2nd Test Headingly
Thursday morning and are we England fans looking forward to the start of play? I was thinking …”it can’t get much worse but how much better can we play?” First surprise of the day is the omission of Swanny even though I’m pleased to see Finn in the team. As expected Taylor is in at no. 6 for a test debut. Next up Strass inserted the Saffers after winning the toss…another surprise, would England make it count? I’ve managed to find a spot for the radio at work so its TMS all the way now
In short, no. SA were 84-1 at lunch with missed chances costing England dearly. However the bowlers kept on plugging away and eventually got rewards, with the odd wicket falling here and there. Amla managed to run himself out for 9 which was a great bonus but no England bowler has dismissed him yet and his series average is 320. The second new ball sees the end of de Villiers and night-watchman Steyn just before the close but Alviro Petersen hit a ton and was unbeaten at the close.
Day two started with England bowling brilliantly but Saffer batsmen surviving. Things were looking ominous for England now with Petersen passed 150 but just before lunch the wicket of Rudolph falls, the unlikely bowler is KP!!! But it makes you wonder why no Swann? The tide turns in the afternoon session, Petersen is finally out for 182, Duminy bats well with the tail but England’s bowlers keep chipping away, sharing the wickets and bowling SA out for 419. Then it’s our turn to bat and the openers make it to the close scoring 48 runs along the way.
The third day begins with England in high hopes of batting all day but SA have other ideas. Every time a partnership begins to form a wicket falls. When Bell falls for 11 after playing a crap shot Taylor joins KP at the wicket with England at the precarious position of 173-4 and a new ball not far away. Pietersen then plays an amazing innings. Of all the batsmen in world cricket only he is capable of this kind of thing. Taylor plays well and scores 34 in support but KP dominates smashing the ball to all parts. The shot of the day was a disdainful straight six, back over the head of bowler Steyn. Taylor was out in the last session but KP continues and finishes the day on 149*.
Day four and England have a chance of setting up a win with KP and Prior at the crease there’s the chance of quick runs. Second ball of the day and KP departs…oh well! Prior bats well with the tail scoring 68, but no-one else really contributes and England finish up all out for 425. If we can get a couple of early wickets we can put SA under pressure, we don’t and rain washes away most of the day and probably any chance of a result in this match.
Or so we thought….. The final day began as expected, Smith and stand in opener Rudolph batted comfortably putting on a partnership of 120 before that man Kevin Pietersen took the wicket of Rudolph for the second time in the match. A short while later KP removed Smith and a little later Amla making him the leading English wicket taker at that point in the series. This makes the dropping of Swann seem even more ridiculous! In the afternoon a burst of wickets from Broad saw SA fall from 182-3 to 258-9 and then Smith cheekily declared leaving England an unlikely target of 253 to win the match. In truth this was never a realistic proposition but England maintained the pretence of going for the win by re-jigging the batting line up and opening with KP. England appeared to be going for it for a while but after the departure of Prior, Trott and Bell dropped anchor and the match meandered to a draw. Then the fireworks really started!!
Kevin Pietersen rightly won the man of the match award for his all-round performance but instead of concentrating on the match, the press conference was all about KP’s grievances and his threat to retire from international cricket. Having watched the video all I see is a man putting himself and his own petty problems before the good of the team. Apparently KP is upset by a spoof twitter account mocking him and blames unknown team mates, this has been denied. I find his behaviour in this instance a disgrace. The dressing room must be an uncomfortable place, the team spirit must be shattered and it is hard to see how this England team can conjure up the win they need to square the series from here. However, if indeed there is someone within the ECB leaking things to the media then they need to be named and shamed.
Since KP became a fixture of England teams in 2005 I have loved watching him bat but given his background and his history of selfish outbursts it’s hard to think of him as anything other than a mercenary. I sincerely hope I’m proven wrong.