South Africa in England 2012 August 12, 2012

South Africa sense 'something special'

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There is a thrill that comes with being on the edge. It is a mixture of exhilaration in knowing that something potentially amazing awaits and fear of the possibility of falling off.

South Africa have inched closer and closer to that edge in their quest to become the No.1 ranked Test team in the world and now they find themselves right on it. In less than a week, something they have worked toward for years could finally come together. And they don't even have to win a match for that happen.

All South Africa need to do is the thing they have become almost flawless at doing for the last six years: not lose. In six years, since Sri Lanka 2006, South Africa have not been defeated in a series away from home. Whatever the result of the Lord's Test, that record will remain intact. But if the result is either a draw or a South African win, the record will sprout some bells and whistles and it's those sounds that the players are starting to hear.

"I'm pretty excited about Lord's," Dale Steyn, South Africa's premier fast-bowler, said. "Gary Kirsten mentioned the other day that we are on the brink of something special. In a few days' time we could be the number one Test team in the world. He said we should enjoy this time because this is what we've worked for."

Since Kirsten took over last June, this is the most excited he has allowed the team to be. One of his first acts was to promote a mood of stability. Wins and losses were treated with fairly similar feelings, there was no over-celebration for the former and no deep disappointment of the latter. All of them were part of a "process," a word Kirsten has used to often it has become nauseating to listen to.

The actual details of the process have not been revealed to those outside the dressing room except to say that it does not end in England, irrespective of whether the No.1 status has been achieved or not. It seems obvious that some part of the process will be completed next week at Lord's and the sense of anticipation has become too big to simply file away and Kirsten is allowing a little more than expression.

Not too much, because when Steyn was asked whether there was a feeling that something special was around the corner, he immediately reigned in his thoughts. "It's weird. We're just in a really nice groove and in such a good environment that we haven't had too much pressure. Everybody seems so up for it.

"Guys know what their job is. There's a lot of trust. If we go on and win then in a month, two months after this, maybe in a year, we might sit back and say maybe we should have had different feelings. But we're 1-0 up with one game to go and I'm not going to change the way we do things."

Consistency has been a major advantage to South Africa in this Test series, highlighted perhaps by the chaos in the opposing dressing room.

England have had their first-choice No.6 batsman, Ravi Bopara, pull out because of personal reasons and had to replace him with a debutant. They have also the person many consider their best player, Kevin Pietersen, embroiled in a text message controversy and were forced to drop him and bring in someone who has not fared well in his previous international encounters, Jonny Bairstow. They changed their attack, leaving out a spinner for the first time since 2003 and it did not work and their bowling attack cannot seem to find the venom they once had.

By contrast South Africa have seemed serene. Their big guns, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn, fired in the first Test. Then one who struggled, Alviro Petersen, was their standout player of the second Test. Their biggest worry has been Imran Tahir's no-ball issue and he may have rectified that, having not overstepped once during the two-day match against Derbyshire. While England have to iron out dressing room creases, South Africa have had endless bonding sessions, starting in Switzerland and most recently having dinner cooked by the country's first Masterchef winner.

They are, as Graeme Smith told ESPNcricinfo before the series started, at peace. Ironically, that means their killer instinct has never been sharper. Even though they have the option to play defensive cricket and hold on to their 1-0 lead, they do not want to do that. Steyn gave a guarantee that they will go for the win at Lord's, the same way they did at Headingley when Smith declared and put England in on the final day and later confirmed he did it with the intention that South Africa could for the win.

"If the weather wasn't around I reckon we would have been in a better situation," Steyn said. "A draw is not in our eyes. We've come out here to play good, attacking positive cricket. It's the way we want to play and we are definitely going for it at Lord's. It just shows Test cricket is definitely alive and that this current South African team is trying to push for it."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • InnocentGuy on August 14, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    @TruthBites, it is not just one semi-final or final. SA are tagged as chokers because they have ALWAYS failed at crucial games. They have never won a major trophy. But I agree that that doesn't make them a bad team. In fact quite the contrary, they have been the most consistent team of the last decade, if you discount Australia in the first part of the decade.

  • MattyP1979 on August 14, 2012, 19:18 GMT

    For all the talk of KP he hasn't been our top batsman for over 2 years. Danny it is true we have been outplayed thus far, but we have everything to play for. Alot of non-sense about game changing abilities with the bat. Test cricket is 5 days long and if Cook and Trott bat for 2 and a half of them we win simple. We have alot of attacking batsman lower down the order but I have to admit they haven't been firing of late. Bring on Thur, simply put we CAN win, just will we.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 14, 2012, 15:45 GMT

    No wonder Steyn's confident, he should be champing at the bit to get at the shattered remnant of what's left of the once 'great' Pommy side, at least according to their fickle press (and fans). Has it still got a heartbeat, has anyone checked for a pulse, or has rigor-mortis actually set in? All valid questions in my humble opinion. Yep, Steyn is gonna run rampant, he'll get a 10-fer for next to nothing. The Poms may have to invoke the mercy clause in the 2nd innings, either that or send in the SAS, it's their only hope of getting out of this one alive. Pencil Amla in for a double as well. ENG's best batsmen will be sundries, top 3 in the 1st dig, and top-scorer in the 2nd dig. The poor old Barmy Army can get back to reality, after all, they're used to following a team of no-hopers, they were doing it for years before this much heralded but ultimately doomed resurgence occurred. Won't be too much of a shock to their system. The press will be like a pack of sharks in a feeding frenzy.

  • Daniel_Smith on August 14, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    All this nonsense about Kevin Pieterson has over-shadowed what should have been a great series. In my opinion South Africa will win the third test and will well deserve their number one ranking. They've out-played England. The question is will South Africa follow India and England and surrender the number one position as swiftly. If they stay relatively injury free I don't see it. They look stronger in all departments than England or India.

    I hope we can get on with the cricket and ignore the petulant whinings from Kevin. I bet South Africa are glad he qualified for England. As an Englishman I'm wishing Kevin could learn to shut up and let his cricket do the talking. He'd do better to get rid of all his advisers and agents and concentrate on playing cricket. He'll regret all this stupidity when he's older.

  • satish619chandar on August 14, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    @MattyP1979 : They were blessed with KP.. Not any more..

  • TruthBites on August 14, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    South Africa are not chokers. One big knockout tournament cannot determine the greatness of the team where on a given day any team can win. It is what matters over a period of time and South Africa has been the most consistent team I have seen apart from Australia since I was born. Choker is a tag that is unjustifiable on a game like cricket. One semifinal or final can't make you a choker. South Africa has been great and consistent and that is a fact.

  • pie314 on August 14, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    Problem for England is that without Pietersen, they can't really put the South African bowlers to the sword. An attack of Steyn, Morkel and Philander is not one that you can outlast (like with Warne and McGrath). Pietersen's (and England's) success was built on attacking the bowlers, something which I can't see the likes of Cook, Strauss, Trott and Bell doing. For England to win, the bowlers will have to perform exceptionally to keep South Africa to a low enough total to chase.

  • MattyP1979 on August 14, 2012, 2:04 GMT

    It is true on paper SA are the better side, thats what many people think. But that makes me even more proud of this ENg team. We might not have been blessed with a Kallis/SRT/Punter to name a select few but this team is better than the sum of its parts. What will people say of we do the great escape and retain the no.1. Lets face it the rankings are correct as they stand and come next week will still be correct (no matter the result).

  • on August 13, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    why are the ndians commenting on a topic related to SA and England. lol

  • Shafaet_001 on August 13, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    Why england supporters are thinking that they could win in headingly?? saf clearly played aggresive and declared early to have a crack at the batsmen. It would be a completely different game without rain.

  • InnocentGuy on August 14, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    @TruthBites, it is not just one semi-final or final. SA are tagged as chokers because they have ALWAYS failed at crucial games. They have never won a major trophy. But I agree that that doesn't make them a bad team. In fact quite the contrary, they have been the most consistent team of the last decade, if you discount Australia in the first part of the decade.

  • MattyP1979 on August 14, 2012, 19:18 GMT

    For all the talk of KP he hasn't been our top batsman for over 2 years. Danny it is true we have been outplayed thus far, but we have everything to play for. Alot of non-sense about game changing abilities with the bat. Test cricket is 5 days long and if Cook and Trott bat for 2 and a half of them we win simple. We have alot of attacking batsman lower down the order but I have to admit they haven't been firing of late. Bring on Thur, simply put we CAN win, just will we.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 14, 2012, 15:45 GMT

    No wonder Steyn's confident, he should be champing at the bit to get at the shattered remnant of what's left of the once 'great' Pommy side, at least according to their fickle press (and fans). Has it still got a heartbeat, has anyone checked for a pulse, or has rigor-mortis actually set in? All valid questions in my humble opinion. Yep, Steyn is gonna run rampant, he'll get a 10-fer for next to nothing. The Poms may have to invoke the mercy clause in the 2nd innings, either that or send in the SAS, it's their only hope of getting out of this one alive. Pencil Amla in for a double as well. ENG's best batsmen will be sundries, top 3 in the 1st dig, and top-scorer in the 2nd dig. The poor old Barmy Army can get back to reality, after all, they're used to following a team of no-hopers, they were doing it for years before this much heralded but ultimately doomed resurgence occurred. Won't be too much of a shock to their system. The press will be like a pack of sharks in a feeding frenzy.

