England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, The Oval, 1st day July 19, 2012

Cook hundred gives England control

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England 267 for 3 (Cook 114*, Bell 10*) v South Africa
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Much has been made of the fact this is only a three-Test series, a contest that will determine the No. 1 team in the world - and one thing it means is that the early advantage becomes even more crucial. Through Alastair Cook's 20th Test hundred, a chanceless innings, it was England who ended the opening day in control on a healthy 267 for 3, as they aim to consolidate their top ranking.

Cook's hundred, which came from 222 balls, made him the third England batsman this year to reach the 20 Test century mark following Kevin Pietersen at Colombo and Andrew Strauss at Lord's. It is a close race between the trio to become England's leading century-maker, overtaking the 22 scored by Geoff Boycott, Wally Hammond and Colin Cowdrey, but there is little doubt that Cook, who is still only 27, should finish his career at the top of that list.

This innings ended an 11-month gap between Test hundreds for Cook, whose previous was the mammoth 294 against India at Edgbaston. He has since twice fallen for 94 - the hundreds have instead come in one-day cricket and he has often looked in wonderful touch - so it was timely to get the century count ticking over again. He played some delightful drives, with one back-foot punch through mid-off against Dale Steyn standing out, and also collected a six when he hooked Steyn during the first session.

Cook and Jonathan Trott added 170 for the second wicket as England confidently overcame the loss of Strauss to the fourth ball of the series. The pair, who have previously added stands of 392, 251 and 173, encapsulate the methodical, pragmatic and calculated cricket that has taken England to the top of the rankings. They are not the most flamboyant No. 1 team in history - South Africa, if they are to overtake them, wouldn't be either - but they have found a formula that, especially at home, is becoming mighty difficult to unpick.

That gameplan revolves around grinding opposition down; when bowling first that comes in terms of drying up runs and when batting first it means digging in for the long haul with the top three laying foundations for a more expansive middle order. It was far from revolutionary - in fact it is 'old fashioned' Test cricket - but it has proved a revelation in recent years.

What was impressive about England here was the way they responded to the early loss of Strauss. It was the third time the captain has fallen in the first over a Test and this was the team's most confident reply. The last time he faced South Africa, at Johannesburg, he was out first ball and it precipitated a poor England performance. This early departure brought back memories of Brisbane 2010, when he carved the third ball to Michael Hussey at gully and England fumbled to a total of 260 although ultimately, and famously, saved the game.

Significant credit must go to Graeme Smith and some shrewd captaincy. Even before this innings Morne Morkel had an impressive record against Strauss, who he had removed six times in Test cricket - often from around the wicket - and he started with that line of attack straight away. Morkel's second delivery was miles down the leg side but the radar was soon adjusted although Steve Davis, the umpire, did not give the decision and it required a review from Smith. It proved his second smart decision in less than an over, with the ball shown to be hitting middle and leg.

Trott, however, calmly drove his first delivery through mid-on while Cook was given too many deliveries he could leave, especially by Morkel from round the wicket. Steyn was held back from the new ball as Vernon Philander partnered Morkel and there was swing on offer, which caused the batsmen a few nervous moments without creating a chance.

Having been billed as a battle of the bowling attacks, South Africa's five-pronged unit were on the whole disappointing. The visitors had been bullish that their limited preparation would not be a factor heading into the match but Steyn, who wasn't handed the new ball, Morkel and Jacques Kallis looked short of a decent workout. There was also a suggestion that Steyn may not be fully fit as he spent time off the field having his ankle strapped.

Imran Tahir, the legspinner, did not pose a huge threat and the batsmen could sit on him while waiting for the bad ball. Both Cook and Trott were quick to latch onto anything short, with midwicket being especially profitable for Cook. It was Morkel who provided the breakthrough when he managed to pitch the ball a touch fuller and found Trott's outside edge from a rare loose drive after South Africa had gone wicketless during the afternoon session.

The day's play then developed an extra edge as Pietersen, in a week where he has never been far from the headlines, entered the fray. Morkel tried for a yorker first ball and gifted Pietersen a full toss to open his account but he played carefully to reach 3 off 20 deliveries before stepping across his stumps and flicking Philander over mid-on.

A crunching pull off Steyn was the most dismissive shot of the day, closely followed by a straight drive off Kallis, and an attempted scoop against JP Duminy suggested he felt ready to expand. But Kallis had his revenge when Pietersen gloved a bouncer to AB de Villiers two balls before the 80-over mark. It was England's poorest piece of cricket in the day, as it gave South Africa hope of making late inroads, but Cook and Ian Bell negotiated the new ball to complete a very satisfactory start for the hosts.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    @ashes61 - I think you're being tough on Anderson. Anderson is the only genuine tailender in the line up & to expect him to do what the other 7 batsmen on Day 2 didn't really do, is a bit much. The fact is the last 4 wickets yielded 101 runs, which is historically at least, pretty good going - taking England close to safety, as it will take the Saffas probably over a day, (subject to loss of wickets), to break square with England. What hurt England was 3/13 - with Cook, Bopara & Bell falling. == == == Saffa batsmen have cemented the bowlers come back. That all being said, I still think that it is advantage England - as they have the runs on the board.

  • ashes61 on July 20, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    SA have bowled much better this morning & certainly more purposefully. However, although Bell got a great ball from Kallis & Broad a good one from Philander, who both deserved a wicket with those balls, I still felt that all 7 ENG wkts today were soft dismissals as far as the batsmen were concerned. In every single case it looked the wrong shot or decision by the bat. Perhaps excusing Bell, as he went for a leave but was genuinely deceived, but in every other case I thought immediately "what a soft dismissal!" Am always hard on Prior, Broad & Swann, whom I want to play positively but not loosely or unintelligently, as I feel they often do. Jimmy often chucks his wkt away, as if he wants to score as soon as he gets in rather than stay with No 10 or 9, etc. I know he can score but if I were Swann or the skipper I'd have been annoyed. Still, not for me to crtiticise - that's why they're Test players and I'm not (yet). All well set up now during this rainbreak, with ENG's nose in front.

  • Selassie-I on July 20, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    pitch looking really dead now.... going to be a draw?! bet a lot of people are feeling a bit silly with their comments yesterday.

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    Top come back by the Saffas, although the Poms squeezed out about 20 to 30 "extra" out of the tail. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds from here, good Pommy bowling could have the Saffas in all sorts as the pitch seems to be doing more than on Day 1.

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 12:47 GMT

    @ A_Yorkshire_Lad on (July 20 2012, 10:03 AM GMT) Not sure where DB is - don't tempt fate please. There's enough to deal with already

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    @on (July 20 2012, 09:53 AM GMT) Maybe you could write to the Oval groundstaff giving your expert advice on how to prepare a pitch. Most would say they did a great job to prepare any sort of pitch after all the rain we've had , although I suppose we're to blame for the weather too?

  • on July 20, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    Judging by the comments below, it looks as if the whole world is against England

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    By the way, those that are bagging the pitch need a bit of a lesson in pitch preparation & the impact of wet cold weather. Fact is, with the horrendous weather in England, the pitch was never going to be a great one. Tahir v Swann in the 2nd innings me thinks.

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    The Saffas back in it with 4 fairly quick wickets, they need to continue to bowl well as their is a bit of sting in the Pommy tail. Saffas needed those wickets, currently I say the Saffas marginally ahead. Need to restrict the Poms to around 350. That however is only the start of what they need to do, the next is only be about 3 down by stumps.

  • wanatawu on July 20, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    12thUmpire Bopara just got a duck, LOL. He is not test match quality.

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    @ashes61 - I think you're being tough on Anderson. Anderson is the only genuine tailender in the line up & to expect him to do what the other 7 batsmen on Day 2 didn't really do, is a bit much. The fact is the last 4 wickets yielded 101 runs, which is historically at least, pretty good going - taking England close to safety, as it will take the Saffas probably over a day, (subject to loss of wickets), to break square with England. What hurt England was 3/13 - with Cook, Bopara & Bell falling. == == == Saffa batsmen have cemented the bowlers come back. That all being said, I still think that it is advantage England - as they have the runs on the board.

  • ashes61 on July 20, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    SA have bowled much better this morning & certainly more purposefully. However, although Bell got a great ball from Kallis & Broad a good one from Philander, who both deserved a wicket with those balls, I still felt that all 7 ENG wkts today were soft dismissals as far as the batsmen were concerned. In every single case it looked the wrong shot or decision by the bat. Perhaps excusing Bell, as he went for a leave but was genuinely deceived, but in every other case I thought immediately "what a soft dismissal!" Am always hard on Prior, Broad & Swann, whom I want to play positively but not loosely or unintelligently, as I feel they often do. Jimmy often chucks his wkt away, as if he wants to score as soon as he gets in rather than stay with No 10 or 9, etc. I know he can score but if I were Swann or the skipper I'd have been annoyed. Still, not for me to crtiticise - that's why they're Test players and I'm not (yet). All well set up now during this rainbreak, with ENG's nose in front.

  • Selassie-I on July 20, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    pitch looking really dead now.... going to be a draw?! bet a lot of people are feeling a bit silly with their comments yesterday.

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    Top come back by the Saffas, although the Poms squeezed out about 20 to 30 "extra" out of the tail. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds from here, good Pommy bowling could have the Saffas in all sorts as the pitch seems to be doing more than on Day 1.

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 12:47 GMT

    @ A_Yorkshire_Lad on (July 20 2012, 10:03 AM GMT) Not sure where DB is - don't tempt fate please. There's enough to deal with already

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    @on (July 20 2012, 09:53 AM GMT) Maybe you could write to the Oval groundstaff giving your expert advice on how to prepare a pitch. Most would say they did a great job to prepare any sort of pitch after all the rain we've had , although I suppose we're to blame for the weather too?

  • on July 20, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    Judging by the comments below, it looks as if the whole world is against England

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    By the way, those that are bagging the pitch need a bit of a lesson in pitch preparation & the impact of wet cold weather. Fact is, with the horrendous weather in England, the pitch was never going to be a great one. Tahir v Swann in the 2nd innings me thinks.

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 11:54 GMT

    The Saffas back in it with 4 fairly quick wickets, they need to continue to bowl well as their is a bit of sting in the Pommy tail. Saffas needed those wickets, currently I say the Saffas marginally ahead. Need to restrict the Poms to around 350. That however is only the start of what they need to do, the next is only be about 3 down by stumps.

  • wanatawu on July 20, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    12thUmpire Bopara just got a duck, LOL. He is not test match quality.

  • Akshita29 on July 20, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    Poor Bopara out for duck .

  • CamS71 on July 20, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    About time England binned this 6th batsman & went for the jugular of teams by playing the 5 proper bowlers imo. Rarely does the extra bat make a huge difference, but having that extra firepower in the bowling means they can simply blow teams away. SA showing the value of the 4th genuine seamer here. Kallis bowling beautifully.

  • VillageBlacksmith on July 20, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    that is exactly why i cannot stand ian ronald bell, goes into his shell when pressure builds, strike rate plummets, which puts extra pressure on other bats, and then he gets out in the most meek way too terrified to even use his bat by the end... pathetic... and as for bopara... another weedy dismissal.. cook goes they all go, show some spine 5 & 6..

  • bouncedout on July 20, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    @RandyOZ

    there you go letting yourself down again.

    Funny that you are now the biggest SA fan in the world (presumably because your own team couldn't win a coconut at the fair)

    Fact remains that cricket is the NUMBER 1 sport in Aus and yet your team is poor beyond belief. England are better in every department and you can't stand it.

    Get ready for a slow and painful slip down the rankings...brilliant

  • 12thUmpire on July 20, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    Playing Bopara is like playing 10 players. Eng are going to continue with him rather than groom a genuine successor to Freddie!

