Selection blunders, Proteas batsmen again poor and more- Talking points from South Africa vs England Port Elizabeth 2020

England registered their first overseas win by an innings since 2011 Sydney as they comprehensively outplayed South Africa in Port Elizabeth. Tailenders Keshav Maharaj and Dane Paterson frustrated the visitors for a while on the fifth morning, but the end was inevitable and Sam Curran’s run out saw England emerge victors by an innings and 53 runs. Maharaj did equal the record for most runs in an over in test cricket (28) as he took Joe Root to the cleaners, but there was precious little otherwise to cheer for the home fans.

maharaj root 28 run over

Here are our talking points from the clash in PE.

1. Proteas get selection wrong.

It’s the batsmen who have struggled more in recent times, but the Proteas bizarrely opted to strengthen their bowling for this game and dropped batting all rounder Dwaine Pretorius. Even worse, the extra bowler selected- Dane Paterson, toiled hard but was clearly ill-suited to this track. The conditions did not help Vernon Philander either and despite playing five bowlers the Proteas were forced to chase leather as England racked up nearly 500 runs after choosing to bat first.

sa cricket team v england pe 2020

2. South African batsmen continue to struggle

South Africa’s batsmen again came a cropper as England ran through them at St George’s Park. In the first innings, the Proteas lost half their side for 109; in the second innings they were 83/6 at one stage. While England had two centurions in Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes, the highest score from a Proteas top six batsman was 63 from the bat of Quinton De Kock, with none of the others even crossing 40. The fact that the Maharaj/Paterson last wicket partnership was the hosts’ highest of the innings tells a story by itself.

3. England’s youngsters impress

Ben Stokes again proved his worth in the longest format, and he was ably supported by England’s youngsters. The visitors had five players younger then South Africa’s youngest player in KG Rabada and each of the quintet played vital roles- Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley laid the platform upfront, Ollie Pope brought back memories of Ian Bell with a sparkling 135, Sam Curran made a crucial 44 and effected the run out that won England the game and Dom Bess claimed a 5 er in the first innings. If they continue to progress at this level it will only augur well for the side’s future. Continue reading “Selection blunders, Proteas batsmen again poor and more- Talking points from South Africa vs England Port Elizabeth 2020”

Impressive Nortje, Twin Failures for YJB & more- Five Talking Points from Proteas vs England-2019

Mark Boucher’s first game as South Africa coach saw the Proteas beat England by 107 runs at Centurion- a long awaited win after a torrid year for Faf du Plessi’s men. For a brief while, England threatened to do what Sri Lanka had done at Kingsmead earlier this year, but their hopes were dashed after the home side took the second new ball as they lost their last seven wickets for 64 runs.

Here are our talking points from Days 2,3 & 4 at Supersport Park.

1. Impressive Anrich Nortje

Chosen ahead of Beuran Hendricks and Dane Paterson, Nortje justified his selection with a fine all round performance. He took the key wicket of Ben Stokes- arguably England’s best test batsman this year, in the first innings, and then got both Rory Burns and Joe Root in the second innings. He also made a vital 40 as nightwatchman- no Proteas batsman faced more deliveries than him in their second innings, and he was also involved in their biggest partnership of the game (91) with Rassie van der Dussen.

His combination with Kagiso Rabada looks very promising for South Africa and they will be hoping the duo can go from strength to strength.

2. Twin failures for YJB

It was a game to forget for Jonny Bairstow on his return to the England test team. The manner of his dismissals at Centurion will again raise questions about his suitability for the longest version of the game- he was bowled by Anrich Nortje in the first innings and attempted an ill-timed swipe at a swinging, wide delivery from Rabada, only to give a catch to Zubayr Hamza at gully. Continue reading “Impressive Nortje, Twin Failures for YJB & more- Five Talking Points from Proteas vs England-2019”

Dean Elgar’s first golden duck, impressive Sam Curran & More- Five Talking Points from Proteas vs England 2019 Centurion Test Day 1

South Africa began the Mark Boucher era with a batting display that felt more like one that belonged to his predecessor Ottis Gibson as they reached 277/9 at stumps against England at the end of the first Day at Centurion.

There was a very good crowd at Supersport Park for this Boxing Day game- nowhere near what the MCG had earlier in the day (80,473 for Australia vs New Zealand) or even what Newlands will have for the New Years’ test, but still an excellent one by Centurion’s standards, aided by the travelling Barmy Army.

England will probably be the happier of the two sides, but will also see the first day as an opportunity missed after having the Proteas on the ropes at 111/5 at one stagein the second session.

Here are our talking points from the first day’s action at Centurion.

A maiden golden duck for Dean Elgar: The first ball of the series saw Elgar nick a Jimmy Anderson ball down leg to Jos Buttler. It was an early Christmas gift for Anderson, playing his 150th test, and a first ever golden duck for Elgar, who has never previously been dismissed on the first ball that he’s faced in his 60 test career.

Mixed returns for South Africa’s debutants: The Proteas handed debuts to Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius. The former, apart from Elgar, was the only one of the top 8 not to cross double figures, but the latter looked decent for his 33. Both fell in identical fashion- caught by Joe Root at slip off the bowling of Sam Curran.

Sam Curran impresses: Speaking of Curran, the 21 year old was the pick of England’s bowlers at Supersport Park. Whenever a South African partnership threatened to become dangerous, Curran nipped it in the bud. As mentioned before, he took out both Van der Dussen and Pretorius, and also opener Aiden Markram and the innings’ top scorer, Quinton de Kock. Joe Root had only four pacers to turn to because of Ben Stokes’ troublesome knee, and Curran ensured that his captain’s decision at the toss to field first didn’t go against the visitors.

Curran’s selection also merits asking another question- did South Africa err by not picking Beuran Hendricks on this track?

SA v Eng Continue reading “Dean Elgar’s first golden duck, impressive Sam Curran & More- Five Talking Points from Proteas vs England 2019 Centurion Test Day 1”

Talking Points from England vs New Zealand 14 July 2019- The Greatest World Cup Final Ever?

England ended their 44 year wait for a Cricket World Cup title as they were crowned 2019 champions at Lord’s after a dramatic final hour that saw both teams tied in both regular time and the Super Over, forcing the officials to declare Trevor Bayliss’ men winners on the boundary countback rule.

It was the third successive time that the host of the World Cup had lifted the title, following victories for India in 2011 and Australia in 2015.

The final was a tight, attritional affair, but the end was truly dramatic, and probably catapulted it to No.1 on the list for best ODI’s ever. Certainly the best World Cup final ever, and with it being telecast on Free-To-Air in the United Kingdom, would’ve potentially inspired thousands of young kids to take up the game. Here are our talking points from this epic fixture.

The Guptill “overthrow” that took a deflection off Ben Stokes’ bat

Perhaps the biggest talking point of them all! With 9 to win in 3 balls, Canterbury born Stokes hit Trent Boult to deep midwicket and set off. While the former was returning for the second, Martin Guptill’s throw from the deep inadvertently took a deflection off Stokes’ bat, and went past keeper Tom Latham to the boundary.

Umpire Kumar Dharmasena signalled six runs (2 for Stokes and 4 for the overthrow). As cruel as it was for Black Caps fans to stomach the decision in real time, it was made worse after the legendary Simon Taufel said that his umpiring mates had made a mistake- it should’ve been five runs instead of six, and that Adil Rashid should’ve been on strike for the penultimate delivery instead of Stokes. In another universe, this could so easily have been a maiden NZ World Cup win.

Trent Boult steps on the rope

James Neesham had produced a fine 49th over under pressure, and it would’ve been a match winning one but for Boult’s lapse in judgement on the boundary. Stokes went for the big hit, and Boult claimed a catch on the boundary, but failed to notice the rope behind him, and stepped on it before he could potentially throw the ball to Guptill for a relay catch.

Mitch Santner ducks under Jofra Archer’s bouncer in the final ball of the New Zealand innings

Perhaps not as noticed as the two errors above, but it did cost New Zealand. On the final ball of the Black Caps innings, Santner simply ducked under an Archer bouncer instead of attempting to hit it, and wasn’t even able to run a bye. In a game when there were two “ties”, an extra run might’ve seen NZ being crowned World champions.

