THE fact is that England got outplayed in almost every department in that first Test. It was all plain sailing on the first day. They won the toss, batted and were in a reasonable position at the end of that day, and then it all went downhill from there.
England never got control of the game. 267-3 looked good, but it took them all day to get to that total which meant that the South African bowling attack still had control of the game, even if they’d not got wickets. England weren’t in a dominant position and then, of course, when the ball moved around a bit more, England lost whatever advantage they had, and with South Africa’s performance that was that. The much-vaunted England attack looked toothless.
No matter what you can say about South Africa being under prepared, when it came to it they were prepared enough. I’m sure England didn’t go in expecting
an easy run but they were completely outplayed.
Losing the first Test of a three match series is clearly the wrong way to go. The final Test is at Lord’s and normally the pitches there are very flat, so you would hope to see a positive game at Headingley.
I said last week, before the Test started, that I hoped Steven Finn would play but England went with Tim Bresnan again. It was the tried and trusted formula but they need Finn to provide more firepower. Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn alone outbowled the three English teams – never mind Jacques Kallis and Vernon Philander. That’s got to change – Finn has to play.
Andrew Strauss has been a very conservative captain. His team has always managed to engineer positions against sides that would almost fall away and not have the staying power or consistency of England, but South Africa do. We have to make something happen and perhaps put the batsmen under more pressure. We have to be more direct in our approach, especially with the ball.
At no stage did South Africa looked flustered and when their chance came to win the game on that second morning, they did it in good style. Clearly they’re batting very well – anyone that gets 300 in any game has played their socks off, but England have to be more attacking in the way they bowl. If they play the same way again, they will not beat South Africa.
I was confident before this Test but my expectation – and those of the fans – was above what was delivered. But I don’t see that we’re guilty of overrating England. This is one game. England have been outplayed and had a real wake up call, but you don’t become a bad side overnight. This is a good England team. They’ve had a defeat so they’ve just got to react and come out fighting.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who captained, and then later acted as chairman of, Warwickshire.