England v SA, 1st Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day July 23, 2012

Crowds flock to final day

Firdose Moonda and George Dobell
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Interest of the day
Test cricket has flirted with extinction but it is likely that it will not get there for a long, long time. If you needed any proof of its vitality you need only have disembarked at the Oval underground station at around 10.30 on Monday morning. The train was packed and the touts were doing a roaring trade. Fifth-day tickets were a fifth of the price of the other days and school holidays had started but it was a working day and England up against it, which might have lessened the support base. Nothing of the sort happened. When play started, two-thirds of the seats were filled and after four sold-out days, more than 100,000 people had seen some play at The Oval.

Drop of the day
AB de Villiers did a handy job in the first innings, when he held on to every catch that came his way but the same cannot be said of the second. With South Africa five wickets away from a series lead, Imran Tahir sent down a venomous legbreak, with enough turn and bounce to take the edge off Ian Bell's block. Bell was half forward, the catch was fairly simple and de Villiers had two attempts to complete it but could not hold on to register his first fluff behind the stumps. Bell was on 20 at the time and went on to make a stubborn half-century so vital to England's cause that he received a standing ovation.

Celeb-spot of the day
With Olympic fever raging in the air, there was every chance the five rings themselves would make an appearance. They did not quite make it to The Oval but an Olympian did: South Africa's 4 x 100 metre gold medallist Ryk Neethling, who will compete at the London Games was in attendance when South Africa wrapped up a famous win. The timing of the Games has meant the national cricket team has received support from people who do not usually get to watch them. Two days earlier, the country's sports minister Fikile Mbalula, who is in the United Kingdom to set up the South African athletes village, was also at the ground to congratulate Graeme Smith on his century in his 100th Test.

Contrast of the day:
The dismissal of Matt Prior, top-edging a sweep to slip, produced wildly-contrasting emotions in the batsman and bowler. Matt Prior, aghast at the sheer awfulness of his stroke, was rooted to his crease, head in his hands, coming to terms with the injury he had inflicted upon his team. Imran Tahir, meanwhile, celebrated with the unbridled enthusiasm that has made him such an endearing player. By the time Prior dragged himself from the crease, Tahir was at deep fine leg running in circles and bellowing with joy.

Over rule of the day:
England's last hope died when Stuart Broad, a man with a Test century to his name, was caught down the leg side. It was an interesting decision by the TV Umpire, Kumar Dharmasena. While the on-field umpire - Asad Rauf - had given a 'not out' decision and there were no obvious signs of contact from Hot Spot, Dharmasena made his decision partially on the evidence of the stump microphones, which did suggest contact with the glove, and partially on replay evidence which, while not conclusive, was certainly suggestive. He was probably right, but whether there was enough evidence to overrule the on-field umpire was a moot point.

Concern of the day:
Amid all the South African celebrations, there was just one area of concern for South Africa: the performance of AB de Villiers as a stand-in wicketkeeper was increasingly unconvincing. He dropped Ian Bell, on 20, standing up to Imran Tahir and his failure to reach the stumps in time to collect JP Duminy's throw - not the first time in the match that de Villiers failed to do this - also cost South Africa the chance of running Bell out on 28. England were unable to make South Africa pay for the error but, when the tourists select their team for the second Test, they may reflect that their top six is perfectly adequate and they could so with the specialist keeping skills of Thami Tsolekile. If that is the case, it may prove bad news for Duminy. Perhaps if Duminy's throw had hit, de Villiers error may have gone unnoticed?

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY yorkshirematt on | July 24, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    @Taimur Huk Indeed. But most people who went knew that anyway. They went because they love the game and are the best supporters in the world. Unless you're a Man U fan you support your team if they win or lose.

  • POSTED BY V.sid on | July 24, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    Its all fixed.Next match will be draw and 3rd will be won by England. All in all series would be draw. Look at today's Ind-SL match. Same pitch India all out on 138. Series won by either team, doesn't matter, it will be decided on last match to maintain interest.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | July 24, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    @Meety (post on July 24 2012, 10:43 AM GMT): yes, absolutely - I never said otherwise. Bell certainly rode his luck at times, but compared to that lollypop catch Strauss offered up and Pietersen going for his typically aggresive approach... I don't know, maybe this is just a knee-jerk feeling as I probably wouldn't be typing this if offence had in fact turned out to be the best defence. To be fair, Cook and Trott were done-in by excellent bowling; the rest were perhaps just as much batsman-error as good bowling. Tired legs, tired minds, fired-up SA bowlers... not a good combo!

