South Africa in England 2012 August 21, 2012

South Africa relentless and ruthless

The era of undisputed supremacy went with the Australians, but of the recent claimants South Africa's status as No. 1 would seem the most legitimate
  shares 138

In days and years to come, members of this wonderfully varied South African team will thank England for pushing them to the edge on the day of their coronation: the harder it is earned, the sweeter the victory feels. Sport can be cruel and England's inspired late charge threatened for a while to blur the differences between the sides - palpably stark over 12 out of 14 days in the series - to nothing. It would have been the most outrageous heist had England pulled it off, but it would have also been a travesty. The 2-0 in favour of South Africa was the most appropriate scoreline for the series.

How the wheel has turned. It was about this time last year that England were a picture of rapture and joy, having trounced the reigning No. 1 Test team. They had started at Lord's and ended at The Oval, gathering force and momentum as they went. The top order mounted big hundreds, the lower order blasted fifties on demand, the fast men had a ball, and England's spinner had the last laugh at The Oval. They looked commanding and complete, and set to rule the world for a while.

This time they started at The Oval and ended at Lord's, and like in 2011, they got better as the series went. The problem was that they had started with such a deficit that there was no catching up. The defeat in the opening Test was big enough, but even that did not truly reflect the true scale of their humiliation, so dragging the final Test to the last hour and then losing by 51 runs counted as a massive improvement.

The final Test provided the kind of contest he had been expecting all series, Andrew Strauss said, where one innings, one dropped catch, one good session, could decide the outcome. But even in the final Test, where England took a small first-innings lead, it was always apparent that South Africa had the match in their grasp. Throughout the game, England strained to break free, but the leash never loosened fully. South Africa were relentless and ruthless.

England's annihilation of India last year was far more comprehensive, and India were a broken side by the time the series ended, but South Africa's ascent to No. 1 must feel more satisfying, for they snatched the crown from their opponents in their own backyard. Gradually over the last few years England had acquired such mastery over their home conditions that, despite their series win here in 2008, South Africa entered this contest as slight underdogs. But by outbowling, outbatting and outsmarting England, they have left no margin for doubt. India have a chance of retribution against England this winter, but England will have to wait for three and a half years for theirs against South Africa.

The No. 1 spot in some ways is an outcome of pure mathematics. The era of undisputed supremacy went with the Australians; like the West Indians of the '70s and '80s, with them no rating system was needed. But of the recent claimants South Africa's status would seem the most legitimate.

India took the spot without ever winning a series in Australia and South Africa, and England did so without winning in the subcontinent. South Africa are the team with the most evenly distributed record in world cricket. They have lost only one Test series (of 18) in the last five years, at home to Australia in 2008-09, and though they haven't won in India in ten years, and lost to Sri Lanka the last time they played there, their record in the subcontinent has been the most impressive of all visiting teams.

They are led outstandingly by Graeme Smith, who, incredible as it may sound, is still getting better as a captain

More than the record, though, it is the manner in which they have been able to adapt that has distinguished them. In Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla they have two batsmen who are wonderful against spin bowling, and what separates Dale Steyn from James Anderson, who is a better swing bowler in favourable conditions, is the ability to persuade life out of slower wickets. His match-winning seven-wicket haul in Nagpur ranks among the finest performances on Indian soil in the last couple of decades.

They are led outstandingly by Graeme Smith, who, incredible as it may sound, is still getting better as a captain. As Ian Chappell pointed out quite astutely earlier during the series, perhaps having a legspinner in the ranks has brought out the aggressive streak in Smith. His declaration in the first Test, which left his side open to the possibility of having to chase a total, was refreshingly positive, and his decision to give Imran Tahir one more over on the last evening at Lord's when the new ball was available was decidedly bold and ran against given wisdom. Tahir almost rewarded Smith with a wicket. There is no doubt, unless he decides to give it up, Smith will captain South Africa in over 100 Tests, and that record will take some beating.

England's great strength during their rise to the top was the wonderful variety in their bowling. South Africa put them in the shade comfortably. The individual battles were won with almost ridiculous ease. Morne Morkel took care of Strauss, Vernon Philander hassled Alastair Cook, and Steyn came on to deal with Jonathan Trott. England's opening partnerships produced 122 runs in six innings, and three times the first wicket fell in the first two overs; the South African openers put on 307 runs and had two century partnerships.

It could be argued that England were below par - Stuart Broad was down on pace and spirit, Cook never got going after the first innings, and Trott had a middling series. In sport, though, there is also the truth that you are as good as your opponents allow you to be. Strauss came into the series with two hundreds against West Indies but ended it with a highest score of 37. His final stroke of the series was no stroke. It was a moment that captured England's despair.

That Strauss got away with the mildest of inquisitions at the post-series press conference was indicative of his stature in English cricket. But perhaps even the media was resigned to South Africa's superiority throughout the series.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on August 23, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    @Crass on (August 23 2012, 18:50 PM GMT) OK - I'll keep out of this one although I'm not a fan of people saying "this or that would have happened" (like the guy he was responding to)esp in tight games. It could just as well have been 1-1 after the 2nd test , fact is there are good arguments for and against England chasing down that total.

  • Crass on August 23, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    @JG - When I said SA had the edge hopefully it meant England still had a chance just that SA had a better chance. Also, if you found my reply to Chris_P offending, read what Chris_P had to say to Cool2Cool. I had found his post very condescending, that too when he was stating a wrong fact. I might have gotten a little carried away in my arguments but then what is a cricket discussion without some spice :).

  • jb633 on August 23, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    @JG207- yeah I think you are right about we prefer being the hunters. If you look at English sport in general there is a trend of freezing when we get to the top. A good example is the English rugby team. After we won the WC2003 we went into complete freefall and there seemed to be little planning of how to maintain the position once we got there. All the focus of that rugby side was to win the WC, and if I remember correctly we only won 2 games in the following 6 nations. The same can be said of our cricket team, who have really struggled with the mantle of being no1. I think we should look to employ the model the GB cycyling team uses with the cricket side. It essentially breaks down every minute aspect of behaviour and gears it towards getting the best out of people. I am not necessarily critisicing what Flower has done, but that all ideas can become stale. The model we have does not need drastic changes but rather just fine tuning.

  • Sanj747 on August 23, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    Good article and begs to wonder how effective the rankings system really is given England and India's time at the top.

  • RandyOZ on August 23, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    England, with only one true star, the South African Pietersen, were never a match for the South Africans, who Australia drew with. England are just no good and as throughout history, only got to #1 while Australia was re-building. And of course they kept it warm for us for the shortest period in history.

  • moBlue on August 23, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    @indianInnerEdge: you forgot ENG can't play spin if their life depended on it in the subcontinent... IND not being able to take 20 wickets in IND?!? that too against ENG?!? what are you talking about? :)

  • JG2704 on August 23, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    @Soso_killer on (August 22 2012, 23:17 PM GMT) My oversight , please forgive me

  • JG2704 on August 23, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    @Crass on (August 22 2012, 18:40 PM GMT) Chris has explained himself thoroughly as to why he thought England could still have won that 2nd test had it gone the distance. He didn't say they definitely would win did he? You then come out with the "How long have you been watching cricket for?" remark to which he replied and then you go and accuse him of thinking his views are more binding than yours. He's not said that has he? He gave reasons why he thought Eng might win and you gave reasons why you thought SA would win. Both valid enough , just that Chris isn't making out that your opinion is worthless just because it differs from his - please publish

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    @Crass.. Wise words, Too bad you don't follow them. Don't forget, you were the one who questioned my post, the one I & others are entitled to post. You ask a question, I answered, yet you still question my response? How about following your own advice? BTW< The fact I am still p;laying, see about 10 first class games every year, a couple of tests I feel enables me to make a sensible comment. You were the one who wrote off England's chances totally, all I said that they were in with a chance, gave my reasons, yet your pov appears the only one you think is correct? Like I said, follow your own advice.

  • Soso_killer on August 22, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    @JG207 we also won in india in 2000 when hansie was captain

  • JG2704 on August 23, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    @Crass on (August 23 2012, 18:50 PM GMT) OK - I'll keep out of this one although I'm not a fan of people saying "this or that would have happened" (like the guy he was responding to)esp in tight games. It could just as well have been 1-1 after the 2nd test , fact is there are good arguments for and against England chasing down that total.

  • Crass on August 23, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    @JG - When I said SA had the edge hopefully it meant England still had a chance just that SA had a better chance. Also, if you found my reply to Chris_P offending, read what Chris_P had to say to Cool2Cool. I had found his post very condescending, that too when he was stating a wrong fact. I might have gotten a little carried away in my arguments but then what is a cricket discussion without some spice :).

  • jb633 on August 23, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    @JG207- yeah I think you are right about we prefer being the hunters. If you look at English sport in general there is a trend of freezing when we get to the top. A good example is the English rugby team. After we won the WC2003 we went into complete freefall and there seemed to be little planning of how to maintain the position once we got there. All the focus of that rugby side was to win the WC, and if I remember correctly we only won 2 games in the following 6 nations. The same can be said of our cricket team, who have really struggled with the mantle of being no1. I think we should look to employ the model the GB cycyling team uses with the cricket side. It essentially breaks down every minute aspect of behaviour and gears it towards getting the best out of people. I am not necessarily critisicing what Flower has done, but that all ideas can become stale. The model we have does not need drastic changes but rather just fine tuning.

