I am going to look at a few things that have caught my eye. Some obvious some less so. All important issues. I want to look at Pietersen.. obviously, Strauss, Bresnan, South Africa’s extra’s problem AB De Villiers and Prior
Politics of Pietersen
Pietersen has gone from the much loved and brilliant talented innovative master batsmen smashing Morkel around the ground to a universally confusing and even disliked figure. His clear brilliance and talent is being used as a bargaining chip one feels. He knows England ideally want him in the side so his outrageous and selfish demands are being used to get his way hoping the ECB will fold
No man is bigger than the side. He has said he wants to play all forms? Then fine. But if his constantly scattered and changing views are getting in the way of the interests of the side irrelevant of the talent he has, then he should go. Obviously we are all dazzled by his sheer talent, but if he is not going to be a force for good, what other choice does the ECB have? I’m Pietersen’s biggest fan when on the field. He needs to learn some respect and manners to his colleagues but more importantly to the game, Texting opposition players and bitching about your captain and coach is not ‘banter’ as he so amiably put it, it is really rude and uncalled for.
South Africa giving ‘EXTRA’ help
At the Oval South Africa conceded 43 extras in the first innings (b 2, lb 24, w 3, nb 14) and 39 in the second innings (b 11, lb 15, w 1, nb 12). This is compared to England who conceded 13 extras in 189 painful overs (b 5, lb 4, w 2, nb 2). A stark difference and a clear problem for the Proteas.
At Headingley South Africa conceded 49 extras (b 7, lb 17, w 14, nb 11) in the first innings, and even in 33 overs of England’s shortish 2nd innings there were 10 extras (lb 8, w 1, nb 1). England conceded 11 extras in the first innings, all byes or leg byes and just three in the second innings.
Perhaps in the context of the series this isn’t so important, but i feel it is something really annoying that simply shouldn’t happen in International cricket. If South Africa are going to get to the top of the world, they must start to improve.
England have bowled a lot more overs than South Africa yet conceded less so these Extras are not from fatigue, they are from a mixture of indiscipline and poor fielding to an extent. Tahir bowled 8 no balls in England’s first innings of the second test, which is ludicrous for a spinner. There is not a settled keeper and slip cordon. Too many are passing through, too much hesitation and indecision between the keeper and the slips.
Strauss once more showed his clear inability to play against a genuinely quality attack. He may have over 650 runs at an average of 43 in 2012 but this included two hundreds vs a lackluster West Indies side. He is becoming a little bit of a bunny for most teams. An easy top order scalp. Whereas De Villiers, the 3rd best ranked batsmen in the world has so far scored 47 and 44 in the series and therefore failed to kick on, he has the quality to recover. On the other hand, Strauss this series has 0, 27 , 37 and 22. He is incapable of getting through a start against a solid team and kicking on to get a fifty or a hundred against a side that has worked him out. Many of the England players have flaws but they can work through them. Strauss doesn’t seem to be able to.
May i just remind everyone that the last two South African tours have resulted in captains resigning. Strauss has become so unimaginative and defensive not to mention slightly dried up with the runs, that there is some serious pressure on him for the first time in a long time. Perhaps not since his career saving knock down in New Zealand has he been under such pressure.
Bresnan’s Test match credential’s up for debate
It is time to re think this ‘allrounder’ status we give to Bresnan. So far in 2012 he has scored 81 runs in 6 innings with a strike rate of just over 30 runs per hundred balls. If he is picked as some kind of all rounder that can dash it around, he isn’t succeeding. He certainly isn’t impressing with the ball either and that is his main trade. In 6 Tests he has 16 wickets at 46.56. He is behind even Monty Panesar in the wickets column. Hugely unimpressive ‘all-rounder’ stats. I would take Graeme Swann on a flat wicket over Tim Bresnan on a helpful wicket any day.
Prior’s reliable brilliance, aggression and complete selflessness
At the Oval Prior scored 60 and 40 and in this Headingley game got 68. He is by far the most talented and skillful batsmen keeper in the world averaging 42. He has been pretty faultless behind the stumps despite a few minor blips with England’s fielding including some terrible dropped catches from Cook and Anderson. Prior at 7 is in that Gilchrist mold of reliable but aggressive. The last thing you want to see walking out when a team is in a strong position.
Prior will become even more invaluable to the side now that KP has been booted out for a bit, and Taylor and Bairstow (if they both play) are the middle order. His runs will be like gold dust.