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 24, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - apart from what JG2704 said about Bell, he was dropped on 20 & should of been run out on 28, so it wasn't like it was a masterclass or anything.

  • POSTED BY Highflyer_GP on | July 24, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    @ Tlotoxl: One can't blame the weather, conditions or the pitch. Strauss won the toss and chose to bat first.

  • POSTED BY Guernica on | July 24, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    This game was actually quite similar to the Cardiff test of 2009 against Australia. Main difference was of course that we got away with a draw on that occasion (and were helped by the weather). Anyway, England went on to win the next test - so maybe that is some cause for optimism (I''m trying hard to find something). The remaining venues don't fill me with optimism though. England's recent record at Headingley is very poor and Lords in August will surely be another flat pitch.

  • POSTED BY Green_and_Gold on | July 24, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    After 5 days of cricket SA took 20 wickets and Eng took 2. You can talk about pitch and weather all you like but thats a big difference. Also did you see Amla playing loosely at short wide balls or trying to sweep swan to score? Played with a lovely straight bat and played the ball under his nose - beautiful to watch (esp as a neutral). Well done SA.

  • POSTED BY aracer on | July 24, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    Horrible game by England, but let's not take anything away from SA who played superbly - it's telling that it seems there's a need to criticise ABDV who didn't do a lot wrong, just to find something to criticise about them. It is a bit tiring to see the old comments about England not deserving #1 test side though. You must be totally oblivious to recent results - of course England haven't ever been dominant in the way of WI and Australia, but nobody's ever claimed they were, just better than anybody else, and the facts speak for themselves. England had put together a better sequence of results than any other team, even including the Pakistan series - look at the others' results, Australia suffering a 3-1 home loss to England (and more recently drawing at home to NZ), whilst SA have drawn far more series than they've won. England however have won the vast majority of their series, with the Pakistan series being the only loss in the last 3 years. If SA win this series they'll deserve #1

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | July 24, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    @JG2704 (post on July 24 2012, 07:33 AM GMT): bit harsh on Bell mate. I think after 5 hours batting, at a strike-rate of 25, you'd be rather tired and be somewhat batting-bunny too. The way the top order got out is shocking, and only Bell looked like England's knight in (not-so-shining) armour.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | July 24, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    @Tlotoxl on (July 23 2012, 21:18 PM GMT) Granted SA had by far the best of the bowling conditions on day 2 but fact is they batted better than us when the conditions were good

  • POSTED BY yorkshirematt on | July 24, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    @Taimur Huk Indeed. But most people who went knew that anyway. They went because they love the game and are the best supporters in the world. Unless you're a Man U fan you support your team if they win or lose.

  • POSTED BY V.sid on | July 24, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    Its all fixed.Next match will be draw and 3rd will be won by England. All in all series would be draw. Look at today's Ind-SL match. Same pitch India all out on 138. Series won by either team, doesn't matter, it will be decided on last match to maintain interest.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | July 24, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    @Meety (post on July 24 2012, 10:43 AM GMT): yes, absolutely - I never said otherwise. Bell certainly rode his luck at times, but compared to that lollypop catch Strauss offered up and Pietersen going for his typically aggresive approach... I don't know, maybe this is just a knee-jerk feeling as I probably wouldn't be typing this if offence had in fact turned out to be the best defence. To be fair, Cook and Trott were done-in by excellent bowling; the rest were perhaps just as much batsman-error as good bowling. Tired legs, tired minds, fired-up SA bowlers... not a good combo!

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 24, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - apart from what JG2704 said about Bell, he was dropped on 20 & should of been run out on 28, so it wasn't like it was a masterclass or anything.

  • POSTED BY Highflyer_GP on | July 24, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    @ Tlotoxl: One can't blame the weather, conditions or the pitch. Strauss won the toss and chose to bat first.

