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Ken Borland

Lack of resilience & poor batting on 1st day why Proteas lost – Elgar 0

Posted on October 14, 2022 by Ken

Proteas captain Dean Elgar knows as well as anyone that batting first at Old Trafford was not going to be easy, but he expected the batting line-up to show more resilience, saying the poor performance with the bat on the first day was why South Africa lost the second Test against England by an innings and 85 runs on Saturday.

Having selected two frontline spinners in their XI, it was almost inevitable that the Proteas would bat first after they won the toss to allow Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer to bowl on a deteriorating pitch in the fourth innings. But that plan was torn to shreds when South Africa were bundled out for 151 shortly after tea on the first day.

“Obviously the lack of first-innings runs was where the game was lost,” opening batsman Elgar said after the Manchester thumping that sends the series into a decider at The Oval from September 8. “That’s when you stabilise your game and scoring 300+ gives you the best chance of competing. We got half of that.

“We did not bat well. Sure, the ball moved around, but this is Test cricket and you must deal with it. Losing two wickets just before lunch was crucial. If we had been 80/3 then we would have been in a good position.

“But we were five down and then we were always playing catch-up. The pitch deteriorated like we thought it would and there was plenty in it for both seamers and spinners.

“It’s all been a bit of a blur since Day 1, it all happened so quickly after that. England’s batting let them down in the first innings at Lord’s and it happened in this Test as well. You set yourself up nicely if you score runs in the first innings,” Elgar said.

Before what should be an exciting finalé to the tour back in London, Elgar said it was important the Proteas don’t panic despite the horrible loss in the second Test.

“Sometimes you can go into panic mode after a defeat like that, but myself and the coach definitely won’t be doing that. We know we’re not suddenly a bad side.

“I know have a couple of days to process everything, but I won’t change my approach because to do that now would be letting myself down. And I think the players enjoy my honesty.

“Sometimes time away from the game is good, we will do things as a squad though, touch base again, get connected again. We need to pull ourselves towards ourselves and let the dust settle.

“It’s an adult environment and I won’t treat the players like schoolchildren because I know I would not have liked that as a young player. But there are a few tough decisions coming our way,” Elgar said.

Surprise as Elgar does not lean more heavily on Nortje; to batsmen’s delight 0

Posted on October 14, 2022 by Ken

One of the big surprises of the second afternoon when England put themselves in a wonderful position to win the second Test against South Africa through centuries by Ben Stokes and Ben Foakes was that Proteas captain Dean Elgar did not lean more heavily on fast bowler Anrich Nortje at Old Trafford on Friday.

The explosive paceman had claimed three of the wickets to fall as Stokes and Foakes came together on a difficult 147/5, but Nortje had only eight balls against the pair at the start of their partnership before understandably having a break. But much to the batsmen’s delight, he did not reappear for 30 overs, by which time their partnership was already worth 92. The failure to use Nortje in the first 35 minutes after lunch was particularly baffling.

But the 28-year-old said after the second day’s play that he was happy with captain Dean Elgar’s plans and it was simply a great pitch to bat on. South Africa will certainly hope so as they go into the third day 241 runs behind.

“It was a really good wicket to bat on and I don’t think one should look too deeply into who bowled when and from which end,” Nortje said. “It was obviously a much drier pitch compared to Lord’s.

“So we had to go 100% according to the conditions and Dean had a plan according to what the situation told him. I had a decent stint from both sides.

“We had to go according to conditions and sometimes utilise the spinners at both ends. And as the ball got older, it became even harder to bowl. But we bowled our best balls and they batted very well,” Nortje said.

While many onlookers felt Elgar had given Stokes and Foakes early birthday presents by keeping Nortje or even Kagiso Rabada away from them straight after lunch, Nortje praised the duo for their discipline and determination at the crease as they added a match-turning 173 for the sixth wicket.

“When they first came in, that was definitely the key period for the day, that was the major time after we got wickets in the morning. We tried to keep that pressure on, it was the ideal period to try and get some more sticks.

“At the start of the day it felt like there was plenty of opportunity, balls were missing the bat here and there, and we really felt in it. But they absorbed pressure really well, a few things went their way and they turned the momentum,” Nortje said.

South Africa lose the plot in the afternoon, in desperate trouble 0

Posted on October 12, 2022 by Ken

South Africa lost the plot in the afternoon and found themselves in desperate trouble after the second day of the second Test against England at Old Trafford on Friday, needing 241 more runs just to make the hosts bat again.

