England v South Africa, Super Eights, Barbados April 17, 2007

England's old failings resurface



Andrew Hall ripped apart the England middle order, showing once again why he is so dangerous with the old ball © AFP

It was expected to be a needle game with plenty at stake, but it turned out to be one of the most one-sided matches of the tournament. England's batting has always been their Achilles heel throughout this tournament, and in the crunch game it failed them again.

As usual, the problem started right at the top, with the opening pair: apart from their century stand against Canada, England's openers have put together partnerships of 1, 12, 6, 1, 10, 7 and 9 - that's 46 runs in seven innings, an average of 6.57. Plenty has been said about Michael Vaughan's wretched form in this tournament, and he had another entirely forgettable game - he's now scored 130 runs from eight innings at an average of 16.25.

It was Vaughan's decision to bat after winning the toss, but the match-up at the start was always likely to be a bad one for England - Vaughan has struggled against Shaun Pollock's metronomic accuracy in both Tests and ODIs, and it was no different in this innings: Pollock conceded just two runs from the 20 deliveries he bowled to Vaughan, and that early exchange allowed Pollock to settle into an excellent rhythm, and ensured that South Africa took the early initiative, which they never let go. Though Pollock finished wicketless, he went for just 17 in ten overs in a spell which set the tone - it was his most economical ten-over spell in World Cups, and his sixth-most economical in all ODIs.

How Pollock has dominated Vaughan (since 2003)
Balls Runs Dismissals Average Runs per over
ODIs 99 39 2 19.50 2.36
Tests 367 91 5 18.20 1.48

If Pollock's domination of Vaughan was predictable, then so was England's collapse in the middle overs after a promising 58-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood. Throughout this tournament, England have managed to lose their way completely after threatening a challenging total: the table below lists how they have fared between the 31st and 40th overs in their five games against Test-playing teams - they average 34.6 runs for three wickets during this ten-over period, hardly the ideal launching pad going into the last ten overs of the innings.

England, between 31-40 overs in the World Cup
Versus After 30 overs After 40 overs Runs, wkts in 10-over period
New Zealand 112 for 3 145 for 7 33 for 4
Sri Lanka 132 for 2 183 for 4 51 for 2
Australia 166 for 3 196 for 5 30 for 2
Bangladesh 107 for 4 136 for 6 29 for 2
South Africa 104 for 3 134 for 8 30 for 5

All the South African bowlers did the job perfectly, but their star was undoubtedly Andrew Hall, whose late burst completely destroyed England. Cricinfo's pre-tournament analysis on South Africa had nailed Hall's ability to turn it on with the old ball, and here he proved it yet again. He had gone for just ten in his first five overs, but as the table below shows, the batsmen handled him relatively comfortably in that spell - their in-control factor against him was nearly 87%, which means they were beaten by only four of the 30 deliveries Hall bowled to them. In his last five overs, the in-control percent reduced dramatically to 56.67%.

Break-up of Hall's spell 10-2-18-5
Batsmen's in-control factor v Hall Hall's figures
First 5 overs 86.67% (26 out of 30) 5-2-10-0
Last five overs 56.67% (17 out of 30) 5-0-8-5

Hall's 5 for 18 are his best ODI figures, while these are also the best returns for a South African bowler against England, and in all World Cup matches. The only other South African bowler to take a five-for against England is Pollock - he took 5 for 20 against them at Johannesburg in 1999-2000. Lance Klusener's 5 for 21 against Kenya in 1999 were the earlier best figures by a South African bowler in World Cups.

Hall now has 93 wickets from 84 ODIs, while his World Cup stats have improved to 19 wickets in 11 games at an average of 20.78. Hall became the fifth South African bowler to take a five-for in World Cups - Klusener, Pollock, Andre Nel and Charl Langeveldt are the others. Interestingly, the three bowlers who have taken a five-for in this World Cup - Hall, Nel and Langeveldt - are all South African.

Other stats highlights

  • Jacques Kallis became the tenth batsman - and the first South African - to get to the 9000-run club in ODIs. (Click here for the list of highest run-getters in ODIs.)

  • Graeme Smith became the second batsman in this World Cup to score five fifty-plus scores - Scott Styris of New Zealand is the other. Smith is also only the fourth captain to score more than 400 runs in a single World Cup - Ricky Ponting achieved the feat in 2003 and 2007, while Sourav Ganguly (2003) and Martin Crowe (1992) are the other two captains.

  • Smith has smashed 55 fours in this tournament, which is the highest. Matthew Hayden is in second place with 52.