  • POSTED BY Guernica on | July 24, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    This game was actually quite similar to the Cardiff test of 2009 against Australia. Main difference was of course that we got away with a draw on that occasion (and were helped by the weather). Anyway, England went on to win the next test - so maybe that is some cause for optimism (I''m trying hard to find something). The remaining venues don't fill me with optimism though. England's recent record at Headingley is very poor and Lords in August will surely be another flat pitch.

  • POSTED BY Green_and_Gold on | July 24, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    After 5 days of cricket SA took 20 wickets and Eng took 2. You can talk about pitch and weather all you like but thats a big difference. Also did you see Amla playing loosely at short wide balls or trying to sweep swan to score? Played with a lovely straight bat and played the ball under his nose - beautiful to watch (esp as a neutral). Well done SA.

  • POSTED BY aracer on | July 24, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    Horrible game by England, but let's not take anything away from SA who played superbly - it's telling that it seems there's a need to criticise ABDV who didn't do a lot wrong, just to find something to criticise about them. It is a bit tiring to see the old comments about England not deserving #1 test side though. You must be totally oblivious to recent results - of course England haven't ever been dominant in the way of WI and Australia, but nobody's ever claimed they were, just better than anybody else, and the facts speak for themselves. England had put together a better sequence of results than any other team, even including the Pakistan series - look at the others' results, Australia suffering a 3-1 home loss to England (and more recently drawing at home to NZ), whilst SA have drawn far more series than they've won. England however have won the vast majority of their series, with the Pakistan series being the only loss in the last 3 years. If SA win this series they'll deserve #1

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | July 24, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    @JG2704 (post on July 24 2012, 07:33 AM GMT): bit harsh on Bell mate. I think after 5 hours batting, at a strike-rate of 25, you'd be rather tired and be somewhat batting-bunny too. The way the top order got out is shocking, and only Bell looked like England's knight in (not-so-shining) armour.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | July 24, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    @Tlotoxl on (July 23 2012, 21:18 PM GMT) Granted SA had by far the best of the bowling conditions on day 2 but fact is they batted better than us when the conditions were good

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | July 24, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    @jackiethepen on (July 23 2012, 18:59 PM GMT) re "Bell batted for nearly 5 hours. Not worth a Play for Today?" - Considering he didn't save us the test match and looked like he was giving practice to the slippers in the shot which he got out to the answer has to be a big NO. Truth is we needed at least one (preferably both) of Trott and Cook in there at the start if we were going to save the match Please publish

  • POSTED BY sulie786 on | July 24, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    You must be joking Tlotoxl, This had nothing to do with luck. SA worked really hard for this victory. i am just tired of people blaming the pitches when their teams lose. The english are a decent side but the got beaten badly by SA. I think this is long overdue for SA to finally be the undisputed no.1 side. And with such a powerful team i see no reason why they cannot do that. there will be a backlash as England bounce back but SA has a strong enough team to counter that. Good luck England you will need it!

  • POSTED BY on | July 24, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    England are soon going to be the same laughing stock India became last year..the ranking system by ICC is ridiculous .It doesn't signify anything particular anyway.

  • POSTED BY satish619chandar on | July 24, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    1. ABD was not that bad as keeper.. 2. Bopara's shot deserved mention. 3. Crowd was really excellent for the home team. 4. Capitulation of England tail when much was expected from them. 5. Rejuvenated comeback of Steyn 6. timing of Prior's shot..

  • POSTED BY sawifan on | July 24, 2012, 2:22 GMT

    well played SAF, showed your skill and tenacity. The only problem being, they quite often start a series well before surrendering their lead. I hope they can put this habit behind them. @Front-Foot-Lunge, once again your knowledge of cricket (or lack of it is blatantly obviously). England have white-washed everything put in front of them over the last few years? who? India and Bangladesh don't count as everyone, and a series win or a drawn series don't count as a whitewash either!!! Actually, they were involved in another whitewash, losing to Pakistan 3-0!! I'm starting to think that 'Front-Foot-Lunge' and 'RandyOZ' are the same neutral comment-er, who simply enjoys making up things for their own enjoyment. Take a leaf out of your compatriot @landl47's book. Always balanced, humble and spot on. ps: as a cricket fan 1st and an Aussie 2nd, i hope the Poms put up more of a fight, but still surrender to the Saffa's ;)

