BAR that last “crazy” hour, as Andrew Strauss described it, England played some fantastic cricket in the first Test at Centurion over the weekend and have every reason to be encouraged ahead of the second Test in Durban, on Boxing Day.
In many ways, it had an air of the Ashes about it, didn’t it? A crazy England collapse and lucky to escape in the end, but the relief and confidence gained by going into the second Test at 0-0, is very reminiscent of Cardiff in the summer.
There was a lot of talk about whether Strauss should have batted first on winning the toss at Centurion and I think, with the benefit of hindsight, he probably would have done so if in that position again. The fact is, however, it was a 50/50 call and there was nothing in the Test to suggest he had made a grave error of judgement.
I’m really liking the look of England right now. With the ball, we look a nice balanced attack. Graham Onions bowled nice and straight and hit the seam, James Anderson seems to have got over his niggle and Stuart Broad, although he didn’t enjoy his best game, makes up a nice, varied three-pronged bowling attack.
Then there’s Graeme Swann. What a game he had. Swann is fast developing into a fantastic all-round cricketer. He bowled beautifully for his five wickets in the first innings and then added 80-odd with the bat. As it stands, Swann’s batting average is higher than Andrew Flintoff’s, while his bowling average is lower than Flintoff’s. What a boost that is for England.
With the bat, we also look in good nick and it was nice to see Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott get among the runs. Strauss and Paul Collingwood are both in fine form, the only question marks remain over Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Matt Prior, who could all do with a decent knock.
As for Durban, I really can’t see England changing much in their approach or personnel. The team talk will surely be along the lines of “same again lads” and if that is the case then we’re in for another cracker.