  • Sanj747 on August 23, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    Good article and begs to wonder how effective the rankings system really is given England and India's time at the top.

  • RandyOZ on August 23, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    England, with only one true star, the South African Pietersen, were never a match for the South Africans, who Australia drew with. England are just no good and as throughout history, only got to #1 while Australia was re-building. And of course they kept it warm for us for the shortest period in history.

  • moBlue on August 23, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    @indianInnerEdge: you forgot ENG can't play spin if their life depended on it in the subcontinent... IND not being able to take 20 wickets in IND?!? that too against ENG?!? what are you talking about? :)

  • JG2704 on August 23, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    @Soso_killer on (August 22 2012, 23:17 PM GMT) My oversight , please forgive me

  • JG2704 on August 23, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    @Crass on (August 22 2012, 18:40 PM GMT) Chris has explained himself thoroughly as to why he thought England could still have won that 2nd test had it gone the distance. He didn't say they definitely would win did he? You then come out with the "How long have you been watching cricket for?" remark to which he replied and then you go and accuse him of thinking his views are more binding than yours. He's not said that has he? He gave reasons why he thought Eng might win and you gave reasons why you thought SA would win. Both valid enough , just that Chris isn't making out that your opinion is worthless just because it differs from his - please publish

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    @Crass.. Wise words, Too bad you don't follow them. Don't forget, you were the one who questioned my post, the one I & others are entitled to post. You ask a question, I answered, yet you still question my response? How about following your own advice? BTW< The fact I am still p;laying, see about 10 first class games every year, a couple of tests I feel enables me to make a sensible comment. You were the one who wrote off England's chances totally, all I said that they were in with a chance, gave my reasons, yet your pov appears the only one you think is correct? Like I said, follow your own advice.

  • Soso_killer on August 22, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    @JG207 we also won in india in 2000 when hansie was captain

  • JG2704 on August 22, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    @jb633 on (August 22 2012, 13:37 PM GMT) We were number 1. That might be because the other contenders were worse than us or that we didn't play any SC tours. Maybe we are better at being the hunters than the hunted. SA won a series in 2007-8 in Pakistan but have not won a series in SC since and before that , the last time they actually won in SC was in 1998 again vs Pakistan. So maybe Aus deserve to be number 1 as they were the only side in recent years to win a series in the SC.

  • JG2704 on August 22, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    @rohan024 on (August 22 2012, 10:28 AM GMT) The Ashes series of 2007 was awful but Australia had an immense side back then and were sp fired up to take revenge for 2005. I know Aus are our biggest rivals but I'd prefer to lose 5-0 to the best side in the world when we weren't so good than lose 3-0 to a team which while on the up should not have beaten us 3-0. Anyway it's all trivial now.

  • JG2704 on August 22, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    @Chris_P on (August 22 2012, 11:17 AM GMT) Quality posting throughout these threads here. I said before the series that there's little between the top 3 sides but I feel we're now lagging behind . My honest opinion is that England played as good cricket as any number 1 side from the middle of 2009 to end of 2011. Since becoming number 1 they have played the worst cricket a number 1 side has played

  • JG2704 on August 22, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    @DeathKnell on (August 22 2012, 11:04 AM GMT) Before the series started I predicted a tight battle based on the fact that both teams were top 3 and all the previous series had been tight/close. I also say that (before the series) SA hadn't BEATEN anyone of note home or away since Australia in 2009 and I stand by that statement. All credit to SA , they won decisively and deserve the number 1 spot. I think Aus will give you a tough battle though

  • on August 22, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    england were overhyped last year. the beat a team on its way down (the Aussies), and a team that never deserved to be no.1 to begin with (India). since then, they were trounced by Pakistan, held to ground more or less by an average Lankan team, and scored an unimpressive series win against an improving but below pat WI team, that too at home

  • Crass on August 22, 2012, 18:40 GMT

    @ Chris_P : Just because you have played and followed cricket for thirty years, dont assume that your view is binding on all. Everyone is entitled to a view, whether others concur or not is a completely different matter. On a fifth day pitch, the pressure of chasing a total can do wonders to even established batsmen, leave apart tail enders. Scoring centuries in First Class cricket is no big deal in today's world. So please dont use that as a yardstick to prove that the target was very much chasable. I wont deny that England could have managed it, after all it takes one good partnership but in my view, SA still had the edge.

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    @SuperSharky. being somewhat of a historian, Ali Bacher's side of the late 60's was indeed a special side, chock full of outstanding players who would have filled into the "great" category. No doubt in my mind they would have ruled for a few years had the political circumstances been different. And totally agree the Bok side of the late 90's was an outstanding side, probably a little unlucky to be around while the Aussie side was in such command. as they would have easily dominated in most other eras. This side is getting there though. The next 18 months will test them.

  • Hammond on August 22, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    @SuperSharky- if we are playing time travel I reckon that the English team of 1970 was one of the strongest ever, having not lost a test for a record 27 test matches between 1968 & 1971. As per usual as the English cricket team goes, no-one gives this any credit. It was only equalled by Clive Lloyds West Indies team between 1981 & 1984. Equalled, but not bettered.

  • SuperSharky on August 22, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    In Test cricket; This South African Team is really good and deserves to be number 1. But the difference between the top 3 or 4 teams in the world isn't huge. I still believe that Ali Bacher's South African team of the early 1970's, was more of a Bully than Graeme Smith's team. But I take nothing away from today's team. In limited overs South Africa's best side are still considered to be Bob Woolmer & Hansie Cronje's team of the late nineties. Especially 98 and 99 they were top of the rankings. They had that aura. And they had the talent to beat Steve Waugh's Australian team in the World Cup, but choked. Now it looks like Gary Kirsten and Allan Donald came back to teach Graeme Smith's new boys not to do the same mistake. And the balance of power is more spread evenly today, than in those days. Anyone can now win the next T20 World Cup.

  • jb633 on August 22, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    @JG207- Yes they deserved praise but some of the remarks made by the media were ludicrous. Like all our Indian friends have said, you can't be talking of a true no1 side until you win abroad too. Whilst the Ashes was fantastic, the conditions were very similar to home as it was their wettest winter since God knows when. I think our media blindedly ignored the fact that we were yet to prove ourselves against spin. On the other hand England do not become a bad side overnight. They have some clear areas of weakness, but thankfully we have some very gifted batsmen coming through the ranks. Personally I think Vince is the best going, as he plays the spin really well. I hope he gets a gig in Inida. The Indian fans keep going on about our problems against spin which are true. They are however forgetting the fact that they have nobody who can actually spin the ball. I don't envisage the series being as tough as this one just gone.

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    @RednWhiteArmy . I would suggest that you concentrate on your own team, pal. 6 losses out of 11 tests hardly makes for bragging rights. And the year isn't over yet.

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    @DeathKnell. Why thanks. When I see an injustice, I speak up. Your dismissive nature of Paksitan probably wasn't called for. They are not lowly ranked, and to be truthful, are probably in the running as the second best side in test cricket. That, my friend, is why I asked the question. They beat England in a tight contest when England's batting let them down. Ther 3-0 scoreline was not as comprehensive in terms of the result (except 1st test which they dominated). The other 2 tests saw England capitulate with their batsmen letting their bowlers down. I try, to appreciate all cricketers for what they are. Excellent sportsmen in their given fields who have achieved their country's representation..

  • Neuen on August 22, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    No 1 No 5 who cares not only did we win in England we did it with good cricket. Some of the best we have seen the SA play in test matches and the way they were always in control.

  • msnsrinivas on August 22, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    Not even a customary mention of Kirsten, Mr. Bal?

  • Hammond on August 22, 2012, 12:26 GMT

    @sickofwhingers- actually mate, started going for England in 2003, and I'm never going back.

  • Bradshaw28 on August 22, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    In 1st Test Bresnan out Bowled England, xcept Amla scoring 250th n 300th runs against him, Jacques scored 150th against him. Bairstow scored 149(95 &54) same as KP in 1st innings of 2nd test. Honestly SA took sweet revenge remember when we drew 1-1 in a 4 match series in SA when England survived twice. Collingwood saying tommorrow should I go out to bat the match will be very boring. Now we took whats ours honour. Thanks Proteas lets get ODI ranking next

  • KingOwl on August 22, 2012, 11:36 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster: Most of the wickets in England get flat depending on the weather. English wickets are also much slower than Aus/SA wickets. The difficulty in England is the movement, which comes from the moisture. Any visiting team will say that batting in Spring in England is far more difficult than in Summer. Even in Spring days, for instance, the Lords pitch can turn from very flat to very tough based on weather the sun is out or not. Probability is that in April/May, the sun is out more than in July/August. Of course there are exceptional years. When that happens, the impact of the month disappears. I am talking in general terms and not about exceptional years.

