The Over: 2nd Test in review

So… here we are, a bore draw in a rain affected Test. Not really much to talk about, is there? England and South Africa merely went through the motions today and…

Wait a minute! What the hell was that? A Broad five-for and a declaration dangerously reminiscent of Cronje? Oh well, looks like we might actually have to do a full post then. In true hacks’ style, it’s time to rip up our draft copy that we were planning to send off to the editor at 5pm so we could clock off early and actually do some proper reporting for a change.

1. We’re not exactly going against the flow of journalistic opinion here but England will be kicking themselves repeatedly with steel toe-capped boots that they didn’t pick Graeme Swann in this Test given what happened on Day 5. If a man who, until the start of this Test match, had the highest bowling average in Test history by anyone taking at least 5 wickets, could bowl like Muttiah Muralitharan on a 5th day dusty bunsen burner in Chennai, why wasn’t the leading spinner in the world on the pitch except whilst wearing a stupid luminous tabard and carrying the drinks? KP took four in the match and brought his career average down by a whopping 59.43, whilst Swann was left out on the basis that spinners don’t take wickets at Headingley, which did have some historical justification. An afternoon of Swann, instead of KP, in full flow could quite conceivably have led to England cantering home chasing 150, instead of 250. Isn’t hindsight a bloody wonderful thing?

2. South Africa’s top six does have a certain air of impregnability about it – even if you get one of the openers (who have both scored big centuries in this series) out, in comes a man who scored a triple century last time round whilst barely breaking a sweat, then one of the greatest batting all-rounders of all time, then one of the most destructive one-day batsmen in the world for a bit of a change of pace, then a man with 45 first class centuries in at six. The man at seven isn’t too bad either, with a first class average over 50.

3. There were mumblings about Stuart Broad’s place once again being under threat after an ineffectual first Test during which his pace was down and his bowling inpenetrative. All of a sudden, he had the third best match analysis of his career and he’s given all the haters the metaphorical middle finger.

4. This was a curious declaration by Graeme Smith which stirred up faint memories of leather jackets and lifetime bans. For the record, this clearly had nothing to do with dodgy Asian bookmakers, but nevertheless why did Smith even give England a sniff? Even though Smith does not look like the sort of man who would back down from any fight, why risk letting England level the series? It would only have taken another five overs of batting to make England’s chase unassailable. It was an admirable attempt to perform CPR on a match that was only showing the faintest signs of life, but given South Africa’s history of sporting declarations, it was a little bizarre.

5. We’ve just watched the highlights of KP’s innings back again and, by gum, it was some knock. The way in which Kev made the finest fast bowler of his generation look like a Jonathan Trott-eque trundler was just staggering. Not that there was anything Steyn et al could do – there is just nowhere legal you can bowl to a man seeing the ball like that. He had so much time he could probably have negotiated a new central contract, blasted a quick hundred in a pointless T20 and got back in time to pull Steyn 40 yards in front of square for yet another four. We just wish he’d get that mad look in his eyes more often.

6. We can’t believe he’s actually 22, given that he seemed to be wearing an England kit designed for ages 8-9, but James Taylor looks like he’ll make it as a quality Test player. I am the one of the pair of us who was very slightly salivating at finally getting to see him in an England cap, but from my point of view he seemed a lot more at home than either the startled-looking Bairstow or (and say it quietly) a certain Mr Bopara. You would think Taylor will play again in the third Test, and a big score could kick Bopara’s Test career back into the long grass for the foreseeable future.


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