptic). Many "experts" among the bloggers had apoplexy at the thought of selecting Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison, saying that England would never again win anything with them in the side. Shows how much they knew too. Not too many people have had the guts to come out and admit that they were wrong and that Steve Harmison has made a big difference. Having a bowling attack with two bowlers who are in the 90s and accurate and two more in the high 80s makes a big difference.

    And, for the guy who calls Jon Agnew "mediocre" (presumably not a cricket fan, because he would have known otherwise), a couple of questions:

    1.) Have you ever taken 9-70 in a First Class match? Jon Agnew has.

    2.) Have you ever bowled "the ball of the series" in a Test match against the best side in the world? Jon Agnew did when he knocked over Gordon Greenidge in the 1984 series v the Windies.

  • Comment number 47.

    Errata: I meant that we had beaten Sri Lanka in a ODI series, not New Zealand.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think the problem some seem to have with Bell is that it's difficult sometimes to assess what sort of player he is - sometimes he plays the anchor role and sometimes he is devastatingly attacking.

    If Trescothick had played that innings, everyone would be praising him to the skies - because it's Bell, we think maybe he should have gone on and played through the innings. He did seem to tighten up a bit when he got into the sixties - maybe he reads his own negative press and was trying too hard to convert a 50 into a 100?

    If so, I think he should ignore everyone and play his own game - he has been fantastic in this series, and he seems to be very comfortable in partnership with Prior.

  • Comment number 49.

    Why do so many people continue to abuse Ian Bell!? He played fantastic at the Oval and even when he's not quite as agressive seems to form an excellent combination with Prior (opening stands of 78, 85* and 101 now I think?)

    One thing which should change in my opinion is KP moving up to 3. I know he says he prefers batting 4 but our best player should be in for as long as possible!

    If Prior continues this sort of form, touchwood, then he must surely replace Ambrose in the test team too (Ambrose looks way out of his depth as a test batsman).

    Also, is it just me, or does Broad seem to bowl 5-10 mph quicker in ODI's than in tests?

  • Comment number 50.

    Reading through these comments it is very depressing yet again to see a few idiots moaning about Ian Bell, second highest scorer in the match and part of the opening partnership that set up England's victory.

    What does this man have to do to earn a straightforward "well played" instead of a "played OK but should have got a hundred or batted through the innings or rotated the strike more or scored more quickly?

    Whereas it's important to score 100s in test match cricket to give the team as big a score as possible, it isn't as important in one-day cricket because there are only 50 overs to play with and if a couple of guys make half-centuries and there are contributions from a few of the others you'll end with a good score, as was the case on Friday.

    Bell has made 15 fifties in ODIs and eleven of them have contributed to England victories. (As did his century against India) He also has 4 MOM awards and 1 MotS award in ODIs. He is the second hghest ranking England batsman after Pietersen, has the next highest average and is the leading England run scorer in ODIs in the year 2008.

    Two of our best ever one-day batsmen, Graham Thorpe and Neil Fairbrother, made only one ODI century between them but made regular contributions with their 50s.

    I keep asking when the Bell knocking is going to stop but I am afraid that he just happens to be one of those players that people can't seem to warm to. Yes, he is a superb batsman who clearly hasn't reached his potential and fans expect more from him - but it is very unfair to blame the guy for not being as brilliant as we think he should be. Less talented players are accepted for what they contribute and it's about time we acknowledged the contribution that Bell makes in the same way. He is probably the only batsman in the world who dreads reading the papers after making a good score.

  • Comment number 51.

    DUring the test series i never had confidence in our opening batters always feeling that one would go after about 40 or so runs at most wheras SA were the opposite with them always looking dangerous at the start and like they would put on 100 for the first wicket. Now we have the good openers with Bell providing a safe bat whilest prior is a bit more risky but so far doing a fair amount of damage (although Bell was brilliant last game). Can't but feeling that this is allowing the middle order not to collapse so badly under pressure like it usually does in the test matches, any chance we could get different openers in the test team?! Also all this talk of Bell not being good under pressure - but why then is he opening so well at the moment, if anything failing to build on 50s, 60s and 70s surely shows he maybe loses concentration a bit having made a decent score?! But brilliant to see us dominate a team that were aiming at top in the world prior to the series! Keep it going.

  • Comment number 52.

    I was rather annoyed to see Jonathan Agnews headline on his previous entry "Pietersen has the Midas Touch - For Now"
    I found the 'For Now' line unnecessary and typified a journalist who has no conviction in what he is saying.

    His next entry was entitled "Can Sorry South Africa Fight Back?"
    Ahhh - so England's resurgence is because South Africa are rubbish. Unfortunately JA cannot give credit where credit is due.

    The Jonathan Agnew U-Turn is virtually complete with his latest entry. "England Exploit SA Failings". He's still blaming SA for being rubbish but at least England now get a positive mention.

    He then has the gall to add: "Am I the only one who now feels that we just might be on the threshold of enjoying something really special?"
    - With his U-Turn complete. Can he please accept that KP is a breath of fresh air who has had an outstanding effect on a bunch of players who could not perform previously. Whatever the next results, he has instilled a 'Can Win' attitude into the team.

    Please give credit where credit is due.
    Please decide which band wagon you're on and stick to it.
    A journalist with principles who is wrong is better than a journalist with no principles at all.


  • Comment number 53.

    The two bright sparks on Radio 5 have just been arguingexcitedly whether this is the last of the series, in other words "for the whitewash". They agreed that it is. These people are supposed to be professional broadcasters! What is the BBC coming to?

  • Comment number 54.

    Congrats to England on some superb performances.

    I find the English supporters and journalists always fearing the very worst; the various comments including the headline plays on words 'for now'.

    I find the English cant give credit where its due, and as soon as the English team lose 1 game, the pack of wolves (fans and journalists) will apply the wrong pressure on their team. This is after all, the English way ... can it be changed?

    Enjoy the results England, don't find ways to bring your team down while they're riding a great wave. Also enjoy the new captain! (he did learn all his skills in SA, and its about time a saffer captained England) *smile*

  • Comment number 55.

    Happybokkie, if English fans have the temerity to ENJOY a win this MB fills with fans saying that we are arrogant. :-)

    The reason for the "for now" is that the side has been inconsistent. We have, in the last 18 months, beatan all the top sides in a ODI series (Australia, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and now South Africa), but then been capable of losing the next series ignominiously. If we can sustain this for two or three consecutive series then we will know that the sequence has changed; right now though we are all rubbing our eyes in disbelief including, one suspects, the players!

    Btw, a Saffer has captained England before at least three times in the last 3 years and it all ended in tears! :-D

  • Comment number 56.

    Jonathan - do you read any of this stuff?

    I'm new to the BBC Blog but it seems every other blog is about you in some shape or form. Oops just fallen in the same trap!!

  • Comment number 57.

    #50: excellent analysis of the Bell enigma!!

  • Comment number 58.

    Sorry, I mean in the last 30 years.

    Tony Grieg
    Allan Lamb
    Andrew Strauss

    Another was named captain, but found to be ineligible and had to be replaced (Ian Grieg was the nominated captain to take England to the West Indies in 1990).

  • Comment number 59.

    I beleive KP must be given a large amount of credit for the change in the performance in the team - but time will tell.
    Having said that the team certainly has a better balance to it. would still like to see some games where oher members of the team - Shah, Collingwood, and Wright contributed match-winning performances.
    The inclusion of Prior at the top of the order has - in all 3 games - added much needed momentum at the top of the order. In the batting department, the team now has a balance between power players and touch players.
    I also agree with Aggers that I would like to see how the bowlers react to pressure.
    Its amazing how confidence in one form of the game can rub off in other forms - the basis of the team is the same between tests and ODIs.

  • Comment number 60.

    "Pietersen has the Midas Touch - For Now".......Aggers is right!

    This transformation of the England team's fortunes was to be expected. A new captain invariably inspires, and will often breathe new life into a team.

    It is impossible to know the mind-set of the South Africans. Whether or not their winning of the test series signalled a 'job done' attitude can never be established. Whatever the SA scenario, England can do no more than win (and win well).

    The return of Harmison has undoubtedly breathed new fire into the team, as has Flintoff's return to form with the bat and consistency with the ball.

    As far as Pietersen is concerned, there can be no doubt that he has lifted this team, and captained them well. His field settings have (on the whole) been imaginative and supportive of his bowlers, and bowling changes seem to immediately get wickets. Long may if continue!

    There will however come a time when the opposition are 450-3, and tired bowlers are all looking the other way when KP looks for one of them to achieve a breakthrough.

    I think he will come through that test too - it's in the nature of the man to succeed, and we can only hope that on the road to success, he carries his team with him.

  • Comment number 61.

    The main SA batsmen are in poor form for one day cricket. The potentially explosive Gibbs is not exploding-perhaps something to do with his high profile divorce case.
    Even Kallis is getting out early.
    It is much too early to call Pietersen's captaincy a success.One dead rubber Test win and a few one-dayers are at least promising, but we have to wait till he faces enthusiastic opposition.
    This SA team seems to think that winning the Test series was enough.
    People remember Tests, one-dayers are forgotten quickly. Who won the World Cup? All I can remember is that Ireland beat Pakistan and there was a murder investigation.

  • Comment number 62.

    For all you against the personal attacks on agnew here is a question:

    Is it ok for him to make personal attacks such as calling Pietersen selfish and a player that plays for himself without being subject to personal attacks himself?

    Watching cricket now and Bell once again failed when needed...

  • Comment number 63.

    I also wonder if, having given Harmison and Flintoff the credit for Englands turnaround, Agnew will now give the credit for Flintoffs bowling today to Flintoff and the blame for harmisons poor bowling today on Pietersen?

  • Comment number 64.

    " oldmanwillow"
    Thank you kindly for the notice you took of my post and for your (kind of) invitation to contribute to this blog. There is so much I need to know. I will take your advice and follow what Ian Bell is doing and reading the sports page today I think that Mr Bell will be obvious in todays game 31st Aug. Leson 1 coming up.Thanks again youngmanwillow.

  • Comment number 65.

    "happybokkie"
    Please go easy on our fans because it is not the norm for Englishmen to show their happy feelings too much just in case. They have a real pride in their sportsmen, believe me. My son lived in S.A. for several years and followed your teams and one man he admired was Graham Pollock. My Granddaughter born in S.A. is a fan, needless to say my son, is a devout England supporter. Enjoy your cricket, every dog has his day you know and our dog is wagging his tail like mad at the moment.

  • Comment number 66.

    Gentlemans game is fine by me. I am well content to be MRS not Mis.

  • Comment number 67.

    The things that are different are obvious:

    1) England has a new leader.

    2) England has a swahbuckling new leader.

    3) The leader is highly respected.

    4) The leader performs regularly.

    4) The leader is new style, not old style, the game at all levels has changed.

    5) The 2005 excitement is returning.

    6) Players suddenly feel it is their 'duty' to perform, they are committed. Which was so evident in 2005.

    It is called LEADERSHIP, where failure is not an option!

    It is/was the Australian recipe.

    Go Kevin! Even if you are SA.

    Do us a favour though, change your accent if you can!

    Neil Hewitt

  • Comment number 68.

    Hang on....

    "Is it ok for him to make personal attacks such as calling Pietersen selfish and a player that plays for himself without being subject to personal attacks himself?"

    Erm, yes, it is entirely ok. It's his job to pass comment, opinion and provoke debate. By this logic, everyone who says anything remotely personal about any England player should expect to be abused and have their career questioned. Aggers is a top-rate journalist who might have opinions that differ from yours (they differ from mine too), but what the hell does his cricketing career have to do with any of this?

    Well, I find Pietersen selfish at times. But he's a brilliant cricketer, and who can't but be a little quietly envious? But does this give people a right to start questioning me and abusing me? I should hope not :)

  • Comment number 69.

    #64 and 66.

    To preciousMerryboy, I love it! I'm even thinking of changing my nickname to the one you suggest, but I would not like to think that someone else might nick mine.

    Mr Bell didn't have the best of days today but the current England team is no longer a one, two or three man enterprise, dependent on the same top performers every time, but a genuine team.

    You couldn't have chosen a better moment to become interested in cricket, especially English cricket.

    I should be delighted to answer any more queries you might have about the game. It is yonks since I last held a cricket ball or bat in my hands, but I have tried to keep up with what is going on in the game, maybe because me old dad was once a first-class cricketer and taught me to love the game.

  • Comment number 70.

    If someone who did not quite make the grade in Tests cannot comment on cricket because he was only a mediocre player, by what right do his critics, none of whom have, I wager, a Test century of 5-for, comment on his (and other opinions)? For that matter, CMJ and Henry Blofeld never even played First Class cricket (although Henry Blofeld was very VERY close to getting a Test cap for England), so their opinions must, on that argument, be utterly worthless.

