Tense draw, but 2-1 to England

Well played cricket by England, who have played below par all series but still come out on top. Today saw some farcical captaincy and tactics by Smith and South Africa. They failed to attack England before or after lunch, and eventually set England a target of about 180 in 40 overs. Initially, I felt England would canter it – but they lost 3 very quick wickets, and had to be content to go for the draw.

HOWEVER

It was South Africa who should have been forcing the initiative. It was they who were 1 down in the series, and had they given themselves 60 overs to bowl England out, they could well have levelled the series. It got to the stage where, once Smith was out, Kallis (batting at the other end) walked with him back to the pavillion and had a heated discussion! As if say to say “what are our tactics skip?” It was poor stuff, and South Africa really must look at this side of their game – especially if their captain makes statements like “I’m a go for broke captain…”

Meanwhile, thanks to self-proclaimed-England-hater-and-fellow-cricket-blogger Jagadish, Langer writes of his mate Strauss. Much has been said over here of their similarities in batting-style (although, having watched Strauss play since his debut at Middlesex, his style is probably his own…I’d say), and it’s nice to read of Langer’s praise for Andrew. Jagadish, inescapably honest (!), seems to think it’s a bit sycophantic and sickly. They’re good mates, and I’m confident Langer is a solid bloke who’s more than willing to accept his former team-mate has come good. (Thank you for stealing my Technorati idea by the way Mr Jagadish :))

Naturally, all talk is on The Ashes which is already becoming tiring. The expectation on England is going to be massive and, in my opinion, they can only win if Harmison is on form, Flintoff bats naturally and bowls quickly, Strauss & Trescothick continue to score hundreds and Vaughan too. They’ll also benefit from a) winning the toss, b) some luck and c) someone breaking McGrath’s arm. England – whether you like or agree with Jagdish’s views – are a fine team, captained superbly, and whatever happens let’s hope the media don’t shoot them down. (incidentally tickets for the Lord’s game are going for over £300 I heard in the pub last week, on eBay and private sellers etc…)

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