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

Regularity brings rewards

Gary Kirsten has carefully developed the environment for South Africa to flourish, through consistency and togetherness
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South Africa have had more statistically comprehensive victories over England. Five, in fact. On those other occasions, when they registered innings wins over England, the accompanying number of runs has been greater than 12. We all know the numbers only tell half the story, though.

Only Lord's and Edgbaston in 2008 will stand as more important triumphs over England than the one earned at The Oval. Given what is at stake - and it is not simply a ranking but an affirmation that all the work done was worth it - this win will stand as strongly as the other two. It proved what South Africa have been trying to convince people of all along: that there is power in the process.

History has already batted for South Africa in that regard. Their unbeaten away record, which stretches back to 2006, follows them with the certainty of a shadow and serves as an ever-present reminder of what they are capable of. It has not translated into something tangible enough for South Africa to show off but it has contributed to formidability and created a chain of consistency.

Regularity can be about as exciting as bran cereal but South Africa have found a way to make it watchable. The secret to their consistency is that it is applied over long periods of time and not in short bursts in illustrated by their commitment to the bigger picture. Take the fact that they have not won two consecutive Tests since 2010 - when they beat England in January and India in February - and that the last time they won two back-to-back Tests in a series was against Bangladesh in 2008 and superimpose that on their record of having last lost a series three years ago and the theory will be proved.

This time though, the wide lens had a zoom placed on it in this match as the principles that have been applied in broad brushstrokes were made to fill in finer details. Over the course of four of the five days, South Africa performed to a certain standard and were consistently better than their opposition. Three of their most dependable batsman all produced in the same match to set up the victory but perhaps more impressive than that was the 20 wickets the bowlers managed to take on a surface on which the England's attack could only snaffle two.

The difference in the two attacks, talked about as the best in the world, was startling. Where England could not find any movement, Dale Steyn was able to swing the ball, although he did have cloudy skies and moist air to do it in. Stuart Broad was insipid while Morne Morkel worked to a plan and was effective, Tim Bresnan struggled but Vernon Philander showed why he had an astoundingly successful start to his Test career and Graeme Swann barely turned the ball while Imran Tahir extracted both bounce and spin.

Those technical superiorities say nothing of the presence South Africa had in the field. From the moment Graeme Smith made his brave declaration, through the passage of play when Ian Bell and Matt Prior were causing déjà vu a la Cape Town 2009-10 until the very end, South Africa looked an aggressive and, at times, greedy side.

It was not that they did not make a single fielding blunder - AB de Villiers made four on his own - but that they continued to encourage each other through those moments. The buzz on the field was evident to the naked eye as everyone did their bit.

"We've spent a lot of time setting up the environment for success and now we feel we can go and play cricket like that on a regular basis"
South Africa head coach Gary Kirsten

Even Jacques Rudolph, who came nowhere close to batting and whose occasional leg-spin was never called on, had a job. Almost every time one of the bowlers walked to their mark, it was Rudolph who carried their cap and sweater to the umpire. Rudolph put up a picture of him and JP Duminy afterwards celebrating the TFC (Thanks for coming) awards but both of them know they were not really deserving of them.

Inclusion has been important brick in the current South African wall and that is most evident in the way they have managed Tahir. The legspinner came into the squad amid great hype and was expected to produce Shane Warne-esque magic immediately. He did not. Seven Tests later, he still had not. Every time Smith or Gary Kirsten was asked about it they would say that he was a valuable part of their team and they were certain the occasion would come for him to star.

Even today, it did not really come because Steyn's five-wicket haul will be remembered as the spell that broke the English. Tahir's breakthrough in removing Prior may be forgotten to everyone but him. Not only did he obtain just reward for cunning plans that involved using his variations with less frequency than normal, but he opened the gate for South Africa and in doing so has probably finally arrived as an international cricketer.

