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:

1. Every now and then to relieve the joys of office work, we check Cricinfo’s commentary. Nothing wrong here but what has got me disproportionately angry today is the whinging from around the world about England’s “Commonwealth XI”. This is pathetic on so many levels: firstly, it ignores the fact England are up against a side that includes the Lahore-born Imran Tahir; secondly, these complaints seem to be preserve of bizarrely small minded oddballs who seem to have problems with anyone not born in England representing them. A brief selection of those this would have ruled out of playing for England: KS Ranjitsinhji (India), Douglas Jardine (India), Colin Cowdrey (India), Graeme Hick (Rhodesia), Geraint Jones (Papua New Guinea), Simon Jones (Wales), Robin Smith (South Africa), Allan Lamb (South Africa), Tony Greig (South Africa), Andy Caddick (New Zealand), Basil D’Oliviera (South Africa – and after whom this series is named, let’s not forget)… and the list goes on. There’s a fairly handy eleven there. Anyway, to whiners on both sides (in the UK this is largely the anti-Pietersen crowd who, when they run short of other sticks to beat him with, mutter about he isn’t really British and so on) grow up. The world has moved on, so should you.

2. Rant over. South Africa must really be hoping that Dale Steyn isn’t properly crocked and the strapping he was bowling in today is just precautionary. Apart from anything else, and we’re reluctant to wade into criticism seeing as how the game is just a day old, the rest of the attack didn’t wholly look menacing. Philander especially looked short on threat, while there has been talk that his miraculous figures couldn’t last forever, it’s becoming clear that inflating your figures against the Australian batting line-up really shouldn’t mean anything anymore. And yes, we know they’re somehow back to second in the world in the rankings. Seeing as we’ve just jinxed the entire England lineup from now until doomsday, it’s probably going to swing around corners tomorrow and England will be bundled out for 300. Damage undone. Ahem.

3. Christ on a bike, Channel 5 have just shown us Ben Hilfenhaus is rated the seventh best bowler in the world. BAHAHAHAHAHA. That is all.

4. The Cook – Trott axis is gloriously reassuring isn’t it? The day passed in a warm haze of nurdles, leaves and the occasional attacking shot (as well as Cook’s unlikely 6 off Steyn) to repair some serious damage at 0-1. Somehow it doesn’t really feel like watching the England cricket team (professional, disciplined and effective) and it can be about as exciting as watching paint dry in slow motion, but what they do is phenomenally effective.

5. Tomorrow will be an interesting day for England’s lower middle order. Assuming they’re going to go for the usual bat big and bat long strategy, eventually they’re going to need to add runs quickly. If its all under control tomorrow afternoon, England will want to accelerate to a score they can defend as they seek to bowl South Africa out twice in three days. Happily, they’ve got the right tools – Prior is now a batsman of real class, while Bresnan, Broad and Swann will all seek to chip in.

6. The day all felt a little bit undercooked. South Africa did look short on form and fitness, especially the bowling attack, and their fielding was unusually poor, while Strauss wasn’t helped by having to do the toss, give a series of, as usual, incredibly tedious interviews and get out to bat. Of the two, Strauss is hopefully going to be dug out of this hole by his side, whether South Africa can make up their deficit in terms of fitness and competitiveness remains to be seen (we wouldn’t bet against it though, yes before you ask, this fence we’re sitting on is very comfy thanks).


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1 Comment

  1. This series is going to be a fascinating experience for all the cricket lovers all around the globe. It is in fact not a inch less than the ashes in quality and competitiveness.


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