  • CDUP on August 22, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    @StaalBurgher Who in the media has labelled SA as "a dominating force that none can resist"? Sambit Bal merely suggests that they were "relentless and ruthless" in this series. People seem to have a need to place teams or players on pedestals. It is not the 70's, 80's or 90's any more, and cricket has become more professional than it has ever been. Naturally, the gaps separating the teams and players will also become less. In fact, this is the case in most sport formats today. This factor, along with the impact of the newer formats of the game, especially 20/20, and the role of technology, has changed cricket since "the golden days" people seem to pine for. I'm not saying that the great WI and Aus sides were not great (although I do feel it's an apples and oranges situation), I'm saying that the competition has been levelled far more in international cricket. This, in my opinion, is a good thing, since it becomes a battle for the no.1 spot, rather than a battle against the no.1 team.

  • DeathKnell on August 22, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    @Chris_P on (August 22 2012, 09:05 AM GMT) - additional..if Eng play Ban in a 10 match series..then Ban rank will be closer to Eng and you can come up with such interesting questions on the ranks & differences...& that sure will give a satisfaction that eng did not lose to a low ranked team...

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 11:17 GMT

    @JG2704. Although we could grab # 1 if we beat the Saffers when they tour, I am still very much concerned about our present quality to where we prefer to be. I know Clarke has done a great job since taking over, but dynasties occur after a gradual build, & then with key architects. We are well short of that mark, and to be in the position of having a chance of the #1 spot when so under developed probably reflects the overall standard of the test playing countries at present. I suggest that plenty of countries will be jostling for a crack at the top, South Africa have set the bar high, getting there is one thing, maintaining it is another story. All in all, interesting days ahead for us all. Looking ahead, the Boks don't have a lot of points to defend, so should be set for a relatively good run at the time (deservedly so), your guys are still there, but really need a shakeup.

  • DeathKnell on August 22, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    JG2704 on (August 22 2012, 08:20 AM GMT) - I think we discussed this topic in another article (or few of them) doing all at home can hold good for paper but not for reality....& certainly not for the phrase "country a mile ahead" as stated by fron_foot_lunge...

  • DeathKnell on August 22, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    @Chris_P - I know that you have arguments for everything.. pls enlighten me what is rank4 to rank1?..going by your own words, in a way ur right pak cant be a lowly ranked (when we compared with Eng) despite what shows as ranking on the board...now, Eng should look up to pak & emulate - thanks mate for correction..

  • RednWhiteArmy on August 22, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    2nd test & 3rd were very even, but SA dominated the first & this has proved decisive. . . South Africa will whitewash the aussys later on this year, lets face it australia cant even sack ponting cos they cant replace him hahahaha

  • StaalBurgher on August 22, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    @jezzastyles - I disagree. It very much matters how long you hold the no.1 spot. I would say a team must hold it for a minimum of 3 YEARS before they are undisputedly the best. Arguably even 5 YEARS. The only teams that would've achieved that were WI '79-' 80and AUS '90-00. The nature of Test cricket, i.e. it takes so long for all teams to play each other, makes the rankings an approximation at best in the short term. It is too easy for a team to have a padded ranking due to successive home wins and not playing the strongest opposition away. The reason people are saying that SA might be the first genuine no.1 (still unconfirmed) is because they have had fewer "padding" periods than IND or ENG prior to their ascendency. This was especially the case for IND when they did not play outside the subcontinent (except for NZ) for a period of 2 years. Great teams are so far ahead of the rest that they win even when they play below par. SA might be the best but they are not that far ahead.

  • rohan024 on August 22, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    @mthi4life - The whole idea of ranking was to invigorate interest in test cricket. Reading these comments, i must say ICC have succeeded in their endeavours. Its for the first time, when fans are following cricket involving other nations with such passion.

  • rohan024 on August 22, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    @JG2704 - You mentioned that England at their worst never lost 2 test series 4-0, fair point. Though its difficult to judge the worst period for England, since it extended for more than a decade. If i am not wrong, England lost 5-0 to Australia in Ashes in arnd 2007 ? Now that's a pretty shameful stat, considering its the most important series to you guys. I can't see Indian players returning home after loosing 5-0 to Pakistan or vice versa. I must admit, your guys have been pretty thick skinned in that regard considering they were constantly whipped by Aussies all through the 90s through mid 2000s. On India 2 away 4-0 losses, i think a lot of reputations have got brutally damaged after that scoreline. For an avid supporter of Indian team like me, Tkar & Co have lost respect and i don't see them regaining that in the foreseeable future. It was a shame and nothing can erase that.

  • StaalBurgher on August 22, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    @jb633 - Agree entirely. SA and its media should keep their feet on the ground. There are 4 factors that need to be covered in Test cricket (1) strong top 6 (2) very good wicketkeeper-batsman (3) 3 quality seamers and (4) a spinner capable of ripping through a lineup in the right onconditions. Australia in the McGrath/Warne days covered all those bases. Does SA at this point? Not really. (1) Yes, (2) when AB keeps yes but since that is temporary we gotta go with no (3) Yes (4) not really. Tahir is more useful than our normal finger spinners but nowhere in the Warne class. Obviously having Kallis mitigates some of that. So While SA is strong and rightlyfully can claim to be the best Test team right now they are not miles ahead. If they go on and remain no.1 for the next 5 years the story might change but until then they are currently the best without being "a dominating force that none can resist".

  • Shafaet_001 on August 22, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    @tanstell87: I dont understand. saf batted first,piled up 550 and than the pitch became green in 2nd innings and 3rd??Look at the replays in youtube,nagpur 2010 was a pretty flat pitch.

  • jonesy2 on August 22, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    the thing i love most is this is working out so well for australia. they can beat south africa this summer and claim the number 1 ranking then be numbero uno heading into the ashes next year. should be a really great period of test cricket coming up.

  • jonesy2 on August 22, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    englands huge problems are summed up with the fact they rave about their players being so good when their best bowler anderson is nothing more than "decent". thats when the conditions are favourable and everything is going their way. he wouldnt make a top side like australia or south africa not unless about 5 bowlers were injured. they will never be near the top again, at least not for a long long long time if ever.

  • Romanticstud on August 22, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    If you look at the stats on the series ... From an English perspective ... Johnny Bairstow was included too late ... along with Steven Finn ... barring Kevin Pieterson ... who also didn't play all the tests ... Only Matt Prior and Alastair Cook ... made any telling contributions ... but then in Cook's case it was only on Day 1 ... For Kevin Pieterson to be the best English bowler 4/91 ... and Finn second being the only two effective bowlers you can see why England lost 2-0. Imagine if Kevin Pietersen had Bairstow on the other side instead of Bell / Bopara etc. Maybe there may have been a better result in the second and third tests ... South Africa may have been made to work off a meaningful deficit in both tests. Instead the deficit was meaningless with a few runs to work off and then setting a target ... which was gettable with the right batsmen ... forgive Pieterson and drop Bell ... he scored far too slowly and put England under huge pressure ...

  • on August 22, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    This is England v/s SA.There is no need to involve India here and attempts to compare which was the better/worse No. 1 team among India and England is futile.They both are no longer No.1 team and SA will also not remain No.1 forever. It's about playing good consistent cricket everywhere in all conditions home & away.Whichever team can do that deserves to be No. 1.

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    @jasonpete. Not sure how you could have determined anything I have written was anti-Indian. India derserved their #1 status & I have always enjoyed watching them when they toured here, in fact they were the first touring side I watched in tests. I have no issues with India, just a few of their ill informed suporters. Having lived in Asia (& played cricket there) I was also fortunate enough to have satellite tv & saw a lot of domestic Indian cricket on the cricket channel, so would consider myself a little more knowledgeable on Indian cricket than most Aussies.

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    @@DeathKnell Which lowly ranked team beat England 3-0? The #4 ranked Pakistan? Interesting.

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 9:00 GMT

    @Crass. How long have I followed it? Over thirty years as well as playing it, still playing it, still opening the batting & still getting runs. My error on test centuries, it was supposed to be FIRST CLASS centuries. Now if you had any idea about cricket, 120 runs with a strong batting line-up to come was still a chance. The game was very much open. I have no doubt about my views, they are based on years of playing & watching and no way have I ever offered insults to the sides. In fact I probably would back my overall knowledge of cricket against most. FYI, the 5 with first class centuries were, Trott, Bell, Taylor, Bresnan & Broad.

  • on August 22, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    Are we blaming preparations for our 8-0 drubbing..though our England preparation may have been below par(still doesn't make it ok to get absolutely outplayed in every game not just lose!)..India are a horrible test side..Pathetic and embarrassing..Test cricket is the purest form of the game and every little technical detail is important and you will get found out...England >>>>India test tea..England just got outplayed by a superior side..who I think actually deserve to be No.1..they have an excellent record away from home but they have yet to become consistent , especially at home..so we have to wait and see...I really hope England do well against India ( as there are no spinners atm who i can even turn the ball by 1 millionth of a mm) and expose the truth about how poor of a test side India really is

  • jezzastyles on August 22, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    @ProdigyA: Sorry, but that is a pile of manure. If you get the official #1 ranking by the ICC, in any format, then you're competing on a level playing field with all other nations. You get there, you earned it, as IND did, and later as ENG did. How long you hold it is immaterial. As for winning in IND, as an AUS supporter, that's one of our bogey tours for us, we have won there fairly recently (under Gilchrist, from memory), but we rarely do so. But IND has never won in AUS (draws don't count as winning). Winning away in IND is very difficult, wiining away in SA or AUS is equally difficult for touring sides. Let's just leave it at that. PS - I'm not so sure IND will easily feat ENG later this year, I think a "wounded" ENG might surprise your chaps in the test series.

