Sport

South Africa vs England second cricket Test: Hosts are ripe for a walloping again

Geoff Boycott

England outplayed South Africa in all departments and gave a very good professional performance in Durban.

Is this the greatest Big Bash League crowd catch?

An eagle-eyed fan dives over four other spectators to catch a Chris Gayle six during the Big Bash League clash between the Melbourne Renegades and the Perth Scorchers.

It was set up by the batting of Nick Compton and James Taylor in both innings as they adapted to the pitch and slowly, carefully, with great patience, wore the South Africa bowlers down to give England a platform.

The other two big performances were from Steven Finn and Moeen Ali. They are not England's big-name bowlers but have this wonderful gift of taking wickets. It is a priceless asset.

Carrying too much of the load: AB de Villiers.
Carrying too much of the load: AB de Villiers. Photo: Getty Images

It does not matter how you do it, it is about how many runs you make or wickets you take in any cricket match.

England have no problems. They do not even need to risk Anderson in Cape Town. There has always been a saying: never change a winning side.

We came to this series with South Africa No.1 in the world but at the moment they are in a mess.

Their best bowler, Dale Steyn, is injured. The other top-class bowler, Vernon Philander, may not play any part in the series. They are dropping catches and the batting is pathetic except for AB de Villiers.

He is a world-class batsman but is having to carry the whole team. He has so much time to play. His judgment of what to play is exceptional. He has a wide range of shots. That is why he has been the No.1 batsman in the world, but he cannot carry this side on his own.

They are shot. Playing in India and losing three Tests badly on spinning pitches there has psychologically damaged most of them.

All of them got out for low scores in that series in India and when you do not make runs it shatters your confidence. You start to second guess yourself. You start thinking too much: "Shall I stay in and graft for an hour, or shall I go for my shots?"

Your mind gets caught between do I stick or twist? You cannot bat well like that. When you are batting well it comes naturally. You react positively and instinctively.

Hashim Amla, their other top-class batsman, is way out of form.

He has not made a run in Test cricket for 12 months. He has had an amazing career with a long period of success and he has never experienced failure before this run. This is all new to him and the series and the defeats in India just sapped all of his confidence.

Personally, I think someone should ask him to stand down as captain. He is known to be a quiet, reluctant captain.

But here in South Africa there are always political machinations going on in sport. Whether officially or unofficially, colour quotas are a directive from the South African government and have to be adhered to.

I would make De Villiers captain. He captains the one-day international team, he is batting well and his leadership is more demonstrative.

Someone needs to pick these players up but they only have two days to do it before the second Test starts at Newlands.

South Africa have picked Quinton De Kock to keep wicket in Cape Town which will release De Villiers from those duties.

De Kock is in good form. He made a century in provincial cricket the other day and he has batted for South Africa in one-day cricket before. He will strengthen the team by freeing up De Villiers to concentrate purely on his batting.

However, if South Africa are going to give England a challenge they have to bat a hell of a lot better than they did here.

Faf Du Plessis has a good Test record but you watch him at the moment and wonder where his next run is coming from.

Stiaan Van Zyl is a middle-order batsman who has been put in as a makeshift opener. He has played nine Tests and he has not scored many runs since his hundred against West Indies a year ago.

Temba Bavuma has played six Tests and averages 20. Duminy has made 88 runs in his past seven innings.

There are huge question marks against the quality of the batting line-up. I watched their technique. It does not look very good. If you cannot stay in, you cannot make runs. You have to have a good defence to survive.

Newlands will almost be a home Test for England with 10,000 of their own supporters cheering them on. When you take that into account, plus the way things played out in the first Test here, it all points towards one outcome.

For me, South Africa are ripe for a walloping again.

The Telegraph, London

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