Category Archives: Sport

Captain Sammy – Part of the solution or the problem?

Darren Sammy has plugged the West Indies problems as a captain for some time. Whereas he has been relinquished from his limited overs captaincy, his captaincy at Test level has stabilised the West Indies side much like Misbah Ul Haq’s has for Pakistan, but unlike Misbah; Sammy’s role is not worth the drama it causes. He is not there on merit and it’s time the West Indies stopped wasting a place in their side, and gracefully said thank you, and progressed on in Test Cricket.

Turning back the clocks, the appointment of Darren Sammy as captain came after a host of catastrophes. West Indies captains came and went almost as often as Australian off spinners, as both board troubles and internal disputes meant that the likes of Chris Gayle, Ramranesh Sarwan, Dwayne Bravo and others, had short unsuccessful stints as captains. Sammy has won nearly a third of his Tests, despite a thoroughly mediocre individual record, but undoubtably, the fact that he was barely selected before captaincy, indicates why he is in this side.

Selection to captain is a dangerous and wasteful tactic. Mike Brearley is the obvious case, whereby the team recognised his value as a captain, regardless of his ineptitude at Test level as a batsman. But, he was successful, captaining England in 31 of his 39 Test matches, winning 17 and losing only 4. Because he had a clear role, and excelled, the team was willing to carry him.

Sammy has had remarkably little impact with bat or ball, and is unable to lead from the front, yet, out of his 35 Tests, 29 have been as captain, and there have been eight wins within those nine, which is considerable bearing in mind the West Indies terminal decline in recent years. His tenure has included a T20 World cup win also, which crowned the West Indies resurgence. He is a significant part of recent success in limited overs cricket, and certainly represents a scrappy and hardworking attitude, but he is certainly not selection on merit for Test cricket. Nobody doubts his limited overs use.

With the bat, an average of just 21.96 is entirely pedestrian, even at number eight. His first class average of just 23.95, suggests that this Test average is not doing him a dis-service; as he is not a genuine allrounder. Out of his one Test century and five fifties, four fifties have come against Bangladesh Zimbabwe and New Zealand, which are lower ranked sides.

With the ball, his meagre average of 36.01 highlights his mediocrity. Nibbly medium pace, gives the same impression as with the bat; that his position as an ‘allrounder’ encompasses minimal on field value. He barely breaks the 80 miles an hour barrier; which although at times has been ‘steady’, is impotent.

Sammy acknowledges “that my role is to build pressure and be the workhorse of the team”, according to ESPN Cricinfo. The West Indies have so many options, and wicket taking options at that, that it feels like such a waste to continuously select a workhorse, when a bowler that bowls upwards of 90mph, or a recognised world class spinner is forgone. Fidel Edwards, Ravi Rampaul, Jerome Taylor, Shannon Gabriel, and Sunil Narine sit on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity, whilst Sammy impotently probes.

He has done a stellar job given the enormity of the challenge that encompasses the West Indies captaincy. But, he prevents penetrative bowling in the present, and prevents development and gelling of the team in the long term, because realistically, he is holding the job until a more permanent fixture emerges.

His ordinariness as a cricketer does not compensate for his full heart, nor his steady captaincy or workhorse-like attitude. He is not Misbah, because he is not time and time again saving his team. He is perpetuating its insecurity, and it can’t go on like this If the West Indies are a serious Test team.

But is there a better option to captain?

Surely the West Indies have a potential captain that could contribute to the team, and maintain some degree of stability. The West Indies has a number of potential captains, although none of them tactically as strong as Sammy. The obvious options that spring to mind would be senior or established players such as; Dwayne Bravo, who is now the ODI captain. Perhaps Marlon Samuels, although he has been known to have an uncontrollable and often overconfident attitude, which may be a liability. Or Denesh Ramdin, who is the wicketkeeper, and captain of Trinidad and Tobago.

Alternatively, The West Indies could adopt an entirely new captain, such as Kieron Pollard who has recently snuck into the Test squad against New Zealand, after a period of being a limited overs specialist.

It is clear that there are relatively limited stocks of captaincy talent within the West Indies domestic competition, as captaincy in the day four format, is dominated by very experienced, such as Ryan Hinds (Barbados) and Assad Fudadin (Guyana), the weak, such as Jamaica’s Tamar Lambert, or the numerous aforementioned National players who also captain their domestic side.

There is an exhaustion of options, and it would seam a potential new captain would be Dwayne Bravo or wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin, as both are permanent fixtures in the side, and have captaincy pedigree.

Yes, he has captained well, and has been a part of the solution to a greater problem, but he seems to be a part of the problem, far more so than the solution. He encapsulates the West Indies.

Fighting with themselves before they can fight the opposition. Whilst the removal of Sammy may prove difficult in terms of captaincy, having a complete team, with nobody being carried will surely aid long term success in the Test Format.

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Ramprakash To Coach Middlesex

Mark Ramprakash is to join up with his ex county Middlesex, as a batting coach. The former Middlesex, Surrey and England International batsmen has a wealth of knowledge of the game, of batting and of Lords and should help Middlesex greatly.

Mark Ramprakash in his Surrey gear

Mark Ramprakash in his Surrey gear

Mark Ramprakash finished his first class career in 2012 with 35659 runs, 114 centuries and an incredible 147 fifties. He was the stalwart of Surrey’s middle order for much of the last 5 years, and had a strong career at both Surrey (12 years) and before moving to Surrey he spent 14 years at Middlesex.

Middlesex have a lot of young batsmen emerging that will benefit greatly from the knowledge and expertise of such a domestic champion. Mark Ramprakash said  “Middlesex is the club that gave me the chance to achieve what I have in cricket and I am delighted to be able to return to work with and help the current and next generation of Middlesex cricketers. I am excited by the talent in the current crop of players and look forward to contributing to the club.”

Some of the young talents that Ramprakash such as Joe Denly, Paul Sterling, Dawid Malan, John Simpson and Sam Robson, who are all potentially really good players for the county in the coming season having , and some of course will also have International ambitions.

This is a positive move for Middlesex  bringing in a familiar yet experienced batting coach, fresh from  ending his career and therefore still in touch with the game and holding recent experience.

West Indies Team Preview – T20 World Cup

West Indies 15 man squad:  D. Sammy (c), Dwayne. Bravo (v/c), S. Badree, Darren. Bravo, J. Charles, F. Edwards, C. Gayle, K. Pollard, S. Narine, D. Ramdin (wkt), R. Rampaul, A. Russell, M. Samuels, L. Simmons, D. Smith

The West Indies have a genuine front line chance of winning this. They are not really underdogs at all. They have powerhouse batting lineup with IPL stars and the best bowler in the IPL who recieved the player of the tournament. The likes of Pollard, Samuels, and the Bravos back up the powerful Gayle and his probable partner Simmons or Smith.

T20 World cup record :  P:13  W:6   WIn % : 46.15%  L:7   NR/T:0

Best performance: Semi finals 2009

With the bat:

Chris Gayle is the obvious star man. He has a SR of 143.91 with 7 fifties, 1 ton and 67 sixes. He holds the most runs for the WI in T20 Internationals and also the most T20 International 50’S for them. Gayle’s 2012 IPL stats are also daunting with 733 runs (the most),  59 sixes  (the most). and plenty of hundreds.

Brutal Chris Gayle bashes the opposition away

Dwayne Bravo  provides big hitting and a SR of 130.19. He has  3 fifties and  22 sixes. He is a swashbuckling right handed all rounder  who will be invaluable both with bat and ball. In a potentially very unstable unit capable of special things  he could be the glue. His Brother may not play all the games with spaces in the side hard to get, but his brother has the Brian Lara flair about him. Not to the same extent or ability, but he is also a special player in tests and ODI at least.

Marlon Samuels has had an incredible breakthrough year batting his career back on the road to success. He has been successful in Tests and T20 but not so successful in the IPL or in International T20. If his good form continues he could be devastating. However, if he fails the middle order could quickly collapse.

Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard are two allrounders that will also offer some huge six hitting power and useful medium pace. Pollard is definitely a hot and cold batsmen. Either he goes crazy or he gets a duck, but he can make some of Chris Gayle’s hits look like lobs sometimes. He hits it seriously hard and long. Smith also a big hitter with English county experience.

Kieron Pollard can hit a very long ball

With the ball – Seamers:

Darren Sammy will use accuracy and variation such as slower balls, cutters and swing ( 31 wickets at 17.48 average.) He isn’t fast but is useful in T20 because of his control and variations.

Ravi Rampaull (18 International T20 wickets) bowls disciplined lines and lengths and can swing the ball. Good to both left and right handers he is steady but not too threatening.

Fidel Edwards will provide the pace and bounce but can be inconsistent, regularly leaking runs and bowling extra’s. On Sri Lankan pitches it might be very unforgiving.

With the ball – Spinner:

Sunil Narine – Domestic T20 average of 13.58 which is exceptional. He was player of the tournament in the IPL 2012 with 24 wickets at an average of 13.50. He maintains a very low economy of 5.47 and a low average indicating simply that he takes wickets and gives control to the captain. He is surely the man to watch. He can however only bowl 4 overs a match so someone else needs to stand up and help.

Sunil Narine – Player of the tournament in the IPL for the KKR

Cool head:

Darren Sammy – Captain, steady bowler and useful lower order striker. Under his captaincy in 2012 the West Indies beat NZ in a test series in addition to  5 ODI wins out of a possible 7 and  2 T20Is wins out of 3 . He has handled the side well and makes useful contributions. The only possible issue is that the side carry him a little bit. His place is not there on merit entirely, there are certainly better bowlers than him around.

Possible flaw: 

West Indies are a very Batting heavy side. Gayle, Smith Pollard Dwayne and Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels pack the batting line-up but apart from Sunil Narine there is limited bowling stocks. Sammy is not so much threatening but steady. Rampaull accurate but not dangerous and Edwards offers pace but is often wayward.

Prospects:

The West Indies need big scores from their powerhouse batting lineup. Batting is their strength. If they can do this with the likes of Narine, Rampaull and Edwards in the bowling stocks, there is no reason why they cannot win the tournament. They should cruise past Ireland to join the Aussies in the semi’s. I wouldn’t put it past them to defeat the Aussies. The issue for them is an over reliance on their enigmatic opener Gayle and their slightly light bowling stocks.

Australia Team preview – T20 World Cup

Australia 15 man squad: G. Bailey (capt), S. Watson (vc), D. Christian, P. Cummins, X. Doherty, B. Hilfenhaus, B. Hogg, D. Hussey, M. Hussey, G. Maxwell, C. McKay, M. Starc, M. Wade, D. Warner, C. White.

Australia are traditionally a side that refuse to give up. Until the umpire calls the game to an end they fight to win it. They dig in, they are gritty and hard working, tight knit and high class. They may not have the players of the past but they are still playing high quality cricket. They need their inexperienced seamers to fire if they are to win.

T20 World cup record :  P15 : W:9   Win %: 60% , L: 6   NR/T:0

Best performance: Runners up in 2010

With the bat :

Watson  has a SR of 152, with 7 fifties and 43 sixes which is 3rd on overall list. He offers a reliable start and has shown ability to play very well especially straight. His runs are invaluable before the experienced Husseys anchor the innings later.

Watson in the IPL

David Warner has a SR of 140.35 with 6 fifties, and 38 sixes which is 5th on overall list. He will be Watson’s opening partner and is capable of big hitting all around the ground. He does occasionally give it away so could be an early wicket and teams will target this. He is a seriously explosive player though and can take any side apart on his day. Look out in the crowd !

David Hussey: Has a SR of 112 , 3 Fifties, and 33 Sixes. He is experienced. Perhaps not what he used to be, but still a very solid middle overs batsmen. His Brother Michael Hussey is obviously also a very high class batsmen especially in pressure situations. David Hussey has struggled in the sub C against spin occasionally.

With the ball  – Seamers:

Starc is a Left arm fast bowler that has taken 13 wickets in the Big Bash and 22 wickets in the English T20 league (the most). He is the ‘next big thing’ of Australian cricket for many. If he turns up for Australia in the same way he has domestically then he could be really special.

Clint Mckay could be the control that Bailey needs. He has limited T20 experience but is a fine line and length bowler. He is disciplined and able to vary his pace. He could be the control that Bailey has.. If he plays. Hilfenhaus is also a good experienced line and length bowler

Pat Cummins is a 19 year old injury prone, quick right arm fast bowler. He can move the ball at pace. If he stays fit he could be an exciting prospect. He is relatively unknown as he is so young and has not played a huge amount of cricket. He is in somewhat of a battle with James Pattinson for the fast bowling spot in the test side.

Pat Cummins at Lords, impressed

With the ball – Spin:

Hogg, Left arm Chinaman – Now past forty years old has come out of retirement and collected 13 wickets in the big bash. He averaged 18. He is unorthodox to many as left arm Chinaman is not a common trade. He could collect some wickets with his flight and variations, especially his lethal flipper and googly. In Sri Lanka a good spinner is vital so Australia need him to fire as Doherty is not a big spinner of the ball if he also plays. I expect Hogg to be the front line spinner.

Cool head:  Michael Hussey – Experienced in all forms of the game. He has performed in test matches, County cricket in Australia and England, One day cricket, T20, IPL, Big bash spin and seam bounce and no bounce. He has done it everywhere from opening to finishing an innings, he is calm  under pressure. He can take his side from a nervy chase put them in strong position from difficulty. If he is solid Australia are fine.

Possible flaw:

Lack of experience in T20: The absence of Michael Clarke will be a hit. George Bailey’s captaincy and batting is also relatively unknown and  arguably weak so it could be a challenge holding his side together to win it. Australia’s leading experienced T20 bowlers i.e. Tait, Lee and Nannes are all absent so the new crop of Hilfenhaus, Starc, Cummins McKay, Maxwell Christian and Doherty have to step up. Despite limited amounts of T20I cricket, they have showed promise in the One day format.

Overall prospect:

Never underestimate the Aussies. The West Indies are their main threat but I expect Australia to beat Ireland to the super eights. They are a strong, gritty and hard working side. Often a tight bowling unit with capable big hitters. They could be the surprise package in the tournament with a relatively unknown side. The likes of Maxwell, Starc, and Christian have all done well domestically and will need to transfer this form over.

Politics of Pietersen

An England side with KP is undeniably a better side than one without him. However, it is important to look at how and why the events that have unfolded have placed him in his current ridiculous and almost entirely self made predicament. I will look at the timeline of events in the ‘Pietersen VS ECB’ fiasco to appreciate the lunacy of the situation and explain why after reading lots of articles and watching lots of interviews. It’s the only possible outcome to see him unfortunately dropped.

The debacle began on the 31st May when Pietersen out of the blue decided to announce he has retired from ODI cricket, citing the “intensity of the schedule”. Shortly after this KP says he will carry on playing T20, which was not an option as the ECB reject this due their  policy on selection. A player must be available for both ODI and T20I in order to play either. It is totally irrelevant that this is an arbitrary and pointless policy,the fact is, that is the policy and Pietersen  thought he could take the ECB on and failed .

The second installment in this soap opera came between the 13th -18th July  when Pietersen hit a brilliant double hundred in a rare appearance for Surrey. He used this as a platform to show his talent that could be missed, but after not being named in the ECB’s provisional 30-man squad for the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka he is devastated. He back-peddles and tries to get his foot back in the door but states he ‘would only play on the condition that scheduling issues are addressed.” He reasserts his desire to play “in all formats” and simultaneously says he wants scheduling changes which one can only assume are loaded with more retirement threats if not met. Utterly confusing and unstable for the team

Not only is this a not consistent with the ECB central contract regarding availability for all forms but is also completely incompatible. Either he wants to have a break from the schedule or he doesn’t. He can’t ask for a break and go to play more. What else could the ECB do other than say stop trying to dictate to us and assert their authority ?

