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

Bowlers set tone for victory - Smith

ESPNcricinfo staff

Graeme Smith, South Africa's captain, praised an "incredible" innings from Hashim Amla and the exemplary performance of his bowlers after a difficult first day, in condemning England to a huge defeat in the first Test.

Smith, playing in his 100th Test, led his team to a victory that puts them 1-0 in the three-match series and takes South Africa a step closer to the No. 1 Test ranking. The tourists had been lacking something on day one, when England racked up 267 for 3, but roared back to dominate the rest of the match.

"It's an extremely proud moment for all of us," Smith said. "To achieve a victory in what is the first Test of what is a big series, and play as well as we have ... in the context of the first innings to come back and win the game is an incredible achievement.

"I don't think we were that terrible on day one, we lacked maybe a little bit of X-factor. We found that on day two, when maybe the conditions suited us. We found the intensity that maybe we lacked, we got a couple of plans right and all credit to our bowlers, they set the tone in this Test match and managed to finish it off on a really good batting wicket.

"We felt coming into this Test that we were ready, we just needed to get ourselves into the contest. We managed to do that on day two, each player contributed, it was fantastic the way the guys played. I must give credit to Hash, it was an incredible achievement for him. A performance like that really means a lot to all of us and we're extremely proud of him."

South Africa must win the series to regain the No. 1 spot they last occupied in 2009. The second Test begins at Headingley on August 2, with Smith hoping to confirm a first series defeat at home for England since South Africa's last visit four years ago.

"We've got a batting unit that's been around for a period of time now, been successful in conditions around the world," he said. "We know we're going to Headingley and the conditions are going to be different. The team is very motivated to prepare as well for that Test match and understand it will be different at Headingley and we'll need to play a slightly different game.

"We believe we've got the players who can adapt and mentally we've got a lot of experience of what we need to do to be successful there."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harmon on July 26, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    @5Wombats: Tell me how does it feel to be #1 in tests and then to receive THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE TEST THRASHING EVER ...and...and...and...THAT TOO AT HOME !!! ……………. He He He - Ha Ha Ha - Ho Ho Ho.

  • karthik on July 26, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    @StaalBurgher. Why take only from 25 Jan 2008 to 15 Dec 2010.?? To prove ur point huh.?? U r making up the stats. Every country tour other country(for test match tour) only in the span of 3 or 4 years. So, it requires atleast 4 years to make a complete cycle. 4 a change, look this stats "http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;orderby=start;spanmax2=1+Jul+2011;spanmin2=1+Jul+2007;spanval2=span;team=6;template=results;type=team;view=host" - a little better time period and better view - Jul '07 to Jun '11. This is wt v call a complete cycle of tours all over the world. V hv toured Eng,SA,Aus,WI,NZ aprt from tours to SL and BD and results r thr to see. We missed only Pak during this time and whole world knows why. The period mentioned above starts frm Ind's rise to #1 rank till its downfall and Ind hv done considerably wel away frm home(and don't forget Ind's home performance) in dat period. Bt, anti-Ind fans (like u) will never acknowledge Ind's performance.

  • Andrew on July 26, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    @ 5wombats - I think your pushing it up hill mate. Most people would say if you're 3/270 at stumps on Day 1, it was a good call, might not of looked good for Strauss himself 5minutes into Day 1, but he & the rest of the players would of been very content having a beer at stumps, (maybe they had too many?). The point is, Strauss had every reason to think that Cook could do what Amla did, & just keep on batting. Regarding Clarke @ Sydney - Oz will do anything to avoid batting last at the SCG & pretty much anywhere in Oz, as usually well prepared strips, turn into minefields & as Pakistan found out a simple 160 odd can be too hard. You always want a big lead at the SCG batting 2nd.

  • Martin on July 25, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    @Meety - Not second guessing it. Read our posts in the preview before the game and at the end of days 1 and 2 - before the result was known. How could it be an excuse if we didn't know the result? Not saying there weren't poor shots by Eng batsmen - there were heaps - why? Because on Day 2 conditions were poor. The best conditions for taking wickets was NOT going to be on Days 3-4. The pitch was flat throughout the game - the atmospherics were not. By electing to bat in poor conditions Strauss gave the best chances for taking wickets to the saffers - and they did. OK - not many Eng fans complained at the end of Day 1, but by the same token no England fans are disagreeing with wombats' analysis of defeat since. Agree that rearview is always 20:20, but the fact is that the team batting first lost. Wombats simply looking at why the decision was made to bat first. This is a bit like Clarke electing to bat at Sydney 2011 - why? and why would Strauss not trust his bowlers? It was a mistake.

