Tuesday, 26 January 2016

4th Test & beyond

South Africa won a good toss and batted.  England bowled poorly and didn't take their chances allowing SA to score 475 with centuries from Amla, Cook and De Kock. England had a stop start kind of innings, Cook, Root and Ali scored runs but Rabada bowled brilliantly and SA had a healthy lead which they built on steadily.  Once again Amla piled them up with support from Bavuma.  England were set four sessions to survive but didn't even managed two, blown away again by Rabada.

This has been a brilliant series and although 2-1 probably flatters South Africa, 3-0 would definitely have been harsh.  England fans will never forget Stokes amazing 258 or Bairstow's emotional 150.  Then there was Broad's 6-17.  South Africans will remember the brilliant run machine Hashim Amla but be very pleased by the emergence of Rabada and Bavuma.  This series has had a bit of everything, we deserve a fifth test!

South Africans my point to the injury to Steyn but it shouldn't be forgotten that Anderson and Finn both missed matches.  It makes no difference, the score books record that England have won away and dethroned the World No 1 team and this really is a great result.  But it has to be said, we've done it without playing at our best and we still have no clue as to what our best XI is!

Going forward some names are inked in with permanent marker.  Cook, Root, Stokes, Broad and Anderson are automatic selections, in the future all will be mentioned alongside the great names of world test cricket.  The skipper and the senior bowler haven't had their best series but have both contributed.  Root and Broad have had very good tours with brilliant moments.  Stokes has been our star man and has contributed in all disciplines.

Stephen Finn has arguably been our best bowler, he has really improved since returning and should always be in the side when fit.  Ahead of the series I'd have picked Buttler but Johnny Bairstow both had really great series with the bat but still needs to improve behind the stumps.  Hopefully this will be the beginning of a long career for him.  Moeen Ali has done OK, he is a good all round cricketer but at this moment in time he still isn't a world class spinner.  We will need another, better spinner in India next winter.  Those eight players are sure to be selected if fit, the other four players that featured won't be so sure.

  Chris Woakes played two matches as an injury replacement and didn't make much of a case to be picked again if Wood or even Plunkett are fit.Compton and Taylor both started the series well but have fallen away towards the end.  This has not been an easy series for batsmen but have they done enough to deserve another chance this English summer?  Poor old Alex Hales was on a hiding to nothing opening against Steyn and Morkel this series and even when the former was injured it didn't get any easier for him.  I like watching him bat in ODI cricket but he'll have to rack up a load of runs in the short form to maintain his place.  Gary Ballance has been waiting in the wings this tour and Ian Bell will be desperate to make a come back.  Should we try Compton as an opening partner for Cook again?

England have a young, talented squad of players for sure but are still far from the finished article.  When we reached No.1 in the world in 2011/12 the team picked itself but there are still places up for grabs in this one.  If we can find a decent opener and a spinner who can take wickets in Asia we may well reach No.1 again.

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