Pietersen’s magnificent 200 for Surrey

Part three came between the 4th -6th August  with Pietersen’s most dynamic stunning and match saving knock of 149 on day three of the second Test match against South Africa at Headingley. Clearly still seen as stable enough to pick and comfortable enough to perform. Despite this, It was a very obvious nudge in the stomach to the selectors. ‘Pick me or you will will miss this’ kind of knock. The fact is the ECB could have already dropped him but didn’t. They were lenient and although Pietersen’ts antics were unsettling thus far, it’s clear that his talent was still more important than his silly comments and outrageous demands.

Part four  – After opening the batting in a short attempted run chase in the aftermath of his breath taking century, Pietersen gave a inexplicable interview to TMS. He hinted that he could retire from Test cricket  and ‘he could not confirm whether that innings would be his ‘last test innings’’. He voiced his anger that details of his meetings with the ECB have been leaked to the media and said issues within the dressing room need resolving. KP being abrasive and aggressive selfish and egotistical were completely centered around his own interest. He is clearly now harming the balance of the side by personalizing the fiasco, talking about the dressing room outside of the game. His hundred is one thing but his comments are another

Between the 8th-16th  August, after his ton and comments he had a rant about a parody Twitter account – @kevpietersen24. This humorous mocking incident was overshadowed by the subsequent revelation.  Texts   to members of the South African team during the Leeds Test by Pietersen had purportedly spoken ill of captain Strauss and coach Flower. Despite his talent with the bat and form he was in, it would be inexcusable to keep him in the side until the exact details of the messages were revealed and there was clarity over his England future.

KP clawed back dignity when he published a video on YouTube on the 11th of August  in which he reiterates commitment to the England team. He once more changes his mind and claims that he is now available to play for England in all three forms of the game. He also apologized for his behavior and says he must reign himself in.

Between the 12th -14th August  the apology and confirmation of commitment (which was not cleared by the ECB) still led to him being  dropped from the England squad for the third Test at Lord’s.

I know a lot of people such as Piers Morgan looked past his antics and said pick him anyway but The ECB were clear and justified with their dropping of KP. They say he was ‘unable to clarify that the text messages he sent to South African players were not disparaging about his team-mates or the ECB management’. This is a fair reason both due to upsetting other members of the dressing room and the chemistry of the side. Furthermore when the captain says he feels ‘let down’ and  the ECB say there is a ‘trust issue between Pietersen and other players’ the day before a test there is no way he can play. Regardless of his obvious natural class, Pietersen cannot find a way back.

Pietersen walking off at Headingley unknowing of the drama to unfold

Pietersen called a press conference in whcih he apologizes but essentially he had still put himself in an awful situation. The conference was largely saying how he would reveal more after the 3rd test. Little did he know by that point that  the only real option the ECB have was to drop him. He had done just about everything that a player should be dropped for. He has retired and unretired on the basis of personal gain, Slagged off players and coaches in addition to being dis loyal to England wanting to quit international cricket to play IPL.

He has said he will reign himself in. If he does then fine. Get him back. Until that he needs to cool down. I’m sure sooner or later England will need him again and this could be short lived anyway

ICC Awards Nominations + My predictions

LG ICC Awards 2012 Nominations for the following awards have been selected. I have outlined these nominations and i have said who i think will win the award. Please feel free to disagree and say what you think. Debate is always welcome !

Here are the awards up for grabs

– Cricketer of the Year (Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy)  – Test Cricketer of the Year – Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year –  Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year – Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year – Emerging Cricketer of the Year – Associate and Affiliate Cricketer of the Year –  Men’s Twenty20 International Performance of the Year –  Spirit of Cricket Award –  Umpire of the Year (David Shepherd Trophy) – LG People’s Choice Award (which you can vote on yourself) and to top the awards off Composite  TEST XI and ODI XI will also be picked by the ICC.

A full list of nominations has been compiled and i have included my composite Test and ODI side.

