England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, The Oval, 2nd day July 20, 2012

Swings and missed run-outs

Plays of the Day from the second day of the first Test between England and South Africa

Change of the Day
Batting looked a far more demanding business in the first couple of hours of day two than it had on day one. Some credited a more intense approach from the South Africa bowlers, others a minor change in atmospheric conditions, others simply a straighter line. While each of those factors may have been relevant up to a point, the main difference between day one and day two was simply the fact that, on the first day, Alastair Cook left the ball with excellent discipline and judgement, while on day two he was drawn into pushing at one he could have left and was bowled off the inside edge. The value of Cook's innings was highlighted by his absence. The new batsmen struggled to negate a revitalised South Africa bowling attack that were armed with a ball that was only a dozen overs old and England lost 4 for 42 in the first 21 overs of the day. South Africa did not bowl much differently, it is just that without Cook to negate them, they found more reward for their efforts.

Drop of the Day
Had Matt Prior, on 17, been held in the gully by Jacques Rudolph off Morne Morkel, England would have been 298 for 7. As it was, Rudolph was unable to cling on to a tough chance to his left and Prior was able to go on to contribute 60. Just as importantly, he helped England eek out 70 runs for their last three wickets and revive an innings that looked as if it may founder despite the platform provided by Cook and Jonathan Trott. Such moments could prove crucial in what looks likely to be a closely contested series.

Mix-up of the Day
When Prior cut a delivery from Dale Steyn on 5 he presumed it had beaten Alviro Petersen at backward point. Instead, Petersen pulled off a superb stop and, with Prior and Ian Bell committed to a run, would have completed a run out had he hit the stumps with his throw. Bell, who may well have been the man dismissed, fell soon afterwards anyway, so the incident cost South Africa little. But it did still highlight a couple of issues: firstly, it exposed the loss of Mark Boucher who, with his experience and energy as wicketkeeper, may well have made swifter ground to the stumps or would have had the presence of mind to tell Petersen to take his time with the throw. It was also interesting to note that, although Prior had realised with horror that a direct hit would bring a wicket, he still ensured that he passed his partner in mid-pitch to ensure Bell would be the man run out.

Inswinger of the Day
The contest between Steyn and James Anderson was thought to have already been won after Steyn's out-of-sorts performance on the first day. Steyn came back a different person on the second morning with more aggression, greater focus and, most importantly, swing. His best delivery of the morning was one that caught Graeme Swann on the pads and induced a lung-collapsing scream from Steyn. The ball jagged back in and hit Swann on the back pad but an inside-edge prevented it from being given out. Anderson's inswinger was perhaps better, because it got the desired result. His roared in at a steep angle that beat Alviro Petersen's bat and cost South Africa their first wicket.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    So far this test has proven that there is little to choose between the two sides. One can only shake your head that there are only three tests in this series. I suspect that there will be many swings still in this (Oval) test. As a fervent SA supporter my heart says that the Proteas will bat well and save the test and even win it. My brain, however, keeps telling me that Eng is still 299 runs ahead and in the pound seats. More to the point: I was surprised to see Strauss going into defensive mode so fast; Eng lower order did exceptionally well scoring 100 runs; SA gave away too many extra runs (14 no-balls and over-throws); the pitch looks dry but although taking spin there is little bounce, in fact some balls are keeping low; Swann and Anderson remain the danger men; the relations on the field between the two teams are good (because of IPL ? ). Stronger leadership from Smith and Strauss is required.

  • niaz on July 21, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    With Steyn and Phlander SA has two Andersons and Morkel can be more dangerous than Broad. Even at this age Kallis can play as a genuine bowler. On paper Swan might be way better than Tahir, in reality it may not be that much. England's batting is good (Cook, Trot, Bell, Peterson are matched against Kallis, Amla, AB, Smith), SA can still edge England out in batting. England's advantage had been exceptional discipline of Anderson and Broad (they are economical when they are not threatening). And exceptional late order batting of Broad, Bresnon, etc must have demoralized other teams. somehow SA will have to find a way to keep it under control. England should play Finn or Tremlett (not Bresnan).

  • John on July 21, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    Interesting that the first section says that SA didn't bowl much differently and then the last section says that Steyn was a different person on day 2. No doubt getting Cook early on day 2 was important because, apart from his being able to play a long innings if he got his eye back in, that would have invigorated SA. Bell and Bopara may well have been able to do more if they had managed to get settled but Bell judged a good ball poorly and Bopara judged a bad ball poorly. Whatever else though, there's no doubt that SA bowled better on day 2 than on day 1. Funnily enough though, it was probably the fact that they were so wayward on day 1 that enabled them to keep the run rate down, because Cook and Trott in particular were happy to leave most wide deliveries. Great demonstration of why the wide rules are so much more stringent in limited-overs cricket.

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    @landl47: I think you're being harsh on Philander (especially on day 2). He managed to get the ball to nip off the seam and beat the edge a number of times. On another day he might have had 3 or 4 wickets for that effort. He went for under 3 runs an over so he wasn't blasted about either.

  • rahul on July 21, 2012, 4:21 GMT


  • Abhijeet on July 21, 2012, 3:54 GMT

    @Spelele: i don't think Dobell is trying to berate SA bowling. What is implied is that SA bowled pretty well on 1st day too (which they did), its just that Cook played exceptionally and deserves the credit for taking pressure of other Eng batsmen on day 1. Without him English lineup would have crumbled on any day, not just on day 2 of this match.

  • Vikram on July 21, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    Comparing Anderson to Steyn? Seriously?

  • John on July 21, 2012, 3:16 GMT

    You'd also have to mention the worst leave of the day, Bell's against Kallis. Bell thought the ball was safely outside or over the stumps, only it have it nip back and clip a bail. Great bowling from the old boy. Overall, Steyn looked better today (though England will be happy if he gets 2-99 every innings). Morkel was a bit wild but dangerous and Kallis bowled usefully. Philander and Tahir look below top class and even their one wicket each flattered them. Strauss needed to hang on to that chance from Amla; SA has 4 really top class bats and England needs to take every chance. Still, a well-fought and even game (don't forget, England reached 170 before the second wicket fell, so SA's 1-86 is about par).

  • hafeez on July 21, 2012, 1:50 GMT

    Hi Guys I had in my blog the other day made out that Africa should bowl out England to a score below 350 to get back,they did come near it,had Rudolph held on to a Prior chance.He did not and England made 385. Now to me Africa must make atleast 350 by close today,That will set the cat among the Pigeons.England has had everything its way in the last 4 series at home and its time it faces some reality as well.

  • Amol on July 21, 2012, 0:07 GMT

    England top order batting and Matt was good and disciplined. Even though conditions were suitable for batting on day 1, can not take batsmen's credit away.

    But SA bowling today was awesome. I am sure English bowlers would have suffered in day 1 conditions.

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