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Anorak | A Real Test For England

A Real Test For England

by | 4th, August 2003

‘ONE can only imagine that England got seduced by the ease with which they beat Zimbabwe into believing that Test cricket is an easy game.

The MCC were glad they replaced the old pavillion gate with a revolving door

How else can one explain the abject performance in the first two Tests against South Africa in all facets of the game?

In Test cricket against the best bowlers in the world, batsmen are always going to get the occasional ‘jaffa’.

They just have to hope that they don’t get an edge, that the edge doesn’t go to hand or that the ball misses the stumps.

But English batsmen have been making life easy for the South African bowlers by getting themselves out.

In this Test, it is hard to think of a dismissal of a top-order English batsman (with the exception of Mark Butcher in the first innings) that was solely due to the bowler.

Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Flintoff, Nasser Hussain and Alec Stewart have all been out hooking – forgivable, perhaps, when you have 100 to your name, but not when you have just made it into double figures.

Vaughan’s second-innings dismissal was also a shocker, made worse by the fact that England needed him to bat for the best part of two days to try to save the game.

Of course, it was all compounded by some woeful catching. Nasser Hussain’s dropped catch (of Graeme Smith on only 8) was just the most expensive of a succession of errors.

These weren’t half-chances – they were all relatively straightforward catches that the fielders would expect to snap up at least nine times out of ten.

They didn’t just drop one, they dropped five – and that doesn’t count the more difficult caught-and-bowled chances that went to ground.

The dropped catches do not just have an effect on the result of this match, but on the result of the whole series.

They have allowed players to build up their confidence by spending time in the middle at the same time as sapping the confidence and morale of the England bowlers.

As for the bowling, the disappointing thing is that England still don’t seem to have much of a game plan, particularly against Graeme Smith.

Or if they do, they don’t have the skill or the discipline to bowl to it.

It is time for Michael Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher to read the riot act to the existing players and also to bring in a couple of new faces.

Graham Thorpe must return in place of Anthony McGrath, whose shortcomings as a batsman have been ruthlessly exposed by the South Africans.

Hussain should probably stand down as it is becoming increasingly apparent that his mind is not fully on the job.

And there is also a case for bringing in Chris Read for Alec Stewart, although probably two changes is as many as the side can absorb in one go.

One thing’s for sure, the British cricketing public will not tolerate another below-par display at Trent Bridge.



Posted: 4th, August 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink