A number of bold and arguably wreckless decisions have put England in a weak position at the end of the first innings.The toss being won by Andrew Strauss and opting to bowl was, i thought slightly risky yet not a disaster. England had had just come off the back of 3 days in the field facing 600 odd for 2 declared. Clearly the England bowlers do not have a bucket of wickets to their name in this series.
South Africa after being inserted into bat were 419 all out with a gritty and anchor-like century from Petersen. He went in to the innings a little bit as an underdog that was unknown and certainly not the focus of the South African batting lineup. He was still batting by tea on day two.
This decision was even more bemusing after hearing the decision to leave out the best spinner in the world. Graeme Swann’s exclusion reinforced my frustration at the initial decision to bowl first. I felt like it was Ricky Ponting at Edgbaston 2005 all over again after McGrath not fit for play. It just didn’t make sense to chose to bowl when you have just been hammered and you are leaving out the best spinner.
Economy wise Anderson went at 1.83 an over and Broad went at 2.74 and therefore kept a lid on the runs to an extent. Bresnan went at 3.62 an over and Finn went at 3.68 an over. The overall innings run rate was exactly 3 an over therefore although Strauss had 2 bowlers he could use economically they cannot bowl all day. Two would slightly let him down. Sometimes which is often OK if you are taking wickets
Jimmy Anderson was as ever, reliable and disciplined. He bowled 33.2 overs including 10 maidens going for 61 runs and taking 2wickets but going at a very economical and steady 1.83 economy rate. Below is the iconic image for Anderson though. Alistair Cook of course, dropping Alviro Peterson on just 29 and he went on to make 182.
I certainly got the impression England had good plans for Kallis, Amla, De Villiers and Smith and rather hoped that Petersen, Rudolph and Duminy would just be got out somehow. They were seen as the side dish as opposed to the main meal. The drop cost over over 150 runs
Broad bowled 35 overs and as a return had 3-96. Once again slow, maintaining regular pace of very low 80’s and high seventies. I felt Broad bowled far too short bearing in mind he was consistently hanging around low 80’s. Short balls are supposed to be used as surprise balls not stock balls. Petersen’s signature shot against Broad was his Pull stroke which one felt he had an absolute age to play. He exploited the lack of conviction of the bowlers bowling to him and made them pay.
Finn bowled aggressively i thought. He had an unfortunate problem in the sense he keeps running ‘through’ the stumps. The umpire at one point decided after a chat with Graeme Smith to start calling his regular deliveries where he accidentally hit the stumps as dead balls. ut of all the bowlers on show, he was the only one to go for over a hundred. he bowled 32 overs for 118, taking two wickets (one being the nightwatchman Steyn). Broad went for 96, Anderson a miserly 61 and Bresnan 98. I was disappointing with finn.
England’s 3rd bowler was Bresnan who reeled off 27 overs and went for 98 runs taking the important wicket of Smith and affecting the run out of the bearded batsmen that tormented England at the Oval, Amla. Bresnan i just feel is a bit of a nothing bowler. he is a decent All rounder cricketer but not outstanding at anything. He occasionally reverse swings the ball.. has a decent bouncer, but does not bowl excessively fast, dosn’t swing or seam it. He just has a nack of taking useful wickets.
Too often pressure was built up and then at the crucial time the wrong bowler was brought on and it was released. Really not impressed with Strauss’s captaincy in these two tests. Unimaginative, uninspiring and toothless. He is not making anything happening and is relying on mistakes.
Nearing the start of the innings, Strauss’s fields were not attacking enough having a man out on the boundary in addition to only having 2 slips. He failed to keep lower order or tail-end batsmen on strike nearing the end of the innings. Most bemuzingly, he didn’t give Anderson the second new ball. I hope Strauss and cook continue their fluent partnership on Saturday morning though.
To conclude i think it’s fair to say that the England bowlers were slightly in disciplined but not as much as they were at the oval. The gaping hole left by Swann was obvious as the run rate was controlled by South Africa not England’s bowlers. They needed to have some more pressure held up by economic bowling. This can really only be done by better lines and lengths