Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Amla and South Africa's Cream Rises to the Top

An innings of the highest quality by Hashim Amla consigned England to defeat in Southampton yesterday and took the Proteas to the top of the rankings in all three formats. Like a playground bully who takes a younger child's toys away, the tourists have grabbed both of England's No1 spots in both tests and ODIs.

Whilst the victory was set up by Amla's individual excellence, the reality is that South Africa have looked a level up from England for the entire Summer and this latest game won at a canter gives further evidence of the visitors' superiority.

Amla in truth gave a couple of chances with Kieswetter the culprit which only gains credence to the question - where the hell is Matt Prior? Whilst Prior's average in the OD format is not the best, this is not the Matt Prior of 4-5 years ago, he is a premier cricketer these days.

England's reply looked doomed from the first over when Captain Cook played all around a delivery that deserved nothing but the straightest and lowest bat. Ian Bell looked relatively assured but the other batsmen achieved starts without having anything like the application to bat through the overs. Bopara and Morgan remain bit part players that are not of the calibre to be members of a team challenging for the No1 spot in the world.

Samit Patel provides a confluence of frustration and quality to proceedings. There is no doubting his ability but given the level of sporting professionalism nowadays and the harshness of training for all athletes -regardless of their trade - one wonders just exactly what he is doing with his spare time and how much he really wants to excel.

Whatever the sub plots were, England were simply outplayed here and they need to improve especially in the discipline of batting. Andrew Strauss is rumoured to be just about to provide another twist to the England story and we wait to see how England will respond  - No Nonsense.