Will the boundaries rule be canned by the ICC?

In their wildest dreams, the ICC would not have expected this final to end the way it did. Deciding the winner on the boundaries rule doesn’t feel like the appropriate way to decide a World Cup champion- some would argue that NZ should’ve won it because they bowled England out in regular time and lost only 8 wickets in theirs. Should the trophy have been shared between the two teams? Or should there have been another version of “sudden death” to decide the winner after the Super Over tie? The debate will continue for ages.

Should Kane Williamson have asked Lockie Ferguson to bowl the Super Over?

Trent Boult has been Williamson’s go-to man in the last four overs, but the left armer was slightly wayward today, bowling a bunch of full tosses and length deliveries instead of nailing his yorkers, and finishing with 0-67 in his 10 overs. On the evidence of how things panned out in regular time, Ferguson, with his ability to bowl both fast and slower bouncers as well as yorkers, might’ve been a better choice.

Jason Roy and Jos Buttler hold their nerve

Roy and Buttler were the only two batsmen to strike at close to a run a ball on a pitch where their team mates struggled. But they will be immortalised in English cricket history for their roles in that final ball run out of Martin Guptill. Roy, who had misfielded earlier in the Super Over, showed great awareness and speed to throw the ball to Buttler, who held his nerve and cleverly positioned himself in front of the stumps to run out the diving Guptill.

Talking Points from England vs Australia Cricket World Cup 2019 Semi-Final 2

England comfortably saw off defending champions Australia in Birmingham to book their spot in the final at Lord’s against New Zealand. Here are our talking points from the second CWC 2019 semi-final.

The Cricket World Cup will have a new winner

Sunday’s final will be between New Zealand and England- two nations who have never won the Cricket World Cup before. We’re therefore guaranteed a new winner- the first such champion since Sri Lanka’s victory back in 1996. Given Australia’s domination of the event over the last two decades, this will come as a whiff of fresh air.

Australia lose a CWC semi-final for the first time in their history

Australia had competed in seven CWC semi-finals before this, and had advanced from all. Today though was a bridge too far for them- with injuries to Khawaja and Shaun Marsh and Stoinis & Starc not exactly 100%, they were no match for England’s power game at the Bear Pit.

Archer and Woakes do the damage at the top; Steve Smith wages a lone battle

David Warner seemed pumped up for this occasion at the anthem and started the game with a beautiful drive for four. However Jofra Archer trapped Finch LBW in the first ball of his spell and Warner followed soon after being forced to fend a rising Chris Woakes delivery to Jonny Bairstow at slip. Finch and Warner had done the bulk of Australia’s scoring in this tournament, and like with India, the Australian middle order couldn’t quite salvage the situation. Steve Smith waged a lone battle and had some support from Alex Carey but Australia could only muster 220 odd on a very good batting wicket.

Jos Buttler’s “nutmeg” run out of Steve Smith

Smith, as mentioned before, stood between England and a quick Australian capitulation, and had taken the visitors past 200 in the company of Mitch Starc. Just as it seemed he would take them to 250, he was dismissed by a brilliant run out from Jos Buttler, with the ball literally “nutmegging” Smith en route to the stumps. Instead of the 240-250 they had hoped for, Australia were dismissed for only 223. Continue reading “Talking Points from England vs Australia Cricket World Cup 2019 Semi-Final 2”

Talking Points & Fan Analysis- England vs India Cricket World Cup 2019

England wrested back fourth spot from Pakistan after a fine all-round display saw them beat India by 31 runs at Edgbaston. Here are our talking points from this fixture.

India suffer their first defeat of CWC 2019

India’s loss today at Edgbaston was their first of the tournament- it also means that every team at CWC 2019 has suffered at least one defeat.

England’s victory also paves the way for Australia to finish first- the defending champions will top the table if they beat South Africa in their final game.

India, for the first time in this tournament, also wore a special away kit today- will they wear it again if they meet England in the last four?

