Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

A Game Apart

Previous Posts


original feed Subscribe to my feed

A Game Apart


London Evening Standard



Paddy Power

Oakwood Estates

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Sorry to Harp on about this but... is umpire Daryl South Africa's Man of the Series?

DARYL HARPER. What a man. The television umpire who failed England so badly on day two of the final Test at The Wanderers yesterday, was at it again this morning.
The 57-year-old Australian (right, showing what a character he is with fellow umpire Asad Rauf) who failed to turn his volume button up, thus allowing South African captain Graeme Smith to progress from 15 to a match-changing 105, reprieved AB De Villiers twice this morning after he had been given out by the on-field umpires.
And just before lunch he turned down Graeme Swann's plea for the wicket of Mark Boucher, LWB. Harper was right each time. But he seems to be England's bogeyman right now, with every decision going South Africa's way.
De Villiers enjoyed all sorts of luck as he attempted to dig his side out of the hole they had dug for themselves this morning.
First Hashim Amla, looking set for his second century of the series on 75, was out on the tenth ball of the day, caught behind by Matt Prior off a superb ball from Stuart Broad.
Six balls later, Jacques Kallis was gone, brilliantly taken by Jimmy Anderson on the dive off Ryan Sidebottom. Getting Kallis for 7 was a big bonus for England and at 217-4 the tails were up.
After a brief lull, Andrew Strauss turned to Graeme Swann, as he has all series, for the breakthrough. And with his first ball - it's becoming a habit - he had JP "Crash Test" Duminy caught by Collingwood and it was 235-5.
Swann then had De Villiers given out twice - on 11 and 24 - by New Zealand umpire Tony Hill. But De Villiers called for a review both times. The close catch on 11 may or may not have brushed the bat, the lbw on 24 was not out. But given that shocker yesterday - Harper failed to hear the Smith snick which echoed around the cricket-speaking world - you might expect a bit of help from the man!
AB De Villiers, who survived having the ball come to rest against his stumps without removing a bail (much to Paul Collingwood's chagrin) and a further apparent edge behind, made it through to lunch with 43 off 99 balls, the always-dangerous Mark Boucher went to his fifty just before lunch after surviving Swann's LBW review.
At 324-5 at the break, South Africa are 144 ahead and these two have put on a vital 89.
For the first time in this Test, England threatened to win a session. But those three early wickets were not enough to make any difference to the eventual outcome. As long as the Highveld thunder storms stay away, this one is South Africa's, the series will be tied 1-1 and the hosts will retain the Basil D'Oliviera trophy they won in England three years ago.
Meanwhile Harper - backed by the ICC this morning - has turned to Facebook to justify his position.
After yesterday's knob-twiddling sensation he posted these quotes on his site: "The truth about Smith's decision may come out eventually. The host broadcaster didn't provide the appropriate sound to match the picture. The commentator, Matthew Hoggard, told the viewers that there was no sound - so Smith would be given not out.
"Sadly when the technology fails... and that means that some engineer has failed to do his job... they must find a scapegoat, and the umpire is an easy target because we can't fight back... usually.
"Five minutes later, they found a sound and blamed me! Other networks found the sound immediately, but we didn't get their sound feed."
Good defence Daryl, but how about coming to speak to us in the press box. Just a gentle chat. If you can comment on Facebook, surely you can talk to the journalists?
England, without any reviews left, have asked the ICC to reinstate the one wasted during the Smith controversy yesterday.

Labels: ab de villiers, crucial fourth test, , England in Johannesburg, , ,

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Fourth Test special: Kallis taunts England: South Africa are the better side

JACQUES KALLIS insists South Africa are a better team than England – and will aim to prove just that when the decisive fourth Test gets underway at The Wanderers on Thursday.

Kallis picked out Graeme Swann and Paul Collingwood as the two thorns in South Africa’s side, but though his side are 1-0 down heading into the final Test of the four-match series, he said: “We feel we’ve dominated the series but we’re somehow still behind.

“But that’s in the past, we’ve got to look into the future. We’ve got to go out and win this Test match. The guys have discussed it, we have to move on now. There will be no favours given in this series.

“We like to believe we are the better team. We’ve got to believe it. There was a two day period where we didn’t play the better cricket and we lost it in Durban.

“But we’ve still got a lot of belief. I’ve had a look at the wicket, I’ve seen greener here. It’s not as bad as people think. You’re going to need a bit of skill to get through it. Our guys are used to pitches with bounce more than England are.

“Hopefully the luck will go our way this time. It’s been going England’s way so far.”

When I asked if relations between the two sides were cordial after allegations of ball tampering during last Test in Cape Town, Kallis said: “That was the only issue we really had. Nobody is holding any grudges. There have been no major blow ups in the field. It’s been in played in a good spirit.

“Obviously KP is a key player for England but they’ve done well without him playing well. We’ve had a few plans that have obviously worked. But he might be due something in the next couple of Tests. I hope it’s not this one.

“Our guys do rate him. We’ve done well to keep him quiet. But we know he’s a quality player, you don’t lose that overnight.

Kallis, the top run scorer in the series so far and the best all-rounder in the world, said: “From my point of view I’m not going to change anything I do. I dont’ feel any more pressure.

“It’s a challenge, it’s no often you play on Test wickets that do a lot. Our pitches are more lively than any in the world.

“England haven’t given up. Two games when they were totally out of it, they managed to stay there. We were in England’s situation in Durban and we crumbled.We were in the mire in Durban and we failed.

“The danger is you finish a Test match on top like we did in Cape Town and we have to guard against remembering that. Just because we dominated the last Test match doesn’t mean we’ll be on top here.

“There is a bit of weather around, the wicket does need to be a little bit greener. We need a result wicket with a bit of grass on it. But it’s dangerous going into a Test match without a spinner.

“This almost becomes a one-off Test match. Swannie’s had a good series, Colly’s been key for them. Those guys have been a thorn in our side so far this series.

“Collingwood? To get the balance in your side you need a KP but you need a Colly. He’s shown what a quality player he is. Certainly, at times, not the prettiest player in the world. But you’d take the ugly guys, the kind of gutsy guys who fight in tough situations.

