July 21, 2012

South Africa in England 2012

Time to offer Amla some cheesecake

Jarrod Kimber
Hashim Amla recorded his 15th century in Tests, England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, The Oval, 3rd day, July 21, 2012
Hashim Amla did a Jonathan Trott  © PA Photos


I've not been inside Jonathan Trott's head for the last two days, but I bet he's had more than one nightmare in that time. You know the nightmare. You mark your guard on a flat pitch, twice, face a whole host of dot balls, clip a few on midwicket till you get to 60 runs, and then suddenly realize you're naked as the bowler comes in and you play a rash cover drive giving up a hundred.

To make Trott feel worse, he's had Amla showing him exactly what he should have done. Make a big hundred and bat the opposition out of the game. There is a little Trott in Amla, but not as much Amla in Trott.

Trott is not an ugly batsman to watch; if Graeme Smith is a Morlock (and he is) when he bats, then Trott is an Ewok. But Amla is something far more fetching. He bats in a way that tests the sexuality of many cricket fans. Every back-foot push through the covers sent the Oval crowd in semi-orgasmic murmurs. And, like Trott, he can bat for days and days without seemingly being affected by the world around him.

On a flat pitch like this, getting out players like Cook, Smith, Trott or Amla requires a shovel and industrial sized black bags.

South Africa were poor on day one, and they were lucky Trott helped them. Aside from Swann, the England bowlers were worse on the third day than South Africa were on day one. They haven't been helped, as the ball hasn't swung or seamed much, or at all.

The England seamers were punished for all the times opposition teams have had to stand there mute as English batsmen ground to massive totals. Had you stumbled into the ground after emerging from a coma, you'd have laughed at anyone suggesting this was the best bowling attack on earth. They were waiting for mistakes, and they might have to wait a few days for all ten of them. Their lack of creativity was staggering, and they seemed to lose their ability to keep the pressure on.

When Broad had two short midwickets for Amla as he bounced him, it stuck out as perhaps England's first radical plan in 100 overs of cricket. It didn't work. I'm not sure how you get Amla out on a pitch like this, but neither are England. You could offer him cheesecake in the hope he's lactose intolerant. Surely England have a coach for that?

The ordeal seemed to send Strauss crazy. He was running around like a five-year-old school girl and breaking his glasses at various times. And he had a smile of a chilling serial killer, rather than his usual determined blank look. England have been so used to steam rolling opponents with efficiency, that they never expected South Africa to bounce back up. But they did, with the second new ball, and now the bat.

It's not Trott's fault. Many English players have been below par so far in this game. But I bet as Trott jogs from fine leg to fine leg, he's thinking of how much he'd prefer to be the person boring and blunting the bowlers, and not just watching it. It's what he does well, but over the last two days, it's what Amla does better.

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Posted by Andrew on (July 24, 2012, 10:19 GMT)

South Africa's bowlers were more creative, created more swing, more movement and more spin than England's. And South Africa's batters made England's look second rate. Not much more to say really.

Posted by mazy on (July 23, 2012, 20:22 GMT)

guys, im confused, wanna know if Amal really fasts while playing during the month of ramadhan? I was thinking that he might have been excused from fasting as he is involved in his profession as well as he could be considered as a traveller.

Can anyone authentically confirm if he really does fast while playing? if so its truly awesome...

Posted by Mazy on (July 23, 2012, 20:17 GMT)

guys, im a bit confused, does Amla really fast while playing!? I know he greatly keen in his religion. I was thinking that he would have got some sort of excuse from fasting during the month of Ramadhan, as he is involved in his profession as well as he could be considered as a traveller.

So can any one authentically confirm if he really fasts while playing during the month of Ramadhan?! if so its awesome!!!

Posted by Mazy on (July 23, 2012, 20:17 GMT)

guys, im a bit confused, does Amla really fast while playing!? I know he greatly keen in his religion. I was thinking that he would have got some sort of excuse from fasting during the month of Ramadhan, as he is involved in his profession as well as he could be considered as a traveller.

So can any one authentically confirm if he really fasts while playing during the month of Ramadhan?! if so its awesome!!!

Posted by sami on (July 22, 2012, 20:43 GMT)

Only rain can save England's No 1 status. This SA team is far better than English side.

Posted by Tshepo Tshotetsi on (July 22, 2012, 20:03 GMT)

Shocked at the number of ENG fans who are surprised with the performance of SA.. They really expected to roll the SA team over, a team that is better than them.

Posted by cricketfan on (July 22, 2012, 17:42 GMT)

England no. 1? Hahaha. Routing indian ageing batsmen in the backyard doesnt make them no.1. They were white washed in one day series after that. Pakistan white washed them in uae. They still have to come to india for full test series. They will be humiiliated by SA the real champs of crickrt world today.

Posted by ZA Cricket Junkie on (July 22, 2012, 17:17 GMT)

When is the day that South Africa gets a little more recognition for their cricketing prowess? In the last 20 series played, they have only lost 1 (compared to England's 6), and although the previous series between the two ended in a draw, this would largely be thanks to two tests where England survived by the skin of their teeth. Lets hope we see the cream rise to the top in the battle for test supremacy.

Posted by Jeremy Styles on (July 22, 2012, 16:46 GMT)

Ahhh, the joy of Test cricket. Day 1 ended with England on the ascendancy, but since then SA have fought back and are in command. All of the gibberish heaped upon SA bowlers has now been redirected to the English bowlers. England need to fight to the bitter end, 3-57 as I write this in the 2nd dig. I would not be surprised if Prior makes a courageous rearguard action, they'll need him to the way things are shaping up. However, even if England lose this match, there are two more to play, and SA had best not underestimate them, they are a quality side. I'm an Aussie fan, and I like Pankaj Joshi's comparison of Amla to Laxman - true praise indeed.