  • Harmon on July 25, 2012, 17:46 GMT

    @StaalBurgher: This is why they say stats can be used any which way. I suppose you don't remember that India had toured SA in Dec 2010-Jan2011 as #1 Team. India had also toured WI in 2011 as #1. India had also toured Eng as #1 though they lost it midway. Point is, you deliberately took a time window where it proved your argument. Ex SA players had made a lot of questions about India's #1 Rank when we went there. I clearly remember Shaun Pollock et al saying that India may be #1 but only at home and against SA in SA they would find it hard going. India drew 1-1 and might even have won the 3rd Test. Clearly India defended their #1 Rank very well in SA and in the succeeding WI tour. Lest you pooh pooh WI, Eng lost in their last tour there with a score of 51. Most Ind fans were realistic in their assessment too. We never claimed we were as good as Oz/WI of old. Our point was we were #1 under the current system, now what? It was Eng who talked of 5 year reign and what not. See the Diff?

  • Harmon on July 25, 2012, 16:48 GMT

    @5Wombats: Wow, you think the rest of us are so underprivileged. You think the TV coverage doesn't show us when it rains and how much and all the associated aspects? The Eng Fan's silly excuses are now becoming sillier. First it was a flat wicket. Then it was a moan that English had played an ODI series just before this test series. Then the excuse was that Strauss made the wrong choice. Now the excuse is that although it was flat pitch but the conditions were fav for bowling just when Eng were batting and became fav for batting just when SA were batting. Clearly you've admitted that the vaunted Eng batsmen (and bowlers) can't handle even a slight change in the conditions and need a very narrow band of pitch and weather conditions to do even moderately good. I had the sense that you were a bit rabid but still a fundamentally good guy. But with your "Biased My Eye" statement it went 180 degree. Cricinfo pls publish - I am no more mordant than 5Wombats - and he got his published.

  • Gerald on July 25, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    @karthik_raja - Do a search on Cricinfo. Wait let me attach it for you. http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;spanmax1=31+Dec+2010;spanmin1=1+Jan+2008;spanval1=span;team=6;template=results;type=team;view=results India only played 3 Tests against NZ in NZ during 25 Jan 2008 to 15 Dec 2010. It is right there in the official records, I am not making it up. You did not tour England, Australia or South Africa for 3 years. India had a grossly inflated ranking and their fans refused to acknowledge it. Not that I say they should've lost 5-0 to England, that was unexpected for everyone. At that time I said the 3-4 nations should all be within 4-5 points of each because they were all reasonably strong without one being dominant. Just like England refuse to acknowledge how badly India played or how low strength Aus are. Not that England are not good, they are, but they refused to be reasonable in their assessment of their performances.

  • karthik on July 25, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    @StaalBurgher. I agree with u partially reg Indian fans. There may b few who were arrogant (argued that Ind cud win Eng - b4 Eng series). Bt, I am not arrogant. Still, I wud definitely disagree wid ur statement "India had not played a single Test outside the subcontinent". Ind played WI,NZ,SA away during their #1 tenure. Of course, they failed badly whn they faced Aus & Eng. Bt, if u remember. Its their decent outing(win in Eng and gud show in Aus) in their previous tours to those nations contributed to their #1 ranking. How do u call this a joke.?? In other words, Ind did considerably well in Tests since 2007(both home and away) till they take a downfall in Eng'11. And that 4 years include away tours to Eng,SA,Aus,NZ,WI apart frm tours to other subcontinent frnds. Bt, u knw wt..?? Just like u, everybody failed to acknowledge India's performance. And they always made fun abt ranking system. So, now its payback time for us. Please respect other nations. Wt goes around always comes back.

  • Andrew on July 25, 2012, 11:25 GMT

    @5wombats - point is, (obviously) - the toss was won on Day 1, if the weather was forcaste for hot days later in the test, there is the real concern that the pitch would degrade & batting last would not be easy batting last either (as England found out anyway). Most reports & the little bit of footage I saw of Day 2, (regarding England's innings), highlighted in the main - poor shots, with maybe the exception of Bell's dismissal (which could be an example in your favour, did he see it? Or just an example of a good delivery). Nobody was discussing Strauss's decision on Day 1, & I think your about the only person who is 2nd guessing it now! Bowling on Days 4 & 5 didn't seem to bother Steyn & Tahir. Anyways this match is now in the rearview mirror, what is more intriguing is how the two camps move fwd from here!

  • Tso on July 25, 2012, 10:18 GMT

    I see some English fans are saying that the South Africans were aided by the conditions in this match, but i beg to differ. The pitch played out evenly throughout days 1 to 4, then it started to deteriorate on day 5, but on the other days it was flat. So much was said about this England attack before this series, and others didn't even give Steyn a chance against Anderson, even though Steyn is the best bowler around for quite some time. The contrasts in the fast bowlers was imminent as soon as the SA bowlers took the 1st new ball. Anderson, Broad and Bresnan couldn't match the type of swing that Steyn and Philander attributed throughout the test match, even more so on days 4 and 5 when the pitch was deteriorating. This proves again that SA has a more favourable fast bowling attack than England because they proved themselves on a pitch that was not offering much. I recall some Eng fans writing off Tahir even before he bowled a ball, and now look how he outbowled Swann. Leeds it is then

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