Read and comment on anything you disagree with ! Select your own choices

LG ICC Awards 2012 Nominations

ICC Cricketer of the Year (Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy)

Ajmal (Pak) , Amla (SA) , Broad (Eng) , Clarke (Aus) , Cook (Eng) , Kohli (Ind) , Philander (SA)  Sangakkara (SL)  Stafanie Taylor (WI)

My  choices – Ajmal and AMla

ICC Test Cricketer of the Year
Ajmal (Pak),  Amla (SA),  Broad (Eng),  Chanderpaul (WI), Clarke (Aus) , Cook (Eng)
, Kallis (SA) , Philander (SA) , Prior (Eng) , Samuels (WI) , Sangakkara (SL) , Steyn (SA) and  AB de Villiers (SA)
My  choice  – Samuels and Ajmal

ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year
Afridi (Pak), Ajmal (Pak), Clarke (Aus) , Cook (Eng) , MS Dhoni (Ind)
,Finn (Eng) , Gambhir (Ind) , Shakib Al Hasan (Bang) , Kohli (Ind) , Malinga (SL)
McCullum (NZ) , Morkel (SA) , Narine (WI), Sangakkara (SL)
Taylor (Zim)  and Watson (Aus)

My choice  – Kohli and Narine

ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year
Cameron (Aus) , Daley (WI) , Greenaway (Eng) , Mohammed (WI)
,Raj (Ind)  ,Taylor (Eng) and Taylor (WI)

My choice Taylor and Greenaway

ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year
Cameron (Aus)  ,Daley (WI)  ,Healy (Aus) , Mohammed (WI) , Raj (Ind) , Sthalekar (Aus)  ,Taylor (Eng)  and Taylor (WI)

My  choice  Taylor and Raj

ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year
Boult (NZ) , Bracewell (NZ) , Chandimal (SL) , Cummins (Aus) , Hossain (Bang) , Khan (Pak) , Lyon (Aus) ,Mawoyo (Zim) , Narine (WI) , Pattinson (Aus) , Thirimanne (SL) , Wade (Aus)

My  choice – Junaid and Narine

ICC Associate and Affiliate Cricketer of the Year
Anwar (UAE)  ,Borren (Neth)  ,Dockrell (Ire) Johnston (Ire)  ,Joyce (Ire)  ,Mooney (Ire)  ,K. O’Brien (Ire) ,Patel (Can), Stirling (Ire) , Zadran (Afg)

My  choice  – Sterling and Dockrell

ICC Men’s Twenty20 International Performance of the Year
– Bopara (Eng) -4-10  v W. Indies, The Oval, 23/9 2011
– Dilshan (SL) – 104no (57b, 12×4, 5×6) v Aus, Pallekele, 6 August 2011
– Gayle (WI) – 85no (52b, 7×4, 5×6) v New Zealand, Lauderhill, 30 June 2012
– Guptill (NZ) – 91no (54b, 5×4, 6×6) v Zimbabwe, Auckland, 11 February 2012
– Hafeez (Pak) – 2.2-0-10-4 v Zimbabwe, Harare, 16 September 2011
– Hales (Eng) – 99 (68b, 6×4, 4×6) v West Indies, Nottingham, 24 June 2012
– Levi (SA) – 117no (51b, 5×4. 13×6) v New Zealand, Auckland, 22 February 2012
– McCullum (NZ) – 81no (46b, 5×4, 6×6) v Zimbabwe, Harare, 15 October 2011
– Mendis (SL) – 4-1-16-6 v Australia, Pallekele, 8 August 2011
– Narine (WI) – 4-0-12-4 v New Zealand, Lauderhill, 1 July 2012
– Sunny (Bang) – 4-1-13-5 v Ireland, Belfast, 18 July 2012

My  choice – Hales 99 and Levi 117 NO

ICC Spirit of Cricket Award
Hafeez (Pak) , Kallis (SA) , Pollard (WI) , Vettori (NZ) , AB de Villiers (SA)

My  choice –  Ermm.. No idea. Maybe AB ?

