Monday, 27 January 2020

Review of the 4th Test in South Africa

A draw would do. England, fresh from going 2-1 up in PE, came to Jo'Burg to clinch the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy. The scene of Allan Donald tearing in and us being 2-4 brings shivers to the spines of every Englishman who remembers the famous Bull Ring - and we're not talking about where Chris Woakes does his shopping near New Street. The Wanderers isn't the team who plays up the road from his house, in Old Gold and Black either. A quick wicket beckoned but in Wood and Archer, we have the ability to fight fire with fire these days. This is a review of the Fourth Test from Johannesburg...

On the morning of the Test, Archer pulled out still having problems with his 'bow, so in came Woakes. South Africa hooked Hamza and replaced him with Bavuma. Hendricks came in for his debut aged 29 to answer all those who asked, Are you Experienced? England batted and Crawley and Sibley again got us off to a fine start. Is there a case for Burns to bat at three when he is fit? Or Denly, despite being the adorable friend of all sports traders who back him to score 25-35, will keep his place? Joe, scored 27 to add to the 66 from his Kent colleague Crawley with Sibley scoring 44.

Stokes, then nicked one to slip before a gentleman, who had drunk one too many Castles on the Hill, rushed down from the top of the stand to liken him to Ed Sheeran. Ben, thinking he was going to enter the field of play cried out to him in a South African accent, "You Can't" and was promptly fined a chunk of his match fee, after also enquiring as to his visit to Specsavers and offering him a meet and greet with the Sports Personality of the Year.

Shouldered arms?

Root got a fifty, again the darling of the Sporting Index, whilst Pope got a fine fifty before he attempted to shoulder arms in Africa, unlike Mark Thatcher who just sold arms in Africa. Some late boshing from Wood and Broad saw England to 400. Nortje ran his arse off to pick up a fivefer. Only he, van der Dussen and De Kock have come out of this series with credit for the hosts.

When the home side batted, Mark Wood tore in. One delivery clocked at 152 mph, which is close on 95mph, was uber rapid. Only De Kock showed he could stand upright as he scored 76 in a total of 183. Wood picked up five.

When England batted again, Sibley scored his second 44 of the game - jug avoidance Dominic, Root got fifty and that Voodoo Child Hendricks got a fivefer on debut. Philander limped out of his finale with a hamstring problem, which was a sad end for someone who has given so much to the Proteas. South Africa needed four hundred plus to save the series. On a pitch that was as inconsistent as an England selector in the 80's, they had no hope.

They started positively. Van Der Dussen was out for 98 but the tail fell away badly. A brainless run out at the end deprived Mark Wood of a deserved tenfer in the match. His figures of 9-100 show exactly why he is a must for the Ashes next time. Archer must join him. The likes of Broad and Jimmy are fantastic in home conditions but in Australia, we need to have raw pace. The English seamer who kisses the pitch is about as much use in Australia as David Warner's public relations manager. England won this by 191 runs.

The Darling of Durham...rapid

As for South Africa, a lot of comparisons have been made with the West Indies of recent years. A Board awash with mismanagement doesn't help but this is the weakest Saffa team I have ever known. An attack of Morkel, Abbott, Harmer and Rabada would have been useful on this deck. Chuck in AB De Villiers too and they would have been a very good test for this young English team. I worry for the future of the cricket in this proud nation as no doubt De Kock, Philander and Elgar may find that the lure of the pound in county cricket outweighs that of the SA Rand.

As for England, the grim first Test in Pretoria seems a lifetime ago. The likes of Crawley, Sibley, Pope, Curran and Bess should be the future of this side. There are questions still about the wicket keeping position but this was a very good performance by a young English team.

Sterner tests await but a 3-1 win away from home isn't to be sniffed at. Job done.

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