Posted by Pankaj Joshi on (July 22, 2012, 11:17 GMT)

Quite well said, as a Cricinfo article put it Amla is the successor to Laxman in the ease-batting stakes. And for the bowlers its only a teaser of what awaits them in India. Broad - big manly Broad - could not cross 75 mph yesterday. Gentlemen. Welcome to the big bad world.

Posted by alex on (July 22, 2012, 7:10 GMT)

When amla came to india , indian fielders try to rag him thinking he is one of the desi hopeful who gets flustered like bopara does now. Amla showed his steely look and ignored everything like teflon. Nothing sticks on him in flat pitch. if england comes with swinging pitch , you have to face full blown monster steyn. Not looking good for engalnd for me. I think second inning tahir has to take key wickets for SA to win. With steyn in high gear anything possible. if cook play like this England can draw also. Lead of 270 SA should declare.

Posted by ishrat on (July 22, 2012, 6:26 GMT)

Brilliant. I would think that this is not a comment on the ability of the bowling attack but the fact that the bowling attack thought that they could steamroll the opponent in the same manner and style as they had India Australia et al. The lack of innovation was the one thing missing. I know that this English team is good enough to realise that and the man at the helm of affairs will take immediate steps to rectify that. what I am enjoying though is the way the saffers are going about their business with a sense of purpose. Win Lose or Draw this is going to be a series to watch and the ebb and flow will continue through the series.

Posted by Muhammad on (July 22, 2012, 5:30 GMT)

Amla still wont move after a cheesecake because its the month of Ramadan and he fasts when he is playing in the centre. So, no chance of removing him from the crease..

Posted by Kieron on (July 22, 2012, 3:56 GMT)

As a Windies fan, I spent the early part of the summer getting a good look at the English bowling attack. Our top four were not up to it but Chanders and Samuels had little problems dealing with the best that England had to offer and the WI tail was frequently able to wag ferociously (e.g Best's famous 95). So I am not surprised that it is proving ineffective against SA with the batting they have. England will lose this series and their No. 1 ranking despite the baying of the English press core.

Posted by Norman on (July 22, 2012, 3:36 GMT)

What a way to add some humor to an otherwise depressing subject. Not to me though(being south african and all). The bit about Strauss killed me because i thought the same thing lol. Maybe england should give the cheescake idea a chance.

Posted by PRDLYSA on (July 22, 2012, 0:39 GMT)

" In the process they (south africa) let England put together another one of their large grinding game-shaping efficient partnerships, and completely run away with the game." - Jarrod Kimber

Ahem.. You do not win a test match on day one!

Posted by ra on (July 21, 2012, 23:15 GMT)

Why is it Trotts fault. At least he scored runs. How did Bopara do?

Posted by Varun on (July 21, 2012, 21:50 GMT)

You mention flat pitch somany times. Who do you think prepared the track? England. Why? Because they are scared of Steyn and co. Obviously they overestimated their own bowling and under-estimated SA batting.

Posted by Jawad on (July 21, 2012, 21:40 GMT)

Amla is fasting so the cheesecake wont help either :)

Posted by thruthecovers on (July 21, 2012, 21:13 GMT)

:) Nice piece. It is the month of Ramadaan though, so Amla might have to respectfully decline your offering.

Posted by John Hex on (July 21, 2012, 20:18 GMT)

The only similarity between Trott and Amla is that they are both South Africans!

Posted by england.are.shyte on (July 21, 2012, 20:06 GMT)

this south african second innings proved a few things- 1. graeme swann's not all that good a spinner. Smith handled him with a bit of luck and a bit of class, while amla was simply on another level and was not troubled at all by swann. 2. South africa have the better batting line up. (just look at the score, both teams batted on a flat pitch, and england collapsed to 385, while the saffas are gonna post somewhere around 700) 3. England are not no.1 in the world, since if they were, they would be able to take at least more than wicket on a turning pitch, which is the same one on which morkel took 4-72

Posted by Manish on (July 21, 2012, 19:54 GMT)

Excellent write up Jarod.

You are fun with bit of wit

Posted by zeshan mughal on (July 21, 2012, 19:27 GMT)

It's not just about having great skills it's all about showing them at right time, and amla is doing that, once you strangle the opposition you should never let them slip away, opportunities don't come often so when they come you have to take them, otherwise you have to repent like trott and his english fellows. Better luck next time Guys!

Posted by jason on (July 21, 2012, 19:08 GMT)

yeah baby,he does it VERY well...

Posted by Alastair on (July 21, 2012, 19:07 GMT)

I wonder why English cricket fans and the English media are so surprised at how really good this South African team really is? They said all along that they expected a fight, a real test of the English team's ability. Obviously not. They probably thought that they would only get token resistance as they have for quite a few home series.

In almost every journalist piece leading up to the First test they all gave the English the slight edge to England. Let me now put you straight. South Africa has the best bowling attack going and a batting line-up that will grind the opposition into the dirt more often than not and they do it home and away. Dominating mediocre opposition at home can make one believe you're the best. This SA team knows to be the best you have to beat all comers in all conditions, favourable or not. This mind set in my opinion is the big difference between the two.

Posted by Saeed Ahmed Lodhi on (July 21, 2012, 18:36 GMT)

Why do you keep forgetting what Saeed Ajmal and party did to England in UAE, Peterson, Bell & Morgan where made to look like ordinary and nothing is strange with the current picture either, its being a while since England have come up against a quality opponent in their home conditions.

I am relishing every moment of it !

Posted by Son of Tavare on (July 21, 2012, 18:31 GMT)

Good point. Pretty little 40s and staunch 70s (ie, KP and Trott) don't win Tests. Big hundreds, in conjunction with blood-scenting spells like Steyn's on the second morning, do.

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