England v SA, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 4th day August 19, 2012

Philander and SA creating their own history

On the cusp of claiming the No. 1 Test spot, South Africa have got there by creating moments for themselves
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South African sport has seldom sat so close, for so long, to greatness as it does now. Only an inspired rewriting of history by England's batsmen will prevent them from becoming the No. 1 team in Test cricket. It is an accolade that few will argue is not deserved.

Besides dominating all but two days of the series against England - the first day at The Oval and the day Kevin Pietersen tore the attack apart - South Africa's ascendancy has been gradual. Their summiting has been a long time coming and having inched towards the top only to be thrown back on too many occasions to count, the build-up to their rise has been immense.

Calling it the country's biggest sporting achievement would not be too far off the mark. The 1995 Rugby World Cup was over in a few weeks and victory wrapped up in nationwide euphoria. The subsequent World Cup win in 2007 has resonated as loudly, if not louder, but the 2011 quarterfinal exit stung hard.

The 1996 Africa Cup of Nations was similar: too close to democracy for its memories to stick out in isolation and too fleeting for it to leave a lasting effect. Given the performance of the national football team over the years, it is probably the trophy that gets forgotten about first.

Olympic have come: Elana Meyer's silver medal, Josia Thugwane's gold, the recent haul in London which nobody had expected to be as good as it ended up being. These memories are only brought out once every four years though. Golf majors have come, as recently as Ernie Els in the Open but they have all come in the shadow of Tiger Woods.

Cricket is the country's third most popular sport and it is not the most demographically representative. It sits between rugby, considered the game of the elite with internationals only broadcast on pay television and football, played by the people but often of sub-standard quality as a whole and has recently started to find its place in the wider context of South African society.

Cricket is a well-represented schools sport, it piques the interest of people of all races and both genders and its development arms has grown. In some ways, it the perfect balancer and the national team's progress has been tracked with a close eye.

Too close sometimes, like on the eve of a World Cup or after a Test match is lost. On their departure to England, that eye was trained on them in finer focus than usual because years of being patient in waiting for them to achieve major success had come to an end.

Sports minister Fikile Mbalula, who does not usually attend cricket events, sent them off with an instruction to "break hearts in the Queen's Land". Expectation has always hung over South Africa, as a lace veil, as a cotton sheet and this time as a velvet curtain: heavy, thick and dripping with possibility.

South Africa have taken charge, where before they may have sat back and waited for things to happen and that could prove a sign of the greatness that has eluded them until now.

Gary Kirsten's new coaching style, which hinges on unorthodox methods, was to be tested in its most rigorous way. Allan Donald's aggressive approach to bowling was going to see his charges come up against the one pack in the world that people believed would match them. Graeme Smith's captaincy would face its most stringent examination. Jacques Kallis would be on his last tour to England, along with several other players because of the future schedule which does not see South Africa back in England for four years.

What added to the hype is that South Africa would have the chance to take the No.1 ranking off the No.1 side and in so doing, earn a title many have felt they have deserved. In this match, they have had to earn it.

England have had South Africa in tight spots - at 54 for 4 while they were batting, at 221for 5 when England were batting and at 282 for 7 when South Africa were setting up the target. Every time, South Africa have found a way out. A lot of the time, that way has been through Vernon Philander.

His 61 in the first innings and 35 in the second were definitive bricks in South Africa's wall of authority. He showed himself as the all-rounder his performances at lower levels of cricket have always labeled him. More than just a bowler who can bludgeon or a seamer who can sustain an end, Philander showed real skill and composure.

For the first 14 balls of his second innings, Philander was content to defend. After 24 balls, he had only scored two runs. Then, he outside edged Stuart Broad for some lucky runs but followed it up with a shot that spoke of his ability. A small shuffle forward, a glance down the ground, connection that was well-made and timing that was spot on and Philander had taken South Africa over 300. By the time he was dismissed, 39 balls later, after playing a shot that so disgusted him he stood at the crease for several seconds waiting to be woken up from his nightmare, South Africa lead by 330.

With Philander being the unlikely batting hero, JP's Duminy quiet contributions may be forgotten but they could be ones that see him force his way into the XI ahead of Jacques Rudolph when the specialist wicketkeeper is selected. Duminy acted as the chauffeur to the tail, a role he has not played in the past but that he has shown he is able to do now.