  • JG2704 on August 22, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    @DeathKnell on (August 22 2012, 06:52 AM GMT) I'm fully admitting England haven't deserved to keep the number 1 spot and have been poor ever since achieving that but "after their fictitious ascent" - Please name a side who between mid 09 and end of 2011 who had a better test record?

  • JG2704 on August 22, 2012, 8:16 GMT

    @tanstell87 on (August 22 2012, 04:04 AM GMT) I don't remember England - even at our very worst - losing 2 away series in a row 4-0 and Australia don't have a bad away record at all. PS re my other point , again - What has India got to do with SA becoming number 1? All I'm seeing is that you are desperately trying to live on past glories. As it stands I'd say SA and Aus are vying for the number 1 spot.

  • JG2704 on August 22, 2012, 8:16 GMT

    @Sunil Narula on (August 21 2012, 23:57 PM GMT) So it's ok for you to make analogies on a totally different sport but not for me to make similar analogies on a different format within cricket? No point in going any further

  • jezzastyles on August 22, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    Thought I'd wait a few days before commenting, allow all of the gloaters to have their say. Now SA have the accursed #1 ranking - let's see how they fare with the "burden". IND looked a good side on paper when they clinched it; ENG looked equally strong; I've already read a lot of comments suggesting that SA will be dominant for a long period - we'll see how they're going in 12-15 months time. It's not just the ENG press that write up their side when they attain the #1 ranking - every nation that has held it has done just that, pure and simple. As for ENG, this series was not as one-sided as many commenters are suggesting, except for the 1st game, ENG could have won the remaining two with a modicum of luck. They remain a very good side that is starting to weaken, they must perform strongly in IND. There are a lot of over-confident IND posts of late - ENG to win the test series 2-0, Swanny to take a bagfull of wickets, Cook the leading runscorer. Who really cares about the ODI's?

  • on August 22, 2012, 7:50 GMT

    LESS THAN A YEAR! In the time the Non No.1 team held the their mash pie No.1 position they Lost 5-0 to India in Odis (100 overs unlike T20), 3-0 to Pakistan ranked No.5..somehow by the strand drew with Sri Lanka 1-1. Now lost in their own winning space - Home.. against SA 2-0. Interestingly England has only recently won at home.. Losing to India 1-0 in '07. Could have been 2-0 had India been more aggressive and losing to SA at home earlier... and to Australia often because Australia play England often and which is also a great Factor in Keeping Australia at the Top during their 'Golden years'. India Held the No.1 spot for 2 years. They beat SA in SA. Could have won that series had it not been for a Single.. a Single Kallis-Boucher partnership. They were the ones beating Australia in Australia when no team else was beating them. Mind you India's Major tournament victories have come Abroad.1983, 87, 07. So the India born Hashim Amla & Vernon Philander do it for SA.

  • justtogood on August 22, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    @sachin_vvsfan - not sure but i think you being very humble in thinking IND wont beat ENG in IND. I believe ENG have absolutly zero chance of winning in IND and number 4 test rankings on its way for them!!!!! As for SA I would only make one change in that team - drop Rudolf and bring in FAF

  • mthi4life on August 22, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    I am a SA fan but I do not understant this obsession with number one.What the Proteas want is to play positive cricket only and if it take them to number one then so be it.The gep between the top five is not that big.So it would not be a shock if they loose their No.1 ranking in Australia this November.Even though Australia is not dominant they are still a very good team.But unlike other team this Proteas' team has the maturity to not think they are going to dominate world cricket.Well done SA hope U continue playing positive cricket.

  • jasonpete on August 22, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    Posted by Chris_P on (August 22 2012, 00:43 AM GMT), The article is to prove that SA performed way better than the previous two no.1 ranked teams by performing better in away conditions.India lost the rank in away condition,whereas England lost in their own backyard and SA snatched their top spot by beating the home conditions which speaks a lot about their performances.He wanted to mention that after Australia ,there is no real top until now who performs better on all condition.May be you have something against Indian team which can be seen from your previous post.But India deserved no.1 just as England deserved the top spot earlier.Bal talks about the team who ranked top after an Australian dominance which Includes India as well,not only England .so the article seems right,may be not for you.

  • DeathKnell on August 22, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge - you conveniently forgotten the fact that Eng's descent started after they were crushed/beaten/pummeled 5-0 after their fictitious ascent...& from there no look back.. a low ranked Pak did it, then a draw (KP's blessing) with another low ranked team, and then the ranking-gone-wanting series on-the-grill at home by SA....one last point when u talk abt your much obsessed ranking & a top-team etc, did u know the fact that Eng would not have reached the top, if they did not beat India? because there was nothing note-worthy after that (even before that for that matter - lets not go in there)..and many occasions favoured them to be there...(like a half-a-year vacation, rain's affecting SA's run on NZ etc)..so better dont talk abt rankings & being on top...use the same yardstick when comparing other teams

  • SouthPaw on August 22, 2012, 6:51 GMT

    (... contd) Every team has driven individuals that shape the final outcome of games. Sachin is a great cricketer, but couldn't do anything as a captain. Enter Saurav Ganguly - he turned things around for India! Similarly, everyone knows about the great affection that MSD & Sehwag have for each other, but they can dictate the outcome of games! If SG or VS had been dropped on grounds of "attitude", then cricket would have been the loser, just like it is now with KP out of the team. Someone says it right - "KP, who was the star of the previous T20 WC is out, while a guy who got hammered for 6x6 is the captain".

    ECB doing its best ostrich act!

  • Pablo123 on August 22, 2012, 6:51 GMT

    I was worried the English summer would ruin the results of the tests and force at least 2 draws. A 2 - 0 win in England is massive. Well done SA !

  • SouthPaw on August 22, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    A nice post from Bal, but I enjoyed the comments more! As a former cricketer, I can say this - cricket is a team sport, unlike the 100m sprint, so don't compare Bolt with Blake. Also, as in any sport, a hard fought victory is sweeter (for both the cricketers and the fans) than beating pushovers & minnows, so in that sense, the Saffer's rise to #1 is much more entertaining than the one sided dominance that the Windies of the 80's had. Coming back to the team sport that Cricket is, you need great players to be a great team, despite some disharmony and bickering that you might have in the dressing room. KP's presence would have made a huge difference to the 3rd test and the final #1 spot, but England blew that away by dropping him. Bairstow's performance apart, imagine if KP had scored a great 4th inning century like he did in test #2! (continued...)

  • sachin_vvsfan on August 22, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    I thought fans would calm down a bit after ENG lost the num1 ranking but the debate still goes on. I dont understand why some fans like @Sunil Narula @Front-Foot-Lunge keep boasting about their respective teams when in reality both ENG and INDIA seem to be home track bullies.

    Remember guys ENG can claim back num1 ranking(Mathematically i dont know but assuming that SA loose series and ENG win marginally in india) I know it is difficult but not impossible given that we have lost dravid and laxman. So keep your feet down and dont embarrass your fellow fans (both INDIA and ENG)

  • on August 22, 2012, 6:19 GMT

    I don't know why Cricket Pundits around the world think England to be a genuinely good side. The problem with England is that they have never been a consistently good one day side. There focus have been on Test Cricket for too long. I mean India performed abysmally for last one and half years. But whole world know it as a world champion and such a belief by non cricketing fans as well as cricketing fans boost the morale of cricketers and team can regain its lost ground in test matches. If you look at English batting order, Strauss, Cook, Trott and Bell, they can't get selected in a good one day team. They are too slow to catch up with the pace of modern day cricket.There are two beacon of hopes and they are Pieterson and Prior. To be a genuine no. 1 side the team has to perform equally in all forms of cricket. Like the Austarlian did. The performance of one form reflects in other. No.1 does not mean a status in one form, it has to be no. 1 in all forms.

  • t20-2007 on August 22, 2012, 6:02 GMT

    KP or no KP ....england could hav never won the last test.......but sure enough KP's presence would hav given them little parity in 4 of the 5 days.....but the assault launched on final day was atrocious ...lik ...sure we r going to loose but want to see how much pain we can inflict...haha.....n ppl talking abt that kid replacing KP...also mentioning his avg...can only laugh on those comments

  • ansram on August 22, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    I had high hopes for England after the Ashes and after their resounding win over India. But ever since England has been as poor a test side as India.