  • POSTED BY Just_love_it on | July 24, 2012, 1:55 GMT

    Defeat of THE SO CALLED #1 TEST SIDE with so called BEST Bowling attack WHO CAN take 20 wickets on ANY track against any side by say 40 runs or by few wickets on their HOME turf n condition can be understand and forgiven but just 2 wickets vs 20 wickets and 637 vs 625(2 innings) runs !!! COME ON give me a break that's not remotely consider #1 in any sports. I thought pitch was SO FLAT as claimed by English fans/writer otherwise SA could have wrap this test within 3 days. Anyway THANK GOD this undeserving SO called #1 side will soon be push down the table by much more deserving team soon.I seriously think something wrong with ICC ranking system.

  • POSTED BY Tlotoxl on | July 23, 2012, 22:18 GMT

    Brilliant work by SA a big win but lets get one thing straight, they had a *very* big slice of luck with the weather on Day 2, on Day 1 the SA bowlers looked every bit as toothless as the English bowlers on days 3 & 4 but until the rain on Day 2 the ball was swinging around corners making it virtually unplayable, it was always going to be very difficult to keep SA from running up a huge lead on what was a batsmans paradise and to bat to save the game late on Day 4 after being in the field for 2 days.

  • POSTED BY Noball_Specialist on | July 23, 2012, 20:21 GMT

    Because this is not a inconsequential encounter. This isn't another calender and stat boot filling Sri Lanka vs India or Sri Lanka vs Pakistan or Pakistan vs Bangladesh encounter. This is two of the worlds best Test teams fighting it out for the top of the rankings. Who's the real no1 test team. So many interesting variables, so many personal questions that players are to answer. Who's the triumphant and who will rue the missed opportunities. 5 days of pure entertainment for the purist. None of that disco time in the middle of a wicket transition.

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | July 23, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    You are a bit harsh on De Villiers. When standing up to a spinner Prior has often muffed the chance of catching the ball off the edge. It is one of the hazards of collecting the spinning ball. Usually it doesn't get that much attention. But Bell was regarded as the key wicket. He wasn't nearly run out today that happened in the first innings due to a suicidal call by Prior. Today Prior called again to a very quick single but Bell made it fine with a bit of a sprint. Prior needs to watch his running though. He has a reputation for run-outs. Bell batted for nearly 5 hours. Not worth a Play for Today? It was because of that he was given a standing ovation on reaching 50, because he was the only England batsman to have any kind of plan to save the game.

  • POSTED BY on | July 23, 2012, 19:39 GMT

    crowds in Australia, South Africa, west indies and Englad always enjoy their test cricket and have full houses... still remember i got last min tics for india vs aus in perth.. it was full house.. i love test cricket... icc needs to promote it more than the mickey mouse cricket (20-20)

  • POSTED BY on | July 23, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    At first i doubted Pakistan's victories against England, but now its no coincidence that England are looking rusty, and the South African test onslaught is for real. Lets see how they pull up in the second test, and Bresnan and Swann looked below average, i think Finn needs to be brought in for the fast bowling.

  • POSTED BY Anwaruzz on | July 23, 2012, 19:11 GMT

    It is heating up to be a nice and tough series. I love test cricket because of such games. It will be tough to nail SA sown in this series and they will take over the Numero uno spot surely.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | July 23, 2012, 19:09 GMT

    Wow, comprehensive victory. I guess the pitch wasn't so "dead" after all? Salutations to the Saffers, well done. They are great front runners, it is the close out they will have to attend to, but the momentum is with them.

  • POSTED BY on | July 23, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    thank you england and surrey for tuning out and help keeping test cricket alive. crowds in india,sri lanka,west indies should take note and play their part too. england were losing and yet people showed up so once again thank you.

  • POSTED BY East_West on | July 23, 2012, 18:33 GMT

    I wonder any indian cricketers who played for India recently are watching this class of battles - SA versus ENgland! If not, at least watch and learn from these guys to know "how to take care of business". Way to go SA!!

