x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Graeme Smith and Proteas miss a trick against England

Worse, Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, refused to give the new ball to the world¿s premier fast bowler Dale Steyn.

Dale Steyn did not bowl against England until the 11th over.
Dale Steyn did not bowl against England until the 11th over.

Before the start of one of the most anticipated Test series of recent times, Shane Warne stuck his neck out and predicted a "1-0 or 2-0" win for England in their three-Test series againstSouth Africa.

Most cricket pundits have made similar assessments, but Warne's articulation was a bit different.

The Australian was blunt in his view. "South Africa are very regimented and disciplined," he wrote for The Telegraph.

"They are used to three slips, gully, backward point, bowling outside off stump and wearing each other down all day."

And that is exactly the type of cricket they played on the opening day of the first Test at the Oval.

Like Warne said, their pacemen usually bowled outside the off stump, giving the English a bit too much to leave early on.

Worse, Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, refused to give the new ball to the world's premier fast bowler Dale Styen. He started with Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander instead. Morkel looked a good decision as he struck with the fourth ball of the game, trapping the England captain Andrew Strauss leg before.

Given the early success, it seemed the perfect time to unleash Steyn on the tentative Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott. Instead, Philander was given the ball and he, along with Morkel, failed to make the English batsmen play enough.

Steyn could have probably done better, but he did not come on until the 11th over. By then Cook and Trott were already well entrenched, and the "regimented" Proteas think tank posed few problems.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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