Good day or missed opportunity? day one at Lord’s

South Africa 262-7

I really must stop sitting on the fence. It’s not me. Having failed miserably to take sides in the Kevin Pietersen debacle, I now can’t decide whether England have had a good day or a bad one. Does that make me indecisive? I can’t decide.

On the one hand, we should be pleased because England are still very much in this game. Bowling South Africa out for around 300 (as seems likely tomorrow) is a good effort for a four man attack that hasn’t been firing on all cylinders all summer.

One the other hand, the one which sees the pint glass half empty (when it’s actually three quarters full), today should have been much better. We had the Saffers on the ropes at fifty odd for four, but let them recover to 262-7, which could yet prove to be a competitive total. See my dilemma?

I just find that watching England is a very frustrating experience at the moment. My fear all along was that we’d get out-gunned by South’s 5 man attack this series, and I still don’t see anything to change my mind.

You know how you all felt when England left out Graeme Swann at Headlingley? Well I feel like that every time I see England submit their final XI. I really believe we have the bowlers to compete on equal terms, and a genuine all rounder in Prior, but we just don’t pick the right team. Did you know that Graham Onions took 9-67 in 16 overs for Durham today? Surely he should be playing in a must win test match ahead of one of our rookie batsmen.

After bowling well in the first session today, England looked less threatening as the day went on. I knew it would be so – it has been the same in most tests this summer. The attack gets tired, their speeds drop, and the opposition’s tail scores runs for fun. This team just doesn’t have the firepower we need to beat top sides.

In an extremely interesting interview with Strauss that Sky showed at lunch, our skipper praised our bowlers and claimed there was no better unit in world cricket. To me, this misconception seems to be the root cause of our problems.

On current form, our attack is little above average. Anderson is still a class act, but Swann is carrying a niggling injury, Finn is still learning (and is only effective in short bursts), and as for Broad … well, he’s unrecognisable at the moment.  He has bowled one good spell all series. Today he ambled up and bowled a tame 78-82 mph. He just doesn’t look himself. What is going on?

However, having said all that I would have taken 262-7 after Smith won the toss and decided to bat. So why am I so frustrated? I suppose it’s because I believe this particular side – because of form, politics and strategy – is not a fair reflection of the strength of English cricket. What’s more, this is just a three match series. We won’t get a chance to put things right. I really don’t think South Africa are much better than us. But it looks like they’re going to win the series.

Let’s just pray that Taylor and Bairstow can make some bloody runs tomorrow. If they do, and England get a decent lead, perhaps scoreboard pressure will help us to bowl South Africa out cheaply in the second innings.

Or am I being too optimistic now? I don’t know. You tell me …

James Morgan


  • I used to be like that, but I not so sure of anything these days. On the one hand, as you say, 262-7 would have been an OK after losing the toss, but the ball swung for most of the day and it could have been better. Swann, as you say, looked ordinary but on the other hand, it was a first day pitch and you wouldn’t expect much turn. Onions might have done better than Broad but he was, after all, bowling at county batsmen. England were “hot” this morning and 4-54 might have become 150-10 but then these are international batsmen and the ball does get softer as it gets older. I know it’s only a three match series that should be five but then how do you fit multiple ODI’s into the fixture list in September without making a horlicks of the Champions Trophy?

    You find England frustrating to watch at the moment? It used to be a lot worse but, in those days, we always had the hope that things could get a lot better. Today? I’m not so sure!

  • Given Durham’s precarious position I was delighted Onions was released to play at Trent Bridge, but he’d have been a better choice than Broad today. He looks shot from too much cricket and maybe a bit of the fallout from the KP affair. Would still have taken 262-7 at the start of the day, but it’s critical we wrap up the innings quickly tomorrow morning.

  • Good point about Broad – he was heavily implicated in wrongdoing over KP-gate and it demonstrates how dropping Pietersen was hardly a panacea. Mind you, he didn’t bowl much better earlier in the series.

    In fairness to the selectors, Onions did not bowl significantly better than Finn, if at all, in the Edgbaston test.

    In terms of the day’s ebb and flow, we were lucky to get some of those early wickets which left them four down. But later in the day we were unlucky, especially Anderson, who if edges had gone to hand, or plays and misses found the edge, would have bowled them out before stumps.

  • watching cricinfo just now.. i tell you what – this inexperienced new line-up is so much more exciting! Bell and Bairstow batting now.. Bell with long-standing questions of how well he does when the pressures on.. Bairstow nearly new..

    it reminds me of something of the thrill of following cricket in the 80s-90s, when they trawled the counties to put a new 11 together for every match.. and you’d hope against all experience that this new all-rounder; aging re-tread; or slightly paunchy middle order biffa could really show something.. and then there was the best bit of all where you thought: “well, his bowling didn’t go too well.. maybe, maybe he can save us with the bat! – C’mon son!” it was actually exciting to be rubbish. a feeling i’ve not known for a long time, something that the absence of Pieterson can only help with.

    – Paul [originally posted on the wrong thread but intended to be here].


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