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June 11, 2009
Bad omen of the day
Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright have very different approaches to top-order biffing. One is all culture, the other agriculture, but between them they've managed to provide England with something resembling a platform in the competition so far. Today, however, it all went wrong with disturbing predictability. Bopara was suckered by Dale Steyn's slower ball and chopped onto his stumps; Wright whooshed with woolly abandon at anything outside off, and eventually feathered his sixth delivery to the keeper. Two wickets down inside two overs. Whoops.
Catch of the day
And yet, incredibly, salvation seemed to come striding out of the pavilion. There are some days when it's hard to see how Kevin Pietersen can possibly be stopped. This was shaping up as one of them. He flicked his first ball dismissively through midwicket, then drove his second crisply down the ground, before welcoming Jacques Kallis with two more fours in his first over of the match. By the end of the fifth over Pietersen had scored 19 of England's 25 runs, with the promise of many, many more. But then, up popped Roelof van der Merwe at mid-on, stretching in mid-air to intercept a scuffed drive off a low full-toss, and England's momentum was never able to recover.
Over of the day
Over of the tournament, for that matter. In the sixth over of the 14th match, and with some 450 overs already delivered since last Friday's curtain-raiser, Albie Morkel put a seal on England's Powerplays by sending down the first maiden of the tournament. Having extracted Pietersen with his second delivery, Morkel merely pitched it up and invited the new batsman, Paul Collingwood, to bosh him back over the top. Unsurprisingly, Collingwood declined, and chose instead to get his eye in, as England dribbled to 25 for 3 after six overs - the lowest Powerplay total of any side so far.
Bowler of the day
By rights that honour should have gone to Morkel, but Graeme Smith obviously saw something amiss in his six deliveries, because he was promptly retired to the outfield with the improbable analysis of 1-1-0-1. Instead it was over to Wayne Parnell to destroy England. In one delivery shy of a full quota, he claimed 3 for 14, including two timber-rattlers in consecutive deliveries to end the aspirations of Stuart Broad and James Anderson. In 24 deliveries (including one wide) he conceded a solitary boundary, and that too would have been caught on the rope had Smith had an extra metre in which to operate. Zipped down from a great height onto a full length, and from an unfamiliar left-arm line, it was unplayably effective stuff.
Ignominy of the day
As if being bowled out inside 20 overs wasn't embarrassing enough, England achieved a raft of lows in their pitiful batting performance - their score of 111 was the lowest first-innings total in the tournament so far (not including Scotland's seven-over slog against New Zealand last week), and England's worst effort in 18 T20Is dating back to June 2005. Perhaps the single most damning indictment of their efforts, however, came down at Taunton, where England's women were set a target of 112 for victory against India … and achieved it with ten wickets and 26 balls to spare.
False dawn of the day
In reply, England opened up with Dimitri Mascarenhas, and - shock horror! - South Africa were briefly becalmed. His first five deliveries were all patted back by Smith, giving rise to the prospect of a second maiden in as many innings. That was scotched when Smith worked the final delivery to square leg for a single, but nevertheless, England appeared to be putting up a fight, especially when Smith went cheaply in Broad's first over. But then, inexorably, the South African machine, aka Jacques Kallis, ground into motion. And nothing in his path stood a chance.
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