South Africa take the stats honours
It will go down in the record books as a drawn series, but South Africa will feel they should have sealed it after twice being denied victory by a single wicket. The numbers certainly point their way, with South Africa leading in almost all aspects - they scored 280 more runs than England, took six more wickets, struck three more centuries, and averaged 7.64 more runs per wicket. But England's last-ditch heroics denied South Africa successive series wins against England, keeping in tact the jinx: since South Africa's return to international cricket, neither team has won consecutive series against the other. In eight series during this period, South Africa have won three, England two, and three have been drawn.
|Team||Runs scored||Wkts taken||Bat ave||100s/ 50s||5WI/ 10WM|
|South Africa||2356||67||38.62||5/ 11||3/ 0|
|England||2076||61||30.98||2/ 12||3/ 0|
England recorded the only 450-plus total in the series - they scored 574 for 9 in Durban - but they were also by far the more inconsistent team, being bowled out for less than 300 three times, and escaping on two other occasions when they were nine down. Only three of their batsmen - Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell and Alastair Cook - averaged more than 30, compared to five South Africans - Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers.
For both teams, though, the opening partnership was an area of concern, lending further weight to the theory that South Africa is the toughest venue for openers. England's opening partnerships were patchy - four times the first wicket fell before ten - but Strauss and Cook did put together stands of 71 (in Durban) and 101 (in Cape Town). The South African pair of Smith and Ashwell Prince were worse - in seven innings their highest stand was 36, and the average stand a miserable 14.42. In fact, it was their worst returns for any wicket - their average partnerships for the ninth and tenth wickets yielded more runs.
The chief culprit was Prince, who scored less than 25% of the runs made by his opening partner. Smith led the way for South Africa in terms of runs and averages, but Prince brought up the rear (among specialist batsmen), managing only 97 runs despite scoring 45 in his first innings of the series; thereafter, he couldn't go beyond 19. Prince and JP Duminy (114 in seven innings) were easily the laggards in South Africa's batting line-up.
The partnership stats for South Africa indicate that the second-wicket pair was the strongest - Smith and Amla put together two century stands, including 230 in Cape Town. The lower order was held together superbly by Boucher and de Villiers - the average stands for the fifth, sixth and seventh wickets were all more than 40.
England were hurt by some of their top batsmen performing below par, the most glaring of whom were Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss - both averaged in the mid-20s, well below their career averages. Not surprisingly, their best partnerships came in the middle of their innings - of the six century stands in the series, four were for the fourth or sixth wicket. Collingwood, Bell and Cook - the only England batsmen to average more than 40 - were also the ones who were involved in two of those stands. The encouraging aspect was the determination shown by the lower order - the average stands for the ninth and tenth wickets were both more than 20.
|Wicket||SA - average||100/ 50 stands||Eng - average||100/ 50 stands|
|First||14.42||0/ 0||30.00||1/ 1|
|Second||75.00||2/ 1||25.57||0/ 1|
|Third||45.00||1/ 1||22.42||0/ 1|
|Fourth||27.71||0/ 2||62.85||2/ 0|
|Fifth||41.42||2/ 0||40.57||0/ 3|
|Sixth||54.00||1/ 2||43.85||2/ 0|
|Seventh||43.57||0/ 3||18.71||0/ 2|
|Eighth||27.00||0/ 0||16.57||0/ 0|
|Ninth||16.00||0/ 0||21.42||1/ 0|
|Tenth||19.00||0/ 1||25.50||0/ 0|
South Africa's pace attack was also more incisive than England's, while there wasn't much to choose between the two spin attacks despite Graeme Swann's sterling displays. Duminy flopped with the bat, but managed eight wickets at 21.12, which lifted South Africa's spin stats even though Paul Harris, their specialist spinner, was largely toothless.
|Team||Pace - wkts||Average||Strike rate||Spin - wkts||Average||Strike rate|
Morne Morkel was South Africa's leading wicket-taker, and Paul Collingwood was the only batsman who did well against him, averaging 63. Bell struggled against the steepling bounce, scoring only 33 runs from 119 balls, while the openers didn't fare well either.
Dale Steyn, the other half of South Africa's potent new-ball pair, too did well against everyone except Collingwood (statistically at least). He did everything but dismiss Collingwood in the second innings in Cape Town, but overall Collingwood managed 84 runs from 153 balls off Steyn and wasn't dismissed once.
England's main bowler was Swann, and the stat that is astonishing is his record against Ashwell Prince - he bowled five balls to him, and dismissed him three times without conceding a run. Duminy struggled against him, but Smith and Kallis weren't troubled too much.
Anderson feasted against the hapless Duminy and Prince too, but Boucher handled him much better, scoring 84 in 114 deliveries without being dismissed.
England might also want to look at their bowlers' lack of effectiveness against right-handers. Three of their four top bowlers had a much better average against left-handers, with only Stuart Broad bucking the trend - he dismissed right-handers ten times (including de Villiers four times, averaging 14.50 per dismissal) at an average of 28.10. Swann averaged less than 19 against left-handers, but conceded more than 40 per wicket against the righties.
For South Africa, Morkel was much better against lefties, but Steyn preferred bowling to right-hand batsmen, averaging 21 against them. Harris' lack of success against right-handers was a worry - despite his stock delivery turning into left-handers, his average against them was 20 runs lesser than his average against right-handers.
|Bowler||v Right - wkts||Average||v Left - wkts||Average|
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo