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Harmison and Anderson shine for KP

Jonathan Agnew | 18:46 UK time, Thursday, 7 August 2008

Kevin Pietersen could not have asked for a better response from his bowlers in his first day in the field. They all responded in conditions that favoured swing bowlers, but on a surface that should have yielded more than 194 runs.

After a rather scruffy morning session which was curtailed by a shower of rain, Pietersen was able to maintain attacking fields during the afternoon in which James Anderson and Steve Harmison took five wickets between them. Even Monty Panesar did precisely what Pietersen asked of him - twice!

Bringing the spinner on for the last over before tea - as many captains do - Monty had the obdurate AB de Villiers lbw with his third ball. And then, when the last pair had hung around long enough to be thoroughly annoying, Pietersen turned to his spinner again, and he bowled Makhaya Ntini with his fifth ball.

James Anderson and Steve Harmison celebrateAlthough Pietersen will grab the headlines, it was the efforts of Harmison and Anderson in particular that deserve them. Harmison was entrusted with the new ball for the first time since the ill-fated Ashes campaign of 2006/07 and while we all held our breath as he propelled the first delivery of the match, Alastair Cook promptly dropped a straightforward chance in the gully from Graeme Smith, of all people.

In fact, Smith looked rather jaded following his heroics at Edgbaston, and was nothing like his usual imposing self. He finally top-edged Harmison to long leg and, next ball, Harmison ripped out Hashim Amla's middle stump. That ball was timed at 93mph - pretty serious - and there's no doubt that Harmison looks a different bowler now he has some overs in his legs. The question is how England will monitor his fitness and preparation before his next Test appearance in Ahmedabad in December, because he simply can't afford to turn up as short of work as he was in New Zealand.

Anderson began at the Pavilion End, which did not suit his outswing. Switching to the Vauxhall End after the break, the breeze was exactly where he wanted it, and the ball swung both ways. His dismissal of Jacques Kallis was classical swing bowling - a perfect inswinger trapping him lbw after a series of outswingers. Perfection, and another disappointment in this series for Kallis.

No one should get carried away because England's reduced batting line-up faces a testing second day, but at least the new era has dawned brightly.


  • Comment number 1.

    So far, so good.
    Well done KP. It all worked well for you today. Your bowlers rose to the occasion. I will however reserve judgement on your true capabilities until, on a hot afternoon you are a bowler short, and Australia are 435-4.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well that was more like it! I think the decision to bring back Harmison and give him the new ball really set the tone. It’s a nice philosophy. Give people responsibility and tell them you believe in their ability. It’s natural to stand a little taller, try a little harder. If they don’t, of course, then you have to say that they had their chance and move on.

    From what I could envisage in my mind’s eye, listening to the radio, it sounded like there were some possibly naïve field placings etc., but on the whole the energy and enthusiasm really came through. I liked the bowling changes. I very much liked Broad staying on, and ending up taking two wickets. Pietersen showed faith in him and that will give him confidence. I also thought the use of Panesar and the rotation of the bowlers at the end to stop the tail-enders settling was smart and lively. Most pleasing of all was coming home from work to find us not 30-3, as I was expecting, but a very nicely placed 49-1.

    Incidentally: Strauss the only failure of the day. Is that what becomes of the unbelievers?

  • Comment number 3.

    So far so good.

    A much more balanced look to the England selection - with more bowling options yielding dividends.

    I was even impressed with KP's thinking... So - not an oxymoron after all :-)

    Maybe the responsibility of the captaincy will be a new maturity in his shot selection when he bats... we can dream :-)

  • Comment number 4.

    Sure they did well, but the real test will come when the wickets dont fall and KP has the pressure put on him by the batsmen.

  • Comment number 5.

    well very good on the whole. With Broad i was impressed with Kp how he kept him on and allowed him to take the wickets of a couple of tail enders, just to boost his confidence a little, which can be so valuable to a young bowler. Despite this, i disagree with Broad bowling immediately after lunch, as Smith and Amla were still in and took advangae of some poor stuff from Broad.

    This is being very picky, on the whole a fantastic day in the field with a great sense of enery, which just hasn't been there for at least 18 months.

    Bell looked good at the end, if he could finally realise his potential at number 3, it would be fantastic for England; allowing the selectors to continue with 5 bowlers, which always seems to help England.

    Strauss however seems to be right where he was at the beginning of the year, I thought he'de learned not to play poor, nothing shots which should be left well alone. I was wrong, and yet again the England opening partnership looks fragile.

  • Comment number 6.

    A decent surface, no pressure and a demob happy opposition - all the ingredients for a big score from Bell then tomorrow. He may even get there first this time.

    Good to see Harmy sending one down at 90+, if only Troy Cooley was still around to ensure that this was a more regular occurrence.

  • Comment number 7.

    Just imagine if Harmison had played and bowled like this at Edgbaston...but that's gone now and an Oval victory will go some way to lifting english spirits after a pretty ordinary summer. 194 all out, nice one, that's the best we've bowled against top-flight oppostion for some time now.

    Bell for a 100 tomorrow would be nice, and no rain please!

  • Comment number 8.

    Welch19 - i disagree entirely. the opening partnership has been one of the England team's only plusses from this whole sorry summer.

  • Comment number 9.

    A good performance in the Final Test at the Oval in a dead rubber.

    Now, where have we seen that before?

    I seem to remember this happening every summer in the 90s, and every time we success-starved England fans would hail a new beginning - which always fizzled out in the winter tour.

    The bowling attack looks much better, but I still don't see a new Hoggster or Simon Jones to keep the batting side under constant pressure.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hilarious - the end of channel 5's highlights featured Harmy and Boycott being interviewed together. considering they have both slagged each other off the tension was unbearable!

  • Comment number 11.


    "a great sense of enery"

    That'd be the great smell of Brut then - rub it on all over??

  • Comment number 12.