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | July 23, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    Well played Amla who exploited the Nagpur-like conditions on days 3 & 4 and flat battered everything England had to throw at him before stylishly taking the game to England. We may well see a few posters come out of the woodwork for this one, let's not forget how bitter England have left some opposition fans, due entirely to them spending the last few years whitewashing everything put in front of them.

  • POSTED BY sonu77 on | July 23, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    Great performance by proteas..Amla's knock was awesome..& excellent decision by umpire Dharmasena.Overall a great test match.

  • POSTED BY on | July 23, 2012, 17:53 GMT

    To see England head to an innings defeat.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 23, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    Congratulations to South Africa. They out-batted, out-bowled, out-fielded, out-captained and out-team-selected England and I wouldn't be surprised to hear their energy drinks tasted better, too! England needs to do some hard thinking between now and the second test. I thought originally having a ten-day gap between tests was a good thing for SA, but it might turn out to be more useful for England. After all, SA can hardly play any better and it's England that needs to improve.

  • POSTED BY kunderanengineer on | July 23, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    Great advertisement for test cricket. Hopefully with livelier pitches in the next 2 venues we'll be in for even better entertainment (assuming of course that the weather cooperates).

  • POSTED BY on | July 23, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    Well deserve win for the Proteas. First step on their way to numero uno. All the Best!!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 23, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    Excellent test match. I hope ICC takes note and stops neglecting the test format. ODI and T20 is fine, but it's test cricket where players skills are truly tested. Furthermore, I hope ICC take some quick initiative and makes an effort to organize world championship for test matches. It will make the format more relevant and allow people to see which team is the best. Anyway, kudos to SA.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | July 23, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    Ryk Neethling is not competing in the games, he has retired. He is commentating.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | July 23, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    Swann doesn't look like he fancies being out there when the bowling is quick, looks like he bottles it and wants to get out. Not the first time either. And think you're being quite harsh on AB in his first test as a WC in years. Sure, 1 drop off the spinner, but that run out would have been touch and go for most keepers.

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  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | July 23, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    Swann doesn't look like he fancies being out there when the bowling is quick, looks like he bottles it and wants to get out. Not the first time either. And think you're being quite harsh on AB in his first test as a WC in years. Sure, 1 drop off the spinner, but that run out would have been touch and go for most keepers.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | July 23, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    Ryk Neethling is not competing in the games, he has retired. He is commentating.

  • POSTED BY on | July 23, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    Excellent test match. I hope ICC takes note and stops neglecting the test format. ODI and T20 is fine, but it's test cricket where players skills are truly tested. Furthermore, I hope ICC take some quick initiative and makes an effort to organize world championship for test matches. It will make the format more relevant and allow people to see which team is the best. Anyway, kudos to SA.

  • POSTED BY on | July 23, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    Well deserve win for the Proteas. First step on their way to numero uno. All the Best!!!

  • POSTED BY kunderanengineer on | July 23, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    Great advertisement for test cricket. Hopefully with livelier pitches in the next 2 venues we'll be in for even better entertainment (assuming of course that the weather cooperates).

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 23, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    Congratulations to South Africa. They out-batted, out-bowled, out-fielded, out-captained and out-team-selected England and I wouldn't be surprised to hear their energy drinks tasted better, too! England needs to do some hard thinking between now and the second test. I thought originally having a ten-day gap between tests was a good thing for SA, but it might turn out to be more useful for England. After all, SA can hardly play any better and it's England that needs to improve.

  • POSTED BY on | July 23, 2012, 17:53 GMT

    To see England head to an innings defeat.

  • POSTED BY sonu77 on | July 23, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    Great performance by proteas..Amla's knock was awesome..& excellent decision by umpire Dharmasena.Overall a great test match.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | July 23, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    Well played Amla who exploited the Nagpur-like conditions on days 3 & 4 and flat battered everything England had to throw at him before stylishly taking the game to England. We may well see a few posters come out of the woodwork for this one, let's not forget how bitter England have left some opposition fans, due entirely to them spending the last few years whitewashing everything put in front of them.

  • POSTED BY East_West on | July 23, 2012, 18:33 GMT

    I wonder any indian cricketers who played for India recently are watching this class of battles - SA versus ENgland! If not, at least watch and learn from these guys to know "how to take care of business". Way to go SA!!