“Obviously, we need to play all the cricket here. There will be pressure on us. We have to be more positive. It’s a gamble we have to take.

Labels: England in Johannesburg, , , neal collins in south africa,

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Hungry Kallis gets down and dirty to deny England in Cape Town

JACQUES KALLIS is "hungry" for runs and ready to play "dirty cricket" to dig his nation out of a hole - and that can only mean trouble for England in Cape Town today.

Kallis, who averages 65 on his home ground at Newlands, peaked in the shadow of the magnificent Table Mountain yesterday, scoring an undefeated 108 off 188 balls. He single-handedly denied England the dominance they deserved as day one of the third Test at Newlands ended with South Africa 279-6 and still very much in the game.

After a rain delayed start England, 1-0 up in the four match series, threatened to dominate when they won the toss and elected to bowl - captain Andrew Strauss's seventh success out of nine with the coin. They had the hosts 51-3 and 127-5 but Kallis, in fifty-plus partnerships with AB De Villiers, Mark Boucher and promoted paceman Dale Steyn, led the fightback to frustrate the tourists' pace attack.

Boucher, who put on 89 runs for the sixth wicket with his Capetonian neighbour, said afterwards: "He's hungry. And that's always a dangerous sign for the opposition. Jacques is so calm. His defence is so good.

"He's hungry for runs and he's worked hard on his fitness. Now the hard work is paying off. He is very focused - that's what makes him so good. I always enjoy batting with Jacques.

"We were 50 for three and 120-odd for five and we played some dirty cricket to get back into it.

"Our tail is wagging - and we hope that can continue."

England seamer Jimmy Anderson, who removed Ashwell Prince in the first over of the day, admitted after Kallis's 33rd Test match ton: "He's very focused when he bats and very difficult to bowl at. You've just got to deal with it. You come across these players in Test cricket.

"The lateness that he plays the ball is incredible - and even when the ball is reversing he can pick it, which makes it even harder.

"We bowled reasonably well and I think it's even stevens at this stage. Conditions were in favour of bowling in the morning. Apparently the best time to bat is on days two and three."

Graeme Swann, England's Man of the Match in the first and second Tests, took two quick wickets and nearly turned the game around when he dismissed the initial dangers of AB De Villiers and JP Duminy. But Anderson admitted: "On another day we could have had Kallis in early but it wasn't to be. We'll have the new ball in our hands tomorrow and have to do our best to get him out early."

Anderson backed the decision to bowl first after winning the toss - South Africa captain Graeme Smith has now won just one in 11 heads-or-tails battles - adding: "The conditions this morning were very bowler-friendly. In the warm-up it was swinging a lot - and with rain around as well, it was a very easy choice for us to bowl.

"We're happy with the decision. They've played really well - Kallis played unbelievably well."

Labels: , , , jimmy anderson, mark boucher, , third Test

Kallis peaks in the shadow of Table Mountain

JACQUES KALLIS, the timeless rock of South African cricket, crushed the life out of England's hopes of first day domination at Newlands today.
Playing in his home town where he averages 65 in Test cricket, Kallis stood firm while all around him crumbled. But they're used to that in Cape Town. It's his sixth Test hundred here.
With his side 1-0 down in the four-match series, Kallis alone kept the huge New Year Test crowd from collectively jumping over the edge of Table Mountain next door, just has he had in the opening Test at Centurion.
Without him they might have been humiliated like Australia were in their New Year Test in Sydney, skittled for 134 by Pakistan.
Kallis, 34 but "still playing my best cricket" as he told us two weeks ago, went to his 100 off 175 balls, crashing Kevin Pietersen's occasional off-spin to the fence. Magnificent. After 133 Tests and 10,000 Test runs at an average of over 50, the man just keeps on going, despite fracturing a rib last October.
By the close for bad light, he had scored 108, just as he had after the first day at Centurion. If he stays in, with the promoted bowler-batsman Dale Steyn providing capable support, the South Africans stay in the series. They were 51-3 and 127-5. But now they're 279-6. Honours even after a bizarre day.
To my right, the towering cliffs of Table Mountain are partially obscured by the vast containers of the South African Breweries factory next door to the cricket ground.
There are 16,867 fans here who have paid thousands for the privilege of attending the third Test of a finely balanced series between England and South Africa. And yet, after approximately 48,312 lagers they're as quiet as church mice.
And out in the middle, at 5.15pm in the middle of the African summer, the floodlights are on.
None of it makes any sense. Men in long white trousers battling away for five days in the rain or sweltering heat... and then the umpires take them off because it's getting too dark but everyone can see perfectly.
And Graeme Smith, their captain, walked off at lunchtime having a furious argument with Kevin Pietersen, England's South African-raised batsman. They went to school in different cities but share so much in terms of attitude and aptitude.
Perhaps he was angry because he'd won the simple toss of a coin which decides so much in Test cricket just once in 11 attempts.
And every so often we all stop to watch the television contradict the umpires, with the new decision review system adding further confusion to the modern game.
And out in the middle now, as we approach the close of the rain-delayed opening day, nobody can really so who's winning.
First it was England, when Jimmy Anderson ripped out Ashwell Prince, caught behind for nought, in his first over. Graham Onions that had Smith dropped by the otherwise perfect Graeme Swann an over later at 1-1. England, unchanged despite Paul Collingwood's dislocated left index finger, had won the toss and elected to bowl. It looked like the right decision under heavy skies which delayed the start by half an hour.
South Africa were crawling back when Hashim Amla was trapped lbw by Onions before lunch. Then Graeme Smith went the same way after lunch.
Jacques Kallis and AB De Villiers were pulling South Africa back in the game, but when they'd taken their nation from 51-3 to 127-4, AB had a rush of blood and Swann was back as captain Andrew Strauss took the catch at silly mid-on. A ball later it was all England as JP Duminy suffered his second successive golden duck and Swann took his 16th wicket of the series.
Kallis alone kept South Africa going, staying first with Mark Boucher and then Steyn, adding over 50 with both. This one is in the balance. But what a bizarre balance it is.