Like all the South African batsmen, runs did not come easily for him, neither did they come beautifully. They had to be fought for in all their tough ugliness. The singles had to be scored as though batting in a dusty, construction site with dirt needing to be wiped form eyes and smudged across cheeks just to get the job done. The boundaries came with such rarity that when they did they were either bulldozed for the sheer joy of seeing a full toss or a short and wide ball or squirted, in dangerously flammable fashion to third man.

But even batting between the razor wire could not stop South Africa. They got there. They reached a total that would require England to score their highest fourth innings total in pursuit of victory and they dented any hopes of that with Philander's double strike in the final hour. For a man who has had a quiet series so far, he roared with a spell so destructive, the scent of rubber burning off it could almost be detected.

Alistair Cook and Andrew Strauss were both victims of Philander's skill and their own uncertainty. Their dismissals will add to South Africa's certainty. The certainty that a history that has been in the making for years is finally just a day away from being written and the certainty that they do not need that history to write itself.

South Africa have shown, in this series, that are able of creating things for themselves. They have opened up a batting line-up that was once as tightly packed as terrace houses and made an attack that was talked about as the best in the world look ordinary, bar a few Steven Finn moments. They have taken charge, where before they may have sat back and waited for things to happen and that could prove a sign of the greatness that has eluded them until now.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mikey76 on August 20, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    @Romanticstud. Tahir is terrible. South Africa are only accomodating him due to the excellence of their seam attack. In the next year or so I think we will see them revert to the Paul Harris style of containing spinner( until thay can poach a decent spinner from the sub-continent!). I would still rather be in England's shoes with the talent coming through in all departments. We just need to work on our slip fielding!

  • mikey76 on August 20, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    South Africa fielded 7 batsmen but still had a five man bowling attack. England's balance was all wrong particularly with Broad and Swann mis-firing through most of the series. We NEED to groom a genuine all-rounder sooner rather than later, either Stokes or Woakes and Kerrigan needs a game. Swann has lost his edge and needs time away from test cricket to get his zip back. I still believe the future looks bright for England, unlike Australia and India who seem to have no depth in talent. Well played South Africa but I still believe the battle for No.1 is a long way from being over.

  • Sakthiivel on August 20, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    KP will have big party tonight

  • Wefinishthis on August 20, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Rubbish, I expected England to get a large medal haul. It's well documented that host countries always spend more on their athletes and traditionally always dramatically improve for their Olympics as well as the one or two after as well. Back to cricket, as I have said for years now, SA are the best team in the world. It was only a matter of time for the results to catch up with the scheduling (We've been waiting years for this series). From an Aussie, congrats to SA. Now I no longer need to hear about the English media laughably talking Anderson and Swann up as though they're better than the great McGrath and Warne. However I've never read an article or comment on how Philander and Steyn could be better than the great Akram and Younis, so permit me to be the first. Steyn's record is very similar to Younis's and Philander is from out of space right now, but perhaps it's best to wait for the subcontinent tours before I get ahead of myself.

  • Guernica on August 20, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    Agree about Philander though - he has really completed that SA attack and seems to add a lot with his batting. For a while they had been searching for a consistent third seamer with the likes of Maclaren, Parnell, Tsotsobe all tried but not quite up to it.

  • Guernica on August 20, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    Things is @brothersWaugh - England have already been rebuilding whilst getting to the top. It's still a fairly young side. For example, Broad and Finn are still younger than any of the SA attack and clearly still have a lot to learn. I'm confident this England team will be at least competing for the top spot for a good few years. Not so sure about the Australian team whose best players seem to be it's oldest players.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on August 20, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    @iDontLikeCricket. I agree. it is a clear case of cricketing politics and marketing. When Ind and Eng grabbed the #1 rank (I've been preaching for a long long time that having the #1 rank and being #1 are not the same), they used the rankings to MARKET their team, their media threw it in peoples faces at every turn. It would have become annoying to the neutral. Ind fans on this site raged a storm when any1 even suggested that they were not a clear cut #1. Eng at times threw away the pessimism they had grown accustomed to and paraded the Flower, Strauss combination. Nothing is wrong with parading a good achievement because Eng did indeed form their best team in decades BUT boy did they overdo it. Due to their "status" their medias were allowed to do so. Hopefully SA n their media will, just like 09, simply give themselves a clap and then get on with it. When u r truly #1, u won't need to constantly repeat it via the media, performances will do all the talking.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 20, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    Yep, worthy #1 champions without a doubt, and the potential to develop into a great side (far easier said than done, there've only been two in the modern game). @RandyOZ, you've been banging away at the Poms for ages now, just a bit of constructive criticism, and they've refused to listen - I'm not sure the majority of ENG fans actually knew it, though. They've been living in a perpetual state of shellshock since that 3 nil flogging in PAK, but the reality must be starting to hit home now. Fortress England has fallen to the Saffers, and 'all the kings horses & all the kings men ain't got a hope in hell of putting it back together again'!!!! An embarrassing tenure at the top, now it's time to start the long overdue rebuilding phase. Good luck with that, you're gonna need it.