    A great day and a great fight back from England after what has been a poor series. A real shame though that some people still feel the need to get on the back of Ian Bell, is he everyones favourite whipping boy or something? I mean his 199 in the first test coming in at 117/3 in the middle of a collapse was hardly a non pressurised time to be coming out to the crease was it?
    I wish we could acknowledge talent in this country rather than shoot it down every opportunity!

  • Comment number 13.

    Very good day and start. Very promising for KP. England bowlers looking good as a pact. Cuts the Sathers batting averages a bit. England could have skittled the South Africans out for under 150 if all catches were held; and short and wide balls cut out. Cook needs to wake up somewhat in the field.

    England are in a good position if they can make 350+.

    Is 93mph the fastest ball of the series???

    My only Indian concern in Harmison. One he doesn't like to travel and the slower less bouncey wickets will not suit his bowling.

    I see a real possibility of blooding Rashid as a second spinner in India, bringing Harmy back for the West Indies/Ashes 2009 where the pitches better suite.

    I want to see Simon Jones back bowling 90/reverse. Jamie Anderson is looking very handy and more controlled. Broad needs an extra yard of pace and wrist action/release position. Sidebottom needs a week in a health farm to regard that nip and movement.

    Monty doing his vulture thing; 2 wicket for 6 runs; good for the average.

  • Comment number 14.

    great start today for kp, i dont think he could have wrote the script better if he had written it himself. Only downside today was the bowling of broad, who was easily put away. Its still early in his test match career so we must stick with him. Good to see harmy back. He had the SA batters in trouble throughout, and deserved more than just 2 wickets. The question will be come december, how are england going tog et overs under his belt before the test series in india.

  • Comment number 15.

    At the start of the summer Englands bowling attack, whilst adequate enough to deal with New Zealand, looked predictable and lacking variation. The main thing it missed though was pace.

    Harmison's return has addressed this fault and the teams attack now has a good balance to it. It's not perfect; Broad still looks weak with the ball and Anderson can still be expensive. Still with practice and more experience of playing together maybe this unit can cause some really havoc against the Australians next year.

  • Comment number 16.

    Its amazing how if England have the opposition in problems then it is because they are rubbish. I am sure Graeme Smith and the others are keen to win this one - 192 is pretty humliating against KP.

    Yes, good to keep Broad on, he is potentially a superb bowler so needs the support.

    If we can live with a system whereby players don't sulk if they are dropped then they will one day realise that it is worth it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well played England and well done to Steve Harmison. It was an excellent reply and we've seen now this summer in Bell and Harmison the benefits of playing county cricket. Now that our opening bowler has come back and looked good after time in county cricket, perhaps it's time for us to send some of the batsmen back there to sharpen up their game.

    People are asking about Harmison and India. Personally I wouldn't select him to go there. The wickets aren't going to suit him and it's a lot of hassle for two Tests. I would much rather have him keep fit and bowling during the India series, let him have Christmas with his family and tell him that he has to go on the West Indies trip. We all know what he did last time in the West Indies and it'd be a good warm-up for the summer events. We need him against Australia. We need the aggression of him and Flintoff because they have lifted the other bowlers in the team.

    I'm still thinking that we can't have Anderson and Sidebottom in the same team. Anderson is the management favourite and I have a feeling Sidebottom will be treated as a reserve rather than a frontline bowler.

  • Comment number 18.

    eseverage- no need to apoligise for having an opinion. But Strauss has not achieved a single score of 50+, at an average of 20.33, after a good series against NZ.

    Cook continues to show great potential, but again we've seen him throw it away with a poor shot when set. Three times in this series he has been on scores of 50+ and failed to convert. Worst of all was at Edgbaston in the 1st innings, when he had a duty to haul his faultering team above 300, but was inexplicably rooted on his back foot to a good length seaming ball.

    Im sorry but i don't see this as one of the plusses.

  • Comment number 19.

    With regards to bowling, things are very healthy with all the following possibilities for 4/5 berths.


    Hoggard (both to get fit and nip back

    S Jones

    Rashid for India

  • Comment number 20.

    People still finding fault with England's performance today and a dream start for KP - pathetic. Hopefully they are just bitter Aussies and South Africans!

    The 'SA don't care, they have already won the series' call is hollow - they would do their upmost to spoil Pietersen's party and take a 3-0 lead home. It was a triumph for fresh positive thinking and agressive, attacking cricket.

    Prove the doubters wrong KP!

  • Comment number 21.

    #16: 'If we can live with a system whereby players don't sulk if they are dropped then they will one day realise that it is worth it.'

    excellent point. we have to stop this 'in my gang' ... #'not in my gang' business, especially when it comes to the bowlers. leave marmison at home in nov/december but msot definitely send s. jones.

    come feb, send harmison and jones to WI, and leave sidebottom behind.

    the whipper snappers (anderson and broad) have to go on all the trips to carry kp's bags.

  • Comment number 22.

    Nothing will persuade me that the Saffers are not up for this Test - crumbs they would be mega up to beat any Team led by KP - even if that was the England Tiddly winks Team !! The fact is that the bowling today was generally so skilled and pacey that ANY Team would have been in difficutlies against it.

  • Comment number 23.

    ball of the summer from harmy - 92 mph ripping through amla.

    didnt want to harmy to play for england again but if he can play like this then watch out the aussies.

    the saffers may have been demob happy bit some of harmy's bowling was top drawer.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nickyboje - Bell certainly has a lot of talent. As a flat track bully I would rate him up there with Graeme Hick. What he also consitently displays is an inability to perform under pressure. This is the reverse of players like Vaughan and Coillingwood who may have less natural ability but are able to play match-winning innings. Whilst he has contributed along the way, I can hardly recall Bell ever having won a match for us in 40 tests - a feat even Tim Ambrose has managed. The innings you refer to was his least pressured innings of the series, hence his highest score - although I agree there was a degree of pressure when he first arrived at the crease. I wish him well tomorrow but my real fear is that we will be carrying this incosistency into the ashes next summer against a team where Bell averages 25 (over 2 series). The reason? Every knock he has had against Australia has been under high pressure.

