South Africa in England 2012 July 24, 2012

We will discuss failings - Bell


England have had an "honest" discussion about their failings during the first Test against South Africa, but Ian Bell insists the team can still lay claim to the No.1 Test ranking despite the innings margin of defeat and the fact they managed to take just two wickets at The Oval.

In the moments after the match finished on Monday Andrew Strauss said each player would be told to take a look at themselves after England suffered one of their most comprehensive losses of all time. That process began in The Oval changing rooms as South Africa headed back to their team hotel to celebrate a famous victory.

"We've had a chat. That's the one great thing about this team is we talk and there will be honesty," Bell said. "We're not going to say we were outplayed - we're going to discuss why. Andy Flower will want everyone to scratch their minds and work out how they can improve. That's why he is such a great coach."

The result meant England have now lost five of their nine Tests in 2012, starting with the whitewash against Pakistan in UAE before losing the opening Test against Sri Lanka in Galle. As is the case now, their No.1 ranking was on the line but they responded with an impressive victory in Colombo. The series win against West Indies was workmanlike rather than emphatic and this most recent outing has brought them crashing back down to earth.

A series win for South Africa will see them move to No.1, although a drawn series would allow England to cling to their ranking a little longer. "You don't just look at the last nine Test matches, you look over the last two or three years," Bell said. "That's why we're ranked No.1. The points are monitored over a long period of time. It's been a consistent effort over a long period but there's no doubt when you see how South Africa played we're going to have a real scrap on our hands."

"I wouldn't say that is a concern," he added about the Test side's inconsistent year. "But it proves to us that no matter where you are ranked you have to keep performing, training hard and doing the right things. Opposing teams see us a bit differently now. Maybe they turn up desperately wanting to beat us because we are ranked No.1 and we have to react to that. In a way, this match has forced our hand. In the next two Tests, we have to go out and fight for every single run and wicket and try to hold on to No.1."

There are a number of areas where England were exposed during the opening Test. The most notable from the scorecard was that South Africa compiled an astonishing 637 for 2 in 189 overs which finished with the partnership between Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis unbroken on 377. It was a sobering experience for the England attack, which has remained a consistent part of their game even while the batting has faltered during the year.

"Our attack has been so good for so long and, even on flat wickets in the sub-continent, they normally excel and take 20 wickets," Bell said. "But for some reason it didn't quite work in this game. Maybe that is credit to South Africa who really made it count when they got in. That's again something we've normally done."

As Bell hinted, England's batsmen did not come close to matching the South Africans' longevity at the crease, even with Alastair Cook scoring an opening-day hundred. In both innings they carelessly lost wickets shortly before the second new ball was taken while the sweep shot came back to cost them dear as they tried to save the match.

"The ball did a bit on that second morning but we can't use that as an excuse," Bell said. "We should have been good enough to get through that period. Despite losing four wickets on the fourth evening, we still believed we could save it. Myself and Matt Prior were very positive at lunch, we've done it before and believed we could get to tea. The new ball would go soft again after that, but Dale Steyn led their attack brilliantly and showed why he is No.1 in the world. He put in a spell when it really mattered."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Geoffrey on July 27, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    @Meety- have a schooner of 50/50 and a maggot bag with us one day mate. I don't have to wish that I am an Aussie my family has been here since 1788. I don't honestly care how cricinfo has just painted Englands defeat, in 100 years from now 7/903 declared playing 201 & 123 all out will remain in the record books the biggest test win of all time, and Australia the biggest loser of a test match (of all time).

  • Andrew on July 27, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    @OzzyHammond - I know you really WISH you were an Ozzy, but the fact is, as per the article on this site (linked to the 1 test scorecard with a title like Comprehensive victory) - the diffential on average runs per wicket has NEVER been bettered. That also includes Bangladesh games. @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - if 5wombats is correct, Strauss will be putting his hand up & saying "Doh - Imeant to say we'll bowl!"

  • Rakesh on July 27, 2012, 9:11 GMT


    Ref : Eng cannot take 20 wickets etc.

    Do some research or check the facts before posting

    He said Eng can take 20 wkts even on sub continental type wickets

    True. In UAE every time ENGLAND BOWLED Out the Pakis sometimes as low as 97 to max of 330.It was batting which was horrible.

    second SL series in SL in March again Eng bowled out SL in all four inn, and draw the series 1-1

    In all 5 games James Anderson Broad (played 4) Swann and Panesar bowled beautifully.

    Go check those records

  • Dummy4 on July 27, 2012, 1:53 GMT

    "Our attack has been so good for so long and, even on flat wickets in the sub-continent, they normally excel and take 20 wickets," Bell said.

    what a joke! I reckon he has forgotten what happened in UAE against Pakistan last year. English are good at talking... SA gonna win the serious for sure with a big margin....

  • Subash on July 26, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    "Regression Towards the Mean". Every team eventually regressess as law of averages catches up with them. Eng are no different as they were having phenomomenal success for the last 2 or more years at home, it was bound to happen. IMO Eng did not fail but SA were so much better. @Siddarth: very well said, totally agree with you. Comment as a fan of the game and not post rubbish just for the sake of it. @5wombats: I am sure I have seen your posts or should I say negative posts on Indian threads as well. I can bet you that most negative posts are agnst us Indians including from many english fans and off course from our neighbors. By no means I am trying to justify the rubbish comments posted here by my fellow Indians here but just saying we forget that we all live in a glass house and yet derive pleasure in ridiculing others. Unfortunate reality of the 21st century.

    back to test cricket, cant wait for the start of the second test match.

  • Nicholas on July 26, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    "We just got thrashed, but we will all sit around together with a nice cup of camomile tea and move on from there..." Boy, I'd love to listen in on THAT meeting...

  • Patrick on July 26, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    @Hammond, not just a batsmen's game there's that other rule that you need twenty wickets to win a test as you're surely aware, has a test ever been one without losing a stick statisticians out there? That's as close too as I've ever seen.

  • Helmut on July 26, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    I still maintain the difference between the sides is the stat of converting 50's into 100's. I think SA sits on 45% and ENG 31%. To me this was ENG's biggest 'failure'. All of them, even Cook because he could've scored a big one (and he usualy does) played to type. Granted SA went rediculously overboard but no doubt further improved on that stat whereas ENG conformed almost exactly to what history says their conversion rate is. I don't know if they can correct that in this series as I'll presume it would take a longterm solution because of it being a 'longterm' problem. Meaning if ENG were to come back in this series, it's the bowlers who will have to do it by restricting the SA batsmen under 50. They will not score enough runs ontherwise

  • Shubham on July 26, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    "We will discuss failings" = Because that's all you can do!!

  • Geoffrey on July 26, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    @Meety- hey mate still inquiring after my nationality? And sorry buddy the records clearly all state that biggest win in the history of the game was by England versus Australia. By an innings and 579 runs. Ergo the biggest defeat in the history of the game was the loser of that match. There isn't really any other way to paint it. The team that wins is the team that makes the most runs, not the team that loses the fewest wickets. It's that simple.

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