Saturday, 12 August 2017

Proper cricket and a very good series.

The fourth test was another very good match despite ending up a one sided result, it mirrored the fourth test almost exactly.  The first day was tough and even but Bairstow and the bowlers dominated day two and England were in the ascendancy thereafter.  A brilliant all round display from Moeen Ali finished South Africa off.

England vs South Africa is the most evenly competitive of all international series.  At the end of this one the teams are totally deadlocked.  There have been eleven series since readmission and each side has won four, (two home and two away) while three have been drawn.  Furthermore each team has won fifteen tests over this period.

This has been a really good series where bowlers have dominated but England's batsmen were up to the task and the saffers' were not. Elgar, Amla and Du Plessis all had their moments but most impressive was Bavuma who looks like a test cricketer for years to come.

Whoever takes the field, South Africa have a world class bowling attack and they gave England's top order a proper test.  South Africans that have impressed;  Rabada is young and raw but will become a seriously good bowler.  Philander is excellent when he can stay fit.  On this trip Maharaj looked a really good cricketer and the best South African spinner I have seen, seriously impressed.  Morne Morkel has bowled brilliantly throughout most of the series, he's been the most consistent seamer from both sides and didn't have much luck, if he had...  Who knows?

Despite facing a seriously good bowling attack England managed to get runs on the board.  There were few centuries in this series but England managed to build partnerships, much more so than the saffers.  As we would expect, Cook, Root, Stokes and Bairstow all scored good runs against them; Tom Westley done OK in his two matches and deservedly retains his place, Malan didn't and hasn't looked good enough yet.  If he doesn't make runs soon I'd get Alex Hales in at five ASAP.  Jennings has not looked at home and definitely hasn't scored enough runs so has to go. Hameed isn't in form so Stoneman will get a go at opening the batting for now, I hope he does well.  Jennings may come back a better player, Hameed definitely will.  Another series has gone by and still the England selectors haven't managed to get any closer to getting our best batting line up on the field.

 We know what we are going to get from Broad and Anderson, accuracy, skill and class.  Like Morkel, Broad didn't get the wickets he deserved but Jimmy just keep rolling on.  TRJ done well in his two matches but will probably make way for Chris Woakes sometime soon.  Finally England's man of the series who was brilliant with both bat and ball, Moeen Ali has worked hard and quietly become a genuinely world class all rounder.  He is getting better and better and who knows how good he may become?

This was a very important series for England for if we couldn't beat South Africa on our own home grounds then how could we expect to win in Australia?  This is a similar situation to the last time we beat the saffers on home soil.  An Ashes tour came after that win in 1998 but in between came Sri Lanka who turned out to be a banana skin, winning at the Oval in brilliant style and seriously denting English confidence ahead of the Ashes.  This year we have three tests against the West Indies who are currently performing well against county sides.  England should be far too good for the West Indies but I expect their bowlers will be plenty good enough to test England's latest batting line up and we won't have things all our own way.  England mustn't look to far into the future...

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