  • DaisonGarvasis on August 22, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    There is no point saying "England Underperformed". Sambit is saying that based on the "reputation" of English players. The only thing that matter is how many runs they put on board and how many wickets they took. When England became Number 1 that was what mattered and when they lose that should be the only thing that matter. "Reputation" is something that was with the team england beat to become Number 1 and England were claiming that the Number 1 Ranking was going to be with England for at least a decade. But with a CLEAR INABILITY to play against spin bowling - they are clueless - that was a a claim made too early. For me England is the worst team to have held the Number 1 Ranking - they won 3 test matches during the time they were Number 1 and LOST TWICE AS MANY. Now its England's chance to get humiliated in India against some spin bowling - whatever quality the spin bowling will be, good or bad, England are gonna surrender, THEY ARE CLUELESS AGAINST SPIN. FULLSTOP.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 22, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    @KingOwl: Very interesting comments. Although, I don't think the English pitches get flatter by any means in June/July given England's climate. There will always be moisture in the air, thanks to rain during summer. There will always be swing in England and if the bowlers have some pace like England did, Indians generally struggle because most of their batsman are front foot players. They end up edging the ball to the slips or gully. In Australia, it's the bounce and Indian batsmen don't play the rising ball well. So two sets of issues to deal with. Also, it's true about the mightiness of the BCCI. However, what's so irritating to many Indian fans is WHY the BCCI don't prepare well for an important foreign tour ?! With their power, the BCCI has to only ask and they could get what they want. It's really frustrating you see.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 22, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    First of all, I am an Indian supporter. I was happy England got to the top. They earned it through sheer performance and brilliance. Now, SA have done the same with an exceptional victory over England in this 3 match series. I heartily congratulate them. Unlike some Indian fans, I whole heartedly agree India are a good home team and pathetic away. Unless India becomes competitive in SA, ENG and AUS, they will continue to welcome jeers from fans of other nations. I see it this way - the reason why India get all the jeers is because people view India as a good team and expect better things from them away from home. When the Indian team disappoint, it's when things get ugly. I am sure many English and Aussie fans wanted to see good performances from India and were let down. But the future is bright for India. I hope they put in the hard yards to become a worthy away team. Once again, congratulations Proteas !

  • on August 22, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    Although England made a gallant effort on the last day , the gap between the two sides was huge. There is no point in asking for a five test series , only the margin would have been 4-0 instead of the current 2-0. The individual performances of the English have been way below the high standards set against other teams. Yet england has a flaw. Its recent success has largely been built around cook, Trott, Bell and Anderson. None of them have had a great series,in fact it has not been a great series for the whole team and perhaps only Finn can hold his head high and of course England kept playing Bresnan! It was a great advertisement for the concept of test cricket and while England reflects on its sobering defeat, it probably needs to keep in mind the fact that Australia actually levelled the series against this same team a few months ago at South Africa. Maybe the Ashes too will not be a cake walk if the aussie bowlers saw how cook and trott were marginalised. Ramanujam Sridhar

  • Mr.AB on August 22, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    @KingOwl so you say all that India does is spend money and win matches, and that too tests (ironically, you say India wins by favored scheduling!)? Think straight.. your argument of flat pitches lacks substance.. do you think India beat England on their last tour because of flat pitches? If that's the case India toured England in AUGUST in 2007. You cannot stay no.1 for more than 2 years by fluke. And we are talking about test cricket here. The condition of flat pitches holds same for both playing teams. Yes, India does have weak bowling attack but why don't you talk about the strong batting line-up they have? 8-0 result India got is because of poor cricket else, going by your thinking, BCCI could have managed to do some magic.

  • tests_the_best on August 22, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Another aspect which makes sa no 1 ranking fitting is, unlike the previous 2 holders of that rank achieving that ranking by winning at home (ind 2-0 against sl at home, eng 4-0 against ind at home), sa actually achieved their no 1 ranking by winning on foreign soil, that too against the existing no 1. they came close in 2010 as well when they were up 1-0 against ind in ind only to lose the next one (victory then would have assured them no 1 ranking then itself). by any and all standards, sa are the true no 1.

  • stalefresh on August 22, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    3 test series and 2 test series is a joke. A test series should be minimum 4 tests.

  • anver777 on August 22, 2012, 4:29 GMT

    Hurray SA !!!!! this series win & rise to the top must dedicate to veteran Boucher who have done a lot to SA cricket... Sadly he injured his eye while on duty & missed his final test series !!!!

  • tests_the_best on August 22, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    @KingOwl, in all fairness India were the real no 1 during their stay there. After achieving no. 1 status, india defeated aus and nz at home, defeated wi away, drew in sl and drew against sa, first in ind then in sa i.e. india didn't lose a single series during their 20 months at top whether at home or away. and even prior to that, india's record in the whole of 2000s was pretty respectable. have heard this line of argument over and over again that ind didn't deserve their no 1 ranking, frankly stats prove it otherwise.

  • tanstell87 on August 22, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    @Chris_P - no the trivia isn't useless...it speaks volumes of which teams have dominated test cricket since 2000...Australia & India to be precise

  • Crass on August 22, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    @Chris_P : Not sure how long have you followed cricket, lad, but I dont remember Taylor, Bresnan, Anderson and Finn scoring test centuries so I am not sure which five batsmen had test centuries in their names. Let's try to be somewhat unbiased when offering points of view, huh?

  • tanstell87 on August 22, 2012, 4:08 GMT

    @JG2704 -my dear friend from England...India have held the number 1 ranking for 18 months..!

  • tanstell87 on August 22, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    @Shafaet_001 - Nagpur was a green wicket just like Ahemadabad in 2008...the grass dried up in the Nagpur heat & SA piled up over 500...

  • tanstell87 on August 22, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    @subbass - two away series doesn't make India awful....infact you should worry about Australia's away record or England's away record which are as awful as India's

  • tanstell87 on August 22, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    @sfbotes - India did win a T20 World Cup in South Africa...now that was one major tournament...South Africa haven't won anything substantial in India have they ?

  • sickofwhingers on August 22, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    @Ross_co, spot on, Hammond and his many aliases are the perfect fit for an english fan, supported Australia then switched when a few players retired to jump un Ebngland band wagon, a perfect examle of a fair weather fan, will more than likely switch back when aussies are number one again.

  • Lermy on August 22, 2012, 3:20 GMT

    Can't see England staying down for long. These things go in surges and tides. SA are very good at the mo, but there are sides that will beat them when they are below their best, which inevitably will happen. All players go thru form fluctuations. When a side is lucky, they will get 6 or 7 players all playing in top form at once, and that is hard to beat. Even luck can play a part. The difference between scoring 0 and 200 on any given day can be one dropped catch. Can anyone name a player who never dropped a catch?

  • Buggsy on August 22, 2012, 3:08 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge; England is not even close to being one of the best teams in the world. 6 losses in the last 11 matches is not even worthy of being called decent. It's simply woeful. They can't even keep their dressing room in order.

  • drice on August 22, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge: Really, a country mile ahead? You mean ahead of the Pak team that hammered your team on a neutral ground(unlike Eng's home track bullying). I weary of people calling subcontinent pitches dead, run-fests etc. They're just different, and no I'm not from anywhere in Asia, never even visited. Need I remind that Eng won but did not annihilate the No. 8 WI at HOME. Ahead? yes.Country mile? No way.

  • KingOwl on August 22, 2012, 1:39 GMT

    @Deepak Nayak: Seriously, you do not think that India were a real No 1 in test cricket, do you? I mean, don't get me wrong. I am generally a defender of India. But the fact is that England and SA both have the bowlers to win test matches. India don't. They never did. That is why their No 1 test ranking was a fluke. But One day and T20 - Yes, India are genuine world beaters, because the role of bowlers is much more limited in those formats. Also, I do not blame the BCCI for all the problems. In fact, I like the IPL. I also like the BCCI when it throws around its weight to give some hard times to the Anglo block. But the reality is that India does get very favorable overseas conditions, only because of money power. Just an example, if India toured England in April, what will happen? Matches will be over in 2 days and there will be huge money making potential lost. So, England invite a small country in April, and invite India in the height of Summer, when the tracks are flat!

  • SaracensBob on August 22, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    Congratulations to South Africa for a hard-earned and well-won victory. Only once were England on top (at the end of day one of the series at the Oval) and South Africa quickly blew that apart with a devastating show of bowling on the morning of day two! Followed by a batting 'tour de force' from Smith, Amla and the cricketing legend Jaques Kallis. For the rest of the series England had to chase the game and try and 'hang in'. England gave a mighty good fight in matches 2 and 3 but were ultimately out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded. England will be back, we are still a very good side - pity that we didn't pick five bowlers and that it wasn't a 5-match series!

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    @Sunil Narula. I am not English, & JG & myself always have had some spirited discussions, but let me share with you, he has delivered many consistently valid points, & to be truthful, he has done so in this case. KP, while IMHO, the only player in the English squad approaching greatness has all the talent in the world, obviously, the team dynamics is seen as a matter far more important than personal contribution. Much like Gayle & the Windies. Sides need to move on, KP won't be around forever.

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    @ cool2cool. Not sure howl long you have followed cricket, lad, but in the 2nd test, England needed 120 runs with 6 wickets remaining with 5 players left with test centuries against their names. I have been watching & playing cricket long enough to know an open misere when I see it & no way was this test decided. And to be blunt, England went down with a fight the last 2 tests, heading South Africa's first innings both occasions, something India can't quite claim when they meekly surrendered the top spot. Let's try to be somewhat unbiased when offering points of view, huh?

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    @tanstell87. How useless was this trivia? Did you wheel it out when India was #1 and state that India have never beaten South Africa & Australia in an away series? Did you also state that India hasn't beaten Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka since 1996? Yet they were undisputed #1? What's the point? The rankings system is just about as close as possible to determine the form team over a period of time, in this case 3 years. No true cricket follower would dispute England deserved their # 1 status. Were they a great side? No, but they were good enough to be#1.