Openers Sarel Erwee (12*) and Dean Elgar (11*) will resume in the morning on 23 without loss but the skipper will not only be contemplating the massive mountain in front of his team, but also his own decision-making in the field.

England amassed 415/9 declared in their first innings thanks to inspired centuries by captain Ben Stokes and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who added a match-defining 173 for the sixth wicket.

They came together in an intriguing morning session in which fast bowler Anrich Nortje made two early inroads into the England batting by dismissing Jonny Bairstow (49) and Zak Crawley (38), both edging excellent deliveries that angled in and then nipped away to be caught behind the wicket.

That left England on 147/5 and South Africa were still four runs ahead. But Stokes and Foakes batted with great clarity and composure, digging in until the hosts went into lunch on 212/5.

With the lead now already 61, one imagined the talk in the South African dressingroom over lunch would have been all about hitting England hard straight after the break to try and get the tail in to bat as soon as possible.

But incredibly, the on-fire Nortje was not brought on until after spinners Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj had bowled for 35 minutes, allowing Stokes and Foakes to get themselves properly in at the crease.

Having established control, Stokes and Foakes then batted with more freedom as the Proteas became more and more desperate shopping for a breakthrough, four reviews not going their way.

Stokes went to his fourth century in 14 Tests against South Africa, but fell for 103 as he tried to slog Kagiso Rabada. One of the most competitive cricketers in the world had produced a masterclass in playing the situation, his judgement of when to attack and when to defend solidly being well-nigh perfect.

Foakes batted on for his second Test century and ended with a career-best 113 not out, a determined innings of great value for his team, in which he targeted his favoured leg-side with nifty footwork and fine shots, collecting nine fours.

Nortje’s bowling – he finished with 3/82 in 20 overs – and the fact that England were unable to buy a wicket in the nine overs they bowled at South Africa before stumps, were about the only positives for the Proteas on a second day that somehow managed to be worse than their opening day woes.

Proteas batsmen shuffle back down the aisle in a miserable display, but a defiant Rabada backs them & the decision to bat first 0

Posted on October 12, 2022 by Ken

Kagiso Rabada, the top-scorer in a miserable Proteas total of 151, backed both the decision to bat first and the rest of the South African batting line-up to come good despite seven of them shuffling back down the aisle to the changeroom with just 92 runs on the board before he had to come to the crease on the first day of the second Test against England at Old Trafford.

Rabada scored a determined 36 to ensure the Proteas did not make some dreaded history on Thursday for beating their lowest ever completed innings in Manchester: the 130 they made back in 1929 when England beat them by an innings thanks to leg-spinner Tich Freeman’s career-best 12 wickets and centuries by Bob Wyatt and Frank Woolley.

Rabada then produced a top-class delivery, a back-of-a-length ball zipping and bouncing at the key England batsman, Joe Root, to find the edge of the bat and Sarel Erwee completing a juggling catch at first slip.

“We played two spinners for a reason and generally if you’re playing two spinners then you need to bat first. The pitch is getting drier and it’s quite slow.

“Simon Harmer is already in the game with his second ball ragging quite a bit. So I’ll say it is the right decision to bat first. We know the batting unit have quality but it is a young one as well.

“So it’s about gaining experience, but our batsmen know what they have to do, they don’t get out on purpose. They know what went wrong and as a team we back each and every player.

“Individuals take responsibility and I know they are all trying their utmost best. I’ll not be pointing fingers because that is just energy-sapping,” Rabada said.

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad shared six wickets as they bowled with wonderful skill and nous to exploit the overcast conditions and a pitch that provided plenty of seam movement.

Rabada was asked about Anderson in the press conference at the end of the day’s play and he praised the paceman who is 40 years old and playing in his 174th Test.

“Jimmy has had a remarkable career, particularly in Test cricket. He is still getting wickets and he is a legend of the game. He’s a phenomenal bowler, he showed that again today,” Rabada said.

“Only playing Tests has helped his longevity, but England play quite a few Tests every year. I guess I will need to have a beer with him at the end of the tour and ask him how he does it.”

Anderson has 661 wickets now halfway through his 174th Test, a rate of 3.80 wickets per match. Rabada has 251 wickets in his 54th Test, striking at 4.71 dismissals per game.

South Africa’s spearhead will need 140 Tests at this rate to post the same figures as Anderson, so 86 more. But given that the Proteas play so few Tests in comparison to England and are slated to play even less over the next few years, Rabada will need to keep playing until he is about 42 and show the same sort of longevity to overtake the numbers England’s leading wicket-taker is churning out.

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