CWC 2019 Table after England vs INdia

Jason Roy’s return a timely one for England

We had noted that England’s defeats against Sri Lanka and Australia came with Jason Roy missing. The Durban born opener was back in action today, and it also ensured a return to form for his partner Jonny Bairstow. The duo put on 160 runs in 22 overs, and that fine opening stand allowed England the luxury of a few quiet overs in the middle before they unleashed a final overs blitzkrieg.

India will feel Shikhar Dhawan’s absence as they go further in the tournament

Shikhar Dhawan is an absolutely fantastic player, more so in ICC tournaments, and today was more evidence that India will sorely miss him in the latter stages of the tournament. His replacement, KL Rahul, made a nine ball duck in India’s chase of 338.

With Dhawan missing, India also opted to give young Rishabh Pant, another southpaw, a go in the middle order. Pant was decent in his 29 ball 32, and may have just done enough to earn another crack at the position. Continue reading “Talking Points & Fan Analysis- England vs India Cricket World Cup 2019”

Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- Australia vs England Group Stages World Cup 2019

England crashed to their second straight defeat at the World Cup as Australia beat Trevor Bayliss’ men by 64 runs at Lord’s. Here are our talking points from the game.

England’s semi-final spot in serious jeopardy

Earlier in the tournament, England appeared to be cantering towards a semi-final spot, but the twin losses to Australia and Sri Lanka have put the cat among the pigeons. They are on 8 points from 7 games, and have India and New Zealand to play in their final two clashes. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could all potentially leapfrog the hosts.

England will be watching tomorrow’s Pakistan-New Zealand game with great interest. A Black Caps win will settle some nerves, but a Pakistan victory will make England’s clash against India a must-win, not an ideal scenario given the form Virat Kohli’s men are currently in.

CWC Table After Australia vs England June 25

Jason Roy injury hurting England

England’s tournament has taken a turn for the worse since Jason Roy’s injury. He didn’t feature in the losses against Sri Lanka and Australia. Alex Hales and Roy were key figures for the English in their ODI resurgence, but with one banned and the other injured, their opening pair looks vulnerable. James Vince rarely seems to be able to cross 30, and that pressure appears to be transferring to the middle order.

Another England loss while chasing

Eoin Morgan won the toss and opted to field first. And as it’s so turned out, all three of England’s losses in this tournament- Pakistan, Sri Lanka and now Australia, have come while chasing. Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- Australia vs England Group Stages World Cup 2019”

Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- England vs Sri Lanka World Cup 2019

Sri Lanka, led by veteran Lasith Malinga, produced a stunning comeback with the ball as England failed to chase down 233 at Headingley. Trevor Bayliss’ men have now lost twice in the tournament and with Australia, India and New Zealand as their remaining opponents, could suddenly find it tough to qualify for the semis. Here are our talking points from the game.

Sri Lanka victory keeps the tournament alive

An England win here would’ve all but decided the identity of the semi-finalists, with India also expected to see off Afghanistan tomorrow.

Instead Sri Lanka’s victory has kept the tournament alive for the likes of Bangladesh, West Indies and even South Africa. England now have eight points from six games and may need to win one, if not two of their remaining three games against Australia, England and NZ to qualify for the last four- not so straightforward given the form the trio have been in.

CWC table after England vs Sri Lanka-2019

The Root review that kept Sri Lanka in the game

Yesterday, South Africa failed to notice a clear nick from Kane Williamson at a crucial period during the Kiwi chase.. Today Joe Root edged a delivery going down leg from Malinga to the keeper. The umpire didn’t give it out, but Sri Lanka went for the review, and got their man. Root was as important to the English cause as Williamson was to New Zealand’s yesterday, and his dismissal gave Sri Lanka renewed belief.

Malinga and Matthews pull it off for Sri Lanka

The two veterans played major roles in this stunning victory. Matthews was slow with the bat, but his 85 gave the Lankans something to bowl at, and Malinga was simply superb with the ball, picking up the wickets of Bairstow, Vince, Root and Buttler to keep the visitors’ hopes alive. He would’ve even had Stokes and a deserved 5fer at the end, but for Kusal Mendis spilling a chance in the deep.

Do England crumble under scoreboard pressure?

Both of England’s losses in this tournament- previously against Pakistan and here against Sri Lanka, came while chasing. They do bat deep, but such factors can be rendered irrelevant in the face of scoreboard pressure, as it did today. They also lost to Australia in the warm-ups while chasing.