ICC Umpire of the Year (David Shepherd Trophy)
Bowden , Dar , Davis , Dharmasena , Doctrove , Erasmus , Gould , Hill , Kettleborough , Llong, Rauf, Taufel , Tucker

My  choice – Tauful and Dar

LG People’s Choice Award
Anderson (Eng) , Kallis (SA) , Philander (SA) , Sangakkara (SL)
Tendulkar (Ind)

My  choice  Sangakarra

My choice of Test and ODI Teams of the year also :

Test XI – Smith Cook Amla Sangakarra Clarke, Samuels Prior(WK) Broad Phillander Steyn Ajmal

ODI XI – Cook Gambhir Sangakkara Kohli Clarke Shakib Al Hasan, MS Dhoni (c/wk) Malinga Morkel Narine Ajmal 

2nd Test Review

The second Test match between England and South Africa went down to the final session of the final day, which in modern Test cricket is not hugely common. It clearly began with a questionable team and toss selection from England but rapidly became a match heading towards all 3 result being possible. Most cricket fans and writers i read on Twitter and in the media were saying it would end up a dead rubber, as tt ended up, but come the last session with wickets tumbling i wasn’t so sure.

South Africa and England were able to match each other more or less with England picking up a lead of just 6 in the first innings. Alviro Petersen’s 182 and Kevin Pietersen’s exhillerating 149 set up the possibility of a hard fought finale. The pitch being flat yet giving a little bit of seam movement and with clouds a permenant fixture for most the Test meant there was hope for bowlers, reinforced by the fact England went with an all seam attack therefore someone having an inkling that pace could be the key. Rain however effected playing time, the game seemed to be heading towards a draw.

The game meandered along on the fifth day but the tide turned before lunch as Pietersen got a wicket; that of South Africa’s skipper who fell on 123  with fifty two to his name. As a result of a few minor injuries, the slightly disrupted order proved to be something that limited fluency and acceleration.The Proteas never got going really. They fell from 123-1 to 182-3 after Kevin Pietersen followed up a thrilling first innings 149 with the bat, with 3 wickets with the ball.

Graeme Swann must have been bashing his head on the table watching the ball rip around Rudolph, Smith and Amla’s bats, wondering why he wasn’t playing. By the 51’st over Pietersen had bowled his way to 3-41 off eight overs. A fine display from a part time bowler.

Stuart Broad ripped the heart out of South Africa as he removed De Villiers LBW followed by Duminy the very next ball. Shortly after Kallis was bounced out with a brutal short ball and Phillander also LBW. This single spell left South Africa reeling, from 182-3  in the 51st over to 230-7 in the 61st over. He ended the innings getting Morkel caught which gifted him figures of 16.4 overs  2 Maidens 5- 69. A return to form indeed.

Broad’s 5-69 tore through South Africa and Gave England a chance

Smith pulled the plug and set England 253 runs to win in 39 possible overs. This target of 253 in 39 may seem do-able in a CB40 game, but with Test matches these so called ‘dead rubbers’, are so, because unlike limited overs cricket fielding restrictions do not exist and therefore there are more boundary riders. South Africa have a high quality pace attack which is difficult to hit anyway so If England went all out guns blazing, like South Africa tried near the end of their innings i think the only possible result would be lots of wickets.  With the exception of Pietersen the England players are aggressive by Test match standard but not much else, so i doubt they could have attacked for as long.

Strauss is a defensive captain arguably  but  I was pleasantly surprised despite being partially really unsure about how his next move would pay off.  Pietersen was promoted to open in a Test innings , which is not an everyday occurrence. However this was a sign England were going to ‘have a go’ at chasing over 6 an over even if only for a small period.

Initially KP  was double the rate smashing 12 off a wayward Morkel over. Once KP selflessly gave it away in the interests of the team, It became a bit of an self fulfilling prophecy for most England fans that this game would be a draw. The faint hopes Pietersen laid were short lived. England would not be going to hard at this total with Alistair Cook, Strauss, Trott and a debutant in the top 6. For the second match in a row Cook hit a six ( i hope this is not a sign of the apocalypse) in the process of hitting a lovely 46 off 70. Bell and Trott were both solid and Prior incredibly unlucky to be run out.

It was a good debut for James Taylor, who helped to maintain a solid partnership with Pietersen in a difficult period. He occupied the crease for nearly two hours and spent invaluable time with KP.