A bit of posturing from England and South Africa

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Graeme Smith’s second innings declaration had a whiff of safe aggression about it. It was like swearing at a pedestrian from the top deck of a moving bus. England could have run and climbed aboard at the next stop, but it was never likely. They settled for doing a half-jog and waving their fist a little bit.

It was a decent Test that was a little bit knackered by the weather. A couple more sessions would have been nice, but one-nil down the onus was on England to make the running and the draw was always favourite once South Africa had taken a giant, fat man mouthful of time from the match with their first innings.

That’s the thing about a three-match series: if one team takes the lead, they can play conservatively and hedge their bets a little. It’s not that the South Africans aren’t playing to win, it’s that they don’t need to really pursue victories. They can remain on the bus.

England have to disembark and confront their opponents, but it has to be said that they’re naturally better suited to being in South Africa’s position. They’re strongest when they bide their time and apply controlled pressure.

This isn’t a complaint about the nature of the cricket, by the way. It’s actually pretty intriguing. There’s a no-time-to-waste, hit-and-run quality to three-match series which gives them an interesting dynamic. It’d be great if it got to a best-of-three scenario after two Tests had already been played, obviously, but what are you going to do?

That isn’t a rhetorical question. What are you going to do?


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  1. I’d drop Bres & Finn and select in their place Monty and Swann.

    Lord’s is going to be flat, although the state of the outfield will mean that there ought to be reverse swing available. So with that in mind I think that Monty and Swann operating in tandem could be England’s most attacking options when the ball isn’t swinging. They’d pose a threat to all of South Africa’s batsmen. Anderson & Broad have shown that they can be effective in a 2 pace, 2 spinners attack as well.

    Mind you I’m probably wrong, but it’s what I’d do.

  2. Wickets needed in a must-win Test against South Africa? Sounds like Martin Bicknell Time to me.

  3. I was never much keen in travelling by bus. You have reminded me of some of the reasons why that was the case, KC, such as the presence of angry cricketers from foreshortened series behaving strangely.

  4. Buses these days have CCTV on them. If you were to make a hand gesture at a pedestrian from atop a modern bus, you would be seen and ejected. Unless you’re suggesting the swearing is verbal? In which case, in order to be effective, it would have to be through an open window or from the roof of an open top bus, like the ones often used for victory parades.

    Wait…what was the question?

    1. I’m not so sure about the safety of the top deck of buses.

      The last time we travelled on a double decker bus upstairs, my friend got stabbed. Yay for late buses in Birmingham.

      The opinion of the bus driver was that we were asking for it by sitting upstairs to start with.

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