The dust settles – First Test in review

Because the weather is far too nice for us to be sat around inside at our computer writing blog posts, we thought we’d take something of a retrospective look at what might be described as the cricketing equivalent of the Battle of Isandlwana, i.e. the all-conquering imperial masters getting six-of-the-best, trousers down from the upstart inhabitants of Southern Africa. But now we’ve had a few days to react and get over the worst of the shellshock, here’s our reasoned thoughts:

1. Despite the apparent chasm between the sides, this was, actually, quite a close game. First things first, this pitch will now be used as a simile for flatness by future generations  (e.g. ‘That roadkill’s as flat as the Oval 2012’). As soon as the new ball wore off, it did next to nothing. Not to take anything away from Amla’s innings (about which, more in a minute), or Kallis’s, or Smith’s, or Cook’s, but the wicket was so slow as to allow run-scoring almost at will.
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The Over: England v South Africa – 1st Test, Day 3

1. South Africa batted, and batted…

2. And batted…

3. Graeme Smith got out

4. See 2.

5. See 4.

6. England’s bowlers whimpered a bit at the thought of having to bowl at this batting lineup for another two-and-a-half Tests…

Over.

The Over: England v South Africa – 1st Test, Day 1

Well that was very interesting wasn’t it? Any game where Trott and Cook bat through the best part of two entire sessions together will never be a thrilling exhibition of strokeplay, but if you take nothing else away from today then take note of the impressive mental strength it took to come back from losing a wicket to the fourth ball of the day. Tomorrow is set up to be absolutely fascinating – last year Ian Bell cashed in against a wretched Indian “attack”, tomorrow should be considerably trickier for him, and the rest.

Some more coherent thoughts below:
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England v South Africa – series preview

Everyone excited now? Good, because you should be. Not only do England and South Africa usually churn out gripping series, supplemented by thrilling individual moments (Devon Malcolm in 1994, Donald to Atherton in 1998, Graeme Smith’s enormous fourth innings totals getting not one, but two, England captains out of the door and, a personal favourite, as it kept one of us going in the middle of nowhere on Christmas, Graeme Onions saving two tests with the bat as a number 11 in 2009-10).

So, with that in mind, what do we reckon is going to unfold over the next few weeks?
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Some thoughts on the Australia ODI series

England 4, Australia 0. Aside from the fact we couldn’t get bored of looking at that scoreline for hours (England 4 – 0 Australia! It really happened! Hah!), we thought we’d better do a proper piece, albeit a fairly brief one.

So, without too much further gloating (can we gloat too much here? No, obviously not, although we really hope this doesn’t come back to bite us next year) here goes:
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NOTICE

We don’t often indulge in mindless one-sided bashing of anyone, but… well… Mitchell Johnson. The resurfacing of the Barmy Army’s most favourite target of ridicule last week has been accompanied by a quite wonderful Sydney Morning Herald article today, which seems under the impression that the Great Inaccurate One is somehow magically going to become a good bowler because he’s getting verbally abused by the crowd. This comes after seven years in international cricket (which let’s not forget, began with a supersub – remember those? – debut in which his 9 overs got pasted for 64 by New Zealand), during which he has shown only the most occasional glimpses of bowling skill. The fact is, the Barmy Army (and Alastair Cook’s endless innings) has got in his head – these humble bloggers think that he hasn’t got the mental fortitude to have any future impact in international cricket.

Therefore, HEAR YE, HEAR YE:

Henceforth on this blog Mitchell Johnson shall only be referred to as the ‘mentally fragile’ Mitchell Johnson.

If you needed any further proof (and if you can ignore the inanity of the person who uploaded it), just watch some of the deliveries below:

Great cricket drinking episodes, No 2 – David Boon smashes 52 not out in a session

A fine example to all aspiring binge drinkers.

I am indebted to Peter Lalor’s article in The Weekend Australian Magazine December 20-21, 2003, which was the main source of information for this post. It’s well worth a read.

You knew, dear reader, that it wouldn’t be too long into a series of articles on drinking in sport before an Australian popped up. This, after all, is the country that felt the need to limit motor-racing spectators at the Bathurst 1000 to a paltry 24 cans of full strength beer per person per day (36 for lower strength stuff). Maybe I’m just a lightweight, but I’d be pretty well potted after less than half of that.

For those of you keeping score at home, let’s just be clear. One ‘beer’ in the context of all that is about to follow is the Australian standard ‘tinny’ or ‘stubby’ of 375ml, rather than the rather larger 500ml cans we get here. Each one is around 2/3 of a pint.
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