  • cric_fan_ on July 20, 2012, 10:07 GMT

    England did well on 1st day, although they didn't dominate but they applied their well tested strategy of defense as the innings run rate will tell you, which means SA has to make some mistakes to loose the match, which they did, like giving 30 extras but still the match is far from over though slightly in favor of England atm.

  • on July 20, 2012, 10:07 GMT

    Eng currently possess the best fast bowling attack + the best batting line-up against fast bowling. NO DOUBT.

  • A_Yorkshire_Lad on July 20, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    On a bit of a roll there JG , keep it up !

  • A_Yorkshire_Lad on July 20, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    Ah , it's good to see all these respectful balanced opinions coming from Indian fans , isn't it ? Where's Dicky Boy when you need him ?

  • ashes61 on July 20, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    ENG may be ahead but we've only had 1 day, so SA still have everything to play for. Two early wkts this a.m. (ball still new, bowlers refreshed) & it's 50/50 again. The pitch is the same for both sides, so the toss was an advantage but overhead conditions were excellent for bowling for 3 or 4 hours. Was surprised at the defensive, wide bowling after lunch, Smith opting to "sit in" quite early. Picked the wrong two batsmen to do that to! ENG tactics will always be to blunt Steyn & Morkel patiently so that later bowlers can be picked off by well set bats. SA fielding has declined astonishingly since the days when they set the standards with their famous athleticism. Coming here alarmingly under-cooked, SA will have a job to match ENG's bowling, fielding & the inevitable run deficit from bats 8, 9 & 10. Pitch a red herring - SA very experienced in ENG. Batting conditions on sunny day 3 should be good. Far too early to predict a draw! Am slightly suspicious that all not right in SA camp

  • Selassie-I on July 20, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    @IndnCrktfan, not too sure if cook does find it so difficult batting in the sub-continent & Middle East, he was out for 94 twice in the tests, once in UAE, once in SL, oh and he got 2 100s in the ODIs in the UAE. He was one of our less poor batsmen on the tours. Maybe the BCCI should have agreed to play Pak at their home from home rather than insisting on a series in India when it's Paks turn to be hosting to go along with their planned 2 years of home series to come up, guess they've got to try to find a way back to the top somehow.

  • on July 20, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    What a pathetic pitch! I thought they were playing on the subcontinent. SA did pretty well to restrict England to 267 on what is a perfect batting wicket. Hohum - I see another draw coming...

  • Selassie-I on July 20, 2012, 9:22 GMT

    Good tactic from Smith to Strauss, but then what happened to you SA? where was your fight? trying to test the patience of Cookie and JT, are you sure that was a good tactic? you did get Trott with a loose drive but if the tactic is repeated again expect them both to accumalate 150+ runs together every time. SA seemed to drop their heads way too quickly, pitch is a bit flat but there was swing in the air for the bowlers. It's the oval so it's usually a bit flat then turns on days 4 & 5.. expect a lot of Swann in the 4th SA. Will be interesting to see what our bowlers can get out of the surface.

  • Hammond on July 20, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    Well done England and you can tell they've done well because the excuse list is growing exponentially. One day soon somebody is going actually cotton onto the fact that this England team is just good. But I am not holding my breath. South Africa will be very worried at this point in time. Englands top order made them look like a mediocre county attack. And south Africa will also know how deep england bat as well. Furthermore the England bowlers are just a better bowling unit. I do hope this isn't a bloodbath.

  • Yevghenny on July 20, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    I can't believe how sore Indian fans STILL are. That was one hell of a 4-0 you were on the end of last year

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur on (July 20 2012, 07:53 AM GMT) And as posted previously we know how bad Eng are in such conditions so strange why we would do such a thing

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (July 19 2012, 22:21 PM GMT) Maybe you could look at England's history re results and check how many tests have been drawn? Since and including the Ashes series of 2010/11 (in my head) I make it that we have played 20 tests , home and away and of those 20 tests only 4 have been drawn. 2 vs SL and 1 vs WI were at home and all 3 matches were truncated by rain. The other was in Brisbane where Eng do not prepare the pitch. You say that we should play in challenging conditions to earn the right to be number 1 but then when we do you and others say that Eng only win because of those conditions. And let's not forget SA could have won the toss on a pitch which is likely to deteriorate - how would that help England? PS also don't remember a test being won in a day

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (July 19 2012, 22:32 PM GMT) re ": Dear Sheila, I am a neutral and I enjoy good cricket" is that why you never give Eng any Kudos whatsoever? Also , not too long ago you openly slated test cricket as boring and the only thing that was worth watching was IPL. So may I ask in a polite manner why you are still watching test cricket , let alone commenting on it?

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    @SICHO on (July 19 2012, 20:03 PM GMT) Indeed . SA's lengths and lines both showed skill and ambition

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    @Chris_P on (July 19 2012, 22:48 PM GMT) Indeed. Not sure if it was on radio or tv as I was flitting between the 2 but they mentioned the 5th test from 2003 where SA were at 1 stage 290-1 and 345-2 and were 362-4 at the end of day 1 and I think they scored 480 and Eng still went on to win so it could still even go against Eng

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    @AKS286 on (July 20 2012, 05:59 AM GMT) Your comments on your previous post were fair enough.Your comments on this one have no substance whatsoever. "Any pitch , Any conditions..." - your words not mine. Obviously Eng had the better of the conditions to bat on but SA's lengths and lines were either poor or unambitious. Do you seriously believe that Eng prepared such a pitch because they were fearful of the SA "deadly barrage" ? If so it would make little sense as this pitch is likely to deteriorate and if SA won the toss then they'd have had the better batting conditions and bowling conditions. Also if this flat pitch was deliberately prepared why would Eng not have played Monty or Tredwell? PS I see you asked this Q later

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    @Kavindeven on (July 20 2012, 07:27 AM GMT) But as you and others have so often said , Eng are crap on flat tracks and can only play on green tops , so why would Eng do that?

  • JG2704 on July 20, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    @DINESHCC on (July 20 2012, 06:48 AM GMT) You're presuming that common sense rather than fantasy went into that post

  • vandedipre on July 20, 2012, 8:43 GMT

    As much as I hate saying it, the day went to England without any doubt! Cook played with a great deal of control and was very selective. SA bowled poorly, no aggression and they didn't seem to have a plan to bowl to. I also believe Tahir is a weak link, but a bowler that SA are forced to have due to their lack of classy spinners. I look forward to a fightback today from the SA bowlers as well as more enjoyable batting from ENG.

  • Rooboy on July 20, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur - have you not experienced the english press? Rabid indian fans seem balanced and reasonable in comparison.

  • Guernica on July 20, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    So, as we know from many previous comments that 'England can only do well in English conditions' and we now know from the comments today you can now add 'Indian dust-bowl' and 'flat-track' to the long list of these English conditions. Sound like they have most conditions covered then, no?

  • RednWhiteArmy on July 20, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    I think everyone is starting to realize that England are easily the best & it doesnt matter what anyone says because there's nothing anyone can do about it.

  • takenaback on July 20, 2012, 8:23 GMT

    joseyesu

    Surely you can't be serious with the following comment?

    "What is lacking in this SA team bowling?. On comparison Ind is far better in bowling, where they were able to get the top 5 wickets quickly and only they were not able to penetrate the lower order of batting."

    The South African bowlers are probably a little underdone but comparisons with the current Indian attack are ridiculous as SA are far superior. I'm not a South African supporter just a realist. It is one day of cricket albeit not a good one for South Africa but still a little too early to get a true indication. I wouldn't mind some of that stuff you are on. You bring up India, can you please remind me of the outcome of the Indian series here?

  • on July 20, 2012, 7:58 GMT

    continued... Cook and Trott are perhaps the two most measured batsmen in cricket and simply picked off any thing short from Tahir and played brilliantly straight in the first session to all but eliminate giving up their wickets, simply they do not give chances. The questions are, will the pitch become a little quicker over the next day or two to enliven the match? Can the England middle order speed up the run rate to apply some extra pressure to the African batsmen? It's seemingly a long way away but England will need to pick a couple of wickets with the new ball in order to restrict South Africa when they bat. Failing that I can only really see Bresnan's reverse swing posing threats as unless the wicket speeds up a little I think Swann should be capably seen off.

  • Gupta.Ankur on July 20, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    It seems english author has conveniently forgotten how flat the wicket was....slow and low as if we were playing in sri lanka.

  • on July 20, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    First up, well batted Trott and Cook. Now comes the 'but'! I can see how people are dissappointed by this pitch, it was flat and for the first day of such a highly awaited contest it left me and seemingly everyone else outside of England with a hollow feeling. Now then, having said that much, you can't really level any blame at the curator for this as with all the shocking weather being encountered this year it's hard to get it right. To the contest and I thought both teams did okay actually. With no lateral movement at all off the pitch there was little there for the quicks, they did swing the ball at times but with Trott and Cook unwilling to play at anything even remotely away from the stumps it became very hard work. I thought they actually attacked as best they could in the first 40 odd overs and rightly went defensive after that. There was spin there for Tahir, but it was coming off the pitch to slowly to have any effect.... to be continued.....

  • on July 20, 2012, 7:43 GMT

    Nobody has deliberately prepared a flat pitch. It's dry becasue the covers have had to be on consistently since April. We have had 4 months of record rainfall in the UK (since records began) Groundsman had a choice..Covered pitch or no match. Covered pitch it was. Having seen just how poor these "super Saffer" seamers are I wonder how on earth they think they are worth number one. Wide AND SLOW. Wide on purpose to prevent run scoring. 2 feet outside off stump with a 6-3 or even 7-2 field deliberate negative bowling. THEN slow. Steyn barely above 86 mph...Bresnan bowls faster than that and he's our slowest seamer. Then team spirit. Smith ignoring Steyn, Steyn walking off pitch middle of session to argue with Kirsten. Next time saffers, come prepared or don't come at all. REMEMBER SAFFERS COULD NOT BEAT ENGLAND IN TEST SERIES IN SOUTH AFRICA 2010! so this talk of home advantage is nonsense.

  • 5wombats on July 20, 2012, 7:37 GMT

    2 of us on duty today. OCS block 3. See you there!

  • justtogood on July 20, 2012, 7:37 GMT

    @everyone - day one and everyone is predicting stuff, my word that is funny, well played cook, SA bowlers were at 70% yesterday i think but maybe its a flat pitch, maybe a draw?? maybe ENG only make 400? who knows its way to early to say but to a lot of people having a DIG at the SA bowlers lets see what happens when the ENG attack have a crack!!!

  • superstar100 on July 20, 2012, 7:37 GMT

    game is on still 50-50 for both side !!!!

  • livinlovinnrockin on July 20, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Hilarious to see all the sour grapes from SA fans... Just accept that England made your so called world class team look like a bunch of school boys! Truely world class bowlers can take wickets on any pitch. Saffers bowlers just bowled poorly & England batted well.

  • Romenevans on July 20, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    ROFLMAO! Funny poms! They prepared a flat track, so that they won't lose the first test and set up the series? I didn't know they are so scared of SA pace attack.

  • on July 20, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    Alistair Cook has been a dependable batsman for England of late. Along with Trott, he's bailed the team out on multiple occasions. With Pietersen on the brink of retirement, Cook will have to play a pivotal role if England want to retain their top position in the test rankings. All said, I however feel that it's too early to say that he'll break Sachin's record of centuries. Let's give credit where it's required. Cook is a good batsman and it's unfair to compare him with Sachin. He still has a long way to go and it's highly debatable whether he'll be able to get there by the time he retires from world cricket.

  • veerakannadiga on July 20, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    looking forward to the SA fight back. Go SA Go.

