Posted by: tootingtrumpet | December 30, 2009

South Africa vs England Second Test Report Card

Andrew Strauss – Played very positively for his half-century before having his stumps splayed by Morkel. Seems to have an uncanny knack of knowing when to bowl Swanny and Broad in particular. Might be one of those lucky generals that Napoleon liked.  Right now, he looks like he can be England’s captain for as long as he likes.

Alastair Cook – Anchored the innings more by default than design as he battled his technique for over six hours for an ugly ton. But when you have conceded nearly 350 on a pitch offering some help to the bowlers, a ton from an opener is invaluable. If he ever plays fluently, his mental strength will make him a truly formidable prospect.

Jonathan Trott – After the tumultuous start to his Test career, he was due a quiet match and that’s what he had. Was paid a significant compliment by the South Africans as they whinged away about the time he takes preparing for each ball. They might have plenty of time to observe those preparations in the next two Tests.

KP – Got in and out again, but, for once, it didn’t matter. He’ll feel that there’s a big score just around the corner and I suspect he’s right.

Colly – May not look it, but just might be in the form of his life, with hardly a failure since he landed in SA. Was at the crease while 200 runs were added and the momentum shifted. His dislocated finger is unlikely to keep him out of the Third Test.

Ian Bell – Playing for his place… again. Scored a ton, but only after a ton had been scored earlier… again. One failure away from his place being questioned again… But for now, we should celebrate a fine innings punctuated by some glorious strokes which made some ordinary bowling look very ordinary indeed, which is a mark of a good player. Will still have his critics allied to those who believe that his place should go to a bowling all-rounder, but likely to hold his place for the rest of the winter.

Matt Prior – Not for the first time, the batting improved while the glovework deteriorated. Looked like a decent 7 rather than an over-promoted 6, which means plenty of work for the four bowlers.

Stuart Broad – Picked up six proper batsmen at a personal cost of just 87 runs as he hit that line and fullish length that can mesmerise batsmen. Played a stop-go innings, but doesn’t bat often, so needs to get his eye in. England have invested a lot in him and he is paying them back already.

Graeme Swann – Man of the Match and the key man again. Nine wickets, many of which were classical off-spinners’ scalps, dragging his man forward then turning it through the gate or on to the inside edge. Bowled with the confidence and chutzpah of a Warne and batted with the unselfishness of a Gilchrist. Of course, he’s got a long way to go before matching those two, but his record just gets better and better – against good sides too. Up to third place in the world rankings as a bowler – which won’t last, but Swanny, how you have seized your chance!

Jimmy Anderson – Swung the ball early on, but was outbowled by the change bowlers, not that he’ll be worried about that. Might need to look at the length Broad bowls and pay the price of being driven for four from time to time.

Graham Onions – Just one wicket in the match, but bowled much better than that. Looks likely to take the new ball for as long as he stays fit.



  1. I love that picture of Swanny! Looks like an elderly pub brawler.

    • It’s perfect isn’t it?

  2. It’s been commented upon elsewhere, but Swanny really does have a useful knack of making things happen in his first over. It’s happened so often as to be largely beyond coincidence.

    Let’s hope that Cook’s innings has a similar effect as Strauss’ in NZ. It wasn;t the prettiest for a lot of it but a scratchy ton was better than any type of flashy 30-odd. Set the scene perfectly for a classic Bell ton which, like you say, was something we’ve seen before.

    Broad’s looking like a pretty tasty bowler when he pitches it up a bit rather than banging it in short of a length.

    • I think Broad’s biggest threat is in that two yards or so the ball travels before pitching just short of being a half-volley. When he gets it there, he looks likely to take a wicket at any time – short of it (length say) and it sits there ready to be Yuvrajed; longer and it’s help yourself. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s a length I associate with McGrath’s awesome spell at Lord’s in 2005.

  3. In a way I’d be more convinced if England had needed to fight harder for a win. Beating SA like this is as likely as being bowled out for 51. Both have happened but I wouldn’t put money on either happening again for a while. They did play well mind you, but playing well consistently is the holy grail, and not even Australia can do that these days, let alone the others.
    Swann and Trott are doing well, but so was Monty for a while, and Mendis, and Hughes, and etc. I guess Onions, and Broad and Swann form a useful platform that we can expect to be around for a while.
    I’ll be counting those chicks once the series is done.

    • Tend to agree Fred. It was a great result from a good performance, but this side have a lot going for it, so they have a chance to prove themselves, by backing up an Ashes win with a win away in SA. That would be impressive!

  4. Less than 12 months ago SA were poised to stand astride world cricket after beating Aus…With one hand on the mace they faltered badly and now again…Were they not that good or can;t handle the pressure or other?

    They will probably lose this series and then go on to fight back and beat India just to make sure just about everyone is ranked number 2 and no one number 1…

  5. You’ve nailed those rankings with everyone at Number 2!

  6. I dont think Strauss has been lucky with Swann. I think that is understating it. How English of you.

    What he has done has set very aggressive fields for him (I assume in collusion with Swann as he should know more than enough at his age about his own bowling). Surrounding batsmen creates so much tension for them and it is obvious that the Saffers aren’t coping with that at all well.

    It’s been good captaincy and I assume good behind the scenes planning from Flower.

    It also makes for fantastic viewing on the idiot box.

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