England vs South Africa 1st test preview

 

As the South Africans LOOK TO GAIN TOP SPOT on the world rankings one could be forgiven for thinking they are up against the blind school.
England seemed to be mucking about in the lead up to the most anticipated series of the year. South Africa, like England, also have a renowned pace attack and Strauss confirmed he was expecting a tough time.

“South Africa have a bowling line-up as good as anyone in the world and that’s a good challenge for us,” he said. Strauss is looking forward to playing against his fellow country men and enjoys the opportunity to chat in the local dialect something frowned upon in the dressing room when KP, Trotters, Prior and himself get going. The lads think we mocking them he insinuated when probed.

England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 Jacques Rudolph, 7 JP Duminy, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

The weather forecast is perfect English Summer weather – bet on a draw as we likely to lose vast amounts of time to the weather. 

It will be an interesting struggleand the players to watch are: 

Vernon Philander - averaging just 13 and some change in tests, already collected 50 wickets he is a danger man. 

Alistair Cook – Run machine and no signs of letting up, he will be seen as the corner stone of the top order

Matt Prior/John Trott – Keen to stick it to the Saffas these lads will be fighting with all they have to ensure Smithers and the boys know they made the right decision. 

Dale Steyn – Arguably the best bowler in the world, hasnt got much of a chance to pick up wickets as Vernon mops up the top order like its the tail.

Biggest disappointment: KP – lots of turmoil in the mans life as he resigns from the short format then changes his mind. The weather conditions and the SA bowlers will be too much for him to trouble the scorers in both innings. Will be lucky to make 25 in both innings combined.

 

Result: Draw


Cricket: South Africa vs England Fixtures 2012

July

6 South Africa arrive in England

9-10 v Somerset, Taunton (10:00 BST)

13-15 v Kent, Canterbury (11:00 BST)

19-23 1st Test, The Oval (11:00 BST)

27-28 v Worcestershire, Worcester (11:00 BST)

August

2-6 2nd Test, Headingley (11:00 BST)

10-11 v Derbyshire, Derby (11:00 BST)

12 ODI: Scotland v England, Edinburgh (10:45 BST)

16-20 3rd Test, Lord’s (11:00 BST)

22 v Gloucestershire, Bristol (50 overs) (10:15 BST)

24 1st ODI, Cardiff (10:15 BST)

28 2nd ODI, Southampton (d/n) (14:00 BST)

31 3rd ODI, The Oval (d/n) (14:00 BST)

September

2 4th ODI, Lord’s (10:15 BST)

5 5th ODI, Trent Bridge (d/n) (14:00 BST)

8 1st Twenty20 international, Chester-le-Street (14:30 BST)

10 2nd Twenty20 international, Old Trafford (d/n) (18:30 BST)

12 3rd Twenty20 international, Edgbaston (d/n) (18:30 BST)

Sri Lanka thrash England – SA to top the rankings?

Despite a heroic final innings total of 264, England were bambooooozellled by Herath who spun a web around the English taking 6 for 97 in 38 overs. A fine effort by the boy who seems to be following in the twinkling footsteps of the great Murali.

An outstanding effort by South African born Jonathan Trott who managed 112, a fine effort by the man who is one of many England players who learnt his trade in South Africa but like so many other rejects, couldn’t make the cut and barge his way into a very strong Proteas squasd, and so opted to join the SA ‘B’ side, which has a few locals in it to make up the ‘quota’ of English born players to make sure they can technically call it the English cricket team.

England are on a slippery slide after getting dominated by Pakistan (who also spun a massive web around the English batting line-up) and now losing to Sri Lanka, are set to lose their number 1 test ranking to South Africa in a few weeks, with South Africa on a very good run of form, comprehensively beating New Zealand away from home in the recent test, one day and T20 series.

South Africa are looking forward to the upcoming test match series in England, with test match captain Graeme Smith quoted as saying “It will be nice to see some of the boys again. Its almost like playing a domestic match back in SA, so our boys will feel right at home, its the only place where we go on tour and cant speak about on-field tactics in Afrikaans.”

Just a reminder, if England lose the next test match against Sri Lanka, they will slip to 2nd place in the world rankings, with South Africa, who are on a great run of form, taking their rightful place at the top of the world rankings and we can finally have a team there who is actually winning.

Pieter De Villiers to Resign?

 

South Africa were beaten 21-17 against a Scottish side that were comprehensively thrashed by the All Blacks a week before. It would be fantasy to believe that the Scotland side performed a miraculous turnaround in a week. The truth is their game is just rising to average and their performance today wasn’t much above this benchmark. South Africa were awful in every facet of the game barring the rolling maul. The curious decisions started before kick-off with Ruan Pienaar left on the bench when 2 weeks ago he was a hero against Ireland in almost identical conditions. Many rate Hougaard very highly but after this performance, it is painfully obvious how much we miss Fourie du Preez.

The first 15 minutes of the game looked promising for the Boks who were dominant in the front and 6-0 thanks to the reliable boot of Morne Steyn. Unfortunately this was the highlight of the Springboks game and they seem to still believe that games can be won without possession. The rest of the game was a mixture of kicking the ball away, watching backline that didn’t ignite and some dubious throws into the line-ou,t which fortuitously led to the Boks’ only try. To make matters worse, Stuart Dickinson was appalling as a ref making some rather harsh calls but he in no way contributed to the South African’s demise.

 

Pieter de Villiers has had my full backing right from day 1. He picked up where Jake White hit a ceiling in terms of Springbok playing style and turned the world champions into true champions, winning the Tri-nations last year with the best rugby South Africa has ever played including beating New Zealand at home, something that has been a rarity. Sadly whilst he had taken South Africa to new highs in his tenure, his recent performances have been unconvincing and the questions asked about his ability as a coach and a manager are gaining momentum. South African rugby has gone from a side with an impenetrable defence and slick moving backline to a team with 15 headless chickens. There seems to be little structure in the Springbok camp and the many injuries do not explain the lack of organisation in the backline.

 

Focusing on PdV management ability, many fans will remember curious substitutions that nearly lost the opening game in the British Lions series and recently against Ireland the substitutions almost cost us the game. De Villiers has often been under fire for his tactical substitutions and today these substitutions cost SA any chance of winning. I am all for exposing the new players to the pressures of international rugby but we are a nation that believes winning is the key metric for judging a team’s performance. Substituting Steyn for Lambie was an unforgivable mistake and leaving Hougaard on the field for 45 minutes was 40 minutes too long.

 

South Africa’s ineptitude to comprehend the importance of possession was highlighted with 5 minutes to play when they were awarded a free kick in their own half and promptly used this as an up and under attempt, which returned possession to the Scots who effectively ensured SA wouldn’t see the ball again. This was a performance to forget, played in terrible conditions against an average Scotland team. Pieter de Villiers has a lot to answer for and a win against England is non-negotiable for the fans to have any confidence in his ability to retain the William Webb Ellis trophy. If we lose on Saturday Pieter de Villiers should gracefully admit defeat and resign before he is pushed.