  • Daniel_Smith on August 14, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    All this nonsense about Kevin Pieterson has over-shadowed what should have been a great series. In my opinion South Africa will win the third test and will well deserve their number one ranking. They've out-played England. The question is will South Africa follow India and England and surrender the number one position as swiftly. If they stay relatively injury free I don't see it. They look stronger in all departments than England or India.

    I hope we can get on with the cricket and ignore the petulant whinings from Kevin. I bet South Africa are glad he qualified for England. As an Englishman I'm wishing Kevin could learn to shut up and let his cricket do the talking. He'd do better to get rid of all his advisers and agents and concentrate on playing cricket. He'll regret all this stupidity when he's older.

  • satish619chandar on August 14, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    @MattyP1979 : They were blessed with KP.. Not any more..

  • TruthBites on August 14, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    South Africa are not chokers. One big knockout tournament cannot determine the greatness of the team where on a given day any team can win. It is what matters over a period of time and South Africa has been the most consistent team I have seen apart from Australia since I was born. Choker is a tag that is unjustifiable on a game like cricket. One semifinal or final can't make you a choker. South Africa has been great and consistent and that is a fact.

  • pie314 on August 14, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    Problem for England is that without Pietersen, they can't really put the South African bowlers to the sword. An attack of Steyn, Morkel and Philander is not one that you can outlast (like with Warne and McGrath). Pietersen's (and England's) success was built on attacking the bowlers, something which I can't see the likes of Cook, Strauss, Trott and Bell doing. For England to win, the bowlers will have to perform exceptionally to keep South Africa to a low enough total to chase.

  • MattyP1979 on August 14, 2012, 2:04 GMT

    It is true on paper SA are the better side, thats what many people think. But that makes me even more proud of this ENg team. We might not have been blessed with a Kallis/SRT/Punter to name a select few but this team is better than the sum of its parts. What will people say of we do the great escape and retain the no.1. Lets face it the rankings are correct as they stand and come next week will still be correct (no matter the result).

  • on August 13, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    why are the ndians commenting on a topic related to SA and England. lol

  • Shafaet_001 on August 13, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    Why england supporters are thinking that they could win in headingly?? saf clearly played aggresive and declared early to have a crack at the batsmen. It would be a completely different game without rain.

  • the_blue_android on August 13, 2012, 18:20 GMT

    @roliveruk - You seriously believe England would have won the second test if not for rain? that's the joke of the year!

  • on August 13, 2012, 17:59 GMT

    England may be good at lords. But can nobody in england will match the consistency of Kallis and Amla... Is Bairstow a good replacement for KP??? Definately not...

  • on August 13, 2012, 17:11 GMT

    yup now its your turn to be at top :-)

  • roliveruk on August 13, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    Not sure why/how Steyn and SA supporters are "...sensing something special..."; if it hadn't rained in Yorkshire, England would have probably squared the series. England are just getting into this series after losing the 1st Test (as often England does).

    Still, 'Chokers' deserve to be favourites...even though they couldn't beat India or Australia at home!

  • arastu on August 13, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    TEST CRICKET IS REAL CRICKET AND KUDOS TO RSA TEAM ; THEY HAVE PROVED IT AND GONNA MAKE IT TO THE COVETED #1 FOR SURE . MAY THE GAME PROCEED IN THE RIGHT AND TRUE SPIRIT FOREVER ; I'M ALL OUT FOR RSA'S ACHIEVEMENT! ALL THE BEST AND SINCERE WISHES FOR THE SAME .

  • on August 13, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    SA has a bad habit of choking at the big stage. I hope they dont choke at the Lords test in typical SA fashion. On paper, they are a far superior team than England.

  • Unmesh_cric on August 13, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    India became the No.1 Test team under Gary Kirsten. Now he is with South Africa and they are going to be No.1. This can not just be a coincidence. A good coach/team manager does make a difference.

  • StaalBurgher on August 13, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    @Omegazone - The choking label has absolutely nothing to do with Test cricket. That comes from the ODI WC and other tournaments.

