Wednesday, 30 December 2015

England 1 South Africa 0

It is easy to be wise after the event but I had a good feeling about the England Vs South Africa series and this was before we went 1-0 up in the series.  My thinking was Kallis and Smith have retired, how could the team possibly be stronger?  Add to that injuries to Philander and now Steyn then the saffers are there for the taking.  Having taken the lead England should be favourites to win the series now.

Going in Anderson was unfit so Woakes came in, Bairstow kept wicket and it was great to see Finn back again.  With Hales and Compton added to the top three the team has evolved again.  SA won the toss and put England into bat in difficult conditions on a dark shortened day.  With two newish faces in the side, Compton and Taylor making half centuries, England shaded the first day and went on to make 303 on the second.  Some pundits thought this was a hundred runs short but this opinion didn't hold for long after Broad and Ali bowled the spine out of the Saffers and by the end of day two we were edging ahead.  The third day is so often pivotal, England dominated and pretty much ensured the win.  SA collapsed to 214 giving us a decent lead which we built upon steadily.  With Root making 60* England were 250+ ahead by stumps.

England went for quick runs at the start of day four and with Bairstow making 79 we were all out for 326 giving a lead of over 400.  SA started quite well with an opening partnership of 53 but wickets fell regularly thereafter.  Finn was on fire removing Amla and crucially DuPlessis in the final over of the day.  England were now all over South Africa.  The final day could and possibly should have been a tough one with England struggling to prise Saffer wickets out.  Instead SA collapsed quickly giving England a 241 run victory and Moeen Ali picked up man of the match with seven wickets in total.  Easy!

England seem to be purring.  A comprehensive win without our best bowler and without too many runs from our best two bats.  Every member of the team contributed to an excellent victory.  With Root and Cook certain to score runs and the newcomers all confident the batting looks good and deep.  If Jimmy returns then our bowling attack will have a total of  974 test wickets between them.  The pitches in South Africa are in the same vein as our own so suit England much better than those we struggled on in UAE.  Unless SA can turn things around quickly England could be 2-0 up this time next week.

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