Labels: bizarre, england cricket, england in cape town, floodlights, , graham onions, , , third Test

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Day four: Tea: England soaring, Swanny spinning, Hoggy singing,

MATTHEW HOGGARD did the trick for England today. With a little help from the Barmy Army.
Yes Hoggy, the Ashes-winning Yorkshire paceman, played his part today as England took a stranglehold on the second Test in muggy Durban.
Did is say muggy? England have mugged the mugs on day four, rattling up a mammoth 575-9 declared to take a 231 lead over the hosts, then taking early wickets to leave the South Africans teetering on 45-5. Incredible scenes, amazing stuff.
Five wickets for 17 runs in nine overs of county team-mates Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann tying 'em up in Notts
Hoggy, in his pink South African Broadcasting Corporation top, chose the perfect moment to join the Barmy Army, massed in the south corner of the East Stand. South Africa were 27-0 after nine overs and apparently cruising.
While Hoggy stood beneath Vic "Jimmy Saville" Flower's waving Union Jack (see picture above) the volume rose and rose. First "Jerusalem", then "There's Only One Matthew Hoggard". Then, as England turned to Graeme Swann, they began a chorus of "Never Trust A Spinner", with Hoggy, the subject of a thousand flashing cameras, in full voice.
And lo, it came to pass on Swann's second ball of the day. Ashwell Prince failed to deal with the turn, getting an inside edge on to his pad which was brilliantly picked up by Ian Bell, back in his favourite position at short leg. Bell, who scored a magnificent 141 to give England the impetus today, went potty. Some catch. Some bloke.
Suddenly South Africa, who had been cruising, were vulnerable. Hoggy had worked the magic.
And it only got better. Hashim Amla, the local hero who refuses to profit from his side's brewery sponsors because of his Muslim roots, went just before tea, bowled by the magnificent Swann for 6. Two failures on his home ground. Unthinkable for Amla, whose century turned the drawn first Test South Africa's way in Centurion.
With Jacques Kallis joining captain Graeme Smith, South Africa were firmly up against the wall. But these were there two go-to guys, the old warhorses. Stubborn, reliable. And then came the ball of the day. Stuart Broad, in from the Umgeni end, got the ball to nip back a veritable mile off the seam and Kallis's off-stump flew out of the ground. The poor bloke didn't even get to play a shot.
What a moment. The Barmy Army lapped it up. South Africa were 40-3 and the calm resolution was disappearing fast.
AB De Villiers was next, he got out twice. First he survived on review after touching Swann to Prior - the replay showed deviation but apparently not conclusively - but an over later he was gone for good after a second review, LBW to Broad.
That left South Africa 44-4. Broad had his tail up. Kaboom! The once prolific JP Duminy came, saw and was conquered in a single ball, clean bowled for a golden duck. Another one to go without playing a shot. These South Africans are quacking up!

Labels: barmy army, , , , matthew hoggard, neal collins in durban, second Test,

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day Test: Day One: England's day as South Africa scuttle off for the light

AS the clouds closed in and the floodlights went on at 3.10pm local time, the Boxing Day Test in Durban veered England's way at Kingsmead today.
At 175-5 this was a triumph for the visitors after the mind-numbing boredom of South Africa's earlier domination with the bat.
The magnificent sight of the home side scuttling for cover before the rain came down was entirely unexpected. As was the state of most of the 17,364 fans, very few of whom were wearing bikinis (my wife doesn't like the thought of women in swimsuits at cricket games).
England, dominant in the first ten overs when they Jimmy Anderson got rid of Ashwell Prince and Stuart Broad trapped Hashim Amla - both for two - struggled in the burning heat and humidity in an apparently endless spell from an hour before lunch to just after tea.
But then the clouds rolled in and weary England began to respond. Jacques Kallis, the world's No10 batsman but a supremely boring proponent of the art, was snaffled by Graeme Swann. His edge to Paul Collingwood's welcoming hands ended his resistance at 75 off 132 balls.
Together, he and Smith put on exactly 15o for the third wicket and put most of the crowd into a drink induced coma, with beer queues stretching around the ground as innocent cricket fans sought solace.
Together, Kallis and Smith, top of the pile in the under-appreciated Boring Test Rankings sponsored by Slumberland, appeared to have put their nation on top, though the locals showed little appreciation, apart from the odd snarl when Kevin Pietersen was put on to bowl his off-spinners in a moment of madness from captain Andrew Strauss. We also wheeled out Jonathan Trott, testament to the paucity of our bowling attack having stuck with struggling Ian Bell when we could have enlisted another seamer in Sidebottom.
But then the wickets began to tumble. Next up? Smith. He derided Kevin Pietersen for his ridiculous run-out on 81 in Centurion, but what was this? AB De Villiers, looking good, ran down the wicket when his captain dropped one into the off-side. Smith started to accelerate, then turned around like one of those tankers off the Indian Ocean coast here.
For Englishmen, particularly the ever-hopeful Barmy Army who numbered about 3,000 at Kingsmead today, the sight of Cook running in to beat the dive was something to celebrate.
Gone for 75 off a very boring 186 balls. But better than Centurion, where Smith failed in both innings.
South Africa were suddenly 166-4 and the two big barriers were down.
England sensed that, the tails went up, and there was time for Graham Onions, who bowled well all day, to trap the once-dangerous JP Duminy leg before for four.
South Africa were 170-5, they'd lost three wickets for ten. And they ran for cover. Brilliant! With the floodlights on, a home side with guts might have tried to carry on. But Smith and coach Mickey Arthur encouraged the puny Proteas to scurry for the dressing room. England captain Andrew Strauss complained and put on his spinners but they were offered the light... and took it. How weak and pathetic is that with rain forecast for tomorrow!
There was a brief shower, a couple of very drunk pitch invaders hoping to slide on the covers were severely manhandled by the stewards. But predictably, though the light was reasonable under the floodlights at 4.35pm local time, the umpires were unable to encourage the groundsman to remove the covers. Day one is over. Play will start at 9.30am tomorrow morning.
And with the South Africans cowering, this is surely England's day, though Smith and Kallis made them suffer in the sun. The home side, knowing how dark it gets in Durban, how much rain they are having this summer, should have shown a bit of stiff-upper lip.
But they just haven't got it these lads. Head for the dressing room! Swannie's bowling another bomb! Pathetic! The only South Africans with any fight are punching eachother, drunk, in Kingsmead's notorious Castle Corner, perhaps frustrated with their side's lack of spirit.
My Living With The Lions party, pictured above, will be looking forward to skittling this mardy lot tomorrow. As long as it doesn't rain. Right now, at 5pm local time, the light is as good as it's been all day. And the South Africans are headed back to the Hilton Hotel with me. How very, very cowardly.