  • Chris_P on August 22, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    The article is about South Africa's relentless surge in the series versus England. Why bring India into it? Plenty of time for that discussion, & I would think references to Indian cricket have been slightly played out a little too much, or is it just me? There is no doubt that South Africa was at the top or near top of their game in this series. England was just below their best, & that was well short of what was needed. Form fluctuates, the real test is to perform to your best & take advantage when things aren't quite running your way. @Sunil, no one is bigger than the game. Pieterson's replacement performed more than adequately in this test. He is no way near the class of Pieterson, but his contribution was one of the best for England, so that sort of blows your argument.

  • Ross_Co on August 22, 2012, 0:26 GMT

    @Hammond - I realise that you're in total denial but the reason why 'England' doesn't get any respect regardless of its ranking has a lot to do with team composition. This has nothing to do with winning or losing - it didn't get any respect when it was packed full of players like Hick & Mullally and lost constantly and it didn't get any respect when winning with people like Pietersen & Trott. The composition of the team is a major part of the rest of the world's perception that 'England' doesn't deserve to 'be' anything but it is really part & parcel with their attitude & ahem, 'tactics'. No one outside England thinks that you are a legitimate team. Here's to the impending clash between two talented & inspiring legitimate teams in Australia later this year.

  • moBlue on August 22, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    @indianInnerEdge: you forgot ENG can't play spin if their life depended on it in the subcontinent... IND not being able to take 20 wickets in IND?!? that too against ENG?!? what are you talking about? :)

  • on August 21, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    @jg2704 i just think you are a blind follower of english cricket. and you don't know the difference bw test cricket odis and t20. we are talking about the third test and you want to compare that wth t20s and odis. good luck to you

  • Phat-Boy on August 21, 2012, 23:53 GMT

    A lot of tripe being spilled in here. 1. Anyone saying SA don't deserve the ranking is kidding themselves. Even Australia at their peak - and yes, they WON more series than South Africa - weren't going 18 series' at a time without losing one. 2. People pointing to a lost test to Sri Lanka - so what? West Indies got smashed by the off-spin of Allan Border and got hammered in Sydney in 1988. Does that make them less of a force? 3. Can't believe the 'choke' word has even been mentioned. England went close, South Africa did nothing wrong, and Smith always had a trump card called 'Philander' up his sleeve who didn't bowl for more than 2 hours prior to his final spell. It got tight, but South Africa always had the game in hand. A 'choke' would have been Amla, Smith or Kallis dropping one of those catches.

  • JG2704 on August 21, 2012, 23:38 GMT

    jb633 on (August 21 2012, 22:53 PM GMT) Eng played decent cricket to earn the plaudits and number 1 ranking but ever since have gone into freefall. I'm sure Oz media were never shy in talking their team up. Difference is they continued their form whereas Eng did not

  • JG2704 on August 21, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    @Sunil Narula on (August 21 2012, 23:15 PM GMT) I'm sorry but you obviously have no idea of what the word "POSSIBLE" actually means. Bolt is a phenmenom but yes Blake could beat him , he has beaten him before which proves it is possible. Was going to type some more but it's actually not worth it. BTW , we beat Aus 4-0 and clean swept WI in ODIs and T20s without KP so that kind of proves Eng can win without KP - or are we going to have some far fetched theory which defies facts

  • on August 21, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    @jg2704: if it was possible then why didn't it happen? you can't say blake was going to win the 100m at london olympics till about the half way stage but then ultimately bolt won. in sport you either win or you lose. and there was no way this england side was going to win this last test without kp. and it didn't happen. because they don;'t have any other match-winner. match-winners don't necessarily have to contribute much with the bat. their presence is enough to intimidate the opposition. kp has that quality. noone else in the england has that. it's too bad but that;s the truth. that doesn't mean kp is a nice guy. it just mean he is a great player. and you can't keep great players out of the team. if you do that, you lose.

  • IndianInnerEdge on August 21, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    Nice article, SA are a deserving No1, currently amongst test teams going around-have the best recent record. I never bought into India's No1 status when they were no 1-not with the pop gun bowling attack India has. I forsee the No1 to shuffle amongst SA, Aus, eng, Ind (if we find some decent leather flingers), Pak and this makes for an exciting ride.The sleeping giant is Aus, mark my words, they gonna get back soon. For my fellow indian fans who seem to think India's home series against Eng will be a walkover-absolute tripe-We will be facing an England side hungry, angy and seeking redemption, India simply does not have the attack to take 20 wickets, the slip catching is weakened by the retirements of VVS & RD(assuming the opposition edge one!!!)-am sick of my fellow indian fans commenting about revenge/retribution when England comes around. Lets enjoy the ride and savour the game we love, in the right spirits without descending to arrogance or bagging supporters of the opposotion. .:)

  • jb633 on August 21, 2012, 22:53 GMT

    Seriously SA need to be careful and their media do also. I remember our own media going completley overboard after we beat the dreaful Indian side last year and look at how it came back to bite us. SA have a tour of Aus coming up and although they go in as favourites, this is no forgone conclusion. I think the SA press need to reign themselves in and not put so much pressure upon their own players. I do think SA are the best side at present but things can change quickly. It would be much more interesting to see SA tour India right now. I would say if that were to happen SA would just sneak a win. However it would be closer than the series that England is about to undertake. I can't see us winning that one, unless we ditch Strauss immediatley. I think we have to pick opening batsman who can attack spin also. I think Vince is the best option.

  • on August 21, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    @KingOwl: Learn to appreciate the winners and refrain from posting just to demean some other team. SA got to No.1 ranking through hard work, consistency and perseverance. But so did England and India. Agreed that India lost badly in England and Australia but their record in Test Cricket prior to that when they reached No.1 ranking was among the best in world cricket. They had a terrific home record and they had won series in England, WI, NZ and drawn series in SA. They were the only team in last decade to keep their composure against Aussies who were world beaters then. It is a fashion to blame anything that goes wrong in world cricket to BCCI and IPL these days. I won't be amused if someone blames BCCI's powers if it rains in a Zim-BD match. For god sake, do not take the credit away from the efforts of the Indian players who fought hard consistently to get to No.1 ranking.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on August 21, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    The last two tests showed just how close the two best sides in the world are, after England took a test to warm up. England turned the final test into a game engulfed in 'if onlys'. They weren't as sharp as the usual England, the England that started the descent of one of the great Indian teams ever to play the game, and whitewashed them into a crushing from which which they never recovered - psychologically affecting them so great that they were then crushed by one of the most farcically weak Australian sides of the last thirty years. Needless to say England gobble them right up just for fun every time they meet. We've just witnessed a series between the world's top two cricket teams, two teams that are a country mile ahead of the average-skilled and average-ranked teams that wriggle around in the dark recesses of the ICC cricket rankings.

  • JG2704 on August 21, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    @tanstell87 on (August 21 2012, 16:29 PM GMT)What has India got to do with this article ?

  • JG2704 on August 21, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    @Sunil Narula on (August 21 2012, 16:58 PM GMT) Of course it was possible. At the half way stage Eng were in front (albeit by an overs worth of runs) . Not only might England have been badly affected by KPs presence but KP might not have been right either. Bairstow (KPs direct replacement) averaged 74.5 for the match which is more than likely better than what KP would have done anyway

  • Hammond on August 21, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    I love some of these comments. For everyones information, South Africa qualified as number one test nation by going through the exact same rankings process as England and India before it. The system (unlike most of these posters) is impartial. So every team that reaches the tope is equally worthy of the ranking. The question now remans is how long with South Africa hold onto it? Last time SA had it for only a few months.

  • on August 21, 2012, 21:00 GMT

    this can happen only in england. who was the bowler who was smashed for six sixers in one over in a t20 world cup? stuart broad. and now he is the captain of the england t20 team. who was the player who was the man of the tournament in a t20 world cup? KP. and he has been dropped. great team selection. personal things matter more. talent has no place.

  • KingOwl on August 21, 2012, 20:33 GMT

    The article is good. But the headline is a bit too much. I don't think SA was 'ruthless'. They JUST managed to win the last test. With a bit more luck, England could have won - not because they are better, but because SA were close to choking and England had nothing to lose on the final day. It was great to see SA beat the reigning No 1 England, IN ENGLAND, to win the top spot. That was thrilling, even for a non SA/Eng fan. Unlike India which won #1 status by the power of BCCI to get favourable schedules and flat pitches, SA won by genuine talent. But let is not hype SA too much. Just a couple of months ago, they were convincingly beaten (at home) in a test by SL. So, nobody is really beyond reach of the rest. That is great for cricket!

  • JG2704 on August 21, 2012, 20:25 GMT

    @TestIP on (August 21 2012, 18:38 PM GMT) re "ENGLAND should never have been in the top test nation" - Why not? They got the results which merited getting them to number 1. They didn't get the number 1 ranking from a competition in a magazine or by writing to the late Jimmy Saville . From mid 2009 - end of 2011 please tell me who had a better record than England and give me some facts?