  • iDontLikeCricket on August 20, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    Firdose Moonda seems to have forgotten about the four months that SA was ranked number 1 in 2009. Again, having taken the spot from the then number 1 team Australia. Seems strange that this time it will be the 'country's biggest sporting achievement', while the previous time is forgotten.

  • StaalBurgher on August 20, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    I don't know whether you can categorically state that ABs lack of runs is due to him wicket-keeping. Sometimes you just go through a less prolific patch. I am sure the coaching team and AB himself will be able to assess if keeping is really affecting him. Although in the long run you don't want him to keep due to his spasm-prone back. The problem SA has is none of the replacement keepers are good enough with the bat. The only candidate is Quinton de Kock but he is not even 20 years old yet. He will still have to get a 4-day season or two under the belt before he can be considered. It will be interesting to see what they do. Maybe it will be matter of against weaker opposition AB won't keep so as to "rest" him for India/Oz/Eng games.

  • mikey76 on August 20, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    @Romanticstud. Tahir is terrible. South Africa are only accomodating him due to the excellence of their seam attack. In the next year or so I think we will see them revert to the Paul Harris style of containing spinner( until thay can poach a decent spinner from the sub-continent!). I would still rather be in England's shoes with the talent coming through in all departments. We just need to work on our slip fielding!

  • mikey76 on August 20, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    South Africa fielded 7 batsmen but still had a five man bowling attack. England's balance was all wrong particularly with Broad and Swann mis-firing through most of the series. We NEED to groom a genuine all-rounder sooner rather than later, either Stokes or Woakes and Kerrigan needs a game. Swann has lost his edge and needs time away from test cricket to get his zip back. I still believe the future looks bright for England, unlike Australia and India who seem to have no depth in talent. Well played South Africa but I still believe the battle for No.1 is a long way from being over.

  • Sakthiivel on August 20, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    KP will have big party tonight

  • Wefinishthis on August 20, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Rubbish, I expected England to get a large medal haul. It's well documented that host countries always spend more on their athletes and traditionally always dramatically improve for their Olympics as well as the one or two after as well. Back to cricket, as I have said for years now, SA are the best team in the world. It was only a matter of time for the results to catch up with the scheduling (We've been waiting years for this series). From an Aussie, congrats to SA. Now I no longer need to hear about the English media laughably talking Anderson and Swann up as though they're better than the great McGrath and Warne. However I've never read an article or comment on how Philander and Steyn could be better than the great Akram and Younis, so permit me to be the first. Steyn's record is very similar to Younis's and Philander is from out of space right now, but perhaps it's best to wait for the subcontinent tours before I get ahead of myself.

  • Guernica on August 20, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    Agree about Philander though - he has really completed that SA attack and seems to add a lot with his batting. For a while they had been searching for a consistent third seamer with the likes of Maclaren, Parnell, Tsotsobe all tried but not quite up to it.