  • Comment number 25.

    mechanicalCogbill- thats far too harsh on Bell, and your reference to Vaughan is ridiculous. He has consistently been England's worst batsman for the last two years, in whatever situation.

  • Comment number 26.

    A great team effort with all the bowlers sharing the wickets and inside the first day too.Well done KP for getting them motivated and all trying their best to get wickets. Only Cooke dropping those catches let down a sharp performance in the field by England. What a positive contrast to the tired rather negative bunch under MPV in the previous 2 tests.
    I expect England to get at least 300 more tomorrow in their first innings.
    I think it is very premature to talk about Harmison for the winter tour - everybody knows that he doesnt travel well and it is best for England and Steve if he stays at home this winter and plays for England only at home.By the same token, Tres should be welcomed back ito the side for home matches only - while in an ideal world we want our best players to tour, some guys play world class cricket in the UK but cannot deliver under the heat of the subcontinent or Australia. When at home we should select Harmison and Trescothick but never again for tours.We have plenty of players eager for chances on tours who will never let their game be affected by homesickness.
    As I said in a post here on monday, I really expect England will win this one but I never expected (only hoped) that they would win the first three tests.

  • Comment number 27.

    England bowlers have responded well. South Africa batsmen were kept silent throughout the day. A score of less than 250 runs for the loss of eleven wickets on Day One with no batter making a fifty yet. Great start for KP as skipper.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 28.

    Dreadful drops from Cook, from the highlights on C5 it appears that each time he dropped a catch, he was wearing sunglasses, coincidence? I'd have loved to have seen Jones bowling on this track, but England would have had to leave out either Broad or Panesar, probably Broad, but that would have left batting a tad light. Still don't think Collingwood rates a position in this team and Key could have been given a chance.

  • Comment number 29.

    I was at the Oval today, and have to say I was very impressed with Pietersen's body language, at least, as captain. He took a couple of bold decisions, for instance opening with Harmison (but what else are you going to do). Nothing spectacular as far as captaincy but a good start!

    I think what helped was having Harmison somewhere near his best. That helps the England attack in a heck of a lot of ways. Takes some of the pressure of Freddie, adds another option, and he and Anderson together were great in the post lunch spell, complimenting each other very well.

    Fingers crossed for the batting next, Bell and Cook looked pretty good together, but I am not yet overly confident about hte batting unit. Maybe Bell will grow as a number 3, and maybe I should relax about Colly as a number 5. (Would prefer Shah or Bopara or Denly)

  • Comment number 30.

    Interesting to hear on the radio this evening why the England bowlers started bowling a better length this afternoon.
    Apparently at lunchtime they were given some advice; not by Peter Moores, nor Otis Gibson, nor a phone call from Troy Cooley. It came from dear old Alec Bedser, 90 years old now. If anyone knows how to bowl at The Oval, Alec should. Now he was class !

  • Comment number 31.

    A very good start for KP.10/10 for effort.
    Harmy looks lethal at the moment and perhaps he gets on well with KP so will bowl for him?I liked the way KP kept Broad on the go.He bowled a bit wayward to start with but was consistantly beating the bat later on.He is a young bowler and needs encouragement,his batting is what will make him though,he has class..I thought all the bowlers did well but was soured by Strauss failing yet again,like he has throughout the series-he is just not with it at the moment.He could have undone all the good work the bowlers did.For much of the series England have really only had a 9 man team-one has now gone and Strauss wont be far behind.
    Cook and Bell seem to be starting to gel together and I hope they do well.As to the depth of batting I think its about right.If you have Broad batting at 9 things cant be bad.What KP will bring to the side is that killer touch which dear old Vaughan didnt have or lost it somewhere.Grind the opposition into the ground,humiliate them and you win-its the Aussie way and it needs to be the English way. Go for it KP!

  • Comment number 32.

    Denly will replace strauss, even though id like to see stephen moore (first to 1000 fc runs) have a go. Prior will replace ambrose, and i still think room has to be made for simon jones by broad or anderson.

  • Comment number 33.

    "All day long, I met only one person who seemed absolutely certain the appointment would prove to be a complete failure.
    "You mark my words," this particular member of the press told me. "This will end in disaster. Appointing a South African as England captain, it's a crazy decision."

    If I had to guess who the mystery member of the press is I'd call CMJ.

    The most boring man in cricket (ok, tied first with Gus Fraser) he doesn't think people who aren't from Eton or Radley should be professional cricketers, let alone make the national side, let alone captain the country.

    I know Strauss is a 'senior' player and with the new set-up you need some continuity, but he's half the player he was 3 years ago. Surely his place must be at least up for consideration - along with Collingwood's spot in the team.

    And the sooner Prior replaces Ambrose the better. Five bowlers is the way to go, but it means we need someone behind the stumps who can wield some willow. And that ain't little Ambrose.

  • Comment number 34.

    The measure of theCaptain today was the way he supported Broad. His faith was rewarded with 2 wickets, albeit tail enders, but it's still wickets in a Test Match. The concern has to be Strauss, if he was selected for Captain we would have replaced with "like for like" a Captain that can't bat!!
    My biggest beef, however, is what is the England "batting coach" doing? If he can allow MV, Strauss and Colly to deteriorate so badly then his job must be up fpr review

  • Comment number 35.

    mechanicalCogbill- You obviously only started watching England after the 2005 ashes. Vaughan was one of the best batsmen in the world. Less natural talent (and comparing him to Collingwood)!? I don't think so, more a question of not being able to reach his potential ability recently.

    Bell will score runs now he is at 3. Of course he won't be the first to score centuries when he bats at 6, as either everyone has collapsed so he has noone to support him, or already someone has a decent start on him. Now Vaughan has gone, Bell is in his natural position.

    Please don't bring Prior back- wicketkeeping is a skill that can save the team a huge amount of runs when carried out properly, don't let that car-crash of a keeper back into the team.

    I'd also imagine that people wanting Prior also want Broad in- regardless of 2 wickets at the end of today (against tail-enders) he isn't good enough, and his batting doesn't mean squat if he can't deliver with the ball.

  • Comment number 36.

    So far so good. Good to see Harmison firing on all cylinders from the very first ball. He has always seemed brittle, so Pietersen must have got something right in his man management.

    A bit of a struggle to get out the tail enders. Is it that Pietersen is such a good batsman he doesn't quite understand how to attack weaker batsmen? Would it have been better just to ask his bowlers to bowl straight and fast rather than swinging it to find the edge? It's always annoying and demoralising when the last wicket just won't come.

    KP is bouncing about like Tigger, and in the short term that will be good for creating the impression of a bright new dawn. One day it will take more than infectious enthusiasm to get a couple of well set batsmen out on day 4 when the bowlers are tired.

    But so far so good.

  • Comment number 37.

    Come on guys. Great start to KP's reign. All the bowlers took wickets, and then to get to 49-1 at close after losing an early wicket was a sterling performance. Forget this nonsense about SA not really caring - if that were true, they may have put out some of their reserves. On another point, we now have many people condeming the willingness to stick with players through thick and thin - what would have happened to Alan Border if he had been born English - 150 + caps - don't think so - there is a line, and I commend the selectors for supporting the players (although the selection of Pattinson was bizarre - see he got tonked by Tres and Langer today).
    Good luck to the team tomorrow, and let's get behind them rather than adhering to the Britsih stereotype and beating up our national teams.

  • Comment number 38.

    Fine, things went England's way today, great. As others have said, let's pass judgement after a few difficult days.

    But I have to say KPs captaincy really annoys me. It's all me, me, me as we expected. Vaughan would have said something subtle like "we've got faith in Freddie's ability at 6", with KP it's "I appointed Freddie to bat 6, I know he can do a job for me". Every one of his statements is similar, "I decided on the team and Moorsey came round to the same way of thinking", etc, etc, etc. It just seems childish and belongs in the schoolyard not on the international stage.

    As for all the stuff about "love"... great Englad captains of the past must be spinning in their graves.

  • Comment number 39.

    When all is said and done, a very encouraging day for England and I am glad hardly anyone is being silly enough to talk about dead rubbers, demob leave and the like to belittle the performance.

    Harmison was extremely impressive; he got two key wickets in two balls and could have had others. Let's hope he can keep it up because England do not have another bowler quite like him. Not even Flintoff, though he was once again the key to breaking an irritating partnership.

    The five bowler argument would seem to have received another significant input today. Even with one of them not at his best today, it was still possible to keep up really serious pressure on South Africa: they were never allowed to settle.

    However, I am aware of the contrary argument: that if you only have five batsmen and, in line with this summer's experience, two or three of them are not "at their best", you can't afford to go with five bowlers, even if one of them has, quite consistently this summer, put some of the batsmen to shame.

    When someone is asked to take on such as a big job as England cricket captain, he doesn't go into it with just gratitude and a big grin. He will usually have conditions and I suspect KP had his. The obvious place for him to be able to insist on his preferences is in team selection, even if he is not formally one of the selectors, something I know to be true but still find it difficult to believe. Anyway, the strange inconsistencies between the selections for the recent two tests -- Harmison in/out but now in, Broad out but now back in -- may well be due to KP putting his foot down. I hope he continues to make his voice heard loudly in that area because it is essential.

    To conclude, congratulations to KP and his team on today's performance! Let's occupy the crease all day tomorrow and let KP in for a brief but devastating cameo on Saturday morning. The batters from no. 6 down, with the exception of Ambrose, are the bowlers -- long may that last -- and need a good rest.

    Am I dreaming?

  • Comment number 40.

    Good day says I. KP scrapped the huddle to kick off, which is a very good thing to do if he wants to stamp his authority on this side. It was also visible that KP was keeping up moral and comaradery between his players. Great day's cricket from England and as with so many other things in sport, a good start can mean the world.

    KP also had enough faith in Broad to allow him to have a couple of spells bowling after the bad decision to continue with Broad after lunch. Broad is developing so quickly and another couple of wickets under his belt can only be a good thing! Great stuff.

  • Comment number 41.

    Did anyone notice that Cook was wearing is sunglasses when he dropped the two easy catches but wasn't when he caught the more difficult one?
    Leave 'em in ya bag tomorrow mate!

    Great to see Harmy wreaking havoc today.

  • Comment number 42.

    Arnie - I started watching after 2005? How dare you after what I've put myself through these last 30 years. In any case, I wasn't equating Collingwood and Vaughan's abilities just pointing out that they are two current players, rightly out of favor I might add, who can and have scored pressure runs. That is the comparison.

    Thorpe used to bat down the order and almost all of his centuries came alone. But then he had cojones.

  • Comment number 43.

    Bet SA are wondering why on earth Harmison was left playing county cricket for much of the summer. Bet they were scratching their heads about it too, as Smith was scratching, feeling and checking himself first over bet he was happy that this was the only time England picked him.

    And for the guy having a pop at Hick, he averaged over 45 for over two years in tests against top class opposition so what did the brains trust of the England management do? They dropped him ....again.

    As for Bell? His average is higher than Athertons and Stewarts, was there a constant clamour to dump them?

  • Comment number 44.

    Great day for England. Thus far the performance has justified the selection decisions which I was very happy with for a change. Harmy looked great and his action was back to near its best. When he's like that it he makes it look effortless.

    Good captaining from KP today. He didn't panic in the afternoon when he knew our bowlers had just been unlucky in the morning session. They reaped the rewards of sticking to the plan in the afternoon session. Some great bowling from Anderson too. Broady looked a bit wayward but I think he was just trying too hard to impress. The lad actually has very good control of a cricket ball he just makes the wrong decisions about where to put it. If he can concentrate mainly on an off stump line and sling in a couple of variations per over then he will be much more prominent. You dont see James Anderson trying to reverse the ball every delivery do you? Of course not, this would eliminate the element of surprise. Broad just needs to get that stock delivery honed to perfection.