  • harshthakor on August 21, 2012, 20:17 GMT

    South Africa are the deserving test world champions and outplayed arguably one of the strongest English taems of recent times.However the Proteas have to prove their consistency unlike their past when they have very quicky surrendered their no.1 spot in the test rankings.They have to be convincing winners in the sub-continent to compare with past great sides,unlike England who were thwarted into submission by Pakistan,last winter.Let us wish S.Africa vanquish Australia down under in contrast to how they lost a home series to the Australians in 2009 ,just after vanquishing the same team just 3 months before on Australian soil.England played well below par in this series and were hardly the taem that trounced Australia down under in 2010-11.Actually,there is no real outstanding champion test team in world cricket,but the Proteas are on the road,with their great match-winners.

  • on August 21, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    Good analysis - and many good comments. Firstly SA deserved this win - a top performance at the Oval and then two good battles. Secondly - despite some doubts about the mathematical basis used - SA are without doubt the best team, and potentially could retain that position for some time. Apologies now - but a bit of an English bias now - too many underachievers this second series of the summer - particularly at the top of the order. England should easily have threatened 500 in the first innings at The Oval - but crumpled. As to the winter - again I have doubts about the batting. Low slow pitches where patience is required and the ability, Clive Radley / Graham Thorpe- like to nurdle big scores is missing amongst English strokeplayers. Having said - I can't see a single threatening Indian bowler - Ajmal may not be brilliant, but he's far better than anything in the Indian attack. It won't be pretty. Bring it on!

  • on August 21, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    As a South African supporter I am thrilled to be test number 1 and really feel that we deserve it. That said, I don't think it is time just yet to be celebrating this side as a 'great' side (we all know how that turned out for England and the way their press cannonised them a year ago). There is the potential for greatness there, though. I'm glad to see Smith speaking about the need to stay humble and hungry. It is only with that attitude that this side will fulfill such potential. I'm also very glad to have such an innovative off-field staff with Gary, AD and Russell Domingo thinking outside of the box in the way they go about preparing the team (no-one can argue with the Mike Horn prep). All this talk by partisan Indian fans about SA not being so great in the sub-continent makes me chuckle - when was the last time their side won anything outside of the subcontinent? It's fair enough to say that we haven't won a series there since 2000, but when did they last win a series in SA?

  • Long-Leg on August 21, 2012, 19:18 GMT

    @sunil narula: It is not as simple as that. There is a serious issue with Pietersen in the England Camp. We do not know exactly what that issue is, but it goes deeper than the sending of texts that criticise the captain. I hope that Pietersen is able to return, but not at any cost.

  • on August 21, 2012, 19:04 GMT

    Bulls-eye outline of this amazing series of Test cricket. Bal's insights are always great to read. The game has changed since the Aussie dominance. It is undergoing the 'early 1990s phase', still looking for a sorcerer. South Africa seem like the ones who might have an era of dominance under their belt- given Kirsten is still the coach and a proper replacement for Kallis is uncovered. Australia and England might have thrashed India in their respective backyards, but they still have unsettled sides. South Africa's bowling is young and proven, promising to last for at least 6-8 years. Amla and DeVilliers will mentor the batting after Smith and Kallis decide hang up their boots. All is well and things basically look bright for the Proteas!

  • on August 21, 2012, 18:53 GMT

    gary u are great.respect from india

  • prakash5455 on August 21, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    Very nice article, Sambit Bal covers all emotions, joys and sorrows in this masterpiece! Bravo!

  • Shafaet_001 on August 21, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    @tanstell87: Nagpur 2010 was never a green top. It was a flat pitch, saf scored more than 550 in first innings. Than steyn showed some of the best reverse swing bowling the world have ever seen. And nobody asked india to prepare green top in calcutta,they did it themselves! And your stats say that india is good at home and pathetic outside.

  • Shafaet_001 on August 21, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    Anderson is better bowler than steyn in favourable condition?? you are joking right?? Steyn is destructive even in flat pitches and in favourable condition he can bring any team down to knees,he showed that many times.

  • alagu4ever_india4ever on August 21, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    England's reign of #1 rankin is over :) :) :)

  • TestIP on August 21, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    ENGLAND should never have been in the top test nation...England likes cricket but they need to improve and beat good teams outside of home turf to rate them up there. The actual good teams are SA, Australia, India, Pakistan..then England....even WI will give them a good run with senior players back in the side....wake up people....when last ENGLAND won something big....

  • Natesan333 on August 21, 2012, 18:33 GMT

    @sk12 you are correct buddy, it was a cake walk for England the last time they were in India!!!

  • premclement on August 21, 2012, 18:13 GMT

    @Long leg, dream on. Have you forgotten your team can not handle spin anywhere in the world, let alone subcontinent? I would be suprised if Eng wins one match against India this autumn

  • sfbotes on August 21, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    @tanstell87, when did India last win a series in South Africa?

  • subbass on August 21, 2012, 17:50 GMT

    @Tanstell87 - it shows how truly awful India are away from India, that is what it says.

  • ProdigyA on August 21, 2012, 17:49 GMT

    SA can be No.1 on paper and to a large extent the are. But for truly to establish themselves as No.1 they have to win in all conditions including beating India in India. That is where the real challenge lies.

  • on August 21, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    there is a endless discussion who is better than whom in the last few years. An ill prepared Indian side was beaten hallow by a fully motivated English team in 2011. But the S.A. in 2012 were a better prepared side than India was in 2011. Though England is not a bad team at all, some of the comments in 2011 by English critics were highly biased in favour of England. Out of all the top 4-5 teams currently playing test cricket India's bowling strength is underrated by critics in England. India's bowling is not that weak to predict a white wash every time any of the other top teams play India. England in all likelihood will struggle against Indian indian bowling just like they did against Pakistan. Further, some of India's young emerging fast bowlers are really quick, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron along with Ishant Sharma backed by the very clever Zaheer Khan not to talk of the emerging spinners itching to settle scores with English batsmen in India.

  • SurlyCynic on August 21, 2012, 17:46 GMT

    England are a good team but the press went totally overboard with comparisons to the great Windies of the 80s, 'Fortress England', and comparing Anderson and Swann to McGrath and Warne. Then they predicted 2-0 or 3-0 to England in this series and after the first day at the Oval I read an article in a broadsheet that attacked SA for their poor preparation and 'ripping off the English fans' with their performance. Well, we know how that turned out - statistically the biggest victory ever. Most English fans are more balanced than their press but this sort of hubris is why so many posters on here have delighted in the English team's dose of reality.

  • thalalara on August 21, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    @sagar chatterjee, yep i got it wrong, Aussies in SA won 2-1 in 2009, thought that was in Australia, anyway they have to best Auusies in their own backyard ha ha ha...

  • cool2cool on August 21, 2012, 17:34 GMT

    Hadn't it been the South African (KP) and Rain, England would had another 0-3 defeat.

  • Last_ride on August 21, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    Yes go south Africa let the dominance begin. I doubt Australia stand any chance of winning against South Africa.They are a class apart.@sk12 mate if Sa win the series against Australia They remain No1 Irrespective of how england play in India.And mate i will tell you it is a big if..Beating India in India is difficult...

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on August 21, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    Well done Saffers you out fought and out thought us. Deserved winners beyond doubt. We'll be back though - too many good young bowlers and bats that India and Oz can only dream of and also an honesty with bad performances and a desire to improve as opposed to the barrage of excuses from India last Summer and Oz last Winter. Nice to see England put up a spirited fight desipte their obvious distractions in the dressing room. Only wish India could have shown some fight last Summer instead of capitulating miserably. Good to see some real team spirit in the last test also which hints at just how divisive the whole KP affair has been. Aussies have absolutely no chance against the saffers anyone thinking they do is living in la la land.

  • on August 21, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    england thought they could go into the last test without pietersen and win it. that was not possible at all. bairstow did well but the moment england dropped pietersen for the last test SA knew england had no chance. it was a big psychological edge for SA even before the third test started. strauss can keep saying it was a good performance by his team but losing by 51 runs is a big margin and once england were given more than 340 to chase without kp in the lineup only one result was possible. ok bairstow did well but what did strauss, cook and the others do. and they thought they could win this important test without kp. it's ok to dream but it's downright stupid to drop your best batsman because he sent out smss against the skipper and all that. do you want to marry kp or do you want him to play cricket?

  • sk12 on August 21, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    Dont worry Eng.. you'll have a much easier battle when you come here in Nov, much weaker bowling and an inexperienced untested batting. But make sure you somehow put up with Pieterson and include him instead of Bell. Question - Can Eng regain the No 1 if they win in India (like 2-1) ?

  • on August 21, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    @thalalara we have beaten australia in 2008, the last time we toured there. so thats not something we haven'y achieved. we won that epic series 2-1. would never forget the aussie crowd giving a standing ovasion to smith who came to bat with a broken hand in the last test match when 9 sa wickets fell and almost saved the game for south africa , only 10 balls were left. but that occassion talked a lot about biff and his character. smith has taken south africa a long long way from 2003 when he became a young captain under tough times for sa. look at him now and the team. we are here to rule world cricket for sometime now. sa forever

  • Long-Leg on August 21, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    As an England fan I would like first of all to say congratulations to SA. You have a very talented and capable team and thoroughly deserve to take the no 1 spot. The fact that we don't play each other again until the end of 2015 is a disaster for test Cricket. I would love England to have the chance to come back strong on a tour to SA, but I guess we will have to wait for that. I wonder how many of the two starting XIs will still be playing then? I must also profess that I am a little disappointed in the way England played in this series. Certainly you can only play as well as the opposition allow, but that does not explain why so many catches were dropped or why Stuart Broad was so down on pace. If England return to their best, then I think we can beat India this Autumn. We will just have to look forward and content ourselves with that goal.

