England turn Test on its head

What a Test match this has been. I don’t think anyone, least of all the South Africans, could have imagined the Test panning out like after they bowled England out for 139

Back then, on the first day, there were utterings of complaint from Fletcher and armchair pundits that the pitch was poor. I too agreed, but only to an extent – it was a combination of rain juicing it up, and poor shot selection from England.

Day 2, and Kallis showed how to bat on a flat pitch. It was a masterful, boring and controlling innings – just what SA needed to dent England’s confidence. Indeed, South Africa were miles ahead of the game by close yesterday as Kallis remarked in an interview:

“It was hugely important to bounce back after Port Elizabeth,” added Kallis. “To go 2-0 down was not an option – it would have been the series over. Maybe we let ourselves down a bit this evening by not quite landing enough balls in the right area, but it could be the wake-up call we needed. If we get a few wickets tomorrow, we could make our lives easier.”

And Michael Vaughan looked like this:

After 3 sessions of crunching strokeplay, defiant batting and resiliance from Trescothick and Strauss, it was Smith’s turn to look glum:

They put on 273 for the first wicket – their 4th stand of 150+ opening together in just their 9th Test. Jonathan Agnew wrote:

But of all the teams currently in world cricket, one feels that only Australia could have produced a performance quite like this.

If they can add another 200 runs on the fourth day, they might well complete one of the most astonishing turn-rounds in test history.

England weren’t quite staring down the barrell – they’re a confident team, after all – but the odds were stacked against them, and the situation at start-of-play was tailor-made for a blocker. Such was the rate at which they scored against all but Pollock, that the game has been turned on its head. SA can win it. England can win it. But the force is with England, and they have 9 2nd innings wickets remaining. A truly brilliant Test match, ebbing and flowing – thank God for Cricket!