    Another dissapointment for Strauss who has rather scratched around for runs this series. That's not of too much concern to me because if we need to drop him there are a couple of Kent openers that can step into his boots. I would prefer to see him rediscover his form however.

    All in all a great day, lets hope the batsmen can capitalise on the opening the bowlers have created.

  • Comment number 45.


    My comment was refering to you saying Vaughan has less natural ability, and that prior to loss of form (very long term) he was a fantastic batsman, and obviously did have bags of natural talent. He's probably delivered less since then than Bell has, so why criticising Bell for having no guts.

    As I said- lets see how he does with a run at number 3, where he doesn't have to come in at 50/3 or 50/4, and can get started before others do.

  • Comment number 46.

    Great start for KP. Wonderful to see Harmy steaming in again bowling fast. Two highlights of the day for me were Smith getting one in the "winkies" (as my five year old son calls them) and Harmy mashing Amlas's middle stump at 92.9mph. Only change I would have made to an othewise strong looking side would have been Prior for Ambrose to strengthen the batting.

  • Comment number 47.

    Bayboy - you would do well to listen to Geoffrey some more. He reckons (rightly imo) that due to the quality of the bats, the tracks and the dearth of high class bowlers today, batsmen should average 6 or 8 runs more than they used to. That means a decent test player today should average close to 50 and that would only include KP and Cook from our current side. That's probably about right and makes comparisons with Atherton and Stewart in an era when batsmen averaged less, meaningless.

  • Comment number 48.

    Today on TMS, I heard Sir Geoffrey say that he was delighted KP had done away with the "huddle"; I think I am too. But Boycs, as usual, went over the top and said it was more appropriate to girls' handball teams, or something of the sort, something very dismissive.

    He should take a brief look at the DVD of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, where the huddle was clearly a powerful motivational tool for the victorious England team. If he is still unconvinced, he should call Martin Johnson, England captain at the time and now team manager, go to see him, look up into eyes and repeat his view. Johnson will be sympathetic, maybe put his hand round Boyc's shoulder and say, perhaps, Well, if the huddle doesn't do anything for you cricketers, don't use it! We and the girls in the handball team are very happy with it.

    The moral is for each of you to work out!

  • Comment number 49.

    We've decided at the BBC to give a pro forma to save you time tommorrow.

    1. Isn't it about time x was dropped. He just can't build the big innings.

    2. Ambrose is not a batsmen wicketkeeper he should be scoring (x + runs scored tommorrow)

    3. I always thought/never thought KP would make a good captain.

    4. It is obvious that the captaincy is effecting KPs batting (if score less than 40).

    5. I know more about Cricket than all these professionals even though I score barely 12 in my back garden when I was 8.

  • Comment number 50.

    A small clue: Martin Joihnson was one of the greatest sporting captains England has ever had.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hey granitestephenmason you forgot:

    6. Why is the board so full of useless comments with poor spelling. I only want to see comments up to my usual "superior" standards.

    I agree that many comments are illogical and repetitive, but isn't that what happens when you get a cross-section of opinion? Why read them if they annoy you? I sometimes have to stop reading the comments when I get frustrated with the lack of logic, por spelling, etc, but there's not much point posting on here complaining. It is what it is.

  • Comment number 52.

    and before the correction, yes it was "poor spelling"... I'll go to my room!

  • Comment number 53.

    You forgot to mention poor grammar.

    The collapse of civilisation continues before our very eyes.

  • Comment number 54.


    he is a talented player, granted. but i do find it soo bloody typical of this forum, that he was utterly villified in new zealand to being praised as the new messiah after one good spell today. india will be the real test to show whether he is the harmisson of old circa 04. i also agree with johnnygb. bring back prior, ambrose is toothless in every respect.

  • Comment number 55.

    Well the bowlers have done their bit now its time for the batsmen to shine , they have all the time they require lets see them get stuck in tomorrow and take command of the match.

    Nice to see Harmy being the threat bowler again fair play to the lad.

  • Comment number 56.

    oldmanwillow - that "huddle" thing you say worked in rugby... I think they call it a "scrum" :)

  • Comment number 57.

    It seems everyone is a bit happier tonight and the emotional level of the blog contributions is much better. Noone seems to be threatening or insulting their fellow bloggers any more.

    I really couldn't give a tuppeny toss about spelling or grammatical errors. I'm sure I make some too. The BBC commentators and correspondents also make them from time to time, some of them quite hilarious and, if they can't be expected to be perfect, why should anyone else be? The important thing is that everyone understands what is being said.

    Absolutely true, bayboy1664, what you said about Harmison. But it is just as true of Flintoff, something Justin Langer pointed out as long ago as May 1.

  • Comment number 58.

    All the talk is about Harmison but as far as I can see nobody has congratulated Anderson on his 100th test wicket and who also returned better figures.

    Whilst I hope Harmison continues to impress, I don't believe his selection in the team is guaranteed.

  • Comment number 59.

    Terrific performance from the bowlers and good captiancy throughout.

    Anderson was the pick of the bowlers as he has been all summer.

    I noticed that on the publically-funded BBC website the lead story is not England's good day against South Africa but a rather pointless preamble to the Olympics. In fact, almost all of the main sport page on said website is full of Olympics stuff. It is a disgrace that the BBC chooses to advertise its coverage of a sport rather than reporting on what have been the real sports events and news of the day.

  • Comment number 60.

    good day no doubt.....but but but in a series
    already lost means nought in my book.the
    SA have nothing to play for as they have already won...2 nil 2 one is still a lost series
    sportman/women only play when there is competitive edge,this is like a 'friendly' with the home side desperate too receive plaudits even in defeat

  • Comment number 61.