  • tanstell87 on August 21, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    First of all Congrats to Proteas on getting top of the table..South Africa haven't beaten India in India since 2000...besides the wins over India have come on wickets which were green ,Ahmedabad in 2008 & Nagpur in 2010....South Africa lost on wickets that suited Indian spinners - Kanpur in 2008 & Calcutta in 2010...i dont think South Africa can win on Indian turning tracks...they did it in 2000...but i doubt they can win again in India...another stat that often comes to my mind is the home series losses for 4 teams that have held the number 1 ranking...England have lost 4 home series(2001 v Aus/2007 v Ind/2008 & 2012 v SA)...South Africa have lost 4(2002,2006 & 2009 v Aus & 2004 v Eng)...while India(2000 v SA/2004 v Aus) & Australia(2009 v SA & 2011 v Eng) have lost only 2 home series since 2000...this stat does say something !

  • Ross_Co on August 21, 2012, 16:27 GMT

    A great Saffa side challenged only by the Australians. A truly excellent series between these 2 teams that play it hard and fair and are full of rent-a-players is in the offing.

  • V-boy on August 21, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    "even the media was resigned to South Africa's superiority throughout the series." I hope they are. Reading all the 2-0, 3-0 predictions from the English media before the series made me wonder whether we were leaving in the same planet with those guys. there's no doubt England were a good side coming into the series but having watched South Africa these past two years i just couldn't imagine how this England side was going to win a single test match against them let alone two or three. I'm so happy sanity has prevailed and long may our world domination continue. BRING ON THE AUSSIES!!

  • thalalara on August 21, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    Good write-up and analysis, yeah its obvious, SA the only team in the recent past to win test matches in Sub-continent consistently. they adjust to the low bounce and turner tracks of sub-continent with dexterity. They are the best test playing nation today, the ultimate goal they need to achieve is to win Aussie at their backyard.... are they capable of doing it???

  • Percy_Fender on August 21, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    England had achieved the "great" status after they hammered Australia in the last Ashes series Down Under.The awe spread after they beat the then No1 India 4-0 in the wet summer of 2011.India was ill prepared having flown into England from West Indies and done in by injuries to key players who could have made a difference.I am referring to Zaheer in particular.This series England had held all the advantages as well.Home conditions and having got useful practice against the no nonsense West Indian pace attack.Even if a close look at that series revealed that notwithstanding the final score line,the victory did not convince anyone that England was indeed the No1 team.They lost to Pakistan 3-0 and drew the series 1-1 to Sri Lanka playing away from home.England made a fist of it on the last day no doubt but iy should'nt make anyone at home complacent.South Africa on the other hand have been deserving to go to the top for the last 20 years but have been denied.They will be there for a while

  • on August 21, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    Nice Article, what a comparison, Loving it.. If SA would beat Aust this winter they will remain no.1 for an extended period of time, on the other hand if Aus beat them Aus will regain their lost glozy

  • on August 21, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    I think to suggest that they improved with the series is to ignore a few factors. On the second test, rain pretty much decided the test, although South Africa still looked better placed to win it. England had nothing to lose, so they tried to chase it, and when they realized there was a chance of losing it altogether, they allowed themselves a second chance by settling for a draw. On the third test, there was nothing to lose either. They had to chase, and they played lucky shots at times. England lacked the quality needed for a test side fighting for number one spot. They didnt have players who could sensibly accumulate runs as well as Amla and Kallis can. These two play with calculators in their brains and because of them, South Africa can post a defendable total while they have deprived their opponents of time. Thats the hallmark of a great side. Even the lower order did well. England had some productive cameos from the lower order, but the difference in the series was the top order.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on August 21, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    I think to suggest that they improved with the series is to ignore a few factors. On the second test, rain pretty much decided the test, although South Africa still looked better placed to win it. England had nothing to lose, so they tried to chase it, and when they realized there was a chance of losing it altogether, they allowed themselves a second chance by settling for a draw. On the third test, there was nothing to lose either. They had to chase, and they played lucky shots at times. England lacked the quality needed for a test side fighting for number one spot. They didnt have players who could sensibly accumulate runs as well as Amla and Kallis can. These two play with calculators in their brains and because of them, South Africa can post a defendable total while they have deprived their opponents of time. Thats the hallmark of a great side. Even the lower order did well. England had some productive cameos from the lower order, but the difference in the series was the top order.

  • on August 21, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    Nice Article, what a comparison, Loving it.. If SA would beat Aust this winter they will remain no.1 for an extended period of time, on the other hand if Aus beat them Aus will regain their lost glozy

  • Percy_Fender on August 21, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    England had achieved the "great" status after they hammered Australia in the last Ashes series Down Under.The awe spread after they beat the then No1 India 4-0 in the wet summer of 2011.India was ill prepared having flown into England from West Indies and done in by injuries to key players who could have made a difference.I am referring to Zaheer in particular.This series England had held all the advantages as well.Home conditions and having got useful practice against the no nonsense West Indian pace attack.Even if a close look at that series revealed that notwithstanding the final score line,the victory did not convince anyone that England was indeed the No1 team.They lost to Pakistan 3-0 and drew the series 1-1 to Sri Lanka playing away from home.England made a fist of it on the last day no doubt but iy should'nt make anyone at home complacent.South Africa on the other hand have been deserving to go to the top for the last 20 years but have been denied.They will be there for a while

  • thalalara on August 21, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    Good write-up and analysis, yeah its obvious, SA the only team in the recent past to win test matches in Sub-continent consistently. they adjust to the low bounce and turner tracks of sub-continent with dexterity. They are the best test playing nation today, the ultimate goal they need to achieve is to win Aussie at their backyard.... are they capable of doing it???

  • V-boy on August 21, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    "even the media was resigned to South Africa's superiority throughout the series." I hope they are. Reading all the 2-0, 3-0 predictions from the English media before the series made me wonder whether we were leaving in the same planet with those guys. there's no doubt England were a good side coming into the series but having watched South Africa these past two years i just couldn't imagine how this England side was going to win a single test match against them let alone two or three. I'm so happy sanity has prevailed and long may our world domination continue. BRING ON THE AUSSIES!!

  • Ross_Co on August 21, 2012, 16:27 GMT

    A great Saffa side challenged only by the Australians. A truly excellent series between these 2 teams that play it hard and fair and are full of rent-a-players is in the offing.

  • tanstell87 on August 21, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    First of all Congrats to Proteas on getting top of the table..South Africa haven't beaten India in India since 2000...besides the wins over India have come on wickets which were green ,Ahmedabad in 2008 & Nagpur in 2010....South Africa lost on wickets that suited Indian spinners - Kanpur in 2008 & Calcutta in 2010...i dont think South Africa can win on Indian turning tracks...they did it in 2000...but i doubt they can win again in India...another stat that often comes to my mind is the home series losses for 4 teams that have held the number 1 ranking...England have lost 4 home series(2001 v Aus/2007 v Ind/2008 & 2012 v SA)...South Africa have lost 4(2002,2006 & 2009 v Aus & 2004 v Eng)...while India(2000 v SA/2004 v Aus) & Australia(2009 v SA & 2011 v Eng) have lost only 2 home series since 2000...this stat does say something !

  • Long-Leg on August 21, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    As an England fan I would like first of all to say congratulations to SA. You have a very talented and capable team and thoroughly deserve to take the no 1 spot. The fact that we don't play each other again until the end of 2015 is a disaster for test Cricket. I would love England to have the chance to come back strong on a tour to SA, but I guess we will have to wait for that. I wonder how many of the two starting XIs will still be playing then? I must also profess that I am a little disappointed in the way England played in this series. Certainly you can only play as well as the opposition allow, but that does not explain why so many catches were dropped or why Stuart Broad was so down on pace. If England return to their best, then I think we can beat India this Autumn. We will just have to look forward and content ourselves with that goal.

  • on August 21, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    @thalalara we have beaten australia in 2008, the last time we toured there. so thats not something we haven'y achieved. we won that epic series 2-1. would never forget the aussie crowd giving a standing ovasion to smith who came to bat with a broken hand in the last test match when 9 sa wickets fell and almost saved the game for south africa , only 10 balls were left. but that occassion talked a lot about biff and his character. smith has taken south africa a long long way from 2003 when he became a young captain under tough times for sa. look at him now and the team. we are here to rule world cricket for sometime now. sa forever

  • sk12 on August 21, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    Dont worry Eng.. you'll have a much easier battle when you come here in Nov, much weaker bowling and an inexperienced untested batting. But make sure you somehow put up with Pieterson and include him instead of Bell. Question - Can Eng regain the No 1 if they win in India (like 2-1) ?