  • TheCricketLady on August 13, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    Eish... what a life these guys are leading, it's a good one indeed :D Though it's really helping the team mood, you can see it on the field, our Proteas looked calm and full of beans even through the draw! We're gonna rock Lord's... that no. 1 is ours!! Good luck boys!!

  • cskfangg on August 13, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Can anyone answer question? Why dont they add cricket in olympics? Then it gets more interesting otherthan KP issue...

  • ashokan on August 13, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    South africa can never keep the number one position cause they play fewer games than everyone else - so i dont even look at the icc ranking.

    South are the number one team to beat nowdays

  • Shafaet_001 on August 13, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    KP is gone,england will be totally rolled over by south africa this time.

  • on August 13, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    Don't be so sure! South Africa is a proven choker & England are very good at lords. Its probably gonna be a cracker!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 13, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    With any luck, that feed by Switzerland's first Masterchef winner will have caused some indigestion in the SA team, leading to poor running between wickets... lacklustre bowling... poor catching/fielding... concentration difficulties whilst batting... all-in-all, best hope for England now really.

  • wrenx on August 13, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    @landl47 What is disingenuous is pretending that 6 of those wickets would have fallen for any other reason than SA going for all-out attack to get runs on the board

  • Percy_Fender on August 13, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    From their re entry into International cricket, South Africa without doubt have been consistently in the top half of the ICC ratings.They have missed out being the top side on numerous occasions. So much so the word 'chokers' came in into the cricket dictionary ! Now that they are on the verge of getting to the top, I would like to wish the very best of luck to Graeme Smith and his team and even more importantly the man with the midas touch, Gary Kirsten.I hope there are no hiccups and that it is a straight forward victory.

  • satish619chandar on August 13, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    @100_rabh : I bet you haven't watched much of Gary.. Excellent guy o have at top of order and lovely strokemaker.. For the matter of fact, i would say Cook as classy but not the same about Strauss.. Strauss can score runs but his concentration levels are not upto Gary or Cook..

  • on August 13, 2012, 11:08 GMT

    @Chris Sun Dream on pal......SA Will CRUSH AUS 3-0........all by an innings.......mark my words......

  • Jack_Tka on August 13, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    If English players manage to concentrate on the match properly, then we can see a good contest in the third test. There has been too much of distraction lately. But I don't believe that English bowlers would be able to take 20 SA wickets this time around as well. Its too difficult for them until and unless the pitch turns out to be swinging one. SA on the other hand seems to have covered up all their weaknesses and going from strength to strength.

  • Hammond on August 13, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Yeah- "Something Special" just means that England (through his own stupidity) are bereft of their most attacking batsman. I'd be feeling pretty special too in the circumstances.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on August 13, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    All the best SA. you are the real no:1 test team!

  • JBKSHAH on August 13, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    REMEMBER KP IS S AFRICAN BY BIRTH. MAY BE HE WANTS S AFRICA TO BE NO. 1 NEXT WEEK !!

  • on August 13, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    England will be creamed. I see South Africa as the number one Test Playing nation, after this Test.

  • on August 13, 2012, 8:36 GMT

    It all starts all over again in Brisbane in November and if Warner, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Lyon, Pattinson and Cummins fire on all cylinders, it could be 3-0 to Australia. The same thing happened to England against Pakistan after they whitewashed India 4-0 to reach no.1. SA have been no.1 before but haven't hung on to it for long. England also previously lost to Australia in 2006/07 after regaining the Ashes in 2005. Perhaps Eng will regroup after the off field problems are sorted. SA would be chokers if they lose to AUS, can't wait for the Aussie summer.

  • ac_Indian on August 13, 2012, 8:03 GMT

    Congratulations to Gary Kirsten's for his continued success. He seems to take teams at the top. He stabilized the Indian team after Greg Chappell's tenure and is doing this for SA. One request: come back to coach India man :). Good luck.

  • i_witnessed_2011 on August 13, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster: Completely agree with you. Whatever may be the outcome of next game, SA remain No.1 in many fans heart because they are the only team who can perform\compete in all conditions...

  • CustomKid on August 13, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    Dale Steyn = legend and here is a direct quote for you KP.

    'Guys know what their job is. There's a lot of trust.' Get that tatooed on your forehead in reverse so every time you look in the mirror (which I imagine is quite often) you can read it and learn from it.

  • on August 13, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    I'd sense something special too, if I'd just got the opposition's best player dropped. I pity the South African bowler who has to face KP in the future. Or rather, I don't.