This was very winnable for England, but their lower order- Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer in particular, threw their wickets away when all they needed was to stay with Ben Stokes.

A proper choke one has to stay- one the Proteas would’ve been proud of! Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis- England vs Sri Lanka World Cup 2019”

Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis Pakistan vs England- Cricket World Cup 2019

Perhaps the game of the World Cup so far, as Pakistan defied all pre-match odds to stun England at Trent Bridge. The visitors racked up 348 after being sent in by Eoin Morgan, and England, despite having two centurions in the chase, fell 14 runs short. Here are our talking points from this epic clash in Nottingham.

You never quite know which Pakistan team will turn up

Three days ago, this Pakistan team had been thrashed at this very ground by a West Indies side that had barely managed to qualify for the World Cup themselves. Today they pulled themselves up to halt their record losing streak in ODI’s and stun pre-tournament favourites England. It musn’t be forgotten that just a month ago, they had been beaten 4-0 by England in a bilateral series. For the neutrals, Pakistan remain a hugely entertaining side- a team that can beat the best, but also lose to the worst. After five days of CWC 2019, they now hold the records for both the highest and lowest scores in this tournament.

Did Eoin Morgan err by opting to field first?

Did Morgan make the same mistake as Faf du Plessis did yesterday by sending Pakistan in? There was no scoreboard pressure for the visitors to deal with when they batted, and while England tried their best to keep pace with the required rate, there’s a reason why 300+ scores aren’t chased that often in World Cups, and Trevor Bayliss’ men eventually fell short. Pakistan are not known to be a good chasing team and bowling remains their stronger suit.

The redemption of Wahab Riaz

It’s not often that one uses the word “redemption” for a bowler who goes for over 80 runs, but it was apt for Wahab Riaz. The much maligned pacer (he had been publicly criticised by coach Micky Arthur), swung the game in Pakistan’s favour by getting the wickets of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes in successive balls in the 48th over. Not quite in the same league as Wasim Akram’s legendary deliveries to dismiss Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in the 1992 final, but just reward for a pacer who had toiled hard and should’ve got more wickets on the day.

Pakistan Starting Line up vs England-2019

Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Fan Analysis Pakistan vs England- Cricket World Cup 2019”

Five Talking Points & Analysis- England vs South Africa- First Game of Cricket World Cup 2019

England kicked off their World Cup campaign with a comfortable 104 run victory over South Africa at the Oval. Here are our talking points from the hosts’ opening day clash against the Proteas.

South Africa undone by Archer pace

Last month Jofra Archer wasn’t even in England’s preliminary World Cup squad. Today he single-handedly broke the back of South Africa’s batting with his searing pace. His first spell saw him nail Hashim Amla with a bouncer that forced the veteran to retire hurt, and then account for both Aiden Markram and Faf du Plessis. To finish things off, he also dismissed the well-set Rassie van der Dussen in his second spell, thus eliminating any slim hopes the Proteas might have entertained of upsetting the hosts.

Archer’s average speed was in the mid 140’s, a good 10km or more than the rest of the bowlers on the day. On a slightly two paced wicket, he made the batsman uncomfortable with his pace, and has effectively confirmed his spot in the XI for the rest of the tournament.

England lineup vs South Africa World Cup 2019

Familiar Proteas middle order implosion

South Africa have been heavily dependent on Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis for their runs in the last eighteen months or so. Du Plessis was dismissed early by Archer, but De Kock marched on, making a fine fifty to take South Africa to 129/2 in the company of Rassie van der Dussen. However once QdK holed out to Root on the fine leg boundary, the Proteas fell apart. The visitors needed JP Duminy and Dwaine Pretorius to keep things ticking, but the former fell to a poor shot and the latter to a needless run-out (there’s always one in Proteas games at key ICC events!). It left too much to do for Andile Phehlukwayo and Van der Dussen, and South Africa eventually slumped to a 104 run defeat.

Ben Stokes stars with a 3D performance Continue reading “Five Talking Points & Analysis- England vs South Africa- First Game of Cricket World Cup 2019”