  • CricketingStargazer on July 20, 2012, 7:07 GMT

    I am still bemused by the suggestions that the ECB prepared this pitch. They didn't. In England the groundsman prepares it, without outside orders how it should play. As it happens, it is the Oval groundsman's first Test match pitch. However, the comments give an insight into the jiggerypokery that goes on around the world to cement home advantage! Anyway, do wait until both sides have bowled before deciding how the pitch is playing. No mention suddenly of the fact that overhead conditions were ideal for bowling in the morning. And little mention of the fact that the one bowler to threaten did it by actually bowling somewhere near the stumps! No one can score if the bowling is so wide that most of it has to be left.

  • Jack_Tka on July 20, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    This one is being played on a flat pitch. Thats a fact as anybody can see that. Alongwith that, the SA bowlers were not so attacking. I believe that after the opening wkt, the Cook and Trott pair were clearly able to convince the SA bowlers that this is a flat wicket and nothing much could be done whatsoever.The bowl would spin pretty well from day 3 onwards. During that time Swan would be bowling, so its advantage ENG from the toss onwards. But personally, I was expecting STEYN to do more on the first day. I am disappointed from him right now. Will wait for 2nd day.

  • DINESHCC on July 20, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    THE-BLUE-ANDROID: Nice prediction. I also predict on similar lines as one team a choker team and another team is home ground heroes. But 645/6 and 725/4 can't be achieved in a test with below 2.3 run rate.

  • AKS286 on July 20, 2012, 6:47 GMT

    eng prepare a flat pitch ok. why they don't go for 2 spinners? no samit patel, no tredwell.

  • pranab708 on July 20, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    SA didn't bowl as well as they could. Too many deliveries on the pads or sliding down the leg side. Cook batted superbly on a really easy pitch, but received a lot of freebies also. SA did big tactical blunder in coming to such a big series without proper match practice. They could have played a series somewhere in the subcontinent or even in the west indies just to get themselves in the groove. Their bowlers, especially Dale Steyn looked clearly short of match practice.

  • joseyesu on July 20, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    What is lacking in this SA team bowling?. On comparison Ind is far better in bowling, where they were able to get the top 5 wickets quickly and only they were not able to penetrate the lower order of batting. Lets see the daY 2.

  • kshitijheroes on July 20, 2012, 6:10 GMT

    It's a typical oval surface,flattest in England.It will become more dry as the game progresses.It will help the spinners as always from third day onward ,swann picked 6 wickets against india also in the ashes ,marcus north took 5 wickets here.Fast bowlers have to struggle to pick wickets,but I am not impressed by dale steyn as he has the potential to take wickets on any surface of the world and going wicketless on 1st day will be demoralising for him.South africa have to bowl well and restrict them under 450 otherwise playing swann could be difficult for their batsmen.

  • SamRoy on July 20, 2012, 6:10 GMT

    What was surprising was the lack of reverse swing. I think the weather accounted for that. SA batsmen must pray for a sunny first 20 overs followed by a cloudy next 60, so that Anderson and Bresnan don't become unplayable. One thing for sure they won't be bowling the drivel that Kallis and Morkel bowled today. Though, they were the only wicket takers. Steyn was well below his best and wicket was too slow for a military medium bowler like Philander (who can be very dangerous on a fast pitch).

  • YorkshirePudding on July 20, 2012, 6:06 GMT

    @Cropper03, odly it does hurt people, for the last 4 months we've been told by some commentators on here that we will be brought down a peg or two by the superior SA bowling attack, and then have our bowlers plundered by the superior SA batting line up. All because they cannot accept that England are #1 in the rankings...We wont know a par score on this pitch until both teams have batted, but anything over 400 will put England in the driving seat and allow the bowlers to have a total to bowl at. Strauss made the right decision as swann should come into the equation in the 4th innings, even on Day one Tahir was getting the odd one to turn.

  • AKS286 on July 20, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    OMG before this match i said that SA must go for 4 pacers. eng prepared a flat , sub-continent pitch because they know AFRICAN DEADLY BARRAGE(steyn, morkel, phillander, tsotsobe, de lange) is just better than jimmy, broad, bresnan, finn, onion. so now POMS will use their world class spinner swann to trouble Saffers. i want same pitch in which india have played. if this was the pitch when india toured then result will be something else. because Indians are hero of flat pitch. before this series everyone was talking about FAST BOWLERS.

  • Akshita29 on July 20, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    @SICHO I was not comparing Philander with anyone . It was the commentators from the online BBC radio 5 live audio commentary who were saying Philander looks almost the same as Praveen Kumar of India (as I cannot afford a TV and I could access internet on my roommates laptop ) . I thought Philander might be the next best thing in the world of fast bowling department and who knows he might still be . But listening to last days commentary i felt he still not be finished product and he might need to work harder to add an extra yard of pace to him . Its completely my own point of view and I don't intend to offend any south African fan . South Africa have one of the best fast bowling department in world and I know they will come good in the series ..

  • YorkshirePudding on July 20, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    @IndnCrktfan, and cook has played exactly 4 tests in India and 5 in SL and 2 in Bangladesh. Its also fair to say that cook, prefers the ball coming onto the bat, but he's gradually changing and willing to nurdle the singles, and yesterdays 114 consisted of only 11 4's and 1 (lucky) six.

  • AKS286 on July 20, 2012, 5:45 GMT

    Eng lethal barrage handled the african deadly barrage. it means eng will surely comes to 359-380. african batting will be testing now. yes its like flat pitch now swann will be a key person.@praveen4honestremark I think KP will blast in this series for a strong reply to ECB. migrated players at this level never took soo early retirement.

  • Akshita29 on July 20, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 I was not comparing Praveen Kumar to Philander. He is a spirited cricketer but he is not in the current odi side and probably will not make the Indian test side too because the lack of pace and fitness although he is a very fine bowler and a fine cricketer . And I am an indian and I found it quite amusing that somebody is comparing a south African fast bowler to an indian bowler . Praveen performed well in England last time India visited England . I did not intend to offend any Praveen fan or Philander fan either. I have not seen Philander bowl but there is a lot of hype about him after his strong performance in last one year or so . All I was saying Philander might find it difficult to maintain that level of consistency over the next few years ..

  • 5wombats on July 20, 2012, 5:32 GMT

    @ashes61 on (July 19 2012, 22:20 PM GMT) - hi mate! Yes I had same problem. Came in from the match last night and posted a straightforward precis of the days play of about 800 words, put a lot into it - only for it not to be posted. If people who were actually at the game watching the play cannot get their comments published - then what is the point of any of this? By the way @ashes61 - really good to have you back; you've been missed :-)

  • venkatesh018 on July 20, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    The first day was definitely a huge let-down from South Africa. England as expected displayed hard, old-fashioned Test cricket and the South African bowlers just couldn't lift their game to the levels demanded by Trott and especially Alistair Cook. Morkel despite his wickets looked inconsistent in hitting the right areas, Steyn for all his skill and experience still looks clueless when bowling to dogged left handed batsmen and Philander for all his late movement looked ineffective because he didn't adjust his length to the slowness of the pitch. All three bowlers were guilty of bowling at least a foot or two short on this slow, dry pitch. If the opening day of the series is any pointer, the South Africans have to improve dramatically. Otherwise, this high-profile series could be as one-sided as the one last summer against India.

  • on July 20, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    I am not sure why there is such gung-ho for all this , "revolutionary" "pragmatic" words kind of make this whole thing feel like "never done before" . Infact best teams in cricket always had their top 3 batsmen grinding out the opposition bowlers . Be it the case with might WI of 80's or Aus in 2000 or even India in their golden period . One more thing to note is that all these players are having a great run at their home grounds , for being hailed as the "Best" they need to play in other countries and score all the runs as well . That is not meant to take any credit away from the English side , but this is just to mention all this hoopla is going too much overboard .

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 20, 2012, 4:50 GMT

    England keep beating everything that's in front of them, including a pace attack that, was said in some quarters prior to the series, one that would just pip their own as best in the world. There's a fair bit of rubbish spoken by some posters on here, yet again with egg on their faces after another day of test cricket in which England against seemingly all the odds thrash their opposition. Seeing that this happens time and again to certain posters, shouldn't that tell them something? Well played England, you continue to dominate the rankings.

  • on July 20, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    So many sensationalist comments so far. Yes the pitch was flat, but SaF's bowling attack is formidable regardless. England batted with confidence and application, applying the same formula that has got them to no 1 and doing it with discipline. A solid first day but SaF are not out of it by any stretch. If the pitch continues to play like this, their batting line up will also flourish in these conditions - esp Amla and de Villiers - given they can resist the temptation of loose shots and not be too bogged down by mental pressure of any large Eng 1st innings score. Looking fwd to an amazing test match ahead!

  • KK_Cricket on July 20, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    Those who are thinking this match is over for good.. or it will be a draw.. think again..SA is not a team who gives up easily.. Even if England manage 450, SA will come hard, get those runs and look to put put English bowlers under pressure... We would certainly have a result for this match.. rain permitting though...

  • thebarmyarmy on July 20, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    Fantastic day from Team England. Marvelous indeed!! ;)-

  • jondavies01 on July 20, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    One minute people are saying that England can't win in the subcontinent and the next they saying we stacked the deck with a subcontinent-type pitch. Make up your minds guys! Loving the great start to this series -- Go England!!!

  • Gary_the_Pom on July 20, 2012, 3:58 GMT

    LOUDMOUTH, your user name says it all. To call Cook boring because no one can get him out in test cricket, shows how little you know about the game sadly. He may not be the most exciting of players, but the way he adapts to the type of cricket needed shows his class. Hes the captain of the number one team in one dayers (well he will be after this series white wash) and he will be the captain of the number one test team after the ashes next year. Get used to him, his name will be next to quite a few records in the future

  • Eskimo on July 20, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    The way this is looking, England are gonna declare on 600/4 and then SA are probably gonna make 600/4 aswell. Let's hope this is not the case for England, because then you would have just given one of the most lethal attacks some warm up practice. England should pounce on this undercooked attack while they have the chance. Keep in mind where England play the next test and what Steyn and Morkel did to England last time around on that track. Personally, I think it's just idiotic to face those two on green tops. England should know this better than others (Headingley and Wanderers).

  • rahulcricket007 on July 20, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    @SICHO . IT WAS ENGLISH COMMENTATORS WHO WERE SAYING PHILANDER IS LIKE PRAVEEN KUMAR . NO INDIAN SAID THAT .

  • on July 20, 2012, 2:43 GMT

    very poor and defensive statergy form eng the pitch looked like a subcontinent pitch on 3rd day of a test. just compare pitches they used during ind series.

  • rahulcricket007 on July 20, 2012, 2:41 GMT

    ENGLISH BATSMEN HAS THRASH AUS , SA QUICKS & INDIAN MEDIUM PACERS IN LAST 2 YEARS . COOK , TROTT , KP , BELL ARE EXCELLENT PLAYERS OF FAST BOWLING .THEIR ONLY STRUGGLE CAME AGAINST PAKISTAN 'S ASIF & AMIR IN 2010 .

  • rahulcricket007 on July 20, 2012, 2:38 GMT

    @AKSHITA 29 . PRAVEEN KUMAR TOOK 17 WKTS FROM 3 MATCHES IN ENGLAND LAST YEAR WHICH INCLUDES A 5 WKT HAUL AT LORDS . DON'T COMPARE PRAVEEN KUMAR WITH PHILANDER .

  • rahulcricket007 on July 20, 2012, 2:11 GMT

    THOUGH ENGLAND PLAYED GOOD CRICKET BUT I THINK PITCH WAS TOO FLAT & DRY . ALMOST LIKE A SUBCONTINENTAL PITCH .

  • Hasheem on July 20, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    African bowling , poor.Donald has to ask them to get fired up.Unless the Africans bowl England out for a score less than 350 they are in for some real hard time. My outlook for the Test Match.1)Draw goes out at long odds.2)Outsider (Africa) at the start of the Test Match wins. As per my book,the only possibility is draw goin out at long Odds. This is based on the record that England has had it easy at home against Pak,India,Lanka and West Indies.England are yet to lose a Test at home in last 11 games. You never know,funny things have been happening with England at home,it has won everything this season easily be it Test,ODI or T20.