Labels: , bad light, , , , , , pathetic, rain

Boxing Day Test. Tea, day one. Kallis and Smith, No1 and 2 in the little-known Most Boring Test Batsmen rankings, sponsored by Slumberland

THE beer queues now stretch all the way across the back of the South Stand at Kingsmead. And most of the way around the ground. It's Boxing Day and amid the festive hats, there are fat men dressed as fairies, fatter men with women's panties on.
Personally I'd like to see England captain Andrew Strauss out there in the pinkest of pink briefs... and coach Andy Flower in the finest fairy wings. Their reward for refusing to pick Ryan Sidebottom in place of batsman Ian Bell, thus adding a fifth bowler to their sweltering attack on day one of the second Test.
It might have felt great when England had South Africa 10-2 this morning. First Jimmy Anderson got opener Ashwell Prince for two, caught at second slip by Graeme Swann. Then Stuart Broad rapped Hashim Amla on the pads dead in front for the same score.
But once the stubborn Jacques Kallis came out to join captain Graeme Smith, who won the toss and opted to bat, the fun stopped. Abruptly. These are, respectively, the world's 10th and 11th best Test batsmen. They are also No1 and 2 in the rankings of the little appreciated Most Boring Men In Test Cricket category, sponsored by Slumberland.
Chances have been few and far between as the world's two least exciting, but technically proficient, batsmen grind out a stand now worth 140 for the third wicket. At tea, South Africa are gradually going away from us, as I predicted this morning, with the score moving on from 67-2 at lunch to 151-2 after 56 excruciating overs.
Michael Owen-Smith, the fabulously deadpan Cricket South Africa spokesman, has just told a hushed press box Smith is bravely batting on despite "a contusion on his index finger".
And, distressingly, England resorted to giving Jonathan Trott a bowl before lunch. A part-time bowler who once took seven wickets in an innings against Kent, Trott is by no means a rip-em-up paceman. A dibbly-dobbler at best, though Matt Prior, by no means a wicket-keeper-batsman, chose to stand back to his plodding pace, allowing Smith and Kallis the space to make hay while the sun shines, though the clouds are closing in.
Then, before tea, we had Kevin Pietersen on. He was a bit of a bowler here in his early days as a Pietermaritzburg-born local lad. Took four big wickets for the Dolphins against Nasser Hussain's England in 1999. He obviously believes he's still a bowler. He opened with himself when he captaineed an IPL franchise last year, with some success. Sadly, even the magical talents of KP failed to eke a wicket out of the increasingly lifeless Kingsmead track, though his arrival did awaken the crowd from their drunken, sun-induced slumber for a second.
Apparently, when he came on to bowl, Matt Prior, another South African-born Englishman, shouted: "Come on People's Champion!"
Swann finally ended the partnership on 160, getting Kallis, on 75, to edge one to Collingwood. In came AB De Villiers and immediately dispatched Swann to the boundary, skipping up the pitch on his first ball. Now that's entertainment - if you're a South African!
Still, there are reasons to be cheerful, apart from the bikini-clad beauties, mostly female, striding around the ground as their sunburnt men get too drunk to stand.
Up in the second tier of the South Stand, the Dashing Dozen from Living With The Lions are standing firm (see picture above). I'll try to get these names right... Mark and Mary, the big Somerset fans, Colin from York who spent Christmas Eve and most of Christmas Day in an airport after a cancelled flight, Fred the umpire and Sylvia, also from the west, Mark and Claire, who wears a hotel shower cap in the pool (which is not good when the South African team are looking down from their hotel rooms). Then there's the Burnley-shirt wearing family and Brett Lingley, our faithful tour leader.
They seem to be having a good time despite England's demise. And they haven't got air-conditioning... or those ubiquitous jugs of beer.
Good solid Barmy Army fans. Hoping for a wicket. Hoping England aren't too hot and bothered with just four real bowlers to rotate. We live in hope... official attendance today? 17,364.

Labels: barmy army, boring, boxing day test, , , , , living with the lions, summer heat, test rankings

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Swann's underpants get South Africa in a twist

ENGLAND’S unexpected resurgence at the end of day three became a real fightback at the start of day four today at the first Test in Centurion, where the sun always Add Imageshines.
Out of the game at lunch-time yesterday, the visitors fought back in the heat with a record 106-run partnership between Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson plus the wicket of Ashwell Prince last night, leaving the hosts with a lead of 71.
By lunch-time, they had South Africa 80-4, a lead of just 142 with six wickets in hand. If England are left to chase around 250 on the final day, anything could happen.
This morning they needed just two overs to make their first strike when nightwatchman Paul Harris was caught with his knickers in a twist. Well, not literally.
Jimmy Anderson’s delivery was shaping just wide of his leg stump when the ball caught in his trousers and was dragged back onto the wicket. Bowled for 11, South Africa 20-2.
What was it Swannie (above) said last night: “We’ll get the non-batsman out in the morning and go from there!” And that was with his arch-rival Harris standing at the back of the room, waiting to talk to the media!
South Africa lost their second of the morning, third of the innings, when Graeme Onions produced a corker which might have bent back a bit and captain Graeme Smith was gone for 12, a rare double failure for the man who ducked out so early in the first innings. South Africa 34-3.
But it was the wicket of Kallis which England really wanted and it came in unexpected fashion. The veteran South African all-rounder, who scored a magnificent 120 in the first innings, lost patience with the grinding defence and sweltering heat.
He had scored just four off 32 balls when he rocked back in an attempt to smack Stuart Broad high over the fence. He didn’t quite get hold of it and there was Alastair Cook to pouch a well-judged catch on the mid-wicket boundary and silence the roar of a growing crowd at Centurion. That left South Africa 4-64 and it was game on.
These vital early wickets may have something to do with the garb worn by yesterday’s batting hero Swann, who scored a Test-best 85 to keep England in the game.
He issued this Twitter before play: “I am wearing my lucky pants again today, despite them being a trifle crusty. Let's hope for wickets this morning."
Swann, who took 5-110 in the first innings, was unlucky not to join the wicket-takers when he had a good LBW appeal against Hashim Amla turned down on review. It was out, apparently, but no out enough. Outside the zone of certainty is the term they seem to be using.
Stuart Broad has defended his behaviour after being given LBW on review despite a not out decision from umpire Aleem Dar, a decision which may just have inspired Swann. Broad was unhappy about the 34-second delay between the ball hitting his pads and the South Africans asking for a review.
He said: "I did not see any signal from the South Africa management. I was merely saying to the umpires that the amount of time the whole process took was wrong and would provide an opportunity for the system to be manipulated. There was no suggestion that I was querying the decision. Replays showed that I was absolutely dead in front - it was just the time it took to get there."
On his meeting with match referee Roshan Mahanama in the television room, which looked a bit lively from where I was sitting, Broad said: "It was completely calm and civilised and the referee was very understanding. He said the whole process was trial and error and that hopefully any teething problems would be sorted out.
"There was no suggestion from the referee that I am facing any disciplinary action and I don't see any reason why there should be. I wasn't rude and I haven't done anything wrong."

Labels: england versus south africa, , , ,

Friday, 18 December 2009

Kallis lashes his bowlers, Onions enjoys his toughest day

SOUTH AFRICA’S batting hero Jacques Kallis tore into his own bowlers after England cruised to 88-1 off 23 largely innocuous overs at sizzling Centurion to put the first Test back in the balance.

All-rounder Kallis, whose 120 helped South Africa reach 418 after the early departure of their captain Graeme Smith for a duck on day one, confirmed he will definitely not be bowling on day three today after fracturing a rib in October.

But that didn’t stop him getting stuck into his own attack. He said: “I won’t bowl for another week. I’ll spend some time in the oxygen chamber in Cape Town. It’s a bit of a precaution, a bit of common sense.

“I’ve done a bit of bowling, but nothing with any high intensity. The injury was fine when I was batting, but I won’t be taking any risks. I’m disappointed I didn’t go on to score more but I’m happy with 120 on that pitch, I never felt like I was really in on it.”

But then Kallis turned on his team saying: “We were really disappointing when they got in tonight. We did well to get over 400 but then we bowled them too many freebies.

“Andrew Strauss (44 off 70 balls) is a good batsman, we had a plan for him but our bowlers failed to execute it and now he’s in. We’ll have to do a lot better tomorrow. No doubt about it. We’ve got to bowl a better line.

“That pitch will get quicker which might help us, but we have to bowl better. We didn’t score as quickly as them, but that’s because our bowling was so poor.”

Former South African paceman Allan Donald, who described the pitch as “a bit of a road”, backed Kallis by saying: “It’s going to be a real test of character for both sides tomorrow. Our bowlers have to find the right length. Makhaya Ntini did it once and the ball was still going upwards when it hit the wicketkeeper.”

Graham Onions, still limping after bowling 30 overs with a calf strain, was one of England’s heroes with his 3-86 yesterday, alongside Graeme Swann, who took a magnificent 5-110 off a marathon 45.2 overs in the heat.

Onions, favouring his right calf, said: “I have to thank our medical team. They really worked hard on me. It’s not ideal with a four-man attack when one of them goes off for 40 minutes, but they did the business. And they iced it overnight.

“This morning it wasn’t too bad. But the last two days are among the toughest I’ve ever had in the field. It’s not quite like it is up north here. It wasn’t that hot early in the tour, but you can always bet on blazing sunshine for the Test series!

“I’ve played in South Africa a few times over the years but this was my first overseas Test and I thought, as a unit, our bowlers stuck to it. Our fielders backed us up, there were some good catches. It was disappointing they got over 400.

“There was a bit on a nip in the pitch on day one and if we’d had a little more luck we might have got them for 350. But I don’t think we bowled badly.

“Now we have to bat all day tomorrow. I still believe we can get in a winning position in this test. We batted well tonight and if we can get a good score and put pressure on them this Test could still be up for grabs.”

“But there’s no question who should get the plaudits today. Graeme Swann deserved his five wickets. He got a bit of turn, and he never gave up.”

Labels: , graham onions,

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Swann ends Bore War but Cook overheats

GRAEME SWANN take a bow. Rarely in the history of spin bowling have so many overs been bowled in such heat for so few. And he ended with his third five-wicket haul in Test cricket. Ignore the fact England have lost Alastair Cook early in their reply, Swann is the man.

Not only did his 45 miserly overs in extreme temperatures keep England in touch with South Africa, who were all out for 418 when many were predicting a score of 500-plus. His 5-110 also ended the Bore War, which broke out around tea-time when the South African tail-enders decided to strangle the first Test.

In Perth this morning, Chris Gayle hit the fifth fastest hundred in Test history with a 70-ball whirlwind against Australia. In direct contrast, Paul Harris (38 off 89 balls) and debutant Friedel de Wet (20 off 67) barely produced an attacking shot in a ninth wicket partnership worth 37 off nearly 17 overs in a bizarre attempt to put a crowd of 9,000 to sleep all at once. In the 10 overs before tea, they scored 11. Ho-hum.

Oh for a Gayle force to blow here. But when England came in to bat, such feats looked a very distant prospect. Makhaya Ntini, winning his 100th cap, came roaring in and had Cook dropped in the first over, right through the hands of AB De Villiers at third slip.

De Wet was less boring with the ball than the bat. His first delivery in Test cricket was a massive leg side wide in the Steve Harmison style. His second beat Andrew Strauss all ends up.

