South Africa cricket


India v South Africa, 2nd ODI, Gwalior
Sachin Tendular
200
Wow
I have a date with the highlights this evening for sure.
Sachin is not going to beat that, should he now retire?

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At least the demolition was brief. Morne Morkel might be considered by some to be at mentally fragile as Steve Harmison, but in helpful conditions he looked as quick and nasty as the Durham and England paceman at his best.

On the same pitch on which England’s pacemen toiled hard against the superior South African batting, Morkel and Dale Steyn (back to looking like a bowler who should be top of the world rankings) made test match batting look like the dangerous job it was for Englishmen in the 1980s and 90s. Wayne Parnell also looked a handful on debut.

Paul Collingwood was again superb, the only one of England’s batsmen who looked like they had the ticker for a scrap.

1 – 1 is probably a fair result for the series, although South Africa will be ruing the fact they haven’t won it.

While England’s bowlers, this test excepted, largely performed, the same cannot be said of the batsmen.

Swann has had a terrific series with the ball, while Anderson, Onions and Broad performed very credibly. Balance has proved problematic however, with the lack of a fourth seamer a glaring issue.

Of the batsmen, only Collingwood and Bell have come out of this series with improved credentials. That might be harsh on Cook, who had his moments, but there were not enough of them.

Strauss, Pietersen, Trott and Prior did not live up to their respective billings. Again, it might be harsh on Trott, who had played only one match prior to this series, but with the openers not blunting the new ball he looked exposed at 3.

Assuming the current opinion that only Strauss of the batters will be rested for Bangladesh, I’m sure the likes of Trott and Pietersen will fill their boots. They need too.

Oh deary deary me. Things are looking a bit tasty in Jo’berg and the South Africans will be licking their lips in anticipation of a roasted England served up with relish.

At one point today England could possibly have been contemplating a first innings deficit of just over 100, hopes were dashed by some terrific counterpunch batting, particularly from Mark Boucher. That, and England have already lost two wickets so far in their second innings.

Its easy to blame some of the umpiring. So I will. Darryl Harper again showed he has a huge amount to learn about TV umpiring, umpiring and probably life too. Giles Clark was in extraordinary form rattling on about it on Sky during the rain break, complaining about the authority of the umpire being undermined (yes Giles, but it will be when they are making shit decisions), demanding our review back and hinting that he won’t be allowing umpire reviews this summer in England.

Unfortunately, that is just a distraction.

The real business in hand is for England to bat long and hope the rain comes.

Following the exciting draw in the third test match at Cape Town, The Village Cricketer met up with Graeme Smith* to get his thoughts on the game.

TVC: Graeme, hi, what a terrific end to a test match, I’d imagine though that you are pretty deflated.

GS: Thanks and haa. Ya we did cut it close for a while there. I thought for one moment we might win it, but all in all, we are pretty satisfied with the draw.

TVC: Really?

GS: Ya, for sure. The draw is the purest form of the game. We’d rather draw than win. It puts spectators on the seats for longer. We have recognised in recent years that it is better to have an exciting draw, you have to make it interesting because spectators have alternatives such as 20/20, but I think the side is adjusting well to this new era. You know, although we are one down in the series with one to play, there have been two hugely exciting draws, and we have an opportunity to either draw the final match or to end the series with a 1-1 draw. It’s very much alive.

TVC: It’s been all over the media that you have been unhappy with some of England’s antics this series.

GS: Obviously I don’t want to say too much about that. It’s not something we’d make a formal complaint about or even be seen to be bringing it to the attention of the officials, so we just had a quiet word with the match referee and tried to leak it to the media. All I can say is that, when you have a side like ours playing flat out and striving fairly for the draw, it is not really on for England to win the second test match. Spectators lost nearly a whole day’s cricket because of it. In the past England stuck to the spirit of the draw and tried as hard for it as we do.

TVC: To change the subject completely. How is the pool of young players coming into the South African side?

GS: It’s good. We identify at a pretty early age now players that have a natural aptitude for the draw and give them specialist coaching and support. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I mean in Jaques Kallis we have the most natural draw merchant in the game, and you don’t get those by chance. We also have players like AB, who is still young and slightly impetuous, but he is learning fast. You know though, it can also go wrong, Herschelle Gibbs came into the side and burned brightly. Too brightly really, we could never get him to bat long periods of time at less than two runs an over. We had to drop him.