  • Guernica on August 20, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    Things is @brothersWaugh - England have already been rebuilding whilst getting to the top. It's still a fairly young side. For example, Broad and Finn are still younger than any of the SA attack and clearly still have a lot to learn. I'm confident this England team will be at least competing for the top spot for a good few years. Not so sure about the Australian team whose best players seem to be it's oldest players.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on August 20, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    @iDontLikeCricket. I agree. it is a clear case of cricketing politics and marketing. When Ind and Eng grabbed the #1 rank (I've been preaching for a long long time that having the #1 rank and being #1 are not the same), they used the rankings to MARKET their team, their media threw it in peoples faces at every turn. It would have become annoying to the neutral. Ind fans on this site raged a storm when any1 even suggested that they were not a clear cut #1. Eng at times threw away the pessimism they had grown accustomed to and paraded the Flower, Strauss combination. Nothing is wrong with parading a good achievement because Eng did indeed form their best team in decades BUT boy did they overdo it. Due to their "status" their medias were allowed to do so. Hopefully SA n their media will, just like 09, simply give themselves a clap and then get on with it. When u r truly #1, u won't need to constantly repeat it via the media, performances will do all the talking.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 20, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    Yep, worthy #1 champions without a doubt, and the potential to develop into a great side (far easier said than done, there've only been two in the modern game). @RandyOZ, you've been banging away at the Poms for ages now, just a bit of constructive criticism, and they've refused to listen - I'm not sure the majority of ENG fans actually knew it, though. They've been living in a perpetual state of shellshock since that 3 nil flogging in PAK, but the reality must be starting to hit home now. Fortress England has fallen to the Saffers, and 'all the kings horses & all the kings men ain't got a hope in hell of putting it back together again'!!!! An embarrassing tenure at the top, now it's time to start the long overdue rebuilding phase. Good luck with that, you're gonna need it.

  • iDontLikeCricket on August 20, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    Firdose Moonda seems to have forgotten about the four months that SA was ranked number 1 in 2009. Again, having taken the spot from the then number 1 team Australia. Seems strange that this time it will be the 'country's biggest sporting achievement', while the previous time is forgotten.

  • StaalBurgher on August 20, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    I don't know whether you can categorically state that ABs lack of runs is due to him wicket-keeping. Sometimes you just go through a less prolific patch. I am sure the coaching team and AB himself will be able to assess if keeping is really affecting him. Although in the long run you don't want him to keep due to his spasm-prone back. The problem SA has is none of the replacement keepers are good enough with the bat. The only candidate is Quinton de Kock but he is not even 20 years old yet. He will still have to get a 4-day season or two under the belt before he can be considered. It will be interesting to see what they do. Maybe it will be matter of against weaker opposition AB won't keep so as to "rest" him for India/Oz/Eng games.

  • Romanticstud on August 20, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    The South African squad at the moment is far more balanced than any other country in the world at the moment Smith, Petersen, Amla, Kallis have all scored 100+ in an inninngs against England ... De Villiers has proved himself before this series ... you cannot drop him because of his below par batting performance ... Rudolph, Duminy and Philander have all got 50s with the bat, when the top order failed ... Who can say that they have 8 batsmen? and then ... Steyn, Philander, Morkel, Kallis all more than handy with the ball ... Add to that the spin of Tahir ... and JP Duminy has also contributed with the ball ... Then you have Du Plessis, Peterson, Tsolikile, Parnell, Tsostsobe, Miller, Theron, De Lange, Levi, Ingram, Johan Botha, Kuhn and others that hopefully at some stage will prove themselves as more than useful replacements for the current players at test level ...

  • on August 20, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    dropping KP is hurting england and will hurt them for a long if they dont sort out issue with him !! It is true that a great player alone cannot make a great team, but the bigger truth is that there has never been a great team without great players.

  • cheguramana on August 20, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    Sure, SA are nearly there, but lets not count chickens before they are hatched :-)

  • Shafaet_001 on August 20, 2012, 6:03 GMT

    @mahjut: no,AB must stop keeping in tests after this series. He scored only 20s and 40s in this series,but other batsmen covered that up which wont happen every time. Rudolf will be dropped in aus series i think,he barely converted his starts after returning in the team. i would love to see du plesis in the team but don't know how its possible at the moment,duminy is playing fine.

  • Romanticstud on August 20, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    Since Isolation was taken away, England have not faired well at Lords against South Africa ... it seemed like that was going to change at 54/4, with a bit of luck ... but as the review option disappeared from England's armour so did their ability to field and take wickets ... then England were 54/4 and it seemed like South Africa would be number 1 without much effort ... enter Johnny and that all changed ... 315 ... South Africa began setting England a target positively ... all the top batsmen got starts and Amla was holding the fort ... then at 282/7 it seemed like 300 might be the target for England ... then it became 346 ... at 15/2 England have a mountain to climb ... but only have 8 stakes to climb it ... and the rope is not as secure as it was when England played against Australia in Australia or the West Indies ... It has become frayed ... It seems England's hopes have shifted to Bairstow, Taylor, Prior and Bell ... since Cook, Strauss and Trott have been becalmed recently ...