    Saw a comment saying that constant underachever Bell has the same average as Stewart and Atherton. Stewart half the time was a keeper, and a damm good one at that. Athers went in 1st against the new ball opening up against Wasim, Waqar, Ambrose, Walsh, McGrath and the rest, Plus Athers hit runs at crucial times, the 2 day hundred vs SA for example.
    Comparing Bell to these two is ludicrous. However I am a fan of his, he is brilliant to watch IF he gets going. He just frustrates me so much. Why does he never get runs under pressure and why never on a pitch with movement.
    Needs to sort things out, a 100 tommorow would work just fine.

  • Comment number 62.

    Obdurate. obviously your using words that sound intelligent. Unfortunately your usage, shows your word vocabulary to be seriously deficient. Please refrain from trying to impress us . Next time ,please consult your oxford ol' boy. Have a good one mate.

  • Comment number 63.

    Now we can bowl sides out again, it is time to leave well alone and pick five batters who can amass more runs than the opposition, not necessarilly stick with the same five, and certainly not tinker with the other six to prop up the batting.

    We have a good five-man attack, plus Sidebottom who has a much better Test average than any of the others, and a half-decent wicketkeeper, which unless we go down the route of Read or Foster will have to do.

    The clamour for the return of Prior comes from those who have conveniently forgotten his keeping deficiencies because he may contribute with the bat. At least these people are not suggesting we bring back Geraint Jones, but the principle is the same.

    No, the five batters have to perform. The current batsmen can't bowl to Test level and some of them aren't fielding too well at present, whereas the bowlers are expected to bat, bowl and field.

    Whether KP succeeds or fails as a captain is almost solely down to the quality of his bowlers. Selectors please note.

  • Comment number 64.

    #56 batsnumbereleven ... nice one!

  • Comment number 65.

    cheap wickets for broad can't mask how short of test class he is with the ball. kp should tell him to just worry about his batting, he's good enough with the willow.

  • Comment number 66.

    etienne123 - my sentiments exactly. All the bowlers bowled well except Broad, at one stage nine overs and 0/46 reflected how poorly he had bowled and suggests maybe England were better off with only four bowlers. A couple of token wickets at the end conceal how badly he bowled, he conceded nearly a third of all the runs by himself for a couple of tailenders. Without him England might have run through South Africa for 150

    Harmison bowled pretty well, conditions were helpful mind. I find it ironic that England bowled some really good balls that they dropped or the batsman didn't edge, yet some of the wickets were rather fortunate and slack batting. But so far so good for Pietersen, it's hard to give him too much credit as most of his bowlers bowled well. One thing he did that Vaughan wouldn't perhaps have done, is give Broad as many overs to give away cheap runs. It may not prove costly, the bit of confidence it might give Broad won't make decent batsmen get out to him any more easily.

    Watching the one replay of the near run out late on that England survived, I do wonder if that wasn't out. Why did C5 only replay it the once, it looked pretty much on the line which is out, that extra replay or two may have proven it was in, but C5 played the one like he was clearly in. And I thought similar of a South African out LBW, looked close to being outside off stump, not that they can really care about the result having won the series.

    levdavidovich - of course the BBC is going to overdo it on the olympic coverage, unless you've lived in a different country all your life you'll know it will be BLANKET coverage on as many channels as they feel fit (two plus the 'interactives') and some of us find that boooooooooooooooring. Constant prattle about GB's medal prospects, watching medal ceremonies which is quite often pointless and basically catering for the few that must want that level of coverage. I can freely say that BBC must comfortably be the channel I watch least, Monk, Eggheads and very occaisionally a film worth watching or MOTD.

    Back to the Test, there is still a lot of work to be done. England are still behind, have only five frontline batsmen of whom one is already out, and have a tendancy to collapse. The South Africans surely must bat better second time around, England need to make most of having bowled South Africa out for less than 200 and force home a sizeable lead. Since 2000 England have bowled the opposition out for under 200 1st innings 22 times : P22 W17 D2 L3.

    The defeats were when Australia scored 190 and bowled England out for 155 in the 1st Test of the 2005 Ashes, the 3rd Test of the 2001 Ashes when Australia scored 190 and England scored 185, and the 1st Test of the 06/07 Sri Lanka series when England bowled Sri Lanka out for 188, had an 83 run 1st innings lead but somehow still lost. So no room for complacency, none of those sides reached 200 and still beat England. 14 of those 17 wins having bowled the opposition out for under 200 were over New Zealand, West Indies, Bangladesh or Zimbabwe.

    That means only three times has England bowled out a decent side for less than 200 since 2000 and won - Sri Lanka at home in 2002, Sri Lanka at home in 2006 and Pakistan at home in 2006. That's as many times as they've lost having bowled a decent side out for less than 200...........................

  • Comment number 67.

    Anderson may have 100 wickets but (delete as appropriate):

    They've all been at 50 runs an over

    Hes soooo inconsistent, as he can't deliver a 5fer every game

    Every one of those wickets has been on a helpful pitch

    They're all against Bangladesh's U12 team


    PS Well done

  • Comment number 68.

    well done kp a decent enough start although i'll pass judgment in 6 months..but i cant believe the difference in the teams is just down to the it a,the england players have tried to raise thiere own games for fear places might just be up for grabs b,its a dead rubber and the south africans are ready for home as always seems to happen at the ashes 2005 excepted.proberbly a bit of both.

  • Comment number 69.

    My,how the tune and tone has changed in such a short time.Will anyone give Moores and the other 25 back up staff any credit for a side with spring in their step?England played as a team yesterday,probably a lot to do with a fresh start.Do you think the captain doesn't understand how much he needs to maintain the determination and concentration?- besides his own credibility and performance?

    For those who feel that he is too self centred....He really shared it around yesterday.....although probably not with Moores.

    Much of the poor condition of the English team has come from the failings of the back room people...coaches(who)selectors(we know) and administrators......