With every delivery that turned out of the rough, beat the bat or bounced a little extra, he grew in confidence and confidence in him also grew. With one wicket left to get and the ball just 10 overs old, Smith brought Tahir back to take the final wicket. When he did, he brought out the celebration he has to curtail because of new ideology of not placing the spotlight on isolated moments but lighting up an entire passage of time instead. For a few seconds, Tahir forget there was anything else on but that one moment.

"It's been the best five days of his life," Kirsten said. "He is so enjoying playing Test match cricket. I think he is the most enthusiastic cricketer I have ever met and now he is bowling with a lot of confidence and had really begun to understand Test match strategies."

With that, the rest of the attack is growing around Tahir and if that plant is bedded in the same garden as the one in which the batsmen are flourishing, the flowers the bowlers produce will be worthy of a prize at the Chelsea Flower Show. Kallis put is simply. "We are enjoying each other's company and enjoying putting on big performances for each other."

The emphasis was on togetherness, something that seems to have grown since Kirsten took over. "We've spent a lot of time setting up the environment for success," Kirsten said. "We are trying to move away from the focus of individual brilliance, although when someone in your team scores 300 runs you can't really do that and bring that into what we want to achieve for your team. As Hashim said 50 times, it's all about us and I'm excited by that."

He believes that with a united team culture can come even more consistency, the kind that can be applied over a series, as well as over a single match. "We feel we can go and play cricket like that on a regular basis," Kirsten said. "We feel that we can put in good performances daily."

Maybe the three-day trip in Switzerland actually did serve to bond fifteen men who have known each other for enough years not to need a boys' scout session. Or maybe the squad have matured into the kind of unit that can be the best in the world.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ragav999 on July 25, 2012, 1:46 GMT

    @CDUP: Where exactly did Aussies plummet in the recent rankings? Aus are No.1 ODI side and No.2 Test side. The fact is that even without the best individual performers in Aussie side (in the last 3-4 years) compared to SA & Eng they are managing to stay afloat in the competition for rankings. England and SA fans are proclaiming themselves as the best after years of humiliation and heart breaks against the legendary Aussie team. The Aussies are doing better than expected inspite of some stupid selections.

  • Tjoeps on July 24, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    @jezzastyles...... Nice to see that I am not alone in the comparing of players thru time... Madness! Boyce had a very valid comment that he can only judge players in what they do, and cannot comment on players that he never saw playing... To compare the 70's or even 80's players with the current guys does not work.... Workloads and tours are different, even the way guys play the game is totally different! We need to appreciate players in their era, when they played the game and what they achieved. Ian Botham was brilliant in his day, stats paints a picture but to compare the then and now and decide on who was/is better, impossible.... As for Kallis, he is what he is, under the radar as a bowler, he took out Kevin on Thursday, he had a first spell Friday morning in stringing 4 maidens together and took out Bell, did you read any of that anywhere? That man is awesome!

  • Major_Hammad on July 24, 2012, 17:11 GMT

    Congrates to South Africa on huge victory. Also Congrates to Legend Amla and Steyn specially, Kallis, Smith, Morkel and Imran Tahir also performed very well. England poor bowlers exposed again against quality batsmen and Eng poor batting line exposed again Quality bowlers.

  • RohanMarkJay on July 24, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    Congrats South Africa. I always believed you were the best cricket team in the world in the last 6 years. But was unlucky to reach it. Hopefully they can win this test series and deservedly get number one spot. I really like South African cricketers they are real tryers they give it everything. Greame Smith, Hashim Amla, Kallis Steyn Philander wow awesome team as a cricket fan finally I can say I really enjoy wathcing south africa play. They make Cricket worth watching these days. Also excellent cricket articles from firdose moonda. Very fair and balanced.

  • Ragav999 on July 24, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    @CDUP: Where exactly did Aussies plummet in the recent rankings? Aus are No.1 ODI side and No.2 Test side. The fact is that even without the best individual performers in Aussie side (in the last 3-4 years) compared to SA & Eng they are managing to stay afloat in the competition for rankings. England and SA fans are proclaiming themselves as the best after years of humiliation and heart breaks against the legendary Aussie team. The Aussies are doing better than expected inspite of some stupid selections.

  • on July 24, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    My attempt at Chris ball gazing shows different results. SA will push Australia down to fight it out with England as to who could be the No 2 test team. Dhoni & Co, don't even waste your time in Chris ball gazing -- you guys are no where in the ball / ballpark!

  • on July 24, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    As an Indian, I have a request to South Africa. Shall we swap the coaches; we will give you a senior one! No short changing; promise!

  • cricketpurist on July 24, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    The best part of this match was the big crowd which came to see the match on all days. It feels great to watch so much people on TV in attendance for a test Match. C'mon Indians what is wrong with us why do we keep our stands empty on all International test matches.

  • thirdmanboundary on July 24, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    Headingley will be fascinating. Much more comfortable conditions for the English bowlers. But also ideal for Philander in particular. And didn't Kallis take 5 in an innings last time at Headingley? He could be the joker in the pack. Steyn can take wickets under any conditions. And Morkel seems to have grown in both tactical cunning and confidence, even though Headingley conditions mayn't be ideal for his kind of bowling. If SA win at Headingley, Kirsten will go down as one of the great coaches of the modern era, given what he achieved with India as well.

  • CDUP on July 24, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    @Chris Sun SA might be playing England at the moment, but , as a South African, I have to agree with the English on the extreme cockiness of the Ausies on this site. The last test series SA and Aus played was a draw, and before that SA won in Australia and Aus won in South Africa. Please stop jumping the gun as usual, and looking like a fool once the results are in. I would still understand this ridiculous hubris if you have been white-washing SA and England in recent years, but the last time you beat England was 2006, and the last time you beat SA was 2008. Both teams have grown tremendously in mentality and technique since then, so don't count your chickens before they've hatched. There's a good reason Australia have plummeted in recent rankings, and will also lose their ODI no1 spot after the England v SA ODI series. So please... come back down to earth.

  • Ragav999 on July 25, 2012, 1:46 GMT

    @CDUP: Where exactly did Aussies plummet in the recent rankings? Aus are No.1 ODI side and No.2 Test side. The fact is that even without the best individual performers in Aussie side (in the last 3-4 years) compared to SA & Eng they are managing to stay afloat in the competition for rankings. England and SA fans are proclaiming themselves as the best after years of humiliation and heart breaks against the legendary Aussie team. The Aussies are doing better than expected inspite of some stupid selections.

  • Tjoeps on July 24, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    @jezzastyles...... Nice to see that I am not alone in the comparing of players thru time... Madness! Boyce had a very valid comment that he can only judge players in what they do, and cannot comment on players that he never saw playing... To compare the 70's or even 80's players with the current guys does not work.... Workloads and tours are different, even the way guys play the game is totally different! We need to appreciate players in their era, when they played the game and what they achieved. Ian Botham was brilliant in his day, stats paints a picture but to compare the then and now and decide on who was/is better, impossible.... As for Kallis, he is what he is, under the radar as a bowler, he took out Kevin on Thursday, he had a first spell Friday morning in stringing 4 maidens together and took out Bell, did you read any of that anywhere? That man is awesome!

  • Major_Hammad on July 24, 2012, 17:11 GMT

    Congrates to South Africa on huge victory. Also Congrates to Legend Amla and Steyn specially, Kallis, Smith, Morkel and Imran Tahir also performed very well. England poor bowlers exposed again against quality batsmen and Eng poor batting line exposed again Quality bowlers.

  • RohanMarkJay on July 24, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    Congrats South Africa. I always believed you were the best cricket team in the world in the last 6 years. But was unlucky to reach it. Hopefully they can win this test series and deservedly get number one spot. I really like South African cricketers they are real tryers they give it everything. Greame Smith, Hashim Amla, Kallis Steyn Philander wow awesome team as a cricket fan finally I can say I really enjoy wathcing south africa play. They make Cricket worth watching these days. Also excellent cricket articles from firdose moonda. Very fair and balanced.

  • Ragav999 on July 24, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    @CDUP: Where exactly did Aussies plummet in the recent rankings? Aus are No.1 ODI side and No.2 Test side. The fact is that even without the best individual performers in Aussie side (in the last 3-4 years) compared to SA & Eng they are managing to stay afloat in the competition for rankings. England and SA fans are proclaiming themselves as the best after years of humiliation and heart breaks against the legendary Aussie team. The Aussies are doing better than expected inspite of some stupid selections.

  • on July 24, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    My attempt at Chris ball gazing shows different results. SA will push Australia down to fight it out with England as to who could be the No 2 test team. Dhoni & Co, don't even waste your time in Chris ball gazing -- you guys are no where in the ball / ballpark!

  • on July 24, 2012, 15:05 GMT

    As an Indian, I have a request to South Africa. Shall we swap the coaches; we will give you a senior one! No short changing; promise!

  • cricketpurist on July 24, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    The best part of this match was the big crowd which came to see the match on all days. It feels great to watch so much people on TV in attendance for a test Match. C'mon Indians what is wrong with us why do we keep our stands empty on all International test matches.

  • thirdmanboundary on July 24, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    Headingley will be fascinating. Much more comfortable conditions for the English bowlers. But also ideal for Philander in particular. And didn't Kallis take 5 in an innings last time at Headingley? He could be the joker in the pack. Steyn can take wickets under any conditions. And Morkel seems to have grown in both tactical cunning and confidence, even though Headingley conditions mayn't be ideal for his kind of bowling. If SA win at Headingley, Kirsten will go down as one of the great coaches of the modern era, given what he achieved with India as well.

  • CDUP on July 24, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    @Chris Sun SA might be playing England at the moment, but , as a South African, I have to agree with the English on the extreme cockiness of the Ausies on this site. The last test series SA and Aus played was a draw, and before that SA won in Australia and Aus won in South Africa. Please stop jumping the gun as usual, and looking like a fool once the results are in. I would still understand this ridiculous hubris if you have been white-washing SA and England in recent years, but the last time you beat England was 2006, and the last time you beat SA was 2008. Both teams have grown tremendously in mentality and technique since then, so don't count your chickens before they've hatched. There's a good reason Australia have plummeted in recent rankings, and will also lose their ODI no1 spot after the England v SA ODI series. So please... come back down to earth.

  • RandyOZ on July 24, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    England's worst fears have come true - the South African experiment didn't work. Might be time to pach Tahir because that journeyman Swann couldn't bowl even if he was offered 3 new book deals.

  • Saffie1987 on July 24, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @ Chris: Hahahah no way Australia will beat South-Africa later this year! I expect sa to win 2-0 or 3-0!!!! Australia have no chance! If we play like this, Australia is history!

  • heavy1971 on July 24, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    remind me of the days when west indies use to beat up on england..........no comments from the english press now!!!

  • on July 24, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    @Chris Sun. How do you know this? Can you see into the future. Maybe you should lend me your cristal ball so that i can pick the winning numbers in this weeks lotto.

  • on July 24, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    If SA become no.1, they would quickly be knocked over by the Aussies when they play later this year. In fact Aus won the last test they played with SA.

  • jezzastyles on July 24, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    Re: Xolile (Kallis is better than Botham in Botham's own backyard!!). Just goes to show that stats aren't everything. Comparing era's, especially those from different nations, tends to crack me up. Kallis is a truly great batsmen, but he accumulates his runs, test s/r 45.71. Botham was more in the swashbuckling mould, like an earlier version of Gilchrist, test s/r 60.71. Botham was also called on to do a LOT more bowling; 21815 balls in 102 matches vs. 19110 balls in 153 matches (yeah, I know that Kallis does a lot more batting, but fast bowling is a lot more arduous on the body than batting). Botham also had to contend with the ALL-CONQUERING West Indies for the entirety of his career (back when they played 5-matches, and they lost some of those 4-0 or 5-0). You can't compare era's in any meaningful fashion. They're both all-time greats for the nations they represent!!

  • takenaback on July 24, 2012, 9:39 GMT

    To suggest that South Africa have had more comprehensive wins over England seems to me to only be an attempt to downplay this thorough thrashing. Englishman both in and out of the team talk as if they are undoubtedly the best but oh my god they only took two wickets. Comprehensive wins aren't always measured by the amount of runs ahead, in this case an innings and 12 runs. To only take two wickets as compared to South Africa's 20 is woeful plain and simple.

  • sandy_bangalore on July 24, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    India was probably the poorest No1 teams ever, and got there because of a lot of wins in friendly conditions. England are proving to be not much better. If SA can correct their home record, then they should be No1 by a mile. Atleast the days of ausie and windies domination is over, and we can look forward to a close battle for the top

  • Muttee on July 24, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    Eng finally tastes a defeat? have you forgotten the trip to UAE earlier this year? this was their fifth defeat in 9 test matches, they are getting used to it by now, it is going to be 7 of 11. Not picking Finn was a big mistake, they already have a very good batting lineup then don't know why they pick bresnan who is just half a bowler only to boost their batting. They should pick up finn instead of bresnan and bopara should be given another chance.

  • on July 24, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    England need conditions to favor their bowlers to perform, but then SA will have those same conditions. Before i read that SA only had Smith and AB De Villiers. Everybody forgot about kallis and amla. We knew our team and allowed you poms to do the talking. And now your hope is that we underperform so that england can win. Thats not going to happen. This team is more focussed than previous protea teams. Just remember in vaforable conditions philander is very dangerous. added to that the rest of the bowling attack.

  • BellCurve on July 24, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    Kallis is better than Botham in Botham's own backyard!! Kallis averages 38.40 with the bat in England whereas Botham only averages 34.92. With the ball Kallis averages 27.64 and Botham 27.54.

  • Percy_Fender on July 24, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    I think England's bowling is too dependent on the bowling conditions being in their favour as also the toss to do well. South Africa is much better in every sense of the word. I will be surprised if England bounce back because if you give them green tops the Saffers will just roll them over with their bowling. And they are all fit.Besides they have Gary kirsten as coach. He is definitely the one with a midas touch. South Africa deserves the No 1 status and they hopefully will get it by the end of this tour.The brilliant weather in this Test makes the victory a real one. England batted first on a good batting wicket and should have no complaint about the wicket having undergone wear and tear. There was no cloud cover for most of the game. England will need their kind of weather to make an impression I think. But even then, Steyn Morkel and Philander will destroy their batting which has been made to look untouchable. Their batting has been made to look too good because of the Ashes win.

  • Romanticstud on July 24, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    One must remember a 3 match series has 3 matches ... I have often seen South Africa get 1-0 up away from home and squander that position ... there are still 2 games left ... England made South Africa look ordinary on day 1 ... South Africa then turned the match on its head ... the tuening point ... the wicket of Pietersen late on day 1 ... thereafter 16 runs in 10 overs ... the fact that Cook fell early on Day 2 added to the English woes ... Some guts was shown by Bell and Prior ... but then that was it ... South Africa may have lost Peterson early, but that didn't deter the Three Musketeers, Amla, Kallis and Smith from demolishing the Anderson, Broad, Swann and Bresnan attack ... maybe England should drop Bopara for Finn ... That will help ease the workload placed on the other four ...

  • sulie786 on July 24, 2012, 6:19 GMT

    i agree that the English batsmen played some reckless shots but thats part of cricket. when it counted all the SA bowlers produced the goods. i am happy for tahir as he seems to finally be settling in. Amla deserved the MOM award Aaamsaasza, it was an innings of character. SA has a batting line up to fear. England will no doubt bounce back, they are after all the no.1 side but SA with this lead has a chance to become the undisputed no.1. good luck England u will need it

  • spiritwithin on July 24, 2012, 6:15 GMT

    @Heath Eldridge,the reason y SA was not no.1 before was solely due to one factor-the awesome awe-inspiring australian team who were a notch above the current SA team player to player..when a team consisteing of hayden,langer(opener) followed by ponting(was at his best till 2007),then comes steve waugh(later damien martin),followed by gilchrist and when they had bowlers like Warne,Mcgrath,Gillespie,Lee etc i think its obvious y SA was not the top team earlier...but at the moment SA r ahead of every other teams be it bowlers,batsman etc..the only thing i m worried about is the wicketkeeper slot..

  • VinodGupte on July 24, 2012, 5:13 GMT

    ENG will struggle to win even one test. SA is no IND.

  • sharidas on July 24, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    It was a wonderful win and fully deserving. Nice article, though, there was nothing brave about the declaration. There was'nt much England could have done to change anything.

  • rohan024 on July 24, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    Sooner England and English fans get over this hoopla of being no:1, better it is for them. Its coming from an Indian, who has been at the receiving end of this hype of being no:1 test team by winning all its matches on home pitches in 2008-2010. England is no different from India, at the moment they can win only in England and not outside. They lost 3-0 to Pakistan, and i have no doubts that the margin of defeat will be 2-0 against India later this year, because in the 3rd match we will prepare such a flat pitch that everyone from Tkar to Dhoni ll score a century. Anyway, point is SA is the best team in the world by miles. Infact, to me, the greatest achievement of Indian team was to draw a series against SA in SA a couple of years back.

  • satish619chandar on July 24, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Excellent win for SA his was.. I wouldn't give it in to regularity.. If there is any regularity, it is with England.. Apart from Bopara, everyone is settled in the team and are playing together for some time.. Whereas, SA still need to settle couple of slots.. Do they need new keeper(If so, lose out on Duminy)? Alviro and Rudolph are everything but settled.. Philander is just 8 games old.. I would rather give it to spirited performance on the field.. Especially with less warmup and more importantly, a very bad first day where everyone jumped on them for that..

  • Jack_Tka on July 24, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    What SA scored for 2 wickets, England couldn't score with 20 wickets. Thats quite impressive. Add to that the flatness of the wicket and you wonder what kind of bowlers are playing for SA. Terrific performance by SA.

  • getsetgopk on July 24, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    Phew! for the loss of just 2 wickets SA won a test match against the mighty that too with an innings and 12 runs? crushing indeed, feel bad for Broad though, i hope poms hit back hard in the next one is, its now or never

  • on July 24, 2012, 2:52 GMT

    South africa are the better side on paper - no doubt - Smith, DeVilliers (the batsmen, not the keeper), Amla, Kallis, Steyn and Morkel are all true world class and would all come into discussions for a true world XI. Philander and Tahir would also probably be picked by any other country in the world. The real question with them is "why havent they been number one before". Right back through the late 90s they looked the goods but fell at the final hurdle (often against australia). They beat australia in australia in early 09 then lose at home. The challenge for them now will be to build on this success, find a true wicket keeper, and roll on.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on July 24, 2012, 1:50 GMT

    Yep, regularity does bring rewards. That's why I eat fibre and keep to a schedule everyday.

  • Wallaroo on July 24, 2012, 0:58 GMT

    Wow, I expected South Africa to win but this is beyond expectation. Congratulations South Africa, looking forward to seeing what transpires in the 2nd game. Can England raise the bar? I believe they can, but to what extent we are yet to see. While there is no doubt England can raise the bar, so too can South Africa.

    @RandyOZ, agreed mate they are a class above the Poms, their batting line-up did look extremely shaky. Solid on day one but once the Saffas came out firing on day 2 they were cactus.

    Can't wait for South Africa v Australia series, when the two greatest teams go head to head.

  • on July 24, 2012, 0:48 GMT

    South Africa is studded with super-stars - Amla, Kallis, Steyn. The there are big stars - De Vill, Morkel and the new kid Imran Tahir. There is so much depth in the team. England by contrast is so ordinary, even on paper.

  • on July 24, 2012, 0:28 GMT

    Okay, I'm already looking forward to the series between SA and AUS. Even though they won in 08/09, can they replicate that success? They lost 2-1 at home then squandered a 1-0 lead to draw 1-1 in the second series. If SA are a class above ENG then that means that they are way better than AUS. If ENG slip down to no.3 then it would be a battle between no.1 and no.2 again. All the Aussies here bragging about the England defeat, should you be celebrating or concerned. If SA can do this to ENG then they could do it to AUS as well.

  • jezzastyles on July 24, 2012, 0:20 GMT

    England were comprehensively beaten by a far better SA unit in this test. Kudos to SA and a huge wake-up call for the Poms. SA bowled well in the 2nd dig, and most importantly, they made the England batsmen play most deliveries, minimising the wide stuff. Steyn showed why he is the best bowler in world cricket at the moment. However, it's a 3-match series, so let's wait & see what happens in the next test. England will have time to regroup but I agree with RandyOz, they need to bring in Finn. As for their batting lineup looking shaky - we'll see what happens down the track, but some key players need to look at their shot selection and take into account the circumstances of the match, Pietersen was especially guilty of this. I don't think there's any need for them to make quick-fix changes with the batting - this is the lineup that got them to #1, after all. As AUS have shown, a constant rotation of "emerging" batsmen getting the axe for poor form does nothing for a side (i.e. Khawaja).

  • aaamsaasza on July 24, 2012, 0:08 GMT

    I am a die-hard fan of Kallis and Company however for this test match I strongly believe England presented the game to SA. Every English Batsman including the all rounders and tail got a chance to stay at the crease and they stayed at the crease for sometime....but....but only to throw their wickets away when they were needed most. Of the 20 English wickets, only three were taken by the SA bowlers with genuine unplayable deliveries (cook's dismissal was one of them). Remaining 17 wickets were gifts from English team. It was a nice gesture from all English players. The man of the match was not Hashim...He didn't win the match for SA.... It was KP who when SA was looking at the clock to get over from the day's labor...Opened the flood gate for South Africa.... Bopara, Bell, Strauss, and Trott should be awarded medallions for showing us the true techniques of RECKLESS stroke play.

  • on July 23, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    finally England tastes a defeat... SA dressing room is creating the same kind of noises what Indian cricket team was creating till couple of years ago.. before winning world cup.. is there anything common here ! between these noises and success and the way SA 'team' is enjoying each others company and playing for 'each other,.. any guessess about this common thread !!!! or to be more precise.. can a coach really be sooo influential !

  • Badgerofdoom on July 23, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    Well played SA, about the only positive for England is that there are 2 more matches in the series. But they have to seriously raise their game. I don't think the selectors will be making sweeping changes, as poorly as the bowling attack did this test they have performed really well in the last year so deserve another chance, although Finn might be brought in for either Bresnan or even Bopara if they decide that 5 bowlers is the way forward.

  • Hammond on July 23, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    All due credit to South AFrica. I thought we were in with a chance when Bell and Prior got together, but it was like getting a little better before dying of the plague. A lot to think about before next test. England will be feeling like they've been thrown to earth from the cabin of a 747. I expect a few changes next test. Not many positives to take out of this game. Still, this particular foulweather fan will still be flying the flag for this terrific England team. Still number 1 (for the time being).

  • on July 23, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    India lost a great coach in Kristen...he will take SA to new heights

  • RandyOZ on July 23, 2012, 21:50 GMT

    South Africa are just proving what everyone except the poms knew, they are just a class above this average England side. England's batting line-up looks extremely shaky and there isn't much depth there. Apart from Jimmy the bowling never looked like taking a wicket, with most bowlers stuggling to get about 120kph. I think it's time to bring Finn in.

  • Syed_imran_abbas on July 23, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    SA played really well. beating enlgand in with one inning and 12 runs and just at the lose of 2 wickets is special. Well done amla. you r a true hero.

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  • Syed_imran_abbas on July 23, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    SA played really well. beating enlgand in with one inning and 12 runs and just at the lose of 2 wickets is special. Well done amla. you r a true hero.