  • 100_rabh on August 13, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    @Kavindeven..Gary Kirsten a treat to watch as a player!!!are you for real..he was uglier than beauty of Cook and Strauss put together

  • Sanjiyan on August 13, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    @RednWhiteArmy Englands best chance of that happening was at headingly. They had the better of the overhead bowling conditions and still didnt manage to force a win. KP's inning was brilliant which actually put england into a strong position to go for a win. As the bowling stands atm Tahir(who is prolly SA's weakest bowling link) has outbowled Swann(one of the best spinners in the world). The rest barring Finn, and anderson at times, looked pretty ordinary. Even if straus and cook bat well the bowling doesnt seem to have what it takes to bowl S.A. out

  • on August 13, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    no pieterson means, england will be defeated by an innings....

  • satish619chandar on August 13, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    @landl47 : Declaring when Tahir was the only one left was not the intended attacking move but taking risk to lose 9 wickets was the real one.. Do you frankly say that England could have got 9 SA wickets had they not played for declaration?

  • RednWhiteArmy on August 13, 2012, 6:14 GMT

    England have a real chance now, no distractions anymore. Cook will ton up at lords and so will Strauss in the 2nd Innings... England will win on the 5th day before lunch

  • SamRoy on August 13, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    South Africa's biggest problem has been the inability to finish the job. Happened against India in Eden Gardens in 2010, Australia at home last year. Hope they do better this time. They are the better team, especially now, with England without their best player.

  • RandyOZ on August 13, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    The talent in England is ultra thin. I cannot believe a short ball bunny like Bairstow is coming in. This is going to be a crushing defeat much like the first test.

  • RednWhiteArmy on August 13, 2012, 4:07 GMT

    Now that England have gotten rid of the distraction, the true pro's like Cook, Trott, Jimmylad & Swann will show, just like the ODI side, that England are better off without their supposed best batsman.

  • Romenevans on August 13, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    Its so strange that nobody mention Kirsten's name with SA's success. He is the guy who is converting SA talent into real success. He did it with India...and now its SA. What a Coach, and what a player he was! Treat to watch.

  • Andy1102 on August 13, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    Landl47, you're kidding mate. England insert SA and gain a 6 run lead after one of the best innings from Kevin Pietersen rescued another potential England shambles. SA start chasing runs and reach 120 without loss. Yes there was a collapse thereafter when chasing the runs but your memory seems to have blanked out the Graeme Smith non- dismissal, the shocker against AB and Peterson not being allowed a runner. England then proceed to lose 4 wickets themselves, granted whilst chasing a win. I would say honours slightly in SA's favour.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 13, 2012, 3:15 GMT

    @landl47: Friend, you are forgetting one important difference that sets apart both these teams. Sure, SA and ENG are not any different at full strength. But, that's mainly when the conditions favour swing and pace, your typical English situation. However, England totally struggle when those 2 elements are taken away from them. They are utterly poor in slow, low conditions. Out of the non-Asian teams, only SA compete consistently well in the sub-continent since the time they made a return to international cricket. So there you go, that' the difference between England and SA IMO. Finally, I do agree with you that England has some decent youngsters coming through. Good luck to both teams at Lords'.

  • Shongololo on August 13, 2012, 2:49 GMT

    Landl47, you take 'disingenuous' to new levels, mate. To refer to South Africa's second dig and nine wickets down as a source of encpouragement without making any mention of the fact that they were chasing quick runs at the time is one-eyed nonsense, devoid of the facts. And to gain a small first innings lead when you WIN the toss and SEND the opposition in is nothing sjhort of an underwhelming achievement. The fact is, England never came close to winning the second Test.

  • on August 13, 2012, 0:55 GMT

    SA have a history of celebrating series wins before they have won a series. They then invariably lose the last match. The most recent example was against Australia. Let's see what happens. Should be an interesting match!

  • Highflyer_GP on August 13, 2012, 0:09 GMT

    @landl47: The only reason SA got to 258/9 is because they were trying to force a result by batting more aggressively. They would have gotten more had the weather not ruined so much of the match. No point in living in denial by looking for positives where there is none. Pieterson saved England from a loss, the end.

  • Naresh28 on August 12, 2012, 23:48 GMT

    Kirsten is surely magical. He was responsible for India getting there as well. SA will also get there. There is no reason why not.