    Professionals have had to deal with such staff for many years on the county circuit where the effect can be even greater because it influences the players "bread and butter" earnings.

    I don't like central contracts,but at least it gives the players selected the opportunity to take a stronger position if they have the courage.

    As to this being the last test in a rubber we have lost ...I would much rather that we had all the changes as from yesterday than at the end of the series.

    Well done KP and England....Cook get some catching practice(the one thing we MUST develop to the full is aggressive and dependable fielding which serves the Australians so well.)We have a good example in SA .

    If the rain keeps off this game will be fun to watch.....when did we last .........

  • Comment number 70.

    Harmison should have played in the first test against SA. He would have been more of a threat than Broad or Sidebottom on any pitch and we could probably have won at Lords and Edgbaston!

    Harmison has overs under his belt and been the top performer in the county championship!

    Bad selection by Moores, Miller, Giles and Vaughn!

  • Comment number 71.

    By all accounts, this track should be good for a score of around 350 - 400. If Bell and Cook get going today we may just see that.
    KP has done ok as a captain so far but i would like to see how he responds with the bat.

  • Comment number 72.

    Cautiously impressed with Harmison. Has the penny finally dropped that he has responsibility as an international sportsman? Even his personal appearance looked sharper and more professional. I'm sorry, but I do not rate Ottis Gibson as a test bowling coach (credentials??) and find it remarkable that he (apparently) was not called to account for the 'preperation' of Harmison and Hoggard last winter. I can't imagine them turning up like that under Cooley who they clearly respected.

    As much as a Strauss fan as I am, sadly he is a shadow of the 2004 debut player and I think he will go the way of the likes of a number of other international batters who have burst onto the scene and yet are pale imitations four years later (Aussies Blewett and Elliott are two similar examples).

  • Comment number 73.

    Good start for KP, He sets a competitive atmosphere and England seemed to respond really well to his captaincy. I still feel Vaughan should have stepped down earlier and realised that his lack of runs were causing problems in the dressing room.
    It's early days but England look to be heading in the right direction with KP's appointment because I must admit I wasn't 100% sure.

  • Comment number 74.

    Can't understand why everyone is calling this a dead rubber.

    OK, the test series has gone, but several factors still come into play to make this an important result. Firstly the South Africans will surely not want to hand the new test and one day captain a confidence boosting victory just before the one day series. The Saffers know the value of confidence, and confidence has been one of the main differences between these two teams over the last month.

    Secondly there is the simple fact that test cricketers want to win test matches. After winning the series 2-0 (so far) this becomes a stand alone match. The South Africans may be exhausted and unable to rise to the occasion but that's entirely different from being "demob happy".

    If they play badly they've only themselves to blame when it gives KP a great start to his captaincy and his first step on the long road to being a top international captain. I'm suite sure, bearing in mind KP's background, that that's the last thing they want!

  • Comment number 75.

    Great start to KP's reign as skipper.
    I must give particular credit to Anderson. I have been one of those who doubts his consistency at this level, but in my opinion he was our best bowler today.
    I think it helped considerably having five proper bowlers in the side - now we must see whether the reduced battring line-up can do their bit in what are likely to be difficult conditions.

  • Comment number 76.

    Let's stop knocking a great day's performance by saying the South Africans didn't care. Look at their reaction when Andrew Strauss was caught. That was not a team "going through the motions"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Wait and see how they respond today when a few wickets fall and don't tell me they won't be "up" to get KP out cheaply.

    England bowled well, with fire and passion. If we had had the extra bowler at Lords and Edgbaston we may well have been 2-1 going into this test.

    Come on, let's get behind KP and the team. A lead of at least 150 will set us up nicely to bowl them out second time around, and give us a morale boosting victory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 77.

    A cracking first day for KP albeit against a Saffer side with nothing to play for.

    Anderson's really impressed me this series and yesterday was no different. He's beat the bat time and again and got finally got some reward for his efforts. The question is, how do we keep the bowlers firing like that?

    The key to it all is Harmison. Whilst he bowled superbly, this was after hundreds of overs on the County Circuit this summer.

    I don't see how we can keep Harmi fit and firing for the anything other than the home Test's. As Aggers says, the next Test is in India in December so how the hell do we ensure he has enough overs under his belt to be firing for England on the sub-continent?

  • Comment number 78.

    Dibblydobbler is the biggest numbnut on this blog.

    His comments about Andersen are just tripe and he should know as he talks tripe continuously

    Andersen was awesome yesterday and is a country mile better than the dire sidebotham who has been quite rightly sidelined.

    By common consent among the England players and I deal with 3 of them Andersen and Collingwood are the best fielders in the England side.

    Dibblydobbler it's time to retire along with your mate Vaughan, your cricket knowledge matches Vaughan's more recent scores..nil

    Bazthe ace

  • Comment number 79.

    Moores has enabled a good squad to accept mediocrity for too long. He has laso not been able to galvanise a team. The rumours that Vaughan and Moores had issues is not really surprising. Moores is a minnow at this level.

    It took Fred's return at Edgbaston and an in-form Harmison to remind Anderson what he's capable of. This is the kind of inspiration that is sorely lacking in the squad, and for that it must be time to put Moores and his hapless coaching regime back into the counties from whence it came. Broad needs that kind of role model to become the all rounder that he shows signs of becoming. Monty needs variation - he needs a doosra and to spin the ball both ways - without it he is becoming distictly ordinary.

    This test is a dead rubber and as such is no indication of yet another temporary renaissance in English fortunes. In my opinion the wrong man resigned - Moores should have gone by now and someone who has played at this level and knows what it takes to win must take his place; and this must happen sooner rather than later. The cost is the decline in confidence and form of yet more of our young talent as they come in to be the new messiah and are sidelined when they fail to proveide the miracle.

  • Comment number 80.

