ENGLAND were correctly hammered for defeat, and particularly the manner of it, against Ireland but victory over South Africa could prove the defining moment in their quest for World Cup glory.
Had it gone the other way against South Africa yesterday I fear it would have been impossible for England to have picked themselves up off the canvas. Thankfully, a wonderful rearguard performance from the bowlers means we don’t have to countenance that prospect and I expect England to now go from strength to strength.
England can put the Ireland debacle behind them and Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower should be emphasising to their players that they’ve now faced two of the strongest sides in the competition and matched them.
Having said that, I feel the South Africans have been massively overrated and the tie England achieved against India represents a better result than a win in bowler friendly conditions against the Proteas.
Sure, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla are a terrific opening combination, Jacques Kallis is the best all-rounder in the game, AB de Villiers is in great nick and the two new ball bowlers are a fearsome pair.
But that’s only half a side. The rest are bits and pieces cricketers – people are raving about Imran Tahir the leg-spinner, but he can’t bat or field – and if the main men don’t contribute, they’ll always be susceptible to the sort of collapses which turn winning positions into gut-wrenching defeats.
From a general perspective, finally, it was refreshing to see a game whereby the ball dominated the bat. So far in this tournament it’s been a case of who can hit the most boundaries. And with all due respect, when Ireland and Holland are racking up big scores, you know the wickets are dead.
Ideally you want an even contest but for the sake of drama and excitement I hope we see more tracks like the one in Chennai.