December 17, 2009

England in South Africa 2009-10

The folly of excessive appeals

George Binoy

In the Independent, James Lawton says the umpire decision review system is the future, a rational response to inevitably flawed officiating. He also says it might "wipe out of cricket a disease which in recent years, even decades, has become just about congenital."

Strauss, having earlier sturdily resisted the temptation, twice submitted to the passionate belief of some of his players that the video evidence would send such large obstacles to the success of his gamble to bowl at the South Africans – Kallis and A B De Villiers – back to the pavilion. Twice he went to the review – first when Kallis had edged a ball from Jimmy Anderson into his pads, one that was, anyway, plainly going wide, and then when wicketkeeper Matt Prior yelled that he had gathered up a De Villiers snick off Graeme Swann – and twice he lost.

There are splendid sights in cricket and there are not so splendid sights. If you are a bowler, one of the worst is Jacques Kallis at the crease: square-jawed, rock-solid still, set as if in concrete and eyes fixed firmly on the prize. He went to the crease in that deliberate way of his at seven minutes past noon yesterday and he was still there at the close, his 32nd Test hundred tucked firmly under his belt, writes Mike Atherton in the Times.

In the Daily Mail, Nasser Hussain says England's mistake was not in asking South Africa to bat. "Where I would be critical is that I do not see how England could possibly go into the match with four bowlers who have all been carrying injuries. That was a massive gamble and one that may cost England unless they get back into the Test quickly today."

We must turn the clock back almost five years, to the Centurion Test on England's last visit here, to find the last time that Jacques Kallis took them for a century. England have pretty much had his measure since then, until yesterday, writes Mike Selvey in the Guardian

Stephen Brenkley, in the Independent, says, "It was the type of toss captains prefer to lose. Although there might be a bit in the pitch for the bowlers early on it could easily flatten out later. There was and it did. Strauss might have been persuaded by the fact that the side batting second has won eight times out of 14 on the ground."

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George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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