  • landl47 on August 12, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    I'm sure England will fight hard, though with such an inexperienced middle order it's going to be an uphill battle. However, SA showed in the last test that they could be beaten. England got a first innings lead, albeit a small one, and then held SA to 258-9 (pretending that declaring was an attacking move when the only batsman to come was Tahir is a bit disingenuous). Without time pressure, England had to be favorite to win on that track. The result of the first test notwithstanding, there's not much between these two sides when both are at full strength. Let's see how the South Africans get on without Kallis and Smith in a couple of years; I like England's crop of young players a lot better than South Africa's.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 12, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    Something tells me SA will be crowned no.1 following the Lords' test. England are in shambles though they would deny it. They are just not good enough when the opposition is as good or better than them. Besides, any team that manages to beat a no.1 side in their backyard deserves to be the next top team. So good luck to the Proteas. As far as England go, they should not look for anything other than a win. A draw will surely push them off their perch. While a draw for SA is good enough to take the crown. Still this aggressive attitude from the South Africans is refreshing.

  • sk12 on August 12, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    With all the controversies around, if you still manage to lose this test.. well you just dont deserv to be No1. You wont get a better chance. Just remove Cook early, and see off Anderson.. the series and No 1 is yours for the taking.

  • on August 12, 2012, 21:51 GMT

    sa deserve to be no.1 simple as that...

  • maddy20 on August 12, 2012, 21:44 GMT

    This man Kirsten is magical. Despite of all their talent, the only reason they were so near yet so far was because of their mindset. Now with Kirsten by their side, we can be sure that the mental conditioning issue has been fixed. I would bet all my money that SA would be no.1 by the end of the 3rd test, by means of a draw or a win.

  • disco_bob on August 12, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    Let's hope it's a great match and bring the focus back to cricket. All the best to both teams.

  • on August 12, 2012, 21:23 GMT

    no excuses.. The number 1 test spot is there for the taking.. TAKE IT WITH BOTH HAND men.. Pure Protea

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  • on August 12, 2012, 21:23 GMT

    no excuses.. The number 1 test spot is there for the taking.. TAKE IT WITH BOTH HAND men.. Pure Protea

  • disco_bob on August 12, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    Let's hope it's a great match and bring the focus back to cricket. All the best to both teams.

  • maddy20 on August 12, 2012, 21:44 GMT

    This man Kirsten is magical. Despite of all their talent, the only reason they were so near yet so far was because of their mindset. Now with Kirsten by their side, we can be sure that the mental conditioning issue has been fixed. I would bet all my money that SA would be no.1 by the end of the 3rd test, by means of a draw or a win.

  • on August 12, 2012, 21:51 GMT

    sa deserve to be no.1 simple as that...

  • sk12 on August 12, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    With all the controversies around, if you still manage to lose this test.. well you just dont deserv to be No1. You wont get a better chance. Just remove Cook early, and see off Anderson.. the series and No 1 is yours for the taking.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 12, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    Something tells me SA will be crowned no.1 following the Lords' test. England are in shambles though they would deny it. They are just not good enough when the opposition is as good or better than them. Besides, any team that manages to beat a no.1 side in their backyard deserves to be the next top team. So good luck to the Proteas. As far as England go, they should not look for anything other than a win. A draw will surely push them off their perch. While a draw for SA is good enough to take the crown. Still this aggressive attitude from the South Africans is refreshing.

  • landl47 on August 12, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    I'm sure England will fight hard, though with such an inexperienced middle order it's going to be an uphill battle. However, SA showed in the last test that they could be beaten. England got a first innings lead, albeit a small one, and then held SA to 258-9 (pretending that declaring was an attacking move when the only batsman to come was Tahir is a bit disingenuous). Without time pressure, England had to be favorite to win on that track. The result of the first test notwithstanding, there's not much between these two sides when both are at full strength. Let's see how the South Africans get on without Kallis and Smith in a couple of years; I like England's crop of young players a lot better than South Africa's.

  • Naresh28 on August 12, 2012, 23:48 GMT

    Kirsten is surely magical. He was responsible for India getting there as well. SA will also get there. There is no reason why not.

  • Highflyer_GP on August 13, 2012, 0:09 GMT

    @landl47: The only reason SA got to 258/9 is because they were trying to force a result by batting more aggressively. They would have gotten more had the weather not ruined so much of the match. No point in living in denial by looking for positives where there is none. Pieterson saved England from a loss, the end.

  • on August 13, 2012, 0:55 GMT

    SA have a history of celebrating series wins before they have won a series. They then invariably lose the last match. The most recent example was against Australia. Let's see what happens. Should be an interesting match!