    Bring Harmison back in proves one thing!! If you give a struggling player matches (ie in County cricket) he can come back as strong as he was. England's attack looked that much more potent yesterday. With Harmison and Flintoff you have true aggression and pace, Anderson swing, my only concern is Broad, batting wise he could hold down a place at no. 6 but needs to start troubling top order batsmen to remain a certainty in the side.

    England look to have the better batting conditions but need to play well with only 5 recognised batsmen, 300 is a must anything past 350 is a bonus. The Oval is not a pitch which has much 5th day wear so England should win the match. I predict England to get around 330-340, SA to make 270-280 in the 2nd Innings and England to knock off 140-150 for the loss of 4!

  • Comment number 81.

    One swallow doesn't make a summer.

  • Comment number 82.

    Broad's day with the ball will come. Don't be too despondent. I know his figures weren't too pretty yesterday but he beat the bat on a number of occasions and had outside and top edges fly to the fence rather than a fielder.

    In general, he bowls at a good pace, gets good bounce and will improve with experience. He's the 4th quick in the lineup, can take wickets and his classy batting is a major boost to the middle order. I really feel he's a big asset to the all round makeup of a test winning team.

    KP's handling of him yesterday was first class. If you get carted about, take him off, have a word in his ear, let him think about it for a half hour and bring him back. Ofcourse, you can't do that forever but it's a great show of faith and I'm sure Broad will repay that trust in time.

  • Comment number 83.

    Crickomaster (79): spot on I think about Anderson benefitting from Flintoff and Harmison leading the way.

    Re Broad, he seems to be frustratingly short of a little something extra. I realise he's only 22...can an extra yard or two of pace be found as he refnies his technique? At his height, I think it would make the big difference between him being first on the team sheet and being towards the end of it.

    Encouraging figures for Rashid yesterday - that should keep Monty on his toes.

  • Comment number 84.

    No 24. The Australians, as I recall, do not rate Bell highly and at one point a former player described Bell as the worst number 3 in world cricket.

  • Comment number 85.

    Cook's beginning to get a reputation for dropping catches, abit like the departing captain in the butter fingers department.

    Good to see us bowl SA out cheaply, but it must be balanced against the fact they haven't anything to play for. I'm not convinced that Harmison should be touring.

    I'd like to have seen Hoggard back instead and am sure he would have done equally as well. It's important we get a good first inninngs score, as we're a batsmen light, even if it the ex-captain missing.

  • Comment number 86.

    this is not a dead rubber! smith and his team would love to give england a good kicking in pieterson's first match as captain.thier failure so far will spur them on.

    so many remarks about harmison seem to dam him with faint praise. I still see the look on his face when cook missed the first ball catch. a relaxed face with a smile and a wave to cook. he's a great young man who all england supporters will be glad to see back.

    and please all you southeners get off bell"s back, he dosen't deserve your remarks.

  • Comment number 87.

    Come on England ! Lets knock'em round the park today - rain permitting of course . 300 runs made and we have a proper tussle on !

  • Comment number 88.

    Ref no 84: if the Australians are slagging off Bell's ability I would suggest that they rate him rather than the otehr way round.

  • Comment number 89.

    Good day for England. There seems to be many differing opinions on many of the England team. My view:

    Strauss is out of form and probably needs to be replaced by a decent opener. not entirely sure who though.

    Cook is a good find and still young. No probs with him

    Bell seems to be a critics whipping boy. All in all I don't think he is bad and a decent innings today will help

    KP, obv our best batsman and so far so good. A bit on the tactile side though, wouldn't you say?

    Collingwood - IMHO never really test class. Has done well despite that (esp his last knock) but I would rather see him replaced.

    Flintoff - as long as he stays fit he it worth it for his bowling alone. If he adds runs then all the better

    Ambrose - this position seems to be about choosing either a batsman who can keep a bit (eg Prior) or a keeper who can bat a bit (eg Read). On balance, with some of our batting frailties I think I would plump for Prior

    Broad - not 100% sure. He might be big, bad and better than his dad, but I think I would rather have Jones (who can bat a bit). Broad seems to be a weak link in the attack right now. Yes he can bat, and if his bowling improves he could be a real star. But he won't always make 50's, and 2 late wickets have flattered his average a bit. Apart from those he was a liability.

    Anderson - inconsistent but yesterday the Burnley express was class, swinging it both ways. And a great fielder too - has he ever dropped a catch? For now he ms be kept, and remember he is only 26

    Harmison - you can't really judge him on one day but IMHO he is what we have been missing so far this series. that express pace, exemplified by the 93mph jaffa that uprooted Amla's middle pole. I think we have to play him, but I agree that we leave him out of the tour to India

    Monty - broke a couple of "obdurate" (sic) partnerships, but all in all I am not 100% that there isn't a better spinner (who can field and bat better too). Mind you, compared to other previous options (like Dalrymple for instance) he is prob the best option.

    And by the way, I live in Cape Town and have a double or quits bet for a case of wine on this match, so no way is it a dead rubber!

    Finally, I think it is pretty dumb to pick on other people's spelling mistakes when trying to 'win' an argument on these blogs. 90% of the time it is because people can't type and don't have the time to go back correcting stuf all the time. Rubbish grammar is probably also because people just write off the top of their heads and can't be fussed about the Queen's english. This is however not an excuse for Aggers who should know better!

  • Comment number 90.

    Has anyone else noticed Anelka hiding behind a 'beard disguise' pretending to be Amla!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Is it not possible to find some more batsmen with English great-grandparents somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere? Surely it's worth investing some cash from the TV rights to send a search team down there.

  • Comment number 92.

    I am grateful to all England players for the enjoyment they give me match by match. I had really hoped that Ian Bell's recent 199 would have acted as a ' kick start' to him scoring heavily more often. I was very sad to see that this hasn't ( as yet...) happened.

  • Comment number 93.

    here we go my first comment.......lets take this game to Brasil at least we will get a full match...... Glad to see the quickies doing their stuff .....all optimism for the Aussies next year


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