But after that dodgy start, England’s opening pair began to settle until the sixth over when, with England on 25, Cook got the slightest of edges to De Wet and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, out for a painful 49 in earlier the day, snaffled the catch. No pesky review required.

Cook had been looking good until that point, cracking three fours and scoring 15 off 17 balls while Strauss stayed in his shell. With a minimum of 20 overs remaining, England are 26-1 - any further losses would seriously take the gloss of England’s efforts in the field.

Jimmy Anderson may have turned the course of this game when he had the heroic Jacques Kallis, who looked like he could bat forever despite a rib injury, caught at second slip by Paul Collingwood for 120 early in the day.

But Swann’s effort was quite incredible and Onions, 3-86, bowling with a calf strain, deserves a mention too. Paul Collingwood picked up a record-equalling four catches - only Marcus Trescothick has taken as many in the outfield in an England innings – against mighty Zimbabwe in 2003.

Labels: boucher, , graeme onions, , , , paul harris

Lunch, day two: Kallis gone, England fight back

ENGLAND got the big wicket of South African hero Jacques Kallis early on another blisteringly hot day at Centurion this morning.

Jimmy Anderson may have turned the course of this game when he had the big man, who looked like he could bat for ever, caught at second slip by Paul Collingwood.

Then Graeme Swann got rid of JP Duminy off his first over of the day – just as he did yesterday – and Collingwood picked up a record-equalling fourth catch in the innings to leave South Africa 316-6.

That wasn’t a bad effort from England – but it could have been even better if Graeme Onions hadn’t dropped Mark Boucher off Stuart Broad, a dolly which would have left South Africa teetering on 319-7.

And tempers became frayed when the review system saw both Boucher and Morkel reprieved as Swann turned up the heat. By lunch, South Africa were 330-6, but on another day, with a little more luck and without the review system, they might have been skittled this morning.

Kallis, who single-handedly turned the game around when South Africa were wobbling on 93-3, had added only eight to his overnight 112 when his 306-minute innings came to an end. His 120 off 225 balls featured that huge six off Graeme Swann yesterday and 16 fours.

And all this when the world's best all-rounder is, literally, half-fit. The rib injury he picked up during the Champions League thrashabout in October means he will probably not be able to bowl here.

For Collingwood, it was a third outfield catch - that's worth a jug in club cricket - and for Anderson this vital scalp was his first Test victim since Edgbaston during the Ashes clashes. He went wicketless at Headingley and The Oval as the Australians were shot down in flames by Stuart Broad and Co.

The ball that got Kallis was a peach, pitched up with a hint of away swing as Anderson bowled his fourth over of the day. As Allan “White Lightning” Donald said last night, England’s attack needs a little more consistency, a little more patience. And a few more full-pitched deliveries to give the ball air to swing.

But despite that breakthrough, which left South Africa 283-5, there was little relief for England beneath the cloudless African sky. Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, no slouch with the bat, was next up to join JP Duminy, who had just moved to his fifty at the other end after adding 124 runs off 42 overs with Kallis at a rate of less than three an over.

A nine-hour flight away in Perth this morning, Chris Gayle hit the fifth fastest century in Test cricket for the West Indies against Australia this morning, reaching three figures of 70 balls. Now that's a strike rate.

But England, as Graeme Swann pointed out last night, are stubbornly refusing to let South Africa run away with this Test. Broad is maintaining an economy rate of 1.88 and the rest of the attack can all claim to keep things under 3.5 an over, apart from the part-time dobblers of Jonathan Trott.

Onions, staging a miraculous recovery from yesterday's calf problem, nearly had Duminy in the 16th over of the day with the score rising over 300, but the edge fell two inches short of Collingwood - who else? - at second slip. At the other end Boucher did what he always does, scoring quickly and piling up the pressure on England.

But Collingwood was perfectly positioned for his fourth catch – engineered by the breakthrough specialist Swann in his first over the morning, the 18th of the day.

His second ball got some bite and his fifth ball, perfectly flighted, actually got some turn. Duminy prodded, Collingwood pounced and Duminy goes for 56 off 150 balls, the highlight of which was a clubbed six off Swann yesterday afternoon. Revenge is sweet.

Swann, who issued this bizarre twitter yesterday “have just had a lovely room date with Cookie. We ate steak and watched bear grylls. He'd be my ideal man, if I kicked with the other foot”, continued to find turn.

But the big chance for wicket number seven fell to Onions on the fine leg boundary with South Africa on 319-6. Boucher top-edged a short one from Broad, the ball dropped neatly into the hands, but Onions, spilled it... and Broad had both hands on his head as the ball trickled over the boundary rope.

Boucher survived a big shout on 323 when he appeared to edge the ball onto his boot off Swann to... yes, that man Collingwood. But the review showed the ball touched the ground as it hit the boot, and Collingwood’s hopes of being the first ever England player to take five outfield catches are dashed. For now.

Even more galling for England was the apparent dismissal of Morne Morkel just before lunch. Swann, bowling like a dream, rapped him on the pads right in front... the finger went up, but the South Africans called for a review. Incredibly, the ball was shown by Hawkeye to be going just over the top of the bails. Morkel, like Ashwell Prince yesterday, survived the raising of the finger. It doesn’t feel right, though I guess you can’t argue with the system.

The interesting thing for England is how much turn Swann is getting. After 30 over, he’s got 3-65... it could so easily have been five or six.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Kallis puts England in a hot spot

JACQUES KALLIS put England firmly in their place after a sensational start to the First Test at a sizzling Centurion today, shrugging off his nagging rib injury to hit a magnificent century.

By the close, South Africa had reached 262-4, Kallis had compiled a monumental 112 not out off 203 balls - and that’s just the start of the bad news.

Durham’s Graeme Onions, England’s best bowler in the morning session, is struggling with a calf strain which the management have just said “will need intensive treatment”. He went off for an hour and was limping when he returned to the field, delivering just two mediocre overs at the close.

England chose to go with just four specialist bowlers on a blistering hot day and Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann – aided by part-timers Paul Collingwood and Jonathan Trott - were wilting by the final session as South Africa gradually turned the game around.