  • on August 20, 2012, 5:30 GMT

    @kh1902: I don't know if I agree that the "standard has never been so low" for Test cricket. What we are experiencing is a lack of a dominant force (Windies/Aus of the last 3 decades) but I don't know if the general standard of the game has sunk any lower than that of the other teams that were toiling away against these legendary lineups of yesteryear. I think it is also unfair to belittle SA's status in Test cricket by comparing the standard of other nations. This SA team contains a number of players who will be counted amongst the all time greatest SA players and some, maybe, all time greatest. Period.

  • Vista12 on August 20, 2012, 3:44 GMT

    SA team are solid throughout and have 1) experience 2) talent 3) belief 4) they also know how to play the big moments.

    Area's to improve are the 6 spot (Rudolph hasnt done enough) - should JP or Faf be given a spot and we would need a long term keeper as we cant expect AB to keep long term and maintain a 50 batting average. AB's average is down this series and the keeping must be playing a role.

    With 7 world class players in Smith, Amla, Kallis and AB, Philander, Morkel and Steyn - the team should be strong until Kallis retires. Alviro has potential to become world class, so does JP and as long as the pace bowlers continue to perform, Tahir doesnt need to be world class. SA should easily dispose of Australia this year. Heavy loss for England, they have been outplayed convincingly at home. I cant see this SA team losing to anyone at the moment.

  • RandyOZ on August 20, 2012, 2:18 GMT

    South Africa are just a class above England, as we all knew at the start of the series (including England fans). Their poor performances haven't come as a shock to many.

  • pauln2 on August 20, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    It's funny, but after one day of this series I seem to remember a lot of people wondering why there was so much fuss about Vernon Philander, who was 'ordinary' or 'not up to it'. I guess first impressions are not necessarily the best - this guy can play. I've seen him is South Africa and New Zealand, and he's the real deal. A very good test cricketer, who will be a pest for other countries for a while yet. Good on him.

  • kh1902 on August 20, 2012, 1:47 GMT

    I think it's a bit premature to start singing the praises of this South African team. The fact they will be number 1 is a sad reflection of the state that test cricket is in. England have previously shown their limitations through their inability to play in subcontinental conditions. The first test of this series was played in subcontinental conditions which is why England lost. The tone for the series was set in that match, together with Pietersen's constant distractions. Australia is in a rebuilding phase. Teams from the subcontinent don't play on the right kind of wickets at home. The standard has never been this low.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 20, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    I am really HAPPY for SA. They are a modest team with no show offs. I for one don't agree that Gary Kirsten is the PRIME reason for SA becoming no.1 but surely he would had some degree of influence. If you ask me, it's the SA players who are responsible for this glorious chapter of SA cricket. Whatever the coach might preach, at the end of the day it's the 11 players on the park that decide which direction the team takes. As a skipper, Graeme Smith should take in a lot of the praise. He kept the team together and focussed following Mark Boucher's sad exit from international cricket. The cocky English media immediately wrote off SA's chances by claiming Boucher's injury would make the Proteas distracted. Now look who's distracted and on the receiving end ?! It's sad to see England's time at the top come to an end; the SHORTEST reign of a no.1 team. But they are still a decent test side and should hover around the top 3 for few more years. All is not lost.

  • mg0767 on August 20, 2012, 0:23 GMT

    Wow, South Africa you guys truly impressive. The only team last to beat England in "Fortress England". Also, at the beginning, it was a major discussion of this series, where England were talked up about being tough to beat at home and how many consecutive home series wins. But, the were given a rude awakening, actually they had it coming, how could the best team in the world lose so many Tests in the last year and still think they could be considered number 1? Hats off to South Africa, England desperately needs to win this game to save face. That means only one result...a South Africa win...no draws, I expect England to chase a total no other team has done to stay on top (number 1). It's going to be special winning at number 1 team home and stealing it from them along the way...it's pure insult to injury. Good luck England, next time.

