England got selection right for second Test and it is Proteas who need to turn it around in Cape Town.
Strauss' decisions pay off
DURBAN // South Africa knew the game was up when Jacques Kallis decided to leave a Stuart Broad delivery as the clouds closed in on Tuesday afternoon. Moving off the seam, with a hint of reverse swing, the ball skittled the stumps. It made it 40 for three, South Africa still 191 runs behind. England erupted, the Barmy Army went mad and home hopes psychologically went in that moment.
Broad, along with Graeme Swann who rounded off a fine 2009 by taking nine wickets in the match, had finished a job in which every England player contributed in a truly dominant display. That wicket of Kallis, a dream sight for any fast bowler, came after Broad has studied one particularly South African great. "One thing which helped me before the series was watching footage of Shaun Pollock as he's the sort of bowler I want to be like and he gets the ball to talk when his seam was not always right on the South African wickets," said Broad, a maturing cricketer at the age of 23.
"I've been working on that with Ottis Gibson [England bowling coach] so I was pleased to get Kallis with one that nipped back with the seam wobbling." Reverse swing is something that England have successfully used in the past to triumph but Broad admitted a more patient approach was necessary. "Pressure is getting us wickets as a bowling unit." Andrew Strauss bravely stuck with six batsmen and was rewarded with the out-of-form Alastair Cook and Ian Bell both hitting hundreds. "I felt a valuable contribution from No 6 could be crucial and so it proved," said Strauss.
"It's a horrible place to be as a batsman when people question your place in the team. You try not to let it affect you but it does and you dig in deep and try to get a score. Cooky did that brilliantly on the second day of the game and I love see Belly playing his natural game. When he does that he's as good as any player in the world." Strauss is likely to name an unchanged side for Sunday's third Test, with Paul Collingwood, who dislocated his left index finger during Tuesday's warm-up expected to recover in time, although Michael Carberry has been called up as cover. "We're very hopeful that Colly will be fit but until he holds a bat or fields we don't know," said Strauss at the end of the second Test.
It is Graeme Smith and South Africa who face all the worries going into Cape Town. Smith's side, recently ranked No 1 in the Test ratings, were blown away with fast bowler Dale Steyn describing day four "as the worst day of my cricketing career". Things looked so good for the Proteas early on as Smith won the toss, and along with Jacques Kallis, helped his side to a position of strength at 160 for two. But Smith was run out for 75 and South Africa were eventually bowled out for 343.
South Africa failed to produce with the ball, only Morne Morkel (three for 78) delivering with Paul Harris and Makhaya Ntini getting plenty of treatment from the England batsmen. Steyn and Kallis, making bowling returns after injury, were similarly disappointing, before a nightmare second innings collapse of six wickets for 23 runs sealed their fate. "We need to look at our execution and performance and we've got to be honest with ourselves," said Smith. "We represent a lot of people's hopes out in South Africa and we've got to look at ourselves in the mirror and bounce back."
There is now real doubt over the future of Ntini, who played in his 101st Test in Durban, with the fast bowler disappointing in the series so far taking just two wickets. And Smith may decide to bring back Friedel de Wet, who came extraordinarily close to leading South Africa to victory in the first Test at Centurion with four for 55. But Smith said: "We've had one collapse. As disappointing as it is, I don't think it is call to make massive changes. We can turn it around in a few days' time."
Actions now need to speak louder than words, though if South Africa are to turn things around after a considerably below par match - and one that England excelled in. firstname.lastname@example.org