July 20, 2012

South Africa in England 2012

Poor preparation affecting Test cricket

Siddhartha Talya

The first-day's proceedings at The Oval didn't live up to the pre-series expectation, and turned out to be one-sided. The cricket fan lost out due to poor match preparation from South Africa as well as the nature of the pitch, says Scyld Berry in the Daily Telegraph.

For a touring team going into a five-Test series, there might be some justification in being undercooked, because they don't want to peak too soon. For a team going into a three-Test series, and failing to peak until they are 1-0 down, there is none at all.

Should the International Cricket Council, to preserve the integrity of Test cricket, legislate that every touring team should play three first-class matches before a Test series? Such a build-up would advertise their arrival in the country, whet appetites, increase ticket sales, and ensure that both sides are ready at the start.

A telling sign of the one-way traffic on the first day was Dale Steyn's lack of effectiveness, writes Simon Hughes in the same newspaper.

Nasser Hussain tips Graeme Swann to make an impact in The Oval Test and says, in the Daily Mail, that the England batsmen should score big to set the game up for their lead spinner.

Geoffrey Boycott, in the BBC Test Match Special podcast, refused the pin the blame on South African bowlers for England's strong position after the first day, saying the pitch "pulled the teeth of any good bowler because it was on the slow side and didn't do much." Allan Donald, South Africa's bowling coach, thought similarly and said "we stuck to our guns and never let England get away from us."

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Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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