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Daniel Brigham: Bowlers can win it for England in South Africa

December 15th, 2009 by Daniel Brigham in England


As enthralling as it was watching Sri Lanka’s attempts to chase down India’s 414, it couldn’t detract from my childish anticipation of the start of England’s Test series in South Africa tomorrow.

As Dilshan was Dilscooping his way to a stunning 160, my thoughts were turning to Andrew Strauss nurdling Paul Harris around, Dale Steyn and Mahkya Ntini blocking out the last five overs for a draw and the rhythm of paceman and spinner bowling in tandem for a session.

While ODI and Twenty20 memories are usually made of 60-ball hundreds and last-ball finishes, there’s no room for broader, longer-lasting imprints: Atherton V Donald, Anderson and Monty at Cardiff, Warne’s ball of the century,  “Jones … Bowden … Kasprowicz the man to go”.

Test cricket provides these match-changing moments in abundance, and I think England have it in them to offer more of them than South Africa. But only just.

Both batting line-ups look capable of scoring heavily, although for England to match South Africa they will need a rejuvenated Kevin Pietersen. So, assuming KP is back in the runs, the result of the series is likely to come down to the bowlers.

While Steyn has reached something of a plateau since his tour to England in 2008, 42 wickets at 27 in that time shows he remains a real threat – certainly more so than anything England faced in the Ashes. But his bowling team-mates have lost their matchwinning mojo. Morne Morkel looks unlikely to meet early career expectations, Jacques Kallis is struggling for fitness, Ntini is good for one or two wickets but rarely more these days and Paul Harris, well, he just has to be found out soon. See off Steyn and England can relax.

So that leaves James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann. All three will bowl dreadfully at stages in this series and it’s unlikely they will remain fit for all four Tests. Yet they will all, at some stage, bowl a spell that will change a match in England’s favour, and it’s those moments that will swing a very tight series.

2-1 England.

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer.

You can follow him on twitter  @WisdenCric_Dan

Posted in England | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Daniel Brigham: Bowlers can win it for England in South Africa”

  1.   Chandra says:

    England bowling is much weaker than one thinks it is and SAF batting is way ahead of England…Smith, Duminy and AB are way ahead of anybody in England…..SAF 2-0

  2.   Daniel Brigham says:

    England’s bowling can be dreadful, but they have moments of brilliance. The South African attack lacks that.

    I’d say Strauss and Smith are on similar levels as batsmen, KP and AB are as good as each other while Duminy doesn’t like it up him and I think he’ll be found out this series.

  3.   Cricket Tragic says:

    True, Daniel, nothing ever beats tests. Even if SL wins 4-1 in the ODIs, it isn’t going to make me any happier as we lost the test-series badly…

    Some of the most memorable bowling that I have ever watched is

    i. Shane Warne’s 40 wickets in Ashes 2005

    ii. Shoaib Akthar bowling to Vaughan in Pakistan in 2005. He set MV up with four 150+ kph deliveries and bowled the 5th one at 93 kph! MV was so surprised that he just held the bat limply and gave a return catch to the gleeful Akthar!

    iii. And, of course, Sehwag’s 293 against SL, where he ‘just hit the bad balls’! ;)

  4.   Winsome says:

    CT, Akhtar bowled beautifully that series. What a waste of a talent.

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