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July 19, 2012

South Africa in England 2012

Cricket, the England way

Jarrod Kimber
Hashim Amla looks on as Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott take a run, England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, The Oval, 1st day, July 19, 2012
Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott did what they so often do  © AFP
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"That's the Chicago way" said Sean Connery as Malone in The Untouchables.

England are no Al Capone. In fact, they're probably the opposite of the hot-headed mobster. Unlike Australia or West Indies of previous generations, England's style is not that of domination or brutality. England do what English cricket teams have done since cricket was first civilized. They take the shine off the new ball, take no undue risks, keep all the good balls out, and make sure that by the time the middle order come in their job is to simply cash in on stale bowlers and an older ball. They just do it far better than almost every other English cricket side before them. It's cricket the England way.

To beat England you either have to play them in the subcontinent, or get past their top three.

It seems easy when written on paper, but in English conditions it's like running through Buckingham Palace naked carrying a black bag.

It seemed like South Africa's main plan, or their only plan, was to bowl wide of off stump. Repeatedly. Perhaps that was hoping that England would chase them. Maybe it was to test their patience. A whole day of that kind of bowling resulted in only one wicket from that plan. In the process they let England put together another one of their large grinding game-shaping efficient partnerships, and completely run away with the game.

If you blurred out the faces of the South Africans, you'd have had no idea if England were playing India, Sri Lanka, West Indies or Australia. All England's home series look pretty damn similar. It's all just a blur of Jonathan Trott working the ball off his pads for two and Alastair Cook refusing to sweat.

In almost every way South Africa looked lifeless. Dale Steyn was exhausted and during his first spell leant on the fence like he needed it to stand up. The fielding looked unathletic and slow. Imran Tahir runs like an old woman trying to catch a bus, and has unsuccessfully turned himself into a stock bowler. Jacques Kallis yawned his way through a few spells before waking up for KP. Morne Morkel started well and then had trouble staying on his feet. AB de Villiers did his best, but South Africa would have preferred him to be in the field. And Vernon Philander couldn't live up to his strike rate on this flat pitch.

And this is a flat pitch. If Mark Ramprakash turned up and The Oval pitch looked like this, he'd take a bed out with him.

That's more of a reason, than an excuse for how South Africa played. This Test series promised so much and, when Morkel bowled a straight one early on, it looked like it might actually live up to the hype. Then someone at the ECB put an old tape in the VCR.

It's not all lost for South Africa, bad days happen. And watching the Untouchables could give South Africa some more clues as to how to beat England. "You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way! And that's how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?"

Everyone knows exactly what England are going to do, it's just up to South Africa to do better.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by bloggs on (August 30, 2012, 17:49 GMT)

Just in passing, Jarrod: apropos paragraph 2, ever heard of Bodyline?

No, didn't think so.

Posted by keith on (August 29, 2012, 15:23 GMT)

Hahahaha idiots,never even saw it coming,this england team wil not be at no 2 for long before sliping down,best import more s a players,and get kp back in team,but there stil a prob with that,that there wil always be les than 11 s a players in the eng team and s a wil always have a full complement

Posted by Anonymous on (August 27, 2012, 8:07 GMT)

@NickT - Sour grapes! And what do you and Aakash Chopra have to say now about Philander's 5/30 at Lords? We are number one in the world and England are NOT (you don't want to hear that)and that is the bottom-line. England supposedly have such wonderful fast bowlers and spinners, who couldn't do a thing at The Oval, so much so that they deservedly dropped Swann and then Bresnan Swann in particular has been treated with much respect by certain batsmen but in my opinion is over-rated.

Posted by frik on (August 23, 2012, 19:50 GMT)

The critics are silenced

Posted by ck marais on (August 20, 2012, 22:37 GMT)

I was laughing myself SICK when I finally got a chance to read this comments.One good day in the first test for the English batsmen and all of a sudden SA bowlers were all useless

Posted by john james on (August 8, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

The ECB began their farce when they INVITED Pietersen to be captain and then SACKED HIM WHEN HE FELL OUT WITH the inadequate coach Moores, WHO HAD NEVER PLAYED A TEST MATCH. Not just Pietersen but other players had the same opinion of this second rate coach. (It was also unfair to Moores to give him the job anyway!)

Do the leaders of the ECB not have any morals? or for that matter any MANNERS? Pietersen is entitled to an APOLOGY from the ECB.

Posted by Sahib on (July 23, 2012, 19:37 GMT)

When two good teams are battling,we should opine with patience;)

Posted by Ian Crichton on (July 22, 2012, 16:34 GMT)

@NickT: Care to comment further on how well South Africa play against a top notch test team?

Posted by Hazel on (July 22, 2012, 9:56 GMT)

Reading this now I find it very funny and irrelevant. Well lemme tell you this, Strauss got 0 in 4 balls well Peterson got it in 8. Cook got 115 , Smith 131 you feel me. He he

Posted by Jurie on (July 21, 2012, 19:12 GMT)

Yip, with subsequent events this is now the worst article ever written! England look like the team of the past, maybe Smith can get a hat trick of England captains on his list of achievements!

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