  • praveen4honestremark on July 20, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    Pietersen will not play too long in International arena ;that after he is dropped from T20 probables. He will be thinking retirement . May be this against SA is his last series. If not this he may be thinking Ashes 2013 as best stage to retire as most of English fans are following this series vs SA and will follow Ashes 2013. So he may retire after this series or after 2013 Ashes.

  • on July 20, 2012, 1:07 GMT

    Comment on bowling until both sides have bowled is irrelevant. SA bowled terribly today. The batsmen could leave 5 out of 6 balls. We'll see what happens when England bowl. Comment then on the pitch.

  • Sinhaya on July 20, 2012, 0:59 GMT

    England's batting depth means they will score 500 and SA will feel the scoreboard pressure and start crumbling. SA batting is overly dependent on Smith, Kallis, Amla and De Villiers.

  • me54321 on July 20, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    It was definitely a tough pitch for the bowlers, but they bowled poorly, and where was the intensity? There was no noise or energy in the field. You can expect the fielding team to be a bit down by the end of the day, but being so subdued by the end of the first session isn't good enough.

  • Meety on July 20, 2012, 0:33 GMT

    Good match. England have bossed the first day - but as they didn't quite reach 3 rpo (just), there is every opportunity that a renewed effort from the Saffas could limit the damage & the game remain in the balance. Even if the Saffa bowlers fight back on Day 2, the Saffa batsmen are going to have to bat very well to put themselves in a safe position. Good old fashioned arm wrestle! @Cpt.Meanster - go watch Baseball!

  • loudmouth on July 20, 2012, 0:30 GMT

    Well done to England for first day honours but please....if Alistair Cook is going to go down in history with 35 Test centuries and 13000 runs then just shoot me now!!! AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! HE'S SO BORING TO WATCH!!!!!!!

  • praveen4honestremark on July 20, 2012, 0:25 GMT

    My guess : England will be all out in first Innings for score below 400.

  • Lateralis on July 20, 2012, 0:16 GMT

    @Olly_76 I am not entirely convinced that Landl46's comments are to be taken entirely literally. In fact, I'd go so far as to say there is a fairly large dollop of sarcasm mixed in. @RandyOz. You always judge a Test match wicket once both sides have batted once. Keep in mind, for instance, India last year and England in Australia before that, where the pitch was made to look lifeless and docile whilst England were batting but suddenly looked much more vicious when England were bowling. How many innings victories was it in the last Ashes? 3 if I recall correctly. How many times did India loose by an innings last year? Twice out of four Tests. So just wait until South Africa have batted before passing judgement on the wicket. As for the crack at Pietersen and Trott - get over it.

  • Paul.Power on July 20, 2012, 0:08 GMT

    For what it's worth, I'd have backed England to take more than three wickets on this pitch today. As demonstrated against Pakistan and Sri Lanka this winter, even on flat tracks they find a way. Our batsman may have been poor in the subcontinent, but our bowlers consistently gave their all.

  • poms_have_short_memories on July 20, 2012, 0:08 GMT

    Typical of the english to prepare a lifeless pitch to negate SA's better seam attack,sounds like 1956 ashes again.

  • N.M.Howard on July 20, 2012, 0:02 GMT

    @RandyOz, every comment from you on England is the same. You've made your point that Trott and Pietersen were brought up in SA and make a lot of runs for England but its extremely old news. On the whole you seem to find it impossible to accept that England are actually quite a good team, and appear obsessively frustrated by it. Just relax mate and enjoy the cricket rather than looking for confrontation.

  • pulkit10 on July 19, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    England, by far, had the better day today but it's the first day of a three match series...it's not like the result is out. I'm supporting SA but seriously, calm the heck down and enjoy the game - these are two good teams going head to head, what's the point in shooting each other down.

    Was extremely disappointed when India toured last year, hope this series goes as expected.

  • on July 19, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    What a surprise, Philander and Steyn, hard toil. Welcome to the birthplace of cricket. Perhaps bullying weaker batting line ups makes you get most of your wickets. Not against the no.1 team in the world. Although not easy for the batsmen either.

  • sAiyAnstAr on July 19, 2012, 23:29 GMT

    Excellent day for England. I think they deserve the top spot, and South Africa deserve to be fighting them for it. These are the 2 best teams in the world at the moment, and then there is daylight before the rest of the teams are ranked. I am a Sri Lankan supporter so there is no bias here.

  • RandyOZ on July 19, 2012, 23:16 GMT

    Apart from Bell, only one Englishman has actually batted so far. You have to give credit to South Africa for fielding both sides out there. Well done CSA.

  • RandyOZ on July 19, 2012, 23:13 GMT

    Very poor pitch prepared by England. As their bowlers are not up to the class of South Africa, they have prepared a lifeless pitch with little to no assisstance so the South Africans in their team can safely accumulate runs. Forunately for South Africa they have kallis AB and Amla who are also pretty handy batsmen.

  • olly_76 on July 19, 2012, 23:11 GMT

    @landl47 - not sure I follow your maths re. Cook centuries.

    He has indeed missed out in batting twice in innings victories, but let's assume he would have scored second innings tons at his usual rate in these games. He has batted 140 times in 80 games, which means 80 1st innings and 60 2nd innings - so statistically in these 20 lost innings he would have scored less than 3 more tons (8/60 x 20 = 2.67).

    This ignores of course that innings victories tend to come against the weaker teams in favourable conditions (such as Australia away) so we could legitimately assume that he'd score 2nd innings tons more frequently in these games if he was given the chance.

    Still, 14 tons in 20 innings would be pretty good going :)

  • maddy20 on July 19, 2012, 23:07 GMT

    @landl47 If and buts? You are saying that as if you read it in a book! And breaking Tendulkar's record? In your dreams! They said that about a lot of batsmen wiz: Lara, Ponting etc., But form is temporary, class is permanent. True class is the ability to bat anywhere in the world. Tendulkar averages 55+ all over the world barring Pak and SA.

  • Alexk400 on July 19, 2012, 23:05 GMT

    As i said before Trott presence allow england to grind team down. Faster trott falls faster england down. This england team need more trott than pieterson.

  • Damo_s on July 19, 2012, 23:00 GMT

    @sheila_4 : You cant really say England 'Team', because less than half actually did anything lol

  • ashes61 on July 19, 2012, 23:00 GMT

    In SA's 1st tour of ENG after re-admission (1994) it was, like this, only a 3 Test series. Two gentle "social" 1 day warm-ups were followed by SIX consecutive 3-day games against counties - 18 days of 1st class cricket without a break. Then just 2 days rest before the 1st Test. In 1965, the last SA tour of ENG before isolation, after arriving the tourists spent ALL 25 DAYS between 26 June and 20 July (inclusive) playing SEVEN 1st class 3-day cricket matches against the counties, excluding 4 Sundays of rest. (One match was v. the Minor Counties Xl). That's 21 days' continuous cricket, excluding Sundays. These counties fielded their strongest XIs! Concluding the match at Leicester they had 1 day to travel to London before beginning the Lord's Test the very next day! Undoubtedly acclimatised & match fit but possibly a little tired? No more than their opponents, whose schedule was identical! All this prep for only 3 Tests again. Moral 1: Can't be done in 5 days. Moral 2: KP is tired?

  • itsthewayuplay on July 19, 2012, 22:59 GMT

    To all those moaning about the conditions, I'm sorry to sound harsh but it's a case of bad luck, literally. The amount of rain at this time of the year is even by British weather standards unusual which has no doubt had some impact on the groundstaff's preparation. One of the exciting things about cricket is seeing how batsmen and bowlers adjust to overseas conditions however a lot of the SA players have experience of English conditions having played county cricket here. That aside we've seen Eng firstly against India then against WI bowling second and making the visitors look as if a new bowler-friendly strip had been laid down for them. I think it would be easier to accept the fact these Eng bowlers are highly skilled and determined in these conditions. I tending to side with a lot of Eng fans on here that a lot of people are struggling to accept Eng as the no 1 test team on merit.

  • SirViv1973 on July 19, 2012, 22:52 GMT

    I fancy a few questions will need to be answered by SAF seamers tomorrow. Steyn didn't look at his best today and there is a suspicion he is carrying a knock. Morkel is tall and fast but also erratic and cannot always be relied on. On the basis of what we have seen today at least, Phillanders stats seem some what flattering. With the promising De Lange gone home there dosen't seem too much in reserve either Tsotsobe is really a containing bowler and not a wicket taker from what I have seen of him he and has a very modest record. On the other hand Eng have plenty in reserve with Finn & Onions waiting in the wings & Tremlett back playing for Surrey.

  • Chris_P on July 19, 2012, 22:48 GMT

    A bit early for the draw comments isn't it? Am I wrong or did England score 500+ runs last season against India and won? As for the test, the Saffers look a little underdone, so let's hope for an improved bowling display. Good work by the Pommy bats.

  • on July 19, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    Over the past two or three weeks "England are going to get stuffed" and "Wait till Steyn and Morkel show up" on every thread by the same 4 or 5 England haterz. England have a good day, so it's "Lucky toss" or "Pitch was dry" or "SA not prepared well" or other drivvel. Fact is SA bowled slow (Steyn slower than all three England seamers in their last test) and wide..deliberately...you'd need a telescopic bat to reach the garbage they were serving up, and it looked like Morkel Kallis and Tahir were doing it on purpose. Why? Who knows. Smith sat back and allowed ones, even to new batsmen and Cooke in his 90's. Tahir bowled garbage, no balls, long hops and full bungers. And somehone England get the blame for all this. If SA are as good as everyone makes out, it's up to them to show it. Today they didn't look good at all. Not as good as West Indies last month, not by a long way. If SA bowl negatively with "the best attack in the world" that's their problem, not Englands!

  • ashes61 on July 19, 2012, 22:35 GMT

    Nickduewest (21.04 pm) is right. A 2-dayer & a 3-dayer is not nearly enough to acclimatise to ENG conditions or become match-fit after many have had a long layoff. Overseas sides would perform far better if they bore this in mind. India's intro last year was no better & did them nio favours. SA are quoted as saying they don't like "pointless warm-up games." Nor did ENG until Flower insisted the players treat them competitively in AUS, and it certainly worked. The English counties are partly to blame because if the deplorable modern practice of fielding weakened sides, as Somerset & Kent did. The recent discussions here about several Test teams being strong at home but weak away is partly explained by this reluctance to arrive more than a few days before a Test series. Of course all countries are to blame as many series are very short now, with no "topping & tailing" before & after the Tests or ODIs.

    I shall post some interesting(?) stats in my next post to make this point.

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 19, 2012, 22:32 GMT

    @sheila_4: Dear Sheila, I am a neutral and I enjoy good cricket and I don't care if it comes from England or SA. England batted well. There is no doubt in that. SA perhaps could have tried a bit harder one would feel. But there is no doubt that the pitch was pathetic by English standards. This was more like a day 3 pitch in the subcontinent. England should easily score 500 here and make it hard for SA to have any chance in the match. But that's also where the problem lies. Can England bowl out SA twice to win this test ? cause that's what a no.1 ought to do. I am looking for a genuine no.1 here. I hope England are that. But there is also the 'IF' factor. A draw here and I am one unhappy neutral.

  • Cropper03 on July 19, 2012, 22:27 GMT

    @mhb1 - when did Pakistan beat England in England 3-1? It certainly wasn't overly recently. England won last time Pakistan were here. Not that half the team were actually playing the game properly if I remember rightly...

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 19, 2012, 22:21 GMT

    @Snick_to_Backward_Point: Buddy, you are being a bit harsh there by criticizing Indian conditions. Being an Indian supporter, I do agree that the pitches in the subcontinent will never be as lively as those in England given the geography of the country and soil type. Test cricket will always be boring when it is played in conditions that don't help any form of bowling. But spinning 'dust bowls' as you refer to them is not necessarily a bad thing for the game. It helps the art of spin bowling. It irritates me when some people don't take that equation into the fray. Test cricket is not all about pace and swing. I only called for a better first day because it's in England. Had this match been played in India, I would have taken a 'dust bowl' any day over boredom. Test cricket may be the apex of the sport but it doesn't fit the 21st century. We need results at the earliest.

  • arif.vampire on July 19, 2012, 22:20 GMT

    COOK! COOK ! AND COOK ! The English Wall,Great Innings.. And Always Nice To See Trott Among The Runs..Disappointed About KP Though..Really Wanted To See Him Trash The Opposition..But There Is Always A Next Time :)

  • ashes61 on July 19, 2012, 22:20 GMT

    Does anyone know the criteria which decide which posts are published & which not? It is disappointing to compile a full post around 7.45pm or so which one hopes is balanced, interesting, fair & polite, only to see others, presumably posted later, which may be less balanced or polite (not for me to decide of course) being published. I appreciate there may be many for which room can't be found if simply too many are coming in; I also appreciate there is a necessary time-lag; I also understand that someone somewhere has to make a decision which is final. But one still sees some posters getting several accepted in one thread, indeed several ina row. What's the secret, chaps?

  • on July 19, 2012, 22:19 GMT

    Cpt.Meanster maybe they would do IF it was at Lords. It's at the Oval!!!

  • Lmaotsetung on July 19, 2012, 22:15 GMT

    Let's not forget SA will be batting in SUNNY, DRY and WARM condition with forecast for Sat, Sun, and Mon being excellent. Rain probably Friday. There was swing and seam movement early on. Eng batsmen left many balls that other players would have nicked (go watch highlights of Philander's wickets against NZ). Shows they are focused and seeing the ball very well. As usual the same people are trying to grasp at staws...

  • MMahmood1 on July 19, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    Historically Oval is a batting wicket and difficult to get the result. The best way to bat on this wicket or in England is to bat first 20 overs and then there is no movement till 40-50 hours. It is one of thebest pitch in england to get reverse swing. Oval is favourable for batting and this is the reason this ground is preferred specially against SA to demoralise bowlers. Lets c how they will come back tomorrow morning.

  • jackiethepen on July 19, 2012, 22:08 GMT

    No it will not do McGlashan to make a point. England did not fumble to 260 at Brisbane after Strauss got out for a duck. Cook stuck in and got 67. Bell launched a counter attack after Siddle's hattrick and got 76, ending up with Anderson as his partner. He battled brilliantly. If he had succumbed with the others history might well have been different. Cook was marvellous today well supported by Trott - but let's not rewrite history. I was at the Gabba and heard the Gabba roar for Strauss's duck and the hattrick. Fortunately Bell was in the form of his life.

  • sheila_4 on July 19, 2012, 21:39 GMT

    There are some utterly bizarre comments on here; one can only imagine that some people are so jealous of this England team that they simply cannot bring themselves to admit that England were, by some distance, the better team today. As for the pitch - let's see how benign it looks when England are bowling and SA are batting...

  • mhb1 on July 19, 2012, 21:35 GMT

    so this is proved that only pakistan has the potential to compete with the england (if their batting click) no words about their bowling they are exceptional in that & so far the only team to beat them at home(3-1) & away (0-3) it would have been more better if their batting should have clicked in the 2010 tour amir was unstopable in the series 3-1 & stil got the man of the series awards now thats talent

  • Tlotoxl on July 19, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    the SA bowling looked poor, yes the pitch was not a minefield but there always looked like there was going to be another poor ball to feast on, they got 3 wickets, 2 of which were poor shots by the batsman. oh and Philander has well and true been found out hasn't he!!

  • StatisticsRocks on July 19, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    @landl47: I am sure u were watching a different game than I was. What strategy ...to bowl short and wide is what you call strategy then I guess u r the one who is test match challenged. I am not taking anything away from Cook, Trott who batted beautifully especially after losing the wicket of Strauss in the first over of the day. But they were gifted with some poor bowling from the World's best. SA bowlers need to get it full. It will come as no surprise if SA batting collapses as English bowlers do know how to bowl in their own backyard. India were pathetic last year in Eng, both in bowling and batting department (and off course in fielding department as well) but I was definitely expecting lot more from SA and wont even dare to compare their performance agnst India's in summer of 2011.

  • Cropper03 on July 19, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    Some of these comments are laughable - why even come on a cricket website if you know nothing about cricket?? The alistair cook 50% hundreds in England is one of the funniest things I've read in ages. top maths, top point

    Secondly, it's day one - why should the pitch be massively misbehaving? It's a test match, 5 days long... There was swing available in the morning, but SA didn't bowl at their best. There's also turn on day one for an average spinner, so I wouldn't say the pitch was dead, just slow, and it's only going to get worse, which how it should be over 5 days.

    Secondly, why is everyone so angry about England having a decent day? Does it really hurt people that much that we have a decent team at the moment (notice how no one is claiming great)?

    Trott and Cook etc are patient, decent Test players, particularly good in England, but also most places other than the sub continent, which is understandable - there's a reason why India hardly ever win in England and vice versa!

  • Partyman on July 19, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    Here is a stat chaps. SA have played thrice at The Oval since readmission and they have lost all three! Will The Oval become to South Africans what WACA is to England!?

  • jb633 on July 19, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    Absolutley class day for England. As I expected Cook was the main man, he is simply the best opening batsman in world cricket. I expect England to go on and win this game now (weather permitting). England have bowlers who can reverse swing the ball and that will be a big threat on this abrasive surface. I also think Swann will be a huge challenge for the SA left handers. @ England bashers of the last 3 years. Right just accept England are a good outfit, it will be good for your health in the long run. We are not saying this side is as good as Aus of 90's or Windies of 80's so just leave the matter. Just try and enjoy the game of cricket and appreciate the talents on show. England fans admired the talents of Sachin, Warne and Ponting during the 90's, even when they were playing against us. This attitude of dismissing the England players, without any justification, is simply pathetic.

  • Damo_s on July 19, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    The ball was moving around, and it was turning a bit (even tahirs googlies turned a bit) so there was something for all the SA bowlers to work with. On another day England could easily be 7 down having edged the ones they missed by a whisker. SA were a bit unlucky, didnt look sharp, and perhaps should been more attacking, where as England looked focused, perhaps a little lucky, and patient (accept KP) and that was the difference. Cant judge the picth until England have a bowl.

  • Aryian007 on July 19, 2012, 21:20 GMT

    Indeed an admiring performance from the English batsmen, but did any one notice Van Phil bowling space was @ 130kph from the start to end - unless, "fast" bowling has come to a new low, is he really a fast bowler!

  • landl47 on July 19, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    @IndnCrktFan: did you know that if you only count centuries in tests in which England batted twice, Cook has twice as many centuries in the second innings (8) as in the first (4)? However, he also has 7 centuries in games which England won by an innings, plus this latest test, where we don't know if England will bat once or twice. So if England had been forced to bat twice in the games which they won by an innings, Cook would have had 14 more centuries to his name. That would give him 34 centuries by age 27, figures which Tendulkar could only dream of. Not only that, but if England only bats once in this game, that will deprive Cook of two more centuries. Amazing, but true.

  • kitten on July 19, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    We mustn't write off this SA team yet. Remember, Strauss was lucky to have won a very important toss, and as every one stated, this was a very dry track, and Strauss was very happy to bat on it. Even all the commentators agreed that it was very difficult for the bowlers to operate on, and yes, even though Cook, Trott, and KP played well, especially Cook, the wicket helped to a great extent. But all and sundry are agreed that it will change over the next few days, but England will still have a good wicket to bat on tomorrow. However, after that, things will change, and SA may not be so lucky, and England's bowlers will exploit it no end. But that is the beauty of cricket, you win some, you lose some. However, I feel this SA team will perform well with the bat, and it will turn out to be a good test, but England will prevail in the end, with Swann being the trump card.

  • Tom_Bowler on July 19, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    Could someone tell me if articles on the IPL frequently feature comments from Test cricket afficionados droning on about how dull it is? I don't know I'm afraid as I've never read an article about the IPL. Whilst I quite enjoy a bit of T20 if my country or county are playing I'm not really interested in overseas, dometic, limited over competitions. I think you'd have to be a bit odd to waste your time deliberately seeking information about something you're indifferent to.

  • nickduewest on July 19, 2012, 21:04 GMT

    3 tests just isn't enough for a series like this - and the pressure to fit in tests and ODIs and T20 means that now touring teams only have 1 or 2 warm up games before the series - once upon a time South Africa would have had 6 or 8 games against the counties before the first test that they didn't and the 2 they had were rain effected may have much to do with their slow start to the series.

    Home advantage exaggerated by lack of acclimatization may give England the edge in a finely balanced series: with only 3 tests South Africa need to get back into this game tomorrow - batting last against Swan will not be easy and going 1 down with only 3 matches hard (but not impossible) to come back from

  • on July 19, 2012, 21:04 GMT

    I saw the highlight and got to say the wicket didn't provide much for the South African bowlers but I just want to say what are pitches like in England anyway?

  • veeezel on July 19, 2012, 21:01 GMT

    Hi is any one there listening and can explain me if slow over rate law still exist when one of the sub continent team is not playing( no need to mention the name).....today game started15 Min late at 11-15am and carried on without any further disruption so 90ov should have been completed at 18-15pm but SA boweled 80th over at 6.00pm and all day i never heard any of the expert even mentioned the word slow over rate. i don't want to say no more and hope this will get space in your comments because my comments hardly gets any space !

  • maddy20 on July 19, 2012, 20:56 GMT

    An admirable batting performance from Cook. He was gritty and solid. I am surprised there is not much grass on the wicket. One gets the feeling that it is gonna stay a flat wicket for the first 3 days and start turning at the latter part of the game. It remains to be seen, how the Saffas bat on it. I am also surprised by the slightly wayaward bowling especially by Steyn and their incapability to use reverse swing later in the day. Steyn is deadly with the old ball but today he was just rusty.

  • sixnout on July 19, 2012, 20:52 GMT

    England have morphed into something of the Australia of the 2000. They seem to have the answer to anything their opposition throws at them. The Pakistan test series almost feels like a aberration. South Africa has quite a bit of firepower in their arsenal, but can they come out all guns blazing or will they do a India?

  • SirViv1973 on July 19, 2012, 20:50 GMT

    @Marcio, never thought i'd say this but I agree with you! As per my previous post I believe SAF management have taken liberties here and their team are well undercooked. Although we got the prep spot on in Oz 18 mths ago, we got it wrong in UAE earlier in the year when we only arranged 6 days match practice in very difficult conditions, we should have had 8 or 9.

  • Zippydidodah on July 19, 2012, 20:49 GMT

    The bowling and fielding was sloppy today, with too many short and wide looseners at the start of a spell, 15 needless extras from byes, no balls and wides, and too many misfields. When South Africa did get a break from their skill, or the batsmen's error, they couldn't maintain the pressure, and the score board kept ticking over. If South Africa had been sharper, and cut off the flow of easy runs, then the batsmen might have had to take some bigger risks to score.

  • pommy80 on July 19, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    A true Englishman dominating the South African attack just like he did against Australia. Great batting!

  • scritty on July 19, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    A flat wicket? It was slow for sure, but we've had 4 months of record railnfall here in the UK and pitches are just kept covered far more just to protect them JUdge a pitch after BOTH SIDES HAVE BOWLED. This game isn't meandering to a draw, England to win by at least 150 runs and possibly an innings. Ball was swinging a lot, but Kallis and Morkel bowled 2 feet outside off stump THAT'S what was negative. Bowling so wide at batsmen with the patience of Cooke and Trott is and was an exercise in futility. Tahir was garbage. No balls, full tosses, half trackers. Then to Cooke he went over the wicket and also bowled 2 feet outside off stump. Philander looked like every half decent English seamer, the sort of bowler most counties in the UK have three of. We should be talking about SA's "world class" bowling attack barely able to reach 85 MPH and bowling over after over of wide rubbish on purpose THAT'S WHAT WAS NEGATIVE TODAY.

  • whoster on July 19, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    Great work from the England batsmen; and even though it was an excellent batting track, the SA bowlers were also disappointing. Trott and Cook showed exactly how to lay a foundation, and were always watchful while keeping the score ticking over. I thought Steyn looked pretty flat today, and I wonder if he's being troubled by his ankle. If he's not fully fit and firing, it'll be tough going for SA to stop England getting 500 plus. None of the bowlers were especially impressive, and they'll need a couple of early wickets with the newish ball tomorrow to get back into the game. If they don't get Cook in the first hour, fancy him to get another daddy!

  • Sehwag_Is_Ordinary on July 19, 2012, 20:42 GMT

    don't know why SA looked so down really, aweful

  • TheGame666able on July 19, 2012, 20:42 GMT

    Looks like England's plan is to bore the opposition to defeat!I would rather watch paint dry than this ... C#$p!

  • Nutcutlet on July 19, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    In view of the excessive rainfall we have had this summer, perhaps it's not a surprise to find that even the Test wicket at the Oval of all places, is pretty lifeless. It doesn't make for pretty cricket and KP's dismissal, going for an adventurous hook, said it all - any attempt to force the pace was unlikely to pay much of a dividend. Day one has been an accumulator's wicket - perfect for Cook & Trott. There seems to be some consensus of opinion among the pundits that this wicket will break up in due course. If that proves to be the case (and the match isn't too interrupted by the weather) then the value of England's workmanlike approach today may pay off in the 4th inns when Swann will earn his corn. The early signs are that SA are prepared to go on the defensive quite quickly - hoping that something might happen, rather than trying to make something happen. I would hope that once a score of about 450-500 is posted, that England will go hunting for wickets, not sitting back.

  • on July 19, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    R_U_4_REAL_NICK - Have to agree with you about AB really good behind the stumps. Especially towards the end of the day when the ball started swinging after passing the stumps and keeping low. Done well considering he wasn't expecting to keep

  • on July 19, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    Now I love to see Hashim's bat and see the faces of english bowlers. Must see :)

  • SirViv1973 on July 19, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    @Capt Meanster, This is only the first day of the test so how can you already be talking about this game being a draw ? Anything can happen in this match and series and all results are possible that is the beauty of test cricket. Also Eng will be playing in very different & challenging conditions when they go to Ind in a few months time.

  • tests_the_best on July 19, 2012, 20:38 GMT

    Still early days but on the face of it, looks like eng have the upper hand in the series. One would have assumed both batting units would struggle but the sa batting would struggle more in seaming conditions. Couple that with the fact that eng bat way down till almost the 10th man and you got to say, unless smith/kallis pull something special out of the hat, it's advantage england.

  • i_witnessed_2011 on July 19, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    I had my doubt about that SA bowlers ALSO may become ineffective... and hats what happened... Now a days no bowler from other country seems to be effective in English condition... Is England batsmen toooo good in these condition or is it the pitch or something there is in the air? :) I know its just first day of a first test but I seriously dont think something will change for SA in coming days ... Its SAs batsmen who have to bail them out...

  • SirViv1973 on July 19, 2012, 20:29 GMT

    I must admit I was rather surprised that SAF only scheduled 5 days cricket ahead of the first test. Of those 5 they ended up loosing about 1 and a half to weather so a little over 3 days was never going to be enough. I would think at least 7 or 8 days match practice would have been the minimum requirement for such an important series. I think because the entire 11 have either played international or county cricket here before the SAF management thought they would be ok but that dosen't look the case. Apart from Phillander who played a few games early season for Somerset all have either not been playing or playing tip & run in the IPL since the series against NZL 4 months ago.

  • mikey76 on July 19, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    I think you need to wait until England bowl on this deck before casting judgement. The SA bowlers bowled poorly, didn't attack the stumps enough. There was swing and seam movement, but you have to make the batsmen play to get the nicks.

  • SirViv1973 on July 19, 2012, 20:14 GMT

    @Capt Meanster, In some people's eyes Eng can do no right. If a large amount of grass had been left on the surface and Eng won in 3 days then the talk would have been that Eng can only win tests on a greentop in their own backyard. The pitch is a bit on the slow side but the main reason SAF only took 3 wickets today was that Strauss apart Eng batted well & SAF didn't bowl too well.

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    @ richardror on (July 19 2012, 19:26 PM GMT) Spelele was telling everyone how much better SA was than Eng long before the series started and rather that either admit Eng played well or SA bowled , he obviously thought that by saying what a boring pitch , tailor made for batting - not considering that if SA had won the toss they'd have enjoyed the batting conditions and no doubt if they had racked up 260-3 on the 1st day would have been saying how ordinary our bowling attack was

  • tjsimonsen on July 19, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    OK, I only watched the highlights, but I couldn't see that the pitch was flat. Slow yes, but that can assist the bowlers if they stick to their guns and blow tight - and SA didn't. There seemed to be some lateral movement and swing, but Cook and Trott wore the bowlers out. Let save judgment til the match is over. I personally think the groundsman did a good job producing a decent pitch and not a soggy swamp.

  • allblue on July 19, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    Incidentally, the umpires made one error today, and DRS corrected it. This system really should be a standard across all Test matches.

  • StatisticsRocks on July 19, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    @trav29 @Yevghenny. First, No I am not trying to maky any point but just stating the obvious or the STATS. This also means that he scores 50% of his centuries away frm home (10 centuries agnst 7 test playing nations in their backyard) out of which 1 each have come in India and SL (not counting 2 agnst BNG) and 5 have come in fast hard picthes (4 in Aus + 1 in SA). Obvious inference is that He still finds hard to score in the subcontinent, which is a mystery to me as he is such a fine batsmen. No centuries agnst PAK away from home (might be due to not engh played agnst PAK away from home). Second, No one expected SA to bowl Eng out for < 100 or even < 200 as this ENG team are a most balanced side when playing at home. But we did expect SA to fare better than India for sure, given how pathetic India's bowling attack was (is). Commentators comparing Philander to Praveen Kumar sums it all. SA bowlers need to adjust their length. Interesting to see what SA batsmen will do.

  • allblue on July 19, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    I thought the SA attack was very disappointing today. Clearly they are under-prepared because they were lacklustre. Also, I thought the strategy was really poor. There was little lateral movement off the surface, and apart from Steyn they couldn't get any swing so they had to 'sit in'. When England do this, they 'bowl dry', i.e. bowl tight disciplined lines with an inner field pressing, creating pressure and looking to force an error. Today though SA kept slinging it down a foot outside off with five men in the deep. Incredibly negative approach for a first day, especially as they know England look to the top order to blunt the attack, wear it down and build a platform for the stroke-makers down the order. By bowling so many 'leave alone' balls they played right into England's hands. The fielding was pretty sloppy as well, although perhaps Boucher's absence had something to do with that. England will look to consolidate in the morning then take the attack to them after lunch.

  • daisyhayseed on July 19, 2012, 20:04 GMT

    Poor old cpt.meanster. A couple of ill judged and factually incorrect comments saw the dear old Captain being owned by his fellow commentators on this board. ;-)

    I personally found this to be a fascinating day of cricket, but I've always preferred the longest form of the game over any other. The Saffers must be hoping for early breakthroughs tomorrow. A couple of quick wickets might bring them back into the game, but I fear that the weather may have a greater role in deciding the result of this match (alas).

  • SICHO on July 19, 2012, 20:03 GMT

    Wow! Just a perfect pitch for 'Battle Of The Bowlers', this pitch has nothing for the bowlers. Credit has to be given to our bowlers for keeping England under 300 on this type of pitch. So far i've seen crazy comments from confused folks, Vernon Philander same as Praveen Kumar? You Indians are just trying to convince yourself that you got the goods, and quite frankly you got nothing same as Philander's class.

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    @IndnCrktfan on (July 19 2012, 18:56 PM GMT) I'm really surprised by your comms. I had you down as having better knowledge/depth

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 19, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    Well i think one side is happy the other not so, which explains some of the negative remarks. Pitches in this country will not be fast-end of story. We should be happy if the are playable.Well done to the batsmen.

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 19:58 GMT

    @Spelele on (July 19 2012, 19:05 PM GMT) Coming from the draw specialists - lol

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    Not sure what to make of it all so far. 1stly congratulations Cook and well played Trott. It's a shame KP got out but it was nice to see that he was showing signs of unity with his fellow players and seemed as happy as ever to celebrate when Cook scored his 100. As an English fan I'd definitely take this score at the end of day 1 but I'm not sure whether it was Eng batting well or SA bowling poorly. I tend to think the latter was definitely the case. Funny that (supposed weak link) Tahir looked ok but Steyn looked really ordinary. Hope Cook,Bell,Bopara and rest can push on tomorrow.

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 19:56 GMT

    @CaptainMeanster - You continually come on these threads saying test cricket is boring etc and then you keep watching it and keep commenting on it. Maybe deep down you love boring cricket?

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    Absolutely predictable load of comments here. Not much about Eng batting well or SA bowling poorly but about the flat wicket. People moan about usual England conditions after their team struggles in England and then we get a flat track and we're at blame for this too. If we are winning , purely because we prepare "green tops" as we get accused of all the time then why would we prepare a flat track? Also SA could have won the toss and they would have had the better batting conditions . Then again maybe the toss was guaranteed to be won by England. As for it being boring these people must have watched it to know it was boring and then spend more time commenting on it , what does that say about them?

  • on July 19, 2012, 19:52 GMT

    Watch out for Cook, in the next 2 years you might see him having more than 30 test centuries and people will start comparing him with the likes of Tendulkar.

  • brittop on July 19, 2012, 19:52 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster: Interesting that you criticise this pitch for not having a decent balance between ball and ball and say that's a reason not to like test cricket. Yet you love T20 that is a complete imbalance in favour of the bat.

  • the_blue_android on July 19, 2012, 19:48 GMT

    I predict this series to be a hard fought 0-0. !st test 645/6 dec and 725/4 dec. 2nd test 200/1 washed out and 3rd test 671/5 dec and 560/3 all under 2.3 runs per over.

  • landl47 on July 19, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    I see all those who confidently predicted that SA would blast through the England batting are now blaming the pitch because they didn't. Then there are those who don't understand real cricket and think a strategic battle is boring (I guess it is, to the cricket-challenged IPL fans). I thought this was a very entertaining day's cricket between two top teams; cricket at test level is at its best when the teams are jockeying for advantage, as they were here. If the game is one-sided, of course, there will be lots of wickets or runs, but this was a tough battle all day. England will be the happier of the two sides, but a par score looks to be 350-400 and England hasn't got there yet. BTW, the Oval wicket usually takes spin later in the game so it will be interesting to see how Swann gets on. With 4 left-handers in the side, SA might find him a handful- India did at the Oval last year, where he took 9-208.

  • CricketingStargazer on July 19, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    Incidentally, conditions were ideal for bowling this morning to the extent that some people were suggesting that England had committed a terrible error by batting first. However, to take wickets you have to bowl at, or close to the stmups and, most of the afternoon, the bowling was so wide that the batsman risked a hernia trying to hit it. South Africa decided to test the patience of Cook and Trott and took a while to work out that that was not the tactic because the batsmen were actually more patient than the bowlers!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 19, 2012, 19:43 GMT

    @Irvine Lehloo (post on July 19 2012, 19:18 PM GMT): nice one mate. How long did that take to write?

  • Bramblefly on July 19, 2012, 19:43 GMT

    Flat wicketers; I wonder how many of you watched any of the cricket today. Glance_to _Leg has it absolutely right. The cricket was tough, attritional and a true contest between bat and ball. If you think that's just a partisan English opinion, you might want to see the interview with Alan Donald on England's Channel 5. No such whining from him. I suggest that you comment again at the end of 5 days' play. If we've seen 1200 runs for 10 wickets you might have a point. I think we're more likely to see a result.

  • phoenixsteve on July 19, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    An interesting opening day to series with England totally dominating the mundane South African bowling. (can't really call it an attack!) Smith seemed at a loss as to what to do & if they get another full day & maybe more, it will be interesting to see how SA cope with a real attack? I guess England did score a little slowly but 3 an over is par for test cricket and the pitch was slow. Added to this was the negativity of South Africa. All the England critics writing on here either don't understand test cricket or their minds have been warped by the T20 slogfest! I expect England to make 550-650 & have a go at a tired and demoralized SA either Friday night or sometime into Saturday AM. It will be fascinating to see just how much better than SA the England attack is? After just one day it looks like England can't lose this one & great stuff by Cook. Maybe this will be the breakthrough test for Ravi with a quickfire 100 to compliment Belly's and a dash from Prior.... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • CricketingStargazer on July 19, 2012, 19:38 GMT

    Meanster, actually the ECB do not prepare the pitches. There is a groundsman who does it and this is his first Test in charge at The Oval. It is also a matter of honour that, in England, the groundsman does not submit to outside pressures to prepare tracks for the home team hence we have, in the past, see a big turner prepared for Muttiah Muralitharan (possibly taking generosity too fatr I admit). If you had been following the match you would know that the pitch is expected to deteriorate by the third day and potentially be quite difficult to bat on on the fifth so, possibily, you would do well to wait until both teams have batted (and possibly even later). It is not obvious that this match will be a draw. Expert opnion is that the pitch is crusted and could start to break up later.

  • Yevghenny on July 19, 2012, 19:31 GMT

    so funny reading comments about how boring and how flat this pitch is, all coming from people who actually deluded themselves into thinking South Africa were going to run through England for less than a 100 and be 200-0 by close of play

  • trav29 on July 19, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    @ indncrktfan

    so cook plays half of his games at home and scores 50% of his hundreds at home. and your point was ? for all the people moaning about how flat the track was, didn't we hear that alot in the last ashes when england were making big scores but then managed to bowl australia out twice, didn't we hear that last summer against india when england were making big scores but again bowled india out twice, never letting them score more than 300

  • richardror on July 19, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    @Spelele - Are you for real? If you don't find test cricket interesting don't watch it. England went at a decent run rate against what everyone is describing as an amazing bowling attack and dominated them with time. It's the end result that matters and England have proved they get that so many times. It was actually South Africa who bowled negatively (Morkel bowling time after time on a length well outside off stump) and Cook and Trott aren't stupid enough to get frustrated so they just left if it was that sort of delivery. If you don't appreciate proper cricket, please go to the IPL and watch that low standard rubbish.

  • cbradbury on July 19, 2012, 19:25 GMT

    So Cook is gaining an unfair advanatage by scoring 50% of his centuries at home? I'm no mathematician, so could Indcricket fan please tell me what percentage of his centuries have been scored overseas then?

  • Uppercut07 on July 19, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    guess SSC is not da only flat wicket going around! Wonder why there r no complains? Oh yeh it s only considered flat when play in subcontinent

  • Drewthur on July 19, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    Cpt.Meanster - You might be right, if they were actually playing at Lords.

  • on July 19, 2012, 19:18 GMT

    Many people have stated today that South Africa's bowling was undercooked. Well Alec predicted that the day would be decided by the batsmen, and he was quite right. The "Cook" has patiently "Stew't" the tough South Africans to a tender, juicy perfection. Just in time for the "Bell" to signal the awaiting Englishmen that a feast of short and wide deliveries awaits.

    And as I write this (whilst watching a highlights package), Ian smashes two sumptious 4's, to leave a troubled "Steyn" on the pitch.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 19, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    Reading through the comments: ye all hath little faith, is all I can say. This is day 1 of a test match in a rain-swept England, and judging by some comments you'd think it was SUPPOSED to be a T20 in a rock-hard Australian style track! Weather permitting, this track and game WILL change, big time! Personally, I would prefer Steyn and Morkel to open the bowling, with Philander and Kallis then coming in, and Tahir used later in the match once the pitch wears.

  • Yevghenny on July 19, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    IndnCrktFan - so if 50% of Cooks centuries have come at home, that would mean 50% have been away? Or am I missing something?

  • Spelele on July 19, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    What a boring day, on a boring pitch, from boring batsmen, playing for a boring team! What sort of team gets their grounds-man to prepare a meaningless road in order to negate a good contest between bat and ball (which they clearly anticipated to lose!)? Oh well, I guess they were too scared of the SA bowlers on a decent strip. What rubbish after so much anticipation!

  • glance_to_leg on July 19, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    Could we have a special forum for the instant gratification brigade who don't understand the beauty of test cricket? This was an excellent day of thoroughly satisfactory cricket. Be prepared to watch the match, and, indeed, the whole series unfold. I am sure that there are plenty of people who consider Tolstoy and Dickens boring, and prefer a 90 minute action movie, or prefer a burger to a three course meal ... But ultimately they are just wrong, and, I suspect rather intellectually challenged.

  • on July 19, 2012, 19:01 GMT

    Interesting to see so many comments about how boring today was...a riveting day of test cricket....just relax and enjoy...cricket is not about hitting 6's all the time...as for England...batted well...SA bowled ok...but looked undercooked...England to win this test or a draw...we shall see...btw...it's the Oval, not Lords...sigh

  • Stark62 on July 19, 2012, 18:59 GMT

    I've always believed, that SA are the no. 1 side in the world and had the best pace attack in the world but after watching them today, I think I've overestimated them.

    Yes, the pitch was flat but the first session had more than enough swing available to trouble the English batsmen but the South African bowlers didn't exploit those conditions and paid the price after lunch.

    Also, Philander isn't anything special and reminds me of Praveen Kumar.

    @ Cpt.Meanster Most of the pitches in England are like that but the extravagant swing is only available during cloud cover for some reason.

  • StatisticsRocks on July 19, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    Absolute dust bowl of a pitch...What a joke and every one calls pitches in India are batting paradise. Steyn Morkel looked ordinary. At this rate Cook will score 100 test centuries if Eng plays 2-3 home series in a year as 50% of his 20 centuries have come at home. Don't ge me wrong I like Cook and the way he bats. He is the only one who can break Sachins record of number of centuries in a test match. Strauss must bebanging his head agnst the wall for missing out on a golden opportunity to score in this dust bowl.....

  • PCMikey on July 19, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    There are some confused posters on here. Rally_Windies thinks Straus sent SA in after winning the toss and Cpt.Meanster, who hates test cricket, doesn't even know where they are playing. He thinks they are at Lords. LOL.

  • on July 19, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    @YS_USA - then don't watch it, don't comment on it, a leave the appreciation of proper cricket to others...

  • cricketeria on July 19, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    It could have been a spicier pitch. With all the rain in England I expected a greener track. But I also expected some swing in the air with at least the old ball, given the overcast conditions. Let's wait until England bowl before judging the bowling conditions. KP threw away his wicket, he could have feasted on Tahir and hit him out of the attack. No surprises from Cook+Trott. Along with Anderson and Swann, they're going to win England this series.

  • twctopcat on July 19, 2012, 18:48 GMT

    Cpt Meanster - this is at the Oval. Looks flat, but then again we made a lot of the tracks look flat last summer, only to take 20 wickets fairly easily...

  • Legster on July 19, 2012, 18:48 GMT

    Captain Meanster. The game is at the Oval and the track is pretty much traditional considering recent form there. Even last summer that was the game in which the Indian batting was the best across all four games.

  • jackthelad on July 19, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    meanster - you can be forgiven for hating Test cricket if you're watching it at Lord's - it's those arrows flying that are putting you off, maybe. Most of us are watching it at the Oval, and feel it's been a fairly slow but intriguing first day - no heroics, but solid batting from Cook and Trott, some decent bowling from Morkel but a SA attack which seems very short of match readiness. Roll on tomorrow & whatever it may bring. This is cricket, not 20-over slog rounders (nor, indeed, archery).

  • on July 19, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    Seems some have had their cricketing intelligence dulled by the bish-bashing of T20s - this is proper cricket, with skill, focus and concentration being the key. SA's bowlers simply are not ready and up to speed; don't blame the surface, blame hanging the ball outside offstump and hoping that the batsmen will do something stupid....

  • whatawicket on July 19, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    if odis and t20 are your liking then this will not be to your taste. but then theres plenty of that, go watch it, this is test cricket the best form of the game. a good days test cricket

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 19, 2012, 18:40 GMT

    How good was AB behind the sticks today! Awesome stuff. Looking forward to watching Amla on this pitch...

  • Hillaire on July 19, 2012, 18:39 GMT

    Great start by England. Not very impressed by the SA attack, I think England will show them how to bowl and silence the debate once and for all as to which is the better attack. I still respect the SA batting however and don't expect it to be easy, so we will have to bowl up to our usual high standards.

  • on July 19, 2012, 18:26 GMT

    What a pathetic pitch! I thought they were playing on the subcontinent. SA did pretty well to restrict England to 267 on what is a perfect batting wicket. Hohum - I see another draw coming...

  • YorkshirePudding on July 19, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster, I think you might have been watching the wrong match, as this test is being played at the oval.....to be fair to the groundsman hes not had much chance to do much preperation due to the adverse weather, in fact he should be applauded that he got this strip ready.

  • Muhtasim13 on July 19, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    I'm getting a feeling that SA might choke in this series as well

  • trav29 on July 19, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    @ cpt.meanster

    firstly the game isn't being played at lords

    secondly lets wait and see what happens when both teams have to bat on this pitch before making judgements

  • Duty281 on July 19, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    267/3, comfortably England's day. England bat deep and thus should be expecting to reach 500+ and really put the Saffers under pressure.

    Individually, the day belongs to Cook. Another unbeaten century, another majestic innings against Steyn, Morkel and Philander. Top effort, hope he goes and makes it a double. Trott will be disappointed he didn't make a century but his contribution was vitally important after England found themselves 0/1. KP's innings was also important to keep the score going but he should have made more than 42. Morkel was by far the best bowler for South Africa and Kallis was fairly decent. Tahir was poor, Steyn and Philander were fairly mediocre.

    Tomorrow, England should look to make 550, declare and have a hour bowling against the South African top order tomorrow. South Africa will merely try and find a way to limit England below 400.

    PS: Those complaining about the pitch, please remember England haven't bowled on it yet ;)

  • Marcio on July 19, 2012, 18:14 GMT

    Wow. couldn't believe how dead the track was. A batsman's paradise. This is an ODI strip, not a test strip. In fact, the recent ODI strips were a lot more lively than this (and to make mtters worse - dry, sunny weather with low humidity, no swing). Anyway, this will teach teams to rock up in their off season and begin playing 5 days into a tour. England spent a month in Australia before playing their first international last time round. Maybe some cricket boards need to get a bit smarter.

  • Narkovian on July 19, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    Hey Cpt meanster. Actually its at The Oval, not Lord's.. but point taken.

    I though SA bowled poorly. Where was the threat ? That being the case... Hey Mr Cook. I am old enough to remember a certain Mr G Boycott was once dropped for slow scoring, as a punishment for scoring 106 in a day, out of 270. How come Cook only scored 114 or whatever, in modern day, when teams nearly always score much faster these days ? Just sayin'... !

  • nlight on July 19, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    Some critics don't even know where the match is taking place. The Oval is the best batting wicket in England and is slower than normal. This factor combined with negative bowling by SA restricted scoring opportunites. Nevertheless this was an enthralling day's test cricket (real as opposed to clown cricket).

  • on July 19, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    Akshita, what are you on about? Philander's pace doesn't wane at all at any point in the day. He hovers between 78mph and 82mph all day long. I wouldn't start crowing about how he's about to fade into obscurity just yet if I were you - let's just see how the series ends first.

  • SDHM on July 19, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    Cpt.Meanster - first off it's The Oval, not Lord's! And if you've been here this summer, you will know it's been a groundsman's nightmare with all the rain we've been having - it's been difficult to get pitches with any sort of pace in them due to there being no sun to harden them up. The Oval is ALWAYS flat - it has the highest average runs per top order partnership in the country I believe, higher even than Taunton - so to think they'd roll out a green top is naive, or you're just looking for things to criticise. I for one don't think it's necessarily a bad idea - half the reason South Africa have struggled to win tests at home is because they often leave too much in for the bowlers, and swing and seam has been their undoing quite a lot. But England showed in the winter they're confident of taking 20 wickets on any surface, so why give SA a sniff?

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on July 19, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    Cpt Meanster - bit harsh given that Eng is famous for swinging conditions. Those are atmospheric conditions which the ECB (no matter how brilliant they are) has no control over. We've also been battling against the wettest Summer on record - cut some slack! Be positive, at least this series won't be down to flat track dust bowls a la India where both sides bat once! A true cricket fan accepts this and recognises that test cricket is the apex of the sport. All other forms are foot notes that add a little spice.

  • akhtar3 on July 19, 2012, 17:26 GMT

    come on steyn why isnt bowl swinging do bowl selection play vital role in these matches i think english knows which bowl to choose

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on July 19, 2012, 17:25 GMT

    YS_USA never fear, my friend, there's always plenty of MacDonalds cricket for a nice junk cricket feast. a T20 or ODI is only just round the corner somewhere!

  • Dave_B on July 19, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    Cpt Meanster-they are playing at the Oval

    other than not knowing where they are playing, your remarks are full of interest and brilliant insight

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 19, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    Got the venue wrong in my previous comment. Even for the Oval, the pitch could have been more lively. England did bat well for sure but I need to see a better contest and right now this one ain't providing me with any. Good thing I have other stuff to do. What if even SA bat well. We are looking at a draw at best. Certainly not the kind of start to such a high profile series. It's a shame that there are only 3 tests here. If England are so desperate to defend their no.1 tag then they should play in challenging conditions and earn that right.

  • The_bowlers_Holding on July 19, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    Capt.Beanster This is not Lords it is the Oval and this is the 1st day of 5 as it is a test match. If you don't like test cricket then simply don't watch it, no one here will mind adieu

  • Tlotoxl on July 19, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    @Akshita29: performing away from home is a normal part of being a test match cricketer, just saying you can't beat us at home but giving up pathetically because the conditions are different away from home is not good enough to be considered a good team.

    Philander not performing does not explain Indias pathetic inadaquacies away from home, more a case of Philander being over-hyped for getting lots of quick wickets against poor test teams, look at Anderson in Aus 18 months ago, 20+ wickets IIRC when almost everybody was saying he will be thrashed around the park because it doesn't swing in Aus.

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 19, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    I strongly feel England should be ashamed of this kind of pitch at Lords' on day 1 of a test series. If they are really a confident unit they had nothing to be afraid of SA's bowling. Why not produce a green one and go for outright dominance? This could well end in a meaningless draw. Now I am truly vindicated for hating test cricket. Nobody wants to watch this kind of rubbish. Let England play all they want cosily at home. They got tough trials awaiting them abroad. Was expecting a much better contest than this.

  • on July 19, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    Nixe batting by Chef . . . . . . ! :D

  • YS_USA on July 19, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    Boring.....where is IPL, T20, even one day games have an interesting chase. Without the chase, it is a dull and boring game.

  • Akshita29 on July 19, 2012, 15:50 GMT

    Was just listening to bbc radio live commentary and they are talking about Philander looks similar to Praveen Kumar of India .. HAA haaa . This just shows its much difficult to perform out of the comfort zone of home conditions . I m pretty much sure he will fade away at the international level unless he improves on his stamina to ball longer spell at a sustained pace .

  • Rally_Windies on July 19, 2012, 15:48 GMT

    dry dusty batting pitch to negate SA's pace bowlers .... Hopefully it will crack up on the last day and Swan will get some bite as SA are to bat last .....

    What can I say... Good Job English curators ... Good Job on winning the toss Mr. Strauss and sending SA in ....

    nothing between the sides, the curators and tosses are going to decide this series ..

  • KingOwl on July 19, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    Looks like a real flat track with no help to the bowlers. I must say that this is boring as a contest between bat and ball.

  • kh1902 on July 19, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    Good to see the typically disciplined batting from Cook and Trott - that's what test cricket is all about. Hopefully they can accelerate and give the more aggressive batsmen like Pietersen, Bell and Prior, a solid platform from which to launch an assault on SA's bowlers. I'd really love to see England win this series.

  • on July 19, 2012, 15:10 GMT

    I was supporting SA and have nothing to cheer, they choke like always

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 19, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Don't get too excited. Very slow and dry pitch. S.A. well under cooked. What a shame.

  • lee_man on July 19, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    Man, I'm a West Indies fan and right now, a pretty proud one. Based on what has transpired so far, Windies seems to be the visiting team with the best performance over the last two summers (this one included). Do you remember India last year? Of course we expect SA to really battle, but it does show that a lot of the criticism of the Windies is harsh and unfair.

  • BRUTALANALYST on July 19, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    Test cricket is dying if people can't see that here after the hype this series has had with the promise of some serious bowling from South Africa's best bowling attack headed by the best fast bowler in the world your head is in the sand. Fast bowling battles in Test cricket that I grew up watching are now extinct, listening to Atherton commentating only reminded me of watching his day1 battles v Donald some 10 yrs ago, It's not that Steyn is any slower than Donald or Morkel is not similar to an Ambrose there is just nothing for these fast bowlers anymore nothing ! the excitement of watching those day 1 battles in Test cricket are over It's just not anyway near as interesting or exciting to watch as it used to be and it's sad. There is just no balance anymore this is summed up by Cook now clearing Steyn for 6 easily without either middling or timing the ball sorry but the balance between bat and ball is so far gone now it's depressing me as a cricket fan.

  • on July 19, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    hoping to see cookie make a century and his hunger for runs continues.safari are doing their best but not enough .i like to see tso tsobe in plce of tahir in next test

  • 5wombats on July 19, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    Well, just one of us on patrol today at Oval. Aren't iPhones wonderful! England slowly gaining control of this now after a worrying morning session. Surprised at the dry pitch! 1/119. Steyn not bowling with the venom expected. More later gotta get another beer....

  • CamS71 on July 19, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK : 100% agreed.

  • MartinC on July 19, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    @keepa De Lange has gone home injured I think. Its also a very dry surface and will spin so olaying a spinner is essential. Good toss to win for England.

    108-1 England as I type and developing a solid base for a good 1st innings.

    Forecast is for some weather around tomorrow but good weather over the weekend.

  • on July 19, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    England has gOt theirbest eleven in the line up.............

  • on July 19, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    very good cosolidation from trott and cook.i agree steyn is undercooked.eagerly waiting to see proteas fight back,

  • landl47 on July 19, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    The SA bowlers haven't been as accurate as I'd expected and haven't beaten the bat much. To describe Philander as 'rfm' is generous in the extreme- he's a medium pacer who bowls like Anderson only not as fast or as accurate. It'll be interesting to see if he has anything to fall back on once the shine is off the ball. Morkel was fast but not accurate, Steyn was accurate but not as fast as he can be and Kallis was just steady. A good morning for England after the early loss of Strauss; Cook and Trott just doing what they do, accumulate. @keepa-batsman: since De Lange is out of the tour, I guess we won't be seeing him.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 19, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    Somebody needs to explain to the commentators everywhere that this is a TEST MATCH, not an ODI / T20! Strike rates of <50 are perfectly normal for test cricket, even in this day-and-age. The ball is moving out there! I would much rather see the batsmen get in and be cautious, than start fishing for everything and just getting out cheaply. I don't understand, if you don't like the slow pace of test cricket, then why get a job commentating on it?

  • jmcilhinney on July 19, 2012, 12:26 GMT

    Definitely a good plan to Strauss but the SA bowling will need to tighten up considerably if they want to restrict England to a reasonable total. I'm quite sure that Graeme Swann will be pleased that he's going to be bowling last on a surface that looks like it might give him a bit of help.

  • on July 19, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    only ,englishmen ,need to tackle the Hashim Amla , and to some extent kallis , after that , cook is enough for pace trio of sa , this team has progressed through leaps and bounds,..??

  • Wefinishthis on July 19, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    As good as De Lange is, Tahir has to play, if a pace attack of Steyn, Philander, Morkel and Kallis can't do the pace job then no-one else can. Loving seeing how the two best batsmen Trott and Cook handle the two best bowlers in Steyn and Philander.

  • Keepa-batsman on July 19, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Would of liked to see de lange or tsotsobe in stead of tahir, and de villiers shuffled down the order

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  • Keepa-batsman on July 19, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Would of liked to see de lange or tsotsobe in stead of tahir, and de villiers shuffled down the order

  • Wefinishthis on July 19, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    As good as De Lange is, Tahir has to play, if a pace attack of Steyn, Philander, Morkel and Kallis can't do the pace job then no-one else can. Loving seeing how the two best batsmen Trott and Cook handle the two best bowlers in Steyn and Philander.

  • on July 19, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    only ,englishmen ,need to tackle the Hashim Amla , and to some extent kallis , after that , cook is enough for pace trio of sa , this team has progressed through leaps and bounds,..??

  • jmcilhinney on July 19, 2012, 12:26 GMT

    Definitely a good plan to Strauss but the SA bowling will need to tighten up considerably if they want to restrict England to a reasonable total. I'm quite sure that Graeme Swann will be pleased that he's going to be bowling last on a surface that looks like it might give him a bit of help.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 19, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    Somebody needs to explain to the commentators everywhere that this is a TEST MATCH, not an ODI / T20! Strike rates of <50 are perfectly normal for test cricket, even in this day-and-age. The ball is moving out there! I would much rather see the batsmen get in and be cautious, than start fishing for everything and just getting out cheaply. I don't understand, if you don't like the slow pace of test cricket, then why get a job commentating on it?

  • landl47 on July 19, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    The SA bowlers haven't been as accurate as I'd expected and haven't beaten the bat much. To describe Philander as 'rfm' is generous in the extreme- he's a medium pacer who bowls like Anderson only not as fast or as accurate. It'll be interesting to see if he has anything to fall back on once the shine is off the ball. Morkel was fast but not accurate, Steyn was accurate but not as fast as he can be and Kallis was just steady. A good morning for England after the early loss of Strauss; Cook and Trott just doing what they do, accumulate. @keepa-batsman: since De Lange is out of the tour, I guess we won't be seeing him.

  • on July 19, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    very good cosolidation from trott and cook.i agree steyn is undercooked.eagerly waiting to see proteas fight back,

  • on July 19, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    England has gOt theirbest eleven in the line up.............

  • MartinC on July 19, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    @keepa De Lange has gone home injured I think. Its also a very dry surface and will spin so olaying a spinner is essential. Good toss to win for England.

    108-1 England as I type and developing a solid base for a good 1st innings.

    Forecast is for some weather around tomorrow but good weather over the weekend.

  • CamS71 on July 19, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK : 100% agreed.