  • on August 19, 2012, 23:27 GMT

    Now its become quite evident that the coach does really matter..kudos to Gary..After India he is building SA cricket team for world domination..If he stays for another couple of years SA cricket will reach new heights which they never had..

  • on August 19, 2012, 22:47 GMT

    @ mahjut, you do realise that AB hasn't scored a half century in this series, his batting will continue to decline. his twenties and forties won't do.

  • arebee on August 19, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    Elana Meyer was not a swimmer

  • mahjut on August 19, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    nothing against Tsolokile of Kuhn or any other speacialist keeper but AB has to keep - the balance of this side is perfect

  • Shafaet_001 on August 19, 2012, 21:07 GMT

    Big vern,you are just unbelievable!! For so long saf team were disappointing there fans in the crucial matches,but not anymore!! The ball the got strauss was an absolute beauty.

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  • Shafaet_001 on August 19, 2012, 21:07 GMT

    Big vern,you are just unbelievable!! For so long saf team were disappointing there fans in the crucial matches,but not anymore!! The ball the got strauss was an absolute beauty.

  • mahjut on August 19, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    nothing against Tsolokile of Kuhn or any other speacialist keeper but AB has to keep - the balance of this side is perfect

  • arebee on August 19, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    Elana Meyer was not a swimmer

  • on August 19, 2012, 22:47 GMT

    @ mahjut, you do realise that AB hasn't scored a half century in this series, his batting will continue to decline. his twenties and forties won't do.

  • on August 19, 2012, 23:27 GMT

    Now its become quite evident that the coach does really matter..kudos to Gary..After India he is building SA cricket team for world domination..If he stays for another couple of years SA cricket will reach new heights which they never had..

  • mg0767 on August 20, 2012, 0:23 GMT

    Wow, South Africa you guys truly impressive. The only team last to beat England in "Fortress England". Also, at the beginning, it was a major discussion of this series, where England were talked up about being tough to beat at home and how many consecutive home series wins. But, the were given a rude awakening, actually they had it coming, how could the best team in the world lose so many Tests in the last year and still think they could be considered number 1? Hats off to South Africa, England desperately needs to win this game to save face. That means only one result...a South Africa win...no draws, I expect England to chase a total no other team has done to stay on top (number 1). It's going to be special winning at number 1 team home and stealing it from them along the way...it's pure insult to injury. Good luck England, next time.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 20, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    I am really HAPPY for SA. They are a modest team with no show offs. I for one don't agree that Gary Kirsten is the PRIME reason for SA becoming no.1 but surely he would had some degree of influence. If you ask me, it's the SA players who are responsible for this glorious chapter of SA cricket. Whatever the coach might preach, at the end of the day it's the 11 players on the park that decide which direction the team takes. As a skipper, Graeme Smith should take in a lot of the praise. He kept the team together and focussed following Mark Boucher's sad exit from international cricket. The cocky English media immediately wrote off SA's chances by claiming Boucher's injury would make the Proteas distracted. Now look who's distracted and on the receiving end ?! It's sad to see England's time at the top come to an end; the SHORTEST reign of a no.1 team. But they are still a decent test side and should hover around the top 3 for few more years. All is not lost.

  • kh1902 on August 20, 2012, 1:47 GMT

    I think it's a bit premature to start singing the praises of this South African team. The fact they will be number 1 is a sad reflection of the state that test cricket is in. England have previously shown their limitations through their inability to play in subcontinental conditions. The first test of this series was played in subcontinental conditions which is why England lost. The tone for the series was set in that match, together with Pietersen's constant distractions. Australia is in a rebuilding phase. Teams from the subcontinent don't play on the right kind of wickets at home. The standard has never been this low.

  • pauln2 on August 20, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    It's funny, but after one day of this series I seem to remember a lot of people wondering why there was so much fuss about Vernon Philander, who was 'ordinary' or 'not up to it'. I guess first impressions are not necessarily the best - this guy can play. I've seen him is South Africa and New Zealand, and he's the real deal. A very good test cricketer, who will be a pest for other countries for a while yet. Good on him.

  • RandyOZ on August 20, 2012, 2:18 GMT

    South Africa are just a class above England, as we all knew at the start of the series (including England fans). Their poor performances haven't come as a shock to many.