In the final press conference yesterday, England captain Andrew Strauss was asked if 34-year-old Kallis, the world’s top all-rounder would be “mentally vulnerable” after the rib he cracked in October meant he went into the first Test unable to bowl. Strauss grinned: “I don’t think Jacques Kallis and the words “mentally vulnerable” go together do they? I think if he has to do his talking with the bat, he will.”

And he did, pairing up with JP Duminy (38 not out) and AB De Villiers (32) to lead his country out of trouble from a “mentally vulnerable” position of 93-3.

Both Kallis and De Villiers survived confident appeals to the new-fangled “decision review” system – Kallis for an apparently plum LBW and De Villiers a cast-iron caught behind - leaving England with no reviews to call on tomorrow. Just to add to the misery, the unseen television umpire, India’s Amiesh Saheba, also reprieved South African batsman Ashwell Prince when he was given out LBW by Aussie umpire Steve Davis.

It all started so well for England when South African captain Graeme Smith, usually so patient, opted to chase Stuart Broad down the leg side, got a touch to one that bounced, and Matt Prior took a lovely diving catch to provide the first wicket of the series after just nine balls.

The South Africans were wearing black armbands as a tribute to Smith’s grandfather who died over the weekend, which might go some way to explaining his uncharacteristic loss of concentration this morning.

As a furious Smith ducked out, Broad continued to get bounce but the South Africans battled their way through the first hour with Hashim Amla and Prince surviving numerous oohs and ahs from the English slip cordon.

When Durham’s Graeme Onions came on to bowl his first balls in anger for some time on this tour, he had Amla in trouble with two huge lbw shouts but captain Andrew Strauss declined the opportunity to go to a review.

Onions thought he’d finally struck in the 19th over when Australian umpire Steve Davis responded to a third, huge appeal – this time for the wicket of Prince on 19. But despite the fickle finger being raised, the new-fangled review system was called into operation and once more, showed the ball was going marginally over the top and Prince was reprieved.

Onions – the pick of England’s bowlers with his late out-swing – finally got his reward in the 21st over of the day, with Amla’s attempted drive producing an edge to the diving Paul Collingwood in the slips. The man with the mighty beard was gone for a hairy 19 off 67 balls and South Africa were 51-2 with all-rounder Kallis, who is unlikely to bowl in this Test due to his rib problem, striding to the crease. The papers have been full of anxiety over his fitness here, and we soon found out why.

Spinner Graeme Swann produced the third wicket with his second ball after coming on in the 35th over. He got Prince to turn one low to a grateful Collingwood and was gone for 45 off 94 balls and South Africa were 93-3. Kallis responded in Swann’s next over, hitting the livewire Nottinghamshire tweaker for a huge six and a four.

The review system and invisible telly umpire Saheba became the talking point as first Kallis was given not out to a very good shout from Anderson on 35 – it seemed to fulfil all the criteria but may just have got an inside edge – then De Villiers appeared to be snaffled behind by Prior off Swann but though the replay suggested there had been an edge, the crowd roared their approval at the not out verdict.

The review system does not use the “hot spot” technology which shows if the ball has hit the bat, and Saheba may have been confused by Prior whipping the bails off after taking the catch. But England were convinced they had got their man – instead captain Strauss, so cautious in the early session, was left with no reviews left to take.

A frustrated Swann finally got one to turn sharply on De Villiers, who was caught by Cook at short leg for 32. But by then Smith’s early dismissal and the last-minute injury to Dale Steyn, currently No1 in the world Test rankings, were history. Day one to South Africa with a long, hot day two to come.

And you have to ask: Was Strauss right to bowl when he won the toss on the hottest day of the tour so far after opting not to pick a fifth bowler? Smith said it: “I would have had a bat.”

Labels: , , ,

Monday, 14 December 2009

Kallis comeback a blow for England

ENGLAND received a significant blow to their chances of winning the Test series in South Africa this morning when the hosts confirmed the world’s top all-rounder Jacques Kallis has declared himself fit for Centurion tomorrow.

Day one of the first Test would have been far more comfortable for Andrew Strauss’s men had Kallis’s rib injury ruled him out, but it appears a programme of oxygen-chamber treatment has been enough to get South Africa’s key man ready in a four-match series they need to win 2-0 to return to the top of the world rankings.

The good news? Kallis (left) may only be able to bat and there are signs of tension within the South African camp over the call up of paceman Friedel de Wet on standby for Kallis or Dale Steyn, South Africa’s highest ranked bowler.

Mike Procter, the former Gloucestershire all-rounder and current head of selectors here, sent opening bat Alvrio Petersen, all-rounder Ryan McLaren and – much to chagrin of coach Mickey Arthur – paceman Wayne Parnell back to their provinces today after yet another stormy afternoon in Centurion.

Despite allegations in this week’s Johannesburg Sunday Times that he didn’t see eye to eye with Procter over the selection of De Wet, Arthur said: "We are happy with the state of readiness of all squad members to play in the first Test on Wednesday. Both Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn should be fit to take their places.

"We are keeping Friedel de Wet on standby as a like-for-like replacement for Dale. There is always the chance with bowlers that Dale could wake up on the morning of the match with a recurrence of his hamstring problem and we don't want to have to scramble around for a last-minute replacement."

Procter defended his choice of De Wet ahead of Parnell insisting: "Friedel had a good season last year and I've seen him bowl recently on some pretty flat tracks at East London and at Johannesburg so he's a player worth looking at and we'll see what comes out of it.”

If Kallis can’t bowl and Steyn’s hamstring is still dodgy, De Wet could be a vital part of the South African attack next to Makhaya Ntini, the near-legendary seamer who makes his 100th Test appearance on Wednesday.

Despite yesterday’s broadside from England’s Stuart Broad, suggesting the South Africans may be a little rusty after three months without Test cricket, Ntini – who became the first black man to play for South Africa against Sri Lanka at Newlands in 1998 aged 20 - insisted: "Of course we favourites. We are on our home grounds and will have a lot of support."

Ntini, hoping to add to the 388 Test wickets which have put him 11th best in the history of Test cricket, insists: “Guys these days are not working hard enough to take their chances. They don’t have to work as hard as I did. It would be nice to see black cricketers given more opportunities – and taking them.

“They are not hungry enough to do well. They play one or two games and think they are part and parcel of the team. When I started out, I was the fifth choice. I took advice and practiced to get in the team.”

But turning to England without his old foe Andrew Flintoff, he said: "They've lost one of their major players in Freddie. He was the one who made a huge impact. Losing the pillar of the team means we have a better chance - because he was always the guy that intimidated us.'' England appear to be injury free after the early spate of problems on tour. James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who have both snubbed the IPL circus once more, looked lethal out in the middle yesterday after shoulder and knee problems.

After Broad’s rousing rallying cry (see below), the only England player under the weather – and it’s pretty bad weather here – is Yorkshire leg spinner Adil Rashid.

He was given a tough time in the nets by Kevin Pietersen and the big hitters at Pretoria University and that was followed by the news that uncapped Kent off-spinner James Tredwell has been called up to the Test squad, leaving Rashid to languish in the Performance Programme squad. Tredwell will make his debut on Wednesday if the in-form, full-of-life Graeme Swann has a recurrence of his back injury.

Coach Andy Flower said: “Graeme’s injury is improving and we expect him to be available for Wednesday. But with a further three Tests to come after Centurion we have decided that we need a ‘like for like’ replacement on hand for Graeme should this be required later in the tour.” While Rashid has been struggling with bat and ball Tredwell made 70 for the Performance squad against Nashua Titans President’s Xl last week.

Oh... and my blog on Stuart Broad yesterday was the back page lead on the London Evening Standard yesterday... see

Labels: , england test series, first test, injury, , mickey arthur,

Sunday, 13 December 2009

England named team of the year by the BBC as their new challenge gets underway

ENGLAND were named team of the year at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year awards last night for their epic Ashes triumph last summer.
The players, watching a satellite feed of the ceremony from their hotel in Sandton near Johannesburg, roared when they were handed the accolade for beating Australia, then the world's top ranked Test nation.
Captain Andrew Strauss said: "It's a truly great honour for us and the lads are chuffed to bits. It has been a long and arduous 12 months with lots of ups and downs, and we have stuck together through some pretty tough times. That, ultimately, is what got us over the line in the Ashes."
But this morning attention turns to the Test series against South Africa which starts in Centurion on Wednesday.
Two days before the first Test they are already 2-0 up – in the injury stakes.
While South Africa's wounded warriors Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn continue to struggle, England's stricken seamers Jimmy Anderson (right) and Ryan Sidebottom both arrived back at high altitude yesterday with real match time under their belts.
Coach Andy Flower's men head to the nearby University of Pretoria today for an in-the-middle training session where both Anderson and Sidebottom will be given the final all-clear to start a series which has captured the imagination here after England's shock 2-1 win in the one-day series, South Africa's first defeat on home soil since 2002.
With his baffling knee injury easing, Anderson bowled 15 overs on Saturday and took a wicket against the South African invitation eleven in East London while Sidebottom took a highly encouraging 5-42. Strauss said: "I'm not overly concerned. There is an element of risk with Jimmy, but it's a small one. Even when his knee has been hurting quite a lot, it still hasn't prevented him from bowling.
"I don't think you can be totally sure how Jimmy feels until we see how his knee settles down this week. On Saturday he bowled three spells and he didn't seem like he had any ill-effects. That is encouraging, and all the way through this tour that knee has gradually been getting better.
"We've obviously got to be confident he can up that workload even more for the Test match. We'll have to judge it pretty carefully. But at the moment, we're quite confident."
Strauss added: "Jimmy, Ryan and Graeme Swann are all bowling well but we've got to put in a bit of work in the next two days at altitude before the Test starts.
"We will have to wait to see what the conditions are like at Centurion. If it looks like there will be help for the bowlers we'll probably go in with four bowlers. We shall see.
"This first Test in crucial in a four-Test series. We've got to win this first one."
South Africa's key all-rounder Kallis, who suffered a broken rib in October, was only able to have a "gentle net" at the hosts' pre-series camp in Potchefstroom yesterday after two days in a oxygen chamber while their quickest bowler Steyn was bowling at "80 percent".
South African coach Mickey Arthur said: "There are still concerns about Dale's hamstring and Jacques’ problem. The conservative option would be to play Ryan McLaren as our all-rounder. We don't want to be in a position where the guys are uncertain on the morning of the game."
The inexperienced McLaren is no like-for-like replacement for Kallis though and with England’s top-order batsmen Alastair Cook, Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Paul Collingwood all in form heading into the Tests, the locals fear England may have the edge on batting depth.
Former England coach Duncan Fletcher spent most of yesterday in the nets with Morne Morkel, clearly trying to improve the paceman’s durability as a late order batsman. As he wrestles over the length of his tail, Arthur admitted he could even give a debut to Alviro Petersen. Arthur said: "We have pretty much covered all bases and ultimately it will be up to us to make the right decision. First prize is a fit Jacques Kallis.
"By Wednesday we will have a very good indication of where he is. It has felt a lot better, but we won't know until we put it through proper training, bowling for spells and batting, and only then will we be able to make a decision. He spent two days in the oxygen camber and we just hope that speeds up the recovery."
South Africa need to win the series 2-0 to retake their position at the top of the world Test rankings from India but they haven’t played Test cricket for four months with Arthur lamenting: "It's about time, I'm really looking forward to getting back into Test match mode. It's where we are really challenged as a team. Fighting and attritional qualities comes through. Test cricket is still the ultimate in our dressing room."
Without Kallis though, the locals are seriously worried about a Test series they expected to win when England and their four locally-born tourists first landed for the wham-bang early stages of this tour. With the Ashes and the one-day series neatly tucked under the belts, England – ranked fifth in the world as opposed to South Africa in second – are 33-10 with the bookmakers while the hosts are 13-10 favourites.
But the way it’s rained in South Africa so far this summer – England have spent nearly half their tour watching the summer downpours – you’d have to consider the 14-10 on a draw with the sides heading to Durban on Boxing Day all square.

Labels: bbc sports personality of the year, england team of the year, england versus south africa, , jimmy anderson, test series