  • RandyOZ on July 23, 2012, 21:50 GMT

    South Africa are just proving what everyone except the poms knew, they are just a class above this average England side. England's batting line-up looks extremely shaky and there isn't much depth there. Apart from Jimmy the bowling never looked like taking a wicket, with most bowlers stuggling to get about 120kph. I think it's time to bring Finn in.

  • on July 23, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    India lost a great coach in Kristen...he will take SA to new heights

  • Hammond on July 23, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    All due credit to South AFrica. I thought we were in with a chance when Bell and Prior got together, but it was like getting a little better before dying of the plague. A lot to think about before next test. England will be feeling like they've been thrown to earth from the cabin of a 747. I expect a few changes next test. Not many positives to take out of this game. Still, this particular foulweather fan will still be flying the flag for this terrific England team. Still number 1 (for the time being).

  • Badgerofdoom on July 23, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    Well played SA, about the only positive for England is that there are 2 more matches in the series. But they have to seriously raise their game. I don't think the selectors will be making sweeping changes, as poorly as the bowling attack did this test they have performed really well in the last year so deserve another chance, although Finn might be brought in for either Bresnan or even Bopara if they decide that 5 bowlers is the way forward.

  • on July 23, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    finally England tastes a defeat... SA dressing room is creating the same kind of noises what Indian cricket team was creating till couple of years ago.. before winning world cup.. is there anything common here ! between these noises and success and the way SA 'team' is enjoying each others company and playing for 'each other,.. any guessess about this common thread !!!! or to be more precise.. can a coach really be sooo influential !

  • aaamsaasza on July 24, 2012, 0:08 GMT

    I am a die-hard fan of Kallis and Company however for this test match I strongly believe England presented the game to SA. Every English Batsman including the all rounders and tail got a chance to stay at the crease and they stayed at the crease for sometime....but....but only to throw their wickets away when they were needed most. Of the 20 English wickets, only three were taken by the SA bowlers with genuine unplayable deliveries (cook's dismissal was one of them). Remaining 17 wickets were gifts from English team. It was a nice gesture from all English players. The man of the match was not Hashim...He didn't win the match for SA.... It was KP who when SA was looking at the clock to get over from the day's labor...Opened the flood gate for South Africa.... Bopara, Bell, Strauss, and Trott should be awarded medallions for showing us the true techniques of RECKLESS stroke play.

  • jezzastyles on July 24, 2012, 0:20 GMT

    England were comprehensively beaten by a far better SA unit in this test. Kudos to SA and a huge wake-up call for the Poms. SA bowled well in the 2nd dig, and most importantly, they made the England batsmen play most deliveries, minimising the wide stuff. Steyn showed why he is the best bowler in world cricket at the moment. However, it's a 3-match series, so let's wait & see what happens in the next test. England will have time to regroup but I agree with RandyOz, they need to bring in Finn. As for their batting lineup looking shaky - we'll see what happens down the track, but some key players need to look at their shot selection and take into account the circumstances of the match, Pietersen was especially guilty of this. I don't think there's any need for them to make quick-fix changes with the batting - this is the lineup that got them to #1, after all. As AUS have shown, a constant rotation of "emerging" batsmen getting the axe for poor form does nothing for a side (i.e. Khawaja).

  • on July 24, 2012, 0:28 GMT

    Okay, I'm already looking forward to the series between SA and AUS. Even though they won in 08/09, can they replicate that success? They lost 2-1 at home then squandered a 1-0 lead to draw 1-1 in the second series. If SA are a class above ENG then that means that they are way better than AUS. If ENG slip down to no.3 then it would be a battle between no.1 and no.2 again. All the Aussies here bragging about the England defeat, should you be celebrating or concerned. If SA can do this to ENG then they could do it to AUS as well.

  • on July 24, 2012, 0:48 GMT

    South Africa is studded with super-stars - Amla, Kallis, Steyn. The there are big stars - De Vill, Morkel and the new kid Imran Tahir. There is so much depth in the team. England by contrast is so ordinary, even on paper.