    Perhaps the answer is that we all need to respect reasoned opinions of others, particularly those who have played and watched more cricket than any ten of us.

    The key word there is "reasoned". Calling someone "an idiot", or similar, because you disagree is not reasoned in any way, shape, or form. If someone wishes to critcise, then they should do it constructively because insults and destructive critcism simply shows that there is no thought or reasoned argument behind.

  • Comment number 71.

    It was a humbling experience to listen to the interview with Marcus Trescothick today. Few of us can have any idea what he has been through, all his life, but particularly as a key member of the English cricket team in recent years.

    Those few can only be grateful to him for speaking out as he has. He has contributed a great deal to our understanding of what is, after all, an illness, just as debilitating as the physical illnesses, so much more readily accepted and understood, that can affect any one of us at any time, just as his can.

    Thank you, Tresco.

  • Comment number 72.

    This here is only the second forum, I have joined. The other forum I visit is an astronomy forum (joined july 2004), and has a global membership of forty thousand people.

    The astronomy forum is in its quintessence, the politest environment i have come across.

    More than half of the posters here would be banned there, permanently, if they displayed the same amount of vitriol that is thrown around, here.

    Why does the BBC tolerate these ad hominems? Wake up, the BBC admin/moderators. Strengthen your 'house rules'!

    It's shocking! The incivility displayed here takes my breath away. Why can't people speak with each other here, without resorting to foulness?

    Jonathan Agnew and his esteemed colleagues at TMS do a sterling job. I'm possibly repeating myself from another JA's blog/thread.

    Also, one should bear in mind that there younsgsters, who may be visiting here, reading, gleaning information about cricket. Going by the tone of posts here, that's not a good example to set for the younger generation. Is it?

    Can we please be at least polite?

  • Comment number 73.

    Just a thought: If Flintoff had been out first ball, causing a collapse which resulted in England failing to make the runs, would the press have turned Pietersen into the villian again (as in the 3rd Test) for throwing his wicket away chasing boundaries when he could have been running ones and twos?

    Nice that the team carried on where he left off this time ensuring that he got much deserved praise instead!

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi flynnbrown, # 72.

    Welcome to real life. I could not agree more with your comments. If you have any doubt about that, you only have to search for my comments under my nickname oldmanwillow.

    For many of us, cricket is a matter of life or death and many people go over the top and I am not happy with that.

    These blogs have never been proactively moderated except for a couple of days last month when things were really getting out of hand. It may be that such moderatiion should be the rule, just as it is in Have your say, but that would be very sad because noone would go back to see if their comments had been published. The comments on Have your Say are no more
    nor less well intentioned than those on the criicket blogs. But at least, the latter heve no political bias.

    The BBC cricket blogs may , from time toi time, descend into doubtful assertions about the ability of this or that player, but, in the whole, they are very well intentioned and show a sense of humour or fairness.

    It is this last characteristic, fairness, that is the unique property of the game of cricket. No other game can claim the same.


  • Comment number 75.

    Amazing to read people being critical of players who have been part of a team putting a really good run together. Everyone has contributed to this team success. Old prejudices sound like sour grapes for your own team being dominant, it is very silly and a little depressing.

    Well done England - it really feels good to win.

  • Comment number 76.

    we still do not score enough hundreds in this form of the game

    ---------

    So what? In a form of the game where 300 is a good score we dont need anyone to get a 100. good well played 80s will do. The key is to get rid of the players who consistently get single figure scores.

    I would rather a consistent 50 each time from bell than a series of 0, 100, 0, 100.

  • Comment number 77.

    #74....oldmanwillow!

    thank you for your comments/observations!

    since i'm new here, i didn't realise how to access members' posts.....now i found out...thanks to your encouragement. i had a quick peek at yours, just now...

    i'll have a proper visit later tonight

    thank you again

    ps: it's funny that i know my way around my astronomy forum, pretty well, 80+ percent...
    but that's set up differently, more flexible and instantaneous. uncouth behavior isn't tolerated, when shown up in posts. some newbies there do it too. (we are human after all) they are dealt with politely and pointed towards the door, on repeating such behaviour. i am no prude sir, but the tone here, sometimes, is alarming.

 

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