Monday, 20 August 2012

England dethroned by the new NO.1 South Africa

The view that test cricket is dead should be banished, this series has well and truly put a stop to that thought. What a match, what a series. South Africa take the 3 match series 2-0 which means that they have become the new number 1 test team. 

The first thing to say about the game was that England battled hard as they did through out the series, but all in all I believe South Africa deserve the series win. From Day 2 of the second test South Africa were in control of this series, Kallis and  Amla draining the life out the England bowlers. 

There is no one player who has not contributed to the rise to the summit of test cricket, in particular the rise of Phillander, a bowler who has been a key part of the bowling attack over the last year. It was also great to see the team and Smith pay tribute to Mark Boucher who has contributed greatly to this achievement. 

Two other names to mention for this feet are those of Allan Donald and Garry Kersten. The later being a coach that in his short career as coach so far has taken India to an ICC T20 world cup, ODI world cup, top of the test rankings and now followed that up with taking South Africa to the test summit. Another sign for showing his greatness is that when he left India they fell straight down in all forms of the game.

The key battles:

Graeme Smith v Andrew Strauss: This battle was clearly one for Smith to savour, he outscored the England captain, and made some brave decisions whilst in the field. Smith also become the most capped captain through the series. I believe calls for Strauss to retire are a little premature as there is no viable replacement as an opener. 

Graeme Swann v Imran Tahir: Although it can be said that neither really shone through the series, Tahir performed far far better than his English counterpart. Swann also was left out the 2nd test at Headingly. 

James Anderson v Dale Steyn: This was the battle that everyone was waiting for, two of the best bowlers in the world going against each other. There were spells where Anderson was good but it seems that Steyn on each occasion stepped up when he was needed.  

Where do the teams go from here:

South Africa will try and emulate the great sides of the past in trying to stay a few years at the number one ranking, this is something the great West Indian and Australian sides have managed in the past. They are currently top of the T20 rankings and im sure they will also want to get to the number 1 spot for ODI cricket also. What matters most to them now is winning a major tournament, they have been called chokers in the past, something they will want to change. It seems they have the players in each form of the game to achieve this goal.  The balance of the side looks strong, with an exceptional bowling attack and a very talented batting line up. Much depends on both the futures of Smith and Kallis in the long run.

England will want to bounce back from this loss, they still are a good test team. A few minor tweaks maybe needed. I believe more pressure needs to be put on the unflattering Swann. Bairstow looked a real star in the last test and should continue his cricket education in the team. A tough tour of India follows the T20 world cup of which England are champions, the future for England seems bright. 

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