South Africa vs England Marks Out of 10
Parity restored: South Africa marks out of 10 for drawn series
Graeme Smith and his men were cock-a-hoop after squaring the series at The Wanderers, although this will be tainted somewhat by the fact that they weren’t able to take one more wicket at Centurion or Cape Town.
Here are my marks out of ten for the series for the Proteas:
Graeme Smith – 8: Centuries in the last two tests made him the leading runscorer in the series even if luck was on his side in both innings. Not the most attacking captain in the World, which certainly contributed to his side not getting over the line in Pretoria and Cape Town and loses him a point in the final analysis.
Ashwell Prince – 3: A shockingly poor return of 97 runs at an average of 13.85 suggests that South Africa will be looking for a new opener for the Indian tour. A decent player but not suited to opening.
Hashim Amla – 8: A solid series built around two big partnerships with Smith at Cape Town and Johannesburg. Given he was at the crease early most times he batted and did well, Amla could find himself opening in India.
Jacques Kallis – 8: Another good series for Mr Consistent with tons at Centurion and Cape Town and is still the wicket most prized by South Africa’s opponents. Unsurprisingly after a rib injury, his bowling lacked the usual punch.
AB De Villiers – 7: Three fifties but only a highest score of 64 suggests that De Villiers needs to quell his impetuosity at times and take a leaf out of Kallis’ book. The best fielder on either side.
JP Duminy – 6: Had a shocker as a batsman with a highest score of 56 and an average just over 16, which suggests he may not be the next great batsman that some have suggested. But as a bowler he outshone the lacklustre Harris and claimed eight wickets during the series including a spell at Cape Town that nearly won his side the match.
Mark Boucher – 9: Excellent with the gloves and even better with the bat scoring 341 runs at an average of 57 during the series. His 95 at Johannesburg took the game away from England after they had got back into the match on the third morning.
Morne Morkel – 8: When he was good he was absolutely devastating as 19 wickets in the series at 21 suggests, but is still at times frustratingly inconsistent as proved by his spell with the new ball on the final afternoon at Newlands.
Dale Steyn – 9: For once the ICC rankings are accurate as Steyn bowled like the best bowler in the World in the final two tests once back to full fitness. If he had played at Centurion, would England have survived?
Paul Harris – 4: A very poor series from a spinner who seems to get little spin and non-existent turn. The main reason why his side failed to finish off England at Cape Town. Outshone by the part-timer Duminy and may struggle to return to the side after being left at Johannesburg.
Friedel De Wet – 6: Devastating spell with the new ball in the final session at Centurion nearly won his side the test match. Was then overlooked for Durban and injured for most of the Newlands test. Will come again.
Makhaya Ntini – 3: Seemed to be way past his best at Centurion and Durban and that may be the last we see of him in test cricket. At least won his 100th cap at Centurion – a deserved reward for a fantastic career and a man who has transcended sport in his home country.
Wayne Parnell – 6: Made his debut at Johannesburg and took the scalps of Strauss and Pietersen as his first two test wickets. Extremely promising bowler who can expect to become a feature in the test side.
Ryan McLaren – 6: Also made his debut in the final test and took the important wicket of Collingwood in the first innings. Useful contribution with the bat as well.
A bridge too far: England marks out of ten for drawn series
Even as a fairly one-eyed England fan I have to begrudgingly admit that South Africa probably deserved to square the series. England will look back on the Johannesburg test as a missed opportunity and some will doubtless refer to the shocking performance of 3rd umpire Daryl Harper as the pivotal reason.
Certainly, Harper reached new levels of ineptitude with his shocking performance in the TV umpires chair and his biggest mistakes (the failure to reverse the Smith caught behind and his mistake in reversing the De Villiers caught behind) cost England a lot of runs. However, England have only themselves to blame for such a damp squib of a performance with only Paul Collingwood and Graeme Swann emerging with only credit. Finally, England were made to pay for having too many batsmen out of form and not contributing.
This leads nicely to my marks out of ten for each England player for the series:
Andrew Strauss – 5: Surprisingly poor return with the bat as it was not as if he didn’t look in good nick. What a contrast with his phenomenal run scoring in the 2004/05 series. Steady captaincy with an extra pat on the back for the spirit he has engendered within the side, which ultimately led to the backs against the walls escapes at Centurion and Newlands.
Alastair Cook – 7: Battling century at Durban helped set up victory but failed to go on after good starts in both innings at Newlands. Certainly looked in better form than he did in the Ashes and his place is safe for the foreseeable future now.
Jonathan Trott – 5: Simply doesn’t look like a test match number three, although his stoical resistance in the second innings at Centurion helped save the game. Looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights in Johannesburg and should be dropped down the order.
Kevin Pietersen – 4: Massively disappointing especially as he made a promising start at Centurion with 40 and 81. Looks shorn of confidence and must now be picked for the Bangladesh tour in hope that he will rediscover both form and zest. Still seems to be suffering from a hangover from the captaincy debacle.
Paul Collingwood – 9: Started and ended the series in good form and his epitaph should read that he was the architect of the three great escapes at Cardiff, Centurion and Cape Town. The only batsman that turned up at Johannesburg and the numerous ‘experts’ calling for his head after the Ashes look foolish now.
Ian Bell – 8: Wonderful career saving century at Durban was followed up by a contrasting 78 at Newlands that helped save the game. May find that he will be given another chance at number three and will hopefully take his new found confidence from this tour to finally deliver in what should be his best position.
Matt Prior – 6: Much improved with the gloves but still flatters to deceive with the bat when it really matters as shown by his quick exits in the second innings at Centurion and Cape Town plus both innings at Johannesburg. May find Craig Kieswetter breathing down his neck come the Ashes next November.
Stuart Broad – 6: An average of just over ten with the bat suggests that a test match number seven he is not. Did well enough with the ball especially at Durban where he and Swann sparked a dramatic collapse. Should be picked for the Bangladesh tour as there is still significant room for improvement.
Graeme Swann – 9: England’s leading bowler with 21 wickets and an extremely useful return with the bat also, where he should now be elevated above Broad in the batting order. Has a talismanic like effect and his ability to take a wicket in the first over of a spell is amazing.
James Anderson – 6: Still too inconsistent to be the true leader of the attack. For a bowler of his quality to take no wickets on a friendly Johannesburg pitch is not good enough. Should be rested from the Bangladesh tour in order that he can get his knee sorted out.
Graham Onions – 6: Bowled well without much luck and his ill fortune continued when he was inexplicably left out in Johannesburg. His ball to remove Kallis at Cape Town was arguably the ball of the series and his fortitude with the bat at Centurion and Newlands helped save England from a series reverse.
Ryan Sidebottom – 5: Did reasonably well at Johannesburg considering he hadn’t played for weeks and who knows what could have happened if Mr Harper had turned the sound up when Sidebottom induced that edge from Smith.
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