Posted by: tootingtrumpet | March 6, 2011

England vs South Africa – The Final Over of the Day

Swann and Smith

Ball One – Dismissing England cheaply is hardly the mark of champions, but SA are building their case. With Imran Tahir settling into international cricket so well that Paul Harris has already retired, weaknesses are hard to discern, unless… Chokers is too glib a tag, but there’s something in a “folk memory” of how to win and how to lose that runs through sides from generation to generation, independent of who is actually picked. I know good judges who claim that such thoughts are mumbo-jumbo and that one set of players cannot be influenced by a previous set who happened to wear the same shirt – but I’m not so sure. SA have had this kind of talent available before and found someone to beat them (often with a lot of assistance from the men in green) – I have a feeling it’ll happen again. After all, Australia have found a way to win, whoever was selected.

Ball Two – How to defend a target of 172? Only one way – take wickets. In Test matches, the orthodox way to take wickets is to set attacking fields with slips, gully and a short leg – but fields in ODI cricket seem to be set the same whether the target be 172 or 372. I don’t understand why.

Ball Three – When the traditionalists realise that The Ashes has been re-scheduled into a home and away double-header next time round, there’ll be plenty of kicking and screaming. So it’s tactically wise of England to spike their guns by looking as jaded as they do in this World Cup. Strauss taking one for the team? Okay, maybe not.

Ball Four – Swanny is tying Graeme Smith in knots, but Smith knows the torture will end soon. Maybe it’s time to abandon the rule limiting the number of overs for each bowler and allow captains a free hand to use his options as he he sees fit – the limited overs game has too many rules and restrictions, and losing this one would promote attacking cricket. The torture didn’t end in time for Smith, but Swanny is half-way through his spell.

Ball Five – On commentary, I suspect Lance Klusener may not be as explosive as he was with the bat. He has repeatedly informed viewers that “Graeme Smith is not pretty to watch” –  who would have guessed?

Ball Six – With the ball turning and SA’s best player at the crease, there’s tremendous excitement as Kallis pops one up on the leg-side. The huge appeal is answered in the negative and the review is taken… but the ball missed the bat by some distance. Part of a top sportsman’s or sportwoman’s armoury is the ability to fool oneself, to believe that the game isn’t up, to convince oneself that one is better than one’s opponent, no matter what the record books and pundits say. Sometimes the power of positive, even delusional, thinking overpowers judgement – it’s something captains should be aware of when considering reviews.

The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at and on Twitter at @garynaylor999



  1. Couldn’t agree more with two and four, as it is something I’ve argued for a long time. The other thing I’ll never understand is holding bowlers back for the last few overs when a team is chasing. Surely a team has a better chance of preventing scoring having taken wickets and leaving the tail to score against part-timers, than letting the top-order get set and time their chase against weak bowling?

    • I think the idea is that a part-timer gets a breakthrough and then the big boys come back against the new man.

      • If that was the case it would be okay, but a hunt through scorecards will show dozens of occasions where the game finished with a few overs to spare, the “5th bowler(s)” had bowled 10, and the opening bowlers had bowled 8 or 9 overs. I suspect it happens less than it used to, but note the India-England game the other night that Pathan and Yuvraj bowled out their 10 overs for no wickets, and Patel and Chawla were available at the death. If Zaheer Khan had taken those wickets 10 overs earlier England wouldn’t have got close.

        • Russ – I’m with you. There’s too much defence in ODI captaincy, too much concern about getting rid of powerplay overs or fifth bowlers.

  2. Like 1999, are we seeing a champion team rising from the spectre of elimination?
    England are excitingly turning around their World cup!
    Saffers – when will they stop choking ever?

  3. There is but miracles like this only happen to going-to-be champions! Calling it before the event is what a punter does, no!

    • Yes Kam and you called this one!! Well played Sir!

  4. England’s choice of bowlers once they got SA 7 down has been so odd. The most expensive guy and the most part time guy. If it was Pakistan, questions would be asked.

    • And not Swann (see my comments above). Did Strauss forget he had one to go? Surely he isn’t saving him for the end?

      • The 4 front line bowlers all had overs left.

  5. Well done England, but boy Strauss did his best to mess it up.

  6. Well well well.

    • Only problem (For England and Australia) is the knockout games are in Mirpur, Colombo, Ahmedabad and Mohali.

  7. Being a South African supporter must be a heartbreaking experience. They are still alive but a loss like that will do much psychological damage to their already fragile mindset. Well played England but no need to get carried away. The Proteas are a fickle bunch, the batting was ordinary and the Ireland loss is still fresh.

    Hopefully, the stereotypes continue …..

    • I don’t think England will get carried away, but it’s unusual for us to see our team with such knowledge of how to get over the line.

  8. Strauss did make some strange choices, but I see why he didn’t want pace with the hard ball (34 overs) and edges going for runs. Broad bowls well at the tail and the Jimmy gamble came off, though it may not have.

    Quite a match.

    • Worried about edges when he needs wickets?
      After Peterson’s wicket, Pietersen bowled 3 overs before Swan bowled his last, and he bowled his 3rd after Broad had shown the batsmen had trouble with pace. I just felt it gave the initiative back to SA and he got lucky with van Wky’s error at the end.

      • I agree to some extent – but the proof of the pudding…

  9. LOL – was all set to write that this is probably the longest Sachin has lasted against a rookie/part time attack, and then he falls to his Achilles heal again.

  10. Sachin would rue his loss of concentration, yet again, against an accurate but not very threatening rookie spinner.A guy who can hit Swann like that, in his 38th year, need not prove his technique.Which of the top teams have a spinner that Sachin’s likely to gift his wicket? Krecza, Botha, and Tahir come to mind.

    Job done by Yuvi and Pathan though.

    But, thanks England !

    India now has realistic hopes of topping the group, and playing the Kiwis in the QF.

    Pakistan is the hottest team so far. Lets see how the Aussies play Afridi.

    • Smith for Oz and Peterson for SA would be where my money is at.

  11. Swan said Ireland won the last game rather than England losing it. In this case, it was certainly a case of SA losing it rather than England forcing the win. What on earth is wrong with these South Africans? They’re not exactly shrinking violets, but they keep beating themselves.

  12. England very much got away with it today. The decision to play only one front-line spinner on this pitch nearly came back to haunt them and against a team who are more proficient at closing a game out then it would have been curtains. If they’re not going to play two spinners on this pitch then you wonder if they ever will.

  13. As Nesta said, days like this must be heartbreaking (and extremely annoying!) for Proteas fans. That’s 2 batting meltdowns chasing small totals within 2 months (the last against India). Must be incredibly hard to keep your self-belief for the back end of the tournament…

    As for England…brilliant result, and very good signs from Anderson and Broad.

    But you know… the last 2 days (including signs seen in the Aus-SL game) reinforce the notion that its pointless to predict the WC winner. The pitches are varied enough and the day / night effects matter enough for there to be no stable odds on any team.

  14. Goos enough performance by Ireland, I thought.

    SA: let’s face it, they are chokers.

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