TVC: England are playing several players that were born in South Africa. Would you rather they were available to play for South Africa?

GS: There are times when players, like KP, come along that are much more positive in nature. We managed to do a good job at weeding him out of the system and he moved to England. He has shown signs of maturing though, and now he gets out so that England aren’t able to chase down large totals for unlikely wins, and it means Collingwood is at the wicket sooner. It’s good for the game. I think we’d consider Jonathan Trott a loss to South African cricket. He is a fine example of a draw natural, batting steadily and taking time out of the game. Losing him was a real blow.

TVC: You seem to have some problems with your left arm spinner, he really didn’t bowl well today.

GS: Paul is in the top 10 of the world test rankings, so has proven he can bowl and play at the highest level. He has taken wickets and can spin the ball, in fact he has looked a real match winner on occasion. Luckily for us we were able to send him to Warwickshire and after a season with Ashley Giles he is now back to bowling for draws, keeping it tight and rarely threatening to take wickets.

TVC: Finally, can I ask about the quota system? Following the loss of some key players recent I’d image you are finding it pretty hard to get the balance right.

GS: You are absolutely correct. It’s tough to find a balance these days. I mean, we’ve not really fielded a ginger on a regular basis since Pollock was playing. AB and Paul Harris are close, albeit they are more dirty blonde than ginger. I think we made some terrific strides with the twelfth man in this game. He was a proper ginger, the type The Wisden Cricketer like to employ. I’m confident that given time we can uncover one and start meeting our ginger quota again. If not, we’ll recruit Paul Collingwood. He likes Cape Town and the night life here, and he loves a draw almost as much as we do.

* The role of Graeme Smith is played by an actor.

A game was was meanering to a draw at tea time game to life in the evening session. Looking comfortable England crumbled, and when Bell went with overs to go, the South African’s were favourites.

But once again Graham Onions survived the closing moments and punched the air in celebration when Morkel’s last delivery fizzed harmlessly past the off stump.

Paul Collingwood was again terrific, while Ian Bell scrapped, scraped and blunted the bowling to help bat England to safety.

I can now breath again.

Andrew Strauss has just called Onions “a legend”. Seconded and approved sir!

Reports are emerging from South Africa that the hosts have accused England of ball tampering. Here are a couple…

England were stunned last night after being accused of ball tampering by South Africa, who have compiled a dossier of what they believe to be suspicious actions by the touring team’s fielders during the Test series… Among their grievances yesterday were the use of boot on ball by Stuart Broad, throwing the ball on the bounce to the wicketkeeper by various fielders and the alleged lifting of the quarter-seam by James Anderson.

Geoffrey Dean, The Times

South Africa have raised their concerns with match referee Roshan Mahanama over ‘allegations about the ball’ while England were fielding on day three of the third Test. Controversy broke out at Newlands after television cameras showed England seamer Stuart Broad stopping a straight drive during the morning session with the sole of his boot.

Daily Mail

England coach Andy Flower has defended Stuart Broad after controversy with the ball on day three of the third Test. Broad was seen trapping the ball with his foot during a difficult day, which saw South Africa build a lead of 330. A South Africa spokesman said they had “raised concerns” to match referee Roshan Mahanama over the issue. But Flower said: “All that happened is the ball was rolling gently towards him and he stuck out a boot to stop the ball, I don’t think it’s a big issue.”

BBC News Online

South Africa have “raised concerns” over the state of the ball with ICC match referee Roshan Mahanama following the third day’s play against England at Cape Town. It follows TV footage that showed Stuart Broad standing on the ball as he fielded it in his followthrough.

CricInfo

Aggers says its rubbish.

Graeme Smith. What can you say? South Africa needed someone to step up and he murdered England’s bowlers today. 162 not out, with most of them coming in the evening session. You can only take your hat off to the man.

It’ll be interesting to see the Saffa’s tactics tomorrow. They are already 330 ahead and I’m guessing that they’ll probably look to bat till mid-afternoon tomorrow. Then, with a lead of 500 plus they’ll have the best part of four-and-a